The internet didn’t generate this fake news — it debunked it.

Do you think the Bowling Green Massacre justifies President Trump’s travel ban?

If you’re reading this, the odds are very high that you don’t, since you know that the Bowling Green Massacre is not a thing. It never happened.

But half of Trump voters do think the non-existent massacre is a good justification for Trump’s executive order.

That’s per a new poll from Public Policy Polling, which asked voters this question: “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: ‘the Bowling Green massacre shows why we need Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration?’”

And got this result, based on the candidate respondents voted for last fall:

If this kind of disconnect between Trump voters and reality sounds familiar, there’s a reason: Late last year, PPP asked people if they believed in Pizzagate, the (not true) conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was connected to a (non-existent) child-sex ring run out of a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant. Half of Trump voters thought that one was true, or could be true.

The big difference here is that Pizzagate was a story birthed by the internet and distributed widely by Facebook, which made it a good example of the social network’s ability to misinform the public.

But you can’t blame the Bowling Green Massacre on Mark Zuckerberg, or Macedonian teenagers gaming his system, or any other part of the internet. This one came to us the old-fashioned way: From a government official, via TV news.

As you know, because you read the news, Trump counselor/not-official spokesperson Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews about the BGM during a Feb. 2 interview.

Matthews didn’t pick up on the non-existent thing during the interview, but the internet took care of it for him, led by Insider Louisville’s Joe Sonka, who immediately flagged it on Twitter:

.@KellyannePolls says that 2 Iraqi refugees “were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre.”
(There was no such massacre.) pic.twitter.com/sD3Nnb5xfE

— Joe Sonka (@joesonka) February 3, 2017

Which led to lots of (well-deserved) ridicule for Conway, who claimed she misspoke, which was also not true — she had cited the same non-existent event in at least two other interviews.

So here’s a case where the internet is a great light-bringer, just like many of us thought it would be — not a great obfuscator, as many of us decided it had become last fall. Perhaps the problem isn’t the internet, or social media, but something else.


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Author: Peter Kafka

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