Disinformation campaigns have weaponized WhatsApp into very real fake news

LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images

Judging by mainstream media in the U.S., you would think the world is ending because of fake news and Russian trolls on Facebook and Twitter. But around the world, the worst danger posed by the spread of fake news actually happens through private messaging apps. And in countries like India, fake news "danger" is not hyperbole. At least 24 people have been killed by mob lynchings in India this year, caused by rumors that spread on WhatsApp.

With private messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, WeChat, and Line, people can forward messages to their friends or groups, with no way to determine the origin of the message. These messages are encrypted, so that no one can read messages not intended for them. Supposedly, even employees of these apps can't access the messages.

RELATED: BuzzFeed Writer: Why Can't Google, Facebook Get a Grip on Fake News?

Samantha Bradshaw works for Oxford University's Computational Propaganda Project, which studies disinformation campaigns around the world. The project has found political disinformation campaigns waged through private messaging apps in 10 countries so far this year. Bradshaw says, "The closed platforms can be more dangerous because the information is spreading in these intimate groups of friends and family – people we tend to trust."

Unvetted rumors spread through these apps have turned deadly. In one incident, a group of friends were driving through a village and paused to give chocolate to some local children. Someone started a rumor on WhatsApp that the carful of friends were kidnappers. A mob formed quickly and overwhelmed the group of friends, killing one of them, a 32-year-old man. The man's brother said, "They kept pleading, but nobody listened to them. My brother was killed by fake news."

In Brazil, a fake message claiming that a yellow-fever vaccine was dangerous spread through WhatsApp. So many people avoided the mandatory vaccine that the government had to issue an official warning debunking the claim.

Technology continues to improve so many aspects of life, but it hasn't been able to improve one key thing for mankind: our ability to tell the truth.

WhatsApp was founded by two libertarians with a deep belief in privacy. Their whole concept for the app revolved around not mining and storing information about users. In 2014, Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion. Ironically, the privacy controls that made this and similar apps so appealing, are the very things people are now using to weaponize the app.

Technology continues to improve so many aspects of life, but it hasn't been able to improve one key thing for mankind: our ability to tell the truth.

On the radio program Monday, Glenn Beck, Pat Gray, and Stu Burguiere reacted to a recent Washington Post op-ed in which the author, Ron Charles, suggests that "as Confederate statues finally tumble across America, [and] television networks are marching through their catalogues looking to take down racially offensive content," perhaps the next items that should be up on the cancel-culture chopping block are "problematic books."

"Monuments celebrating racist traitors, which were erected to fabricate history and terrify black Americans, are not works of art that deserve our respect or preservation. Similarly, scenes of modern-day white comedians reenacting minstrel-show caricatures are not ironical interrogations of racism that we have to stomach any longer. But complex works of literature are large, they contain multitudes," Charles wrote.

He goes on to argue that "calibrating our Racism Detector to spot only a few obvious sins" is but an insidious source of self-satisfaction when compared to the process of critical debate on the values and intentions of history's literary legends.

"If cancel culture has a weakness, it's that it risks short-circuiting the process of critical engagement that leads to our enlightenment," Charles wrote. "Scanning videos for blackface or searching text files for the n-word is so much easier than contending with, say, the systemic tokenism of TV rom-coms or the unbearable whiteness of Jane Austen."

Could cancel culture really spiral all the way down to book burning? In the clip below, Glenn, Pat, and Stu agreed that this radical progressive movement is really about erasing America's history and overturning the foundation of our country. The fundamental transformation of America is happening now.

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:


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It's been a tough year, America. Our news media is inundating us with images of destruction, violence, and division in attempts not only to desecrate our nation, but to make us turn our backs on it. That's why now, more than ever, we need to take an up-close look at America's history to remember what it is we're fighting for and how to fight for it with practical action.

Join Glenn Beck, broadcasting from Standing Rock Ranch, as he takes us to Plymouth, Gettysburg, and Federal Hall on an important journey through America's remarkable history to inspire a brighter future. Glenn asks the hard questions of every American. Is this system worth saving? Is there a better way? Where do we go from here, and how do we answer those questions?

Featuring performances from the Millennial Choirs and Orchestras, David Osmond, a very special children's choir, and guests Bob Woodson, Tim Ballard, David Barton, Burgess Owens, Kathy Barnette, Anna Paulina Luna, and Tim Barton.

Watch the full special presentation below:


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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

"Restoring Hope" has been a labor of love for Glenn and his team and tonight is the night! "Restoring the Covenant" was supposed to take place in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Gettysburg and Washington D.C. but thanks to COVID-19, that plan had to be scrapped. "Restoring Hope" is what was left after having to scrap nearly two years of planning. The Herald Journal in Idaho detailed what the event was supposed to be and what it turned into. Check out the article below to get all the details.

Glenn Beck discusses patriotic, religious program filmed at Idaho ranch

On July 2, commentator Glenn Beck and his partners will issue a challenge from Beck's corner of Franklin County to anyone who will listen: "Learn the truth, commit to the truth, then act on the truth."

Over the last few weeks, he has brought about 1,000 people to his ranch to record different portions of the program that accompanies the challenge. On June 19, about 400 members of the Millennial Choir and Orchestra met at West Side High School before boarding WSSD buses to travel to a still spring-green section of Beck's ranch to record their portion of the program.

Read the whole article HERE

The current riots and movement to erase America's history are exactly in line with the New York Times' "1619 Project," which argues that America was rotten at its beginning, and that slavery and systemic racism are the roots of everything from capitalism to our lack of universal health care.

On this week's Wednesday night special, Glenn Beck exposed the true intent of the "1619 Project" and its creator, who justifies remaking America into a Marxist society. This clever lie is disguised as history, and it has already infiltrated our schools.

"The '1619 Project' desperately wants to pass itself off as legitimate history, but it totally kneecaps itself by ignoring so much of the American story. There's no mention of any black Americans who succeeded in spite of slavery, due to the free market capitalist system. In the 1619 Project's effort to take down America, black success stories are not allowed. Because they don't fit with the narrative. The role of white Americans in abolishing slavery doesn't fit the narrative either," Glenn said.

"The agenda is not ultimately about history," he added. "It's just yet another vehicle in the fleet now driven by elites in America toward socialism."

Watch a preview of the full episode below:


Watch the full episode only on BlazeTV. Not a subscriber? Use promo code GLENN to get $10 off your BlazeTV subscription or start your 30-day free trial today.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.