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Fake News: Taylor Swift Did NOT Break Political Silence To Throw Support Behind Restoring Shōgun To Throne Of Japan

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Mon, 08 Oct 2018 18:53:29 Z)

Did Taylor Swift throw her support behind restoring the shōgunate in Japan? No, of course not: that story was launched by a satirical website in response to her sudden support for two candidates from the Democratic party in the upcoming Tennessee midterms after a long period of not making any comments at all regarding politics.

The story originated from an article published by The Onion on October 8, 2018 titled "Taylor Swift Breaks Political Silence To Throw Support Behind Restoring Shōgun To Throne Of Japan" (archived here) which opened:

NEW YORK--In a heartfelt social media statement to her fans, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift broke her long-standing political silence Monday to support restoring an all-powerful shōgun to its rightful place on the throne of Japan. "Hey guys, Taylor here--I'm writing this post because I've been inspired by recent events to speak up about why we need to install an all-powerful military dictatorship in Japan's imperial palace," said the famously apolitical pop star, admitting that in the past, she had been "reluctant" to voice her long-held support for Japan's famously brutal system of medieval clan-based governance, but felt differently after witnessing the country's decay since the final shōgun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, fell from power in 1868.

Screenshot of https://entertainment.theonion.com/taylor-swift-breaks-political-silence-to-throw-support-1829602513

But the story is just a piece of satire mocking this Instagram post (archived here) by the singer in which she expresses support for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives in the upcoming Tennessee midterm election:

Dit bericht bekijken op Instagram

I'm writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I'll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I've been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈

Een bericht gedeeld door Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) op

Here's an example of the type of media story being satirized:

Taylor Swift breaks her political silence, endorses Democrats in passionate post

Taylor Swift - the notoriously apolitical pop star - broke her political silence Sunday night in a passionate and lengthy Instagram post, where she endorsed a Democratic candidate for Tennessee Senate and urged Americans to vote in the upcoming midterm elections.

The Onion is one of the oldest and best known satire websites on the internet. Their about page claims:

The Onion is the world's leading news publication, offering highly acclaimed, universally revered coverage of breaking national, international, and local news events. Rising from its humble beginnings as a print newspaper in 1756, The Onion now enjoys a daily readership of 4.3 trillion and has grown into the single most powerful and influential organization in human history.

In addition to maintaining a towering standard of excellence to which the rest of the industry aspires, The Onion supports more than 350,000 full- and part-time journalism jobs in its numerous news bureaus and manual labor camps stationed around the world, and members of its editorial board have served with distinction in an advisory capacity for such nations as China, Syria, Somalia, and the former Soviet Union. On top of its journalistic pursuits, The Onion also owns and operates the majority of the world's transoceanic shipping lanes, stands on the nation's leading edge on matters of deforestation and strip mining, and proudly conducts tests on millions of animals daily.

If you somehow find that hard to believe: you are right. Scroll down a bit futher on that page and you'll find this:

What if I want to sue The Onion?
Please do not do that. The First Amendment protects satire as a form of free speech and expression. The Onion uses invented names in all of its stories, except in cases where public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental. The Onion is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.

Articles from The Onion are frequently mistaken for real news by people on social media that only see the headline, short description and thumbnail image. Being one of the best known satire sites their articles also frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites that don't carry a satire disclaimer. Always Google before sharing something that sounds improbable!

We wrote about entertainment.theonion.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk
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