Article 1 – The End of Pet Care
„We can save around 19 million tons of carbon dioxide just by eliminating the dogs in Germany. This corresponds to almost as much CO2 as would be released by a car in ten thousand circulations around the earth – almost 10% of road traffic. In addition there are cats, horses and many other animals. Therefore, the private animal domestication must have an end even if it is done by a CO2 tax on domestic animals“, says Annalena Baerbock (39).
Röttger, Tania. Hundeverbot? Angebliches Zitat von Annalena Baerbock ist ein fake“. Correctiv.org, Correctiv.org, 22.04.2021, https://correctiv.org/faktencheck/2021/04/22/hundeverbotangebliches-zitat-von-annalena-baerbock-ist-ein-fake/, 02.04.2023 12:49.
Article 2 – Mrs. Baerbock: Abolish the Widow’s Pension
“The widow’s pension is a relic from Germany’s militant past. It was intended to protect the wives of soldiers killed in war from social destitution. Today, our women are self-determined and no longer financially dependent of their husbands. We should take this circumstance into account. This relic from another time should be abolished. With the 1.5 billion saved, we could do a lot for the integration of refugees.” (an alleged quotation by Annalena Baerbock)
Kutzner, Steffen. “Weiteres Gefälschtes Zitat Von Annalena Baerbock: Grünen-Kandidatin Will Witwenrente Nicht Abschaffen.” Correctiv.org, Correctiv.org, 07.05.2021, https://correctiv.org/faktencheck/2021/05/07/weiteres-gefaelschtes-zitat-von-annalenabaerbock-gruenen-kandidatin-will-witwenrente-nicht-abschaffen/, 02.04.2023, 12:49.
In the case of both articles, we are talking about posts which had been shared and re-posted on Facebook. Since these posts have been fake checked by the independent servitor “correctiv.org”, it is clear and beyond any doubt that both of them are “fictitious”. Further Baerbock and the party “Bündnis 90/Die Grünen” identified them as lies.
Nevertheless, the question arises: How would it have been possible for a reader to detect the fake in these posts? In my opinion we see more than one criterion that could lead us to the conclusion that these posts shouldn’t be true statements by the German federal minister for foreign affairs.
First, the posts play with the readers’ emotions. They focus on the devaluation of certain areas of life while simultaneously triggering their fear of loss. In the first article the major emotional trigger should be the worry about one’s beloved domestic animals and the resistance towards the prohibition to live one’s life in a self-directed and free way. Baerbock and her party is instrumentalized into a bad opponent threatening those needs. In the second post the leading emotional trigger should be the loss of wealth and security and the devaluation of former generations and their contribution to our nowadays society. Moreover, the post distorts the aim of inclusion and integration and opposes it to the need for wealth and security. So, these basic needs seem to be endangered by the party Baerbock stands for and the opposing group of “threatening immigrants”.
Second, both posts sketch a clear image of a fiend (“Bündnis 90/Die Grünen”) who seems to attempt to establish a state of prohibition in which its citizens have to worry about their rights, wealth and freedom. How better to spread and emotionally charge fake news than like this?!
Third, both posts are in no way backed by any sources. Official statements should be linked to the party and/ or the resort the politician is located in.
Fourth, the strong adverbs and the lack of neutrality and professionality of the post do not seem to fit a high-ranked politician. So, the mere style of writing should make the reader suspicious.
Finally, it should be highly questionable whether Mrs. Baerbock should be able to decide and execute such life-changing transformations which have not been listed and approved in the party’s election program and the following coalition agreement.
So, how could we have detected those fakes?
We need (1) a critical attitude towards posts, we (2) must be willing to check them before we re-post them and we (3) need a backed knowledge concerning the political scene and procedures in Germany. Furthermore, we (4) need access to websites where we can check posts and (5) must be sensitized towards fake news and know basic schemes and criteria of them.
To categorize both of these posts, I think it is fitting to differentiate two dynamics: the creation of the post and the dynamic of re-posting. Focusing on the initial post, we are confronted with disinformation and the deliberate attempt to manipulate others. Focusing on the re-posts, I think one should rather talk about misinformation and false beliefs – caused by a fast sharing of the information without critically checking it – than an intentional attempt to lie to other users. Like Pennycook and Rand (2021) showed, the willingness to share specific content is not directly related to whether one beliefs that they are true or not. When not
sensitized for fake facts and their consequences people seem to likewise re-post articles, they belief to be true as well as such they don’t belief in.
about the source:
The fake news were published on social media – therefore, it is impossible to provide a link to them or to track the author. In the source texts by correctiv.org, you can see screenshots of the original articles.
Correctiv.org is an independent, donation-based servitor specialized on checking posts, articles and statements concerning their rightfulness. They either check articles self-directed or become active when asked for. Everyone has the right to send them a post or article with the request to prove it. Correctiv.org will then start their investigation backed by official statements, credible sources and/ or direct contact with involved parties. They position themselves as a supporter of truth, a counterweight against fake facts and a protector of a strong, democratic system.