Oppps.ru: patient zero in Russia's fake news epidemic

Donald Trump did not slam the International Paralympic Committee's decision to bar Russian athletes from the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, and the BBC never quoted him as saying, "The decision to bar Russian Paralympics athletes was made by complete retards. These people are the real cripples." But virtually every news outlet in Russia ran a story saying both things were true, after Oppps.ru (The Optimist) ran a completely false story to that effect.

This is par for the course. Oppps.ru routinely invents fake news stories which are then routinely picked up by mainstream Russian online media, like Interfax, TASS, or RIA, and then vaulted to the top of Yandex's news aggregator. Because "a lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on," these fake stories go uncorrected, or are corrected late and in small, unnoticeable ways. By the time the story has been debunked, Oppps.ru has usually deleted it, erasing it from the historic record.

Alexey Kovalev's interview with Oppps.ru's owner doesn't shed much light on the motivation here, apart from generalized sociopathy.

—: I think each individual should learn independently to think and analyze for themselves, and not believe everything they read on the internets [sic].

Alexey: Here I agree with you 100 percent. I'm giving you two thumbs up.

—: That's why you need to check and read two sides [to every story], and read in-between. That's basically it. :) :) We think fake news is necessary precisely so that people don't forget how to think for themselves.

Alexey: I agree completely with you about goals, but I'm not sure I can support the means. All the garbage in today's information sphere is more than enough.

—: The world's leading mass media outlets are divisive. Nowhere in the world will you find a newspaper or a magazine where they write the truth 100% of the time.

How Fake Stories Reported in Russia's News Media Regularly Fool Everyone
[Alexey Kovalev/Global Voices]