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A Movement to Fight Misinformation... With Misinformation

The Daily

The New York Times

News, Daily News

4.597.8K Ratings

🗓️ 9 February 2022

⏱️ 28 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript

Summary

Birds Aren’t Real, a conspiracy theory with an apparently absurd premise, has become surprisingly popular in the past few years. But its followers were in on the joke: The movement’s aim was to poke fun at misinformation … by creating misinformation. Has it been successful? Guest: Taylor Lorenz, a former technology reporter for The New York Times.

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Transcript

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0:00.0

From the New York Times, I'm Annie Coriel. This is the Daily.

0:07.0

A new movement is underway to confront the growing threat of misinformation by creating misinformation.

0:19.0

Today, the improbable story of the group behind that movement, birds aren't real.

0:26.0

I spoke with my colleague, Taylor Lorenz.

0:33.0

It's Wednesday, February 9th.

0:40.0

Hi, Taylor. How are you? Hi, I'm good.

0:43.0

So, when you published this article back in December on Birds Aren't Real,

0:48.0

it was probably the first time that a lot of people had ever heard of this, quote, unquote, conspiracy.

0:54.0

It certainly was the first time I had heard of it.

0:57.0

So, at a very basic level, what is Birds Aren't Real?

1:01.0

Birds aren't real is a fake conspiracy movement, mostly supported by young people online that purports that birds are not real,

1:09.0

but were actually replaced by government drones back in the 1970s.

1:14.0

In the conspiracy lore, every bird is actually a surveillance tool by the state.

1:20.0

That's pretty funny.

1:22.0

Yeah, it's a parody conspiracy. It's almost a satire social movement.

1:27.0

People know that this is not real.

1:29.0

Got it. So then, why did you get interested in covering this?

1:33.0

I mean, things do come and go a lot on the internet, and it sounds like no one really believes in this.

1:38.0

So why in your mind was this fake conspiracy worth reporting on?

1:43.0

So, as an internet culture writer, I'm constantly keeping an eye on new trends, and they do come and go.

1:49.0

But this one really had staying power, and it seemed to speak to something deep within the psyche of Gen Z.

1:56.0

Uh-huh. I just noticed that the followers were very young and very dedicated, and their movement was manifesting increasingly in the real world.

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