The fake news machine

It is an apparatus of many parts with a mission to spread untruths and amplify discord in society, especially during election time. As this special report on Russia's disinformation campaign shows, all countries are vulnerable to foreign meddling through the clever planting of fake news that is then amplified by social media and other agents.

Had Mr Barack Obama looked out of the window in the White House on May 29, 2016, he might have seen someone holding up a sign that read "Happy 55th Birthday Dear Boss".

The felicitations were not for Mr Obama (whose birthday is in August); they were for Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a Russian businessman known as "Putin's chef". The sign-carrying well-wisher did not know Mr Prigozhin. But over the course of 2016, many people who were strangers to Mr Putin's cook nonetheless did what he wanted them to do, both in America and elsewhere.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 04, 2018, with the headline 'The fake news machine'. Print Edition | Subscribe