Fake news at its finest: Internet troll confesses to creating successful feminist magazine

It’s not parody unless it’s funny. At least this was one of the rules that differentiated between a hoax site and a fake news site. Until now…

The right-wing/politically incorrect/satire group/author “Age of Shitlords” which runs the https://ageofshitlords.com/ website and Facebook page just announced that it is shutting down the feminist magazine titled Medusa Magazine, which was created as a hoax. (By the way, here is an explanation about what a “shitlord” is)

Medusa Magazine, using the tagline “Feminist Revolution Now” has been publishing content on topics such as women’s rights, LGBT+, politics and popular culture since June 2017. Some of the magazine’s most popular posts were “Don’t Gender Your Pets”, “Trump initiates Gay Holocaust”, “Grand Theft Auto Appropriates Black Culture”, “Trans women ARE women and rejecting them is Transphobic” or “Beyond Pro-Choice: The Solution to White Supremacy is White Abortion” and some of them were even debated fiercely by other right-wing media publications such as Info-wars, The Federalist and The Gateway Pundit as examples of feminist propaganda. Some of the Medusa Magazine’s posts even managed to gather tens of thousands of Facebook interactions!

Well, on November 23rd, the editor of “Age of the Shitlords” publicly confessed to having created Medusa Magazine as a joke: I created “Medusa Magazine” and I am shutting it down because Feminist stupidity has surpassed satire

To prove that the Medusa Magazine was not hacked, Age of Shitlords posted a screen capture of a Facebook post from May 31st when it got the idea for the fake feminist magazine:

The question that is on everyone’s mind is: could any fact checker or automated verification platform blow Medusa Magazine’s cover?

After all, it has been publishing content that matched some of the more radical feminist agenda, the content didn’t give away any nuance of irony and it was countered heavily by most established right-wind websites. So there was no reason to investigate or “debunk” this magazine’s content.

Having a unified approach towards web content is the first line of defense. Not labeling a website as being true of “fake news” just because of it’s political allegiance ensures objectivity and paves the way for verification procedures that are consistent. A well-rounded verification of a website needs to look at its credentials, content and links to other websites in order to decide if it’s trustworthy or not. TrustServista performs all these tasks automatically, leveraging AI-algorithms that can detect “red flags” and provide the reader with a real-time analysis.

We performed a post-mortem analysis on Medusa Magazine to see if we could have found “red flags” that could give away the fact that the magazine was not what is seemed. This is what TrustServista found out:

  • 49 posts published in total
  • Total Facebook engagements: 102,000
  • Most shared post: https://medusamagazine.com/beyond-pro-choice-the-solution-to-white-supremacy-is-white-abortion: 37.87k
  • The posts have a number of authors: DAEDALUS , Medusa Magazine,  Amity Lamberton, Jack Burton, Aida Gleason, Christie, Alisowoke, Jessica Adams, Rosie, Nicole Valentin, Melody_Wright, Hailey Altmigi, Leslie McCann, Brooke Cunningham.
  • 15 articles did not contain any factual information and received a Content Quality Score of 0.
  • The average content quality score is 40% (distributed: 7 articles < 30%, 23 articles between 30% and 70%, 4 articles > 70%). The average and distribution doesn’t take in account the 0 score posts.
  • Most articles (28) have an overall neutral sentiment, while 14 are positive and 6 are negative.
  • Only 4 articles had an ideal Patient Zero.

The main red flags that are relevant to this analysis are the lack of factual information in many of the articles and the author names that are clearly made-up and have no contact details.


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