Sunday, 30 June 2019 12:38

BELGIUM – Alternative News Blog Shares Disinformation and Sensationalist Content Pushing a Xenophobic and Anti-Muslim Agenda

Alternative news blog ReactNieuws shared an article based on disinformation about Angela Merkel which was rife with xenophobic and anti-Muslim sentiments. The blog regularly shares misinformation and sensationalist content. This is Belgium’s media monitoring highlight for June.

This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of June, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.

EUJSDate of publication: 19 June 2019

Media Outlet: ReactNieuws, a blog which describes itself as a “strongly polarizing, alternative news channel”

Link: https://bit.ly/2FBxwbk 

Headline: “German chancellor Merkel shakes like a leaf during German national anthem”

Description of the anti-Muslim and xenophobic content: ReactNieuws is a blog which has been gaining readership recently, with a steadily increasing audience on Facebook. The majority of their content focuses on crime and sensitive news items, which are framed in a way that depicts migrants, particularly Muslim migrants, as dangerous. It follows a similar editorial style to right-wing blogs like Sceptr.net and Doorbraak.be. A recent piece focused on Angela Merkel, who was seen shaking during the German national anthem. ReactNieuws reported on this event, claiming that Merkel was seen acting uncomfortably during the national anthem because she felt a sense of ‘overwhelming shame’. This ‘shame’, according to ReactNieuws, is due to the fact that she betrayed her country and its people by “opening the border in 2015 for an invasion of more than 1 million Muslims, who since then have raped and murdered German women and girls to an disproportionate extent.” The piece of content has been shared 31 times on Facebook.

Myth debunked: This post on the ReactNieuws blog is clearly a piece of disinformation. Merkel’s condition on June 19th was widely reported and all respectable news platforms referenced her comments shortly after the event, in which she stated that the shaking was due to her being dehydrated. It is clear that ReactNieuws used this event to push a hateful narrative against migrants and Muslims. This article is very much in line with ReactNieuws’ editorial style, which regularly posts misinformation and sensationalist news. Another piece published this month reported on a stabbing incident committed by a German individual with Palestinian roots. Commenting on the crime, the author stated: “These types of murders and other types of stabbing crimes in Germany are becoming common, especially committed by people from Arabic cultures”. Earlier this month they also published an article which toed the line between misinformation and a conspiracy theory. The article discussed a case which occurred last year in Paris, where a migrant saved a child dangling from a balcony. ReactNieuws claims that this never happened because it is physically impossible, and that it was all set up to ‘brainwash’ the public into accepting migrants. The articles published by ReactNieuws are rarely based on facts and are often clear examples of misinformation used to convince the reader that migrants, particularly Muslim migrants, are evil and ‘ruining’ Europe. Blogs such as ReactNieuws have been cropping up on the internet more and more, and they are receiving a worrying amount of traction. Articles are often written in a journalistic style which can make it very difficult for a reader to distinguish between genuine news and misinformation. 

More to read:

Liar liar, platforms on fire: the rise of misinformation and what to do about it

Some Real News About Fake News

3 Reasons for the Rise of Fake News3 Reasons for the Rise of Fake News

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