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The godfather of fake news and his counterpart who battles for the truth

BBC News – Meet one of the world’s most prolific writers of disinformation – “Christopher Blair takes a sip of his coffee. Then he carefully focuses on one of the three screens in front of him. He’s in his home office, 45 minutes outside Portland, Maine, on the US East Coast. Stroking his thick beard, he looks at his bookmarks bar. He takes another sip before his coffee goes cold, inhales long and hard, then logs into the back end of one of his many websites. He begins by choosing a subject. Which “lucky” politician will be on the receiving end of his attention today? Bill Clinton? Hillary Clinton? One of the Obamas? Or maybe the subject of his story won’t be a person, but a policy. Gun control? Police brutality? Feminism? Anything that will push buttons. The words flow from the thoughts in his head. Unconnected to reality, he needs no research, and no notes. His fingers rhythmically tap the keys. Letters form into words, words into sentences and sentences into a blog of about 200 words. It doesn’t take long to write. Publish. Blair sits back in his chair and watches the likes and shares roll in…

…More than 3,000 miles (5,000km) away in a small town an hour east of the Belgian capital, Brussels, there’s another office in another family home. Outside, children play in the garden on a warm summer’s afternoon. Maarten Schenk navigates the steep set of stairs to his basement office. There’s an L-shaped desk in one corner – in another, a cooler is filled with bottles of peach-flavoured iced tea. His desk resembles Blair’s. On it, sit three computer monitors, with the machine hard drives tucked away neatly underneath. On one of the screens, he suddenly notices a lot of activity. The US is waking up, and spiking numbers on one page catch Schenk’s attention. He watches as one particular story is gathering momentum and is quickly being shared on Facebook and other social networks. Schenk logs into his own website and starts to type. His job is to tell the world that what he’s seeing online – the story that’s currently going viral about a Clinton Foundation ship, allegedly carrying drugs, guns and sex slaves – is a complete fabrication. It’s fake news…”

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