The Age has become the latest victim of a spoof British soccer account, which makes a habit of tweeting outrageous yet catchy crowd chants in a bid to fool the media.

The paper yesterday removed a story written by a staff journalist for page 6 of Thursday’s paper, after it emerged that a key quote in the piece had in fact been first tweeted by a fake British parody account.

The piece, which was on the racial underpinnings of Trump’s victory, halfway through referenced “reports” that said there were thousands of Trump supporters outside Trump Tower in New York, shouting: “We hate Muslims, we hate blacks, we want our great country back.”

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The claim comes from Simon Rowntree, whose plausible-looking Twitter account has since been suspended. On election night, he tweeted what he claimed was a first-hand account of what was happening in Manhattan. But “Rowntree” (he’s not a real person) has a bit of a specialty making up offensive chants by rowdy football fans in the UK. And it’s far from the first time he’s managed to get news organisations to pick up his fake first-hand accounts. Outlets like The Sun and Russia Today have been previous victims.

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The Age’s editor-in-chief Mark Forbes told Crikey he’d only been made aware of the error last night. “As soon as I was alerted, I pulled the story down whilst we investigated.” He said this morning that a correction would go up, and a note would be issued to staff about the verification of this type of thing. “It’s definitely not good enough,” he said, expressing disappointment it hadn’t been picked up before publication and adding that given the sheer amount of fake news to be written about the US election it’s something The Age should have been very wary of.

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Earlier this week at News Corp, a fake Trump statement composed by satirical website The Shovel (in which he dissed Cory Bernardi) made its way to the Herald Sun and Courier-Mail, as The Guardian has reported. — Myriam Robin

Peter Fray

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