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One of Florida’s leading environmental activist groups, Bullsugar.org, promoted a bizarre fake news story on their Facebook page on Sunday morning. The story was first published on a website that appears to be based in the central European nation of Slovenia. But some of the quotes and text in the story were stolen from several different Florida media outlets before being repasted onto the Slovenian website to make it appear to be a real story. It was then uploaded onto the Bullsugar.org Facebook page, where it was shared extensively.

Here’s a direct link to the Bullsugar.org facebook post. If it doesn’t work, it’s likely because the group read this story and deleted the post…so a screen capture is included below (click on it to enlarge the image):

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The obvious fake news post appears to have been shared over 1,000 times by unwitting Bullsugar.org members and followers, essentially going “viral” among South Florida’s liberal social media activists. The share rate for the Slovenian fake news story is significantly higher than most of the content that Bullsugar usually posts on their page. The source site, called socpedia.org, lists an “about” page that is filled with “lorem ipsum” generic filler text alongside a map of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Was it published by Russian botnet hackers? Liberal media outlets have whipped Democrats into a fever over possible Russian meddling in our elections and in our media. Slovenia isn’t Russia. Still, Russian botnet hackers are known to hide their tracks by masking the origin of their content.

Regardless of what foreign entity is actually behind the content, the fact it was shared over 1,000 times – far more than most Bullsugar.org posts – raises significant questions all by itself. It is not clear if Bullsugar.org simply posted the content and the group’s members chose to share it on their own without reading it, or if a foreign entity is attempting to promote the post on social media in order to whip up South Florida environmental activists using false or misleading information.

There appears to be little difference between a full-blown Russian hacker botnet pushing spam on American voters or a Bullsugar.org brain-dead human botnet doing the work for free. Either way, online activists who share such stories without bothering to read them are just as bad as Russian hackers themselves.

And there’s really no excuse that Bullsugar.org “didn’t know” it was from a foreign source. A cursory reading of the story reveals it was “written” by a non-native English speaker. Here’s the opening graph, unedited:

For the researchers, a dead zone is a place in which most or all of the animal have died, which have become infertile and Barren so there is no hope of regrowth of crops there, and which is empty. This is exactly what Edison reef of Florida has become now, but things were different in the former summer.

Then there are other odd phrasing choices and poor syntax, including extensive use of the plural “fishes” instead of the more common “fish,” along with these gems:

“Edison Reef have become hypoxic”

And…

Thus, the food chain of the marine life has come to a halt. Dozens of Dead Sea creature have been recovered and now there is a stack of this creature on the scene.

But nevermind the poor writing quality from the “Slovenian” content farm used to produce this propaganda. What about the facts themselves?

Also poor quality.

As mentioned, parts of the story were stolen from other Florida media outlets who published some of the quotes a week earlier. But Bullsugar.org’s Slovenian content farm, or Russian hackers, or whoever they are, left out some critical context. The fake news article quotes a real water quality scientist named Rick Bartleson, who works for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.

Most of his quotes are accurate, he actually said those things. But Bullsugar’s Slovenian content farm failed to include an important quote from Bartleson, who also says the algae blooms in Okeechobee are NOT feeding the Red Tides on the coast:

“The blue-green algae isn’t causing the red tide to bloom,” says Bartleson. “We already had a lot of red tide out there, they already have a lot of nutrient sources.”

Just as Bullsugar.org’s parent organization, The Everglades Foundation, has suffered significant credibility problems (see here, here and here), it appears Bullsugar.org is also guilty of pushing fake news, either through Russian botnet hackers, or their own mindless propaganda pushers.

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