Rapidly, the word about the astonishing rate of arson and man-made accidents* is spreading, but it doesn’t help “the cause” (which for left-leaning journo’s appears to be getting left-leaning politicians elected).
For example, the awful Binna Burra fire in September was blamed on climate change.
Instead, it turned out to be caused by two teenagers with cigarette butts. Who looks silly pushing a carbon tax agenda to stop fires?
So, The Guardian and the ABC are now compiling stories with conspiracy theories about how a thousand or so tweets with a pedantic error mistaking legal action for arrests somehow demonstrates a mysterious disinformation campaign (it’s pro-ject-ion.)
The main mystery here is how a prof in Qld can mind read through twitter — Dr. Graham tells us:
“The motivation underlying this often tends to not be changing people’s opinions about the bushfire itself and how it’s happening, but to sow discord and magnify already existing tensions in polarised political issues.”
Maybe people are just angry at the wanton, pointless and avoidable destruction, yeah?
The Love Media are downplaying the arrests in a situation where catching, charging and convicting people must be near impossible, so 24 arrests already for arson this season is remarkable.
What’s more important to the nation, preventing arson, saving wilderness, or proofreading type errors on social media?
Firstly: Most of these fires are man-made but it’s arson and accidental*, not climate change:
In NSW alone 24 people have been charged, with legal action happening against 180 in total ( that’s just in NSW)
NSW Police take legal action against more than 180 people
6 Jan 2020. NSW Police: Since Friday 8 November 2019, legal action – which ranges from cautions through to criminal charges – has been taken against 183 people – including 40 juveniles – for 205 bushfire-related offenses.
- 24 people have been charged over alleged deliberately-lit bushfires
- 53 people have had legal actions for allegedly failing to comply with a total fire ban, and
- 47 people have had legal actions for allegedly discarding a lighted cigarette or match on land.
A US study estimates that 85% of fires are man-made (both accidental and deliberate):
Janet Stanley, Associate Professor at Melbourne University’s Sustainable Society Institute, The Conversation.
Experts estimate about 85% of bushfires are caused by humans. A person may accidentally or carelessly start a fire, such as leaving a campfire unattended or using machinery which creates sparks. Or a person could maliciously light a fire.
But official fires are just the tip of the iceberg: the actual number of bushfires in Australia is thought to be about five times that recorded. Virtually none of these unrecorded fires are investigated.
A Western Australian study from 2012 estimates 43% of fires in WA are deliberate arson, 22% of fires are due to lightning, 13% are accidental, 2% are escaped from hazard reduction, and 20% are unknown.
Secondly: the misinformation-misinformation campaign
The ABC and The Guardian readers are being taken for a ride:
Fires misinformation being spread through social media
By Kevin Nguyen and Ariel Bogle, ABC news
Australia’s bushfire emergency is being exploited on social media, as misinformation is spread through cyberspace via hundreds of thousands of posts.
- Bushfire discussion on social media is attracting a high number of “bot-like and troll-like accounts”
- Some of the misinformation includes the idea left-wing “ecoterrorists” are behind some fires
- The lies are highly sharable, which means they can spread faster than the truth
They don’t mention that four people from a Brazilian green NGO have been arrested in relation to starting fires in the Amazon.
We don’t know if they were guilty, or what the evidence is. They deny it, and we hope they get a fair trial. Regardless, the ABC, etc are already trying to brand “the idea” of eco-terrorism as misinformation and a conspiracy.
Who’s in denial that there might be a motivation in the means-to-an-ends crowd who are hyped up by propaganda about the end-days of climate change?
The ABC found some of the suspicious accounts were amplifying unproven suggestions arson had been the overwhelming cause of Australia’s disastrous bushfire season.
Suspicious accounts like those of professors?
The Guardian is almost a mini-ABC:
Bots and trolls spread false arson claims in Australian fires ‘disinformation campaign’
Christopher Knaus, The Guardian, @knausc
Online posts exaggerating the role of arson are being used to undermine the link between bushfires and climate change
Bot and troll accounts are involved in a “disinformation campaign” exaggerating the role of arson in Australia’s bushfire disaster, social media analysis suggests. The bushfires burning across the nation have been accompanied by repeated suggestions of an arson epidemic or “arson emergency”.
With a million tweets on climate change and fires, why is this tiny hashtag so important? Maybe some of these are fakes, but how many fakes are shouting about a #ClimateEmergency? Who knows, and don’t ask. Nothing to see here comrade.
The Queensland University of Technology senior lecturer on social network analysis Dr. Timothy Graham examined content published on the #arsonemergency hashtag on Twitter, assessing 1,340 tweets, 1,203 of which were unique, published by 315 accounts.
His preliminary analysis found there is likely a “current disinformation campaign” on Twitter’s #arsonemergency hashtag due to the “suspiciously high number of bot-like and troll-like accounts”.
He similarly found a large number of suspicious accounts posting on the #australiafire and #bushfireaustralia hashtags.
Lord help us. Now he realizes there is hyped up polarisation?
“Australia suddenly appears to be getting swamped by mis/disinformation as a result of this environmental catastrophe, and we are suffering the consequences in terms of hyped-up polarisation and an increased difficulty and inability for citizens to discern truth,” Graham told the Guardian.
The Prof finds there’s “likely” a disinformation campaign in a thousand tweets and that means the nation is “swamped”? Tell me again who’s hyping and polarizing the news? The Guardian practically IS a misinformation campaign.
A search on “The Guardian arson” and “abc.net.au arson”, or “theguardian.com arson arrests”, turns up almost no other headlines about a large number of Australian arsonists.
Information is our friend. The poor sods reading The Guardian and The ABC will go out loaded with nothing-burger conspiracies and indignant outrage and get squashed in any real forum.
UPDATE: The Daily Mail says arrests in other states are large too:
Color me skeptical, because their headline looks a bit sloppy. I would like links to police news releases or more reliable numbers.
In Queensland, police have arrested 101 people accused of starting bushfires, 69 juveniles and 32 adults.
Five people were arrested for allegedly setting bushland alight in Tasmania – and a further 10 in South Australia.
Meanwhile in Victoria, where locals have experienced some of the most catastrophic conditions the nation has ever seen, 43 people were charged with firebug offenses.
H/t to Travis. Thank you. And Dave B and Panda.
* Arson is not the same as an accident — a word that has just been added in two spots to make the point clear. There must be malicious intent. h/t DryLiberal.
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