Most of the fake news we have flagged over the last three Saturdays has been political in nature, generated as part of the propaganda playing out during the campaign season.
This week features one on Lupita Nyong’o whose intention we are yet to figure out.
Sometimes you can only tell with the benefit of hindsight so the only thing you can do as you try to figure that out is report it.
1. That Lupita Nyong’o has admitted that she is HIV-positive
This was published online on a website, houstonchronicle-tv.com, and purported to report the “bombshell world exclusive” that Lupita Nyong’o had declared that she is HIV-positive.
It said she had said this on radio but also attributed it to an interview with a newspaper called the Houston Times. The link to the story was sent around on WhatsApp.
MAINSTREAM NEWS SITES
The correct position is that Ms Nyong’o has said no such thing.
The last time she said anything publicly about HIV was in an interview on CNN about Shuga, the TV show in which she starred.
In the words of senior editor Bernard Mwinzi, this “reads like a fake, smells like a fake… is definitely a fake”.
Fake news mostly appear on relatively unknown websites and is not likely to be repeated on mainstream sites.
Most news on Hollywood stars usually finds its way from TMZ.com, one of the leading celebrity gossip sites, to mainstream news such as CNN.
2. That Prof Makau Mutua has turned from a fierce critic of President Uhuru Kenyatta into a supporter
This arose from two reports posted on safarionline.co.ke and mailguardian.blogspot.co.ke.
The first was two paragraphs, one a quote purportedly by the United States-based lawyer and another saying that “the captioned news have hit online servers”.
Both posts did not need much scrutiny to determine that they were patently fake.
ENDORSEMENT OF UHURU
The packaging was so poor that not even a poorly resourced news outlet can have a website that looks as fake as these two.
Still, the news fooled some, as helpfully pointed out by Taifa Leo reporter Wanderi Kamau.
Mr Wanderi reported that this news was the subject of a 30-minute discussion by Prof Ngugi Njoroge and Nderitu Waihura on the political implication of Prof Mutua’s supposed endorsement of President Kenyatta.