In the age of the internet, parody accounts have become a mainstay on social media, and the New York Times fell for a fake news story promoted on one of those accounts Tuesday.
The Times reported that a statement from the DPRK News Service, a popular social media parody of the North Korean regime, was an actual proclamation from the Hermit Kingdom.
The original Times story, which detailed a recent joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States, reported that Pyongyang “belittled the joint exercise as ‘demonstrating near total ignorance of ballistic science’” — quoting from a statement on the satirical Twitter account.
Imbecilic Americans drunkenly fire missiles into East Sea of Korea, demonstrating near total ignorance of ballistic… https://t.co/nfwHwx4Usz— DPRK News Service (@DPRK News Service)1499211363.0
Not long after the story was published, the Times saw the error of its ways and issued a correction.
“The North Korean government did not belittle a joint American-South Korean military exercise as ‘demonstrating near total ignorance of ballistic science,’” the editor’s note read. “That statement was from the DPRK News Service, a parody Twitter account.”
The DPRK News Service, which jokingly claims to be the “official news feed of Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea,” poked fun at the Times for making the mistake.
Ministry of Culture bans New York Times.— DPRK News Service (@DPRK News Service)1499264103.0
According to the Washington Post, the account is actually maintained by two Americans: Patrick, a lawyer, and Derrick, a data analyst. And they’ve fooled journalists in the past.
USA Today, the most widely circulated newspaper in the U.S., fell victim to the parody account in March. The newspaper incorrectly reported that the North Korean regime had called Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) an “infantile lunatic angrily soiling himself.”
It is noteworthy that USA Today made the mistake in March, several months before it made the same error, claiming the North Korean government had criticized President Donald Trump for choosing former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for energy secretary.
“Last month, a USA Today story mistakenly reported criticism of Energy Secretary Rick Perry from North Korea; the blog cited a parody account, not an official North Korea account,” the newspaper stated in January.