Qatar-backed news site falls for ‘Prince Harry to honeymoon in Jeddah’ prank

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for the media in the grounds of Kensington Palace. (Photo courtesy: social media)
Updated 31 December 2017
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Qatar-backed news site falls for ‘Prince Harry to honeymoon in Jeddah’ prank

LONDON: Amid the media frenzy over the UK royal wedding, one Qatar-backed website has proven somewhat divorced from reality.
After Prince Harry and Meghan Markle marry in May, they will jet off to honeymoon in Saudi Arabia, where they will attend a monster truck rally in Jeddah and open a branch of Hooters in Riyadh.
That was, at least, the entirely fictional forecast reported by the Pan-Arabia Enquirer, a well-known satirical site in the Middle East.
But Arabi 21 missed the joke — and reported it all as fact.
The news website on Saturday regurgitated the satirical claims that Saudi Arabia had paid $60 million to host the royal honeymoon — despite what it called an “austerity situation” in the Kingdom.
It repeated the Pan-Arabia Enquirer’s humorous claim that Prince Harry would open a branch of Hooters — the US restaurant chain famous for its scantily-clad waitresses — in Riyadh.
Several anti-Saudi, widely-followed Twitter accounts and news sites were also quick to retweet the story and comment negatively — all without bothering to verify its authenticity.
Arabi 21 apparently realized its mistake and unpublished the story. The website — one of several reportedly backed by Qatar as part of its “soft power” attempts — could not be reached for comment.
The founder of the Pan-Arabia Enquirer, who prefers to remain anonymous, was quick to poke fun at the site.
“We doff our hats to the fine people at Arabi 21 for picking up our entirely made up story about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle choosing to honeymoon in Saudi Arabia,” he told Arab News.
“In this age of fake news, when respected journalists are being widely dismissed as propagators of untruths, we’re thrilled to see a news organization throw caution to the wind and publish something without bothering to check the source material. Bravo!”
The Pan-Arabia Enquirer is a satire site — but the joke was lost on one Qatar-backed news website. (Screengrab)

It is not the first time a news outlet has fallen for the site’s satirical stories.
In 2014, The News International, one of the most established English newspapers in Pakistan, ran a report in which it was claimed that — at a time of heightened tension in the Gulf — Qatar had banned Saudis, Bahrainis and Emiratis from entering the London department store Harrods.
It based its story on an entirely fictional report by the Pan-Arabia Enquirer.
Another of the site’s jokes that left many people fooled included one from 2013 that stated the Dubai airline Emirates would introduce shisha lounges on board its planes. Even some members of Emirates cabin crew believed the story, according to media reports at the time.
Others fell for a spoof story about British model Katie Price, also known as Jordan, suing the country of Jordan over naming rights.
The Pan-Arabia Enquirer — often likened to “The Onion of the Middle East” — has a long history of poking fun at the region.
In 2013, it joked that a Saudi airline would introduce the religious police in aircraft cabins as “a free in-flight service.” The same year, it ran a satirical story about Qatar having “sensationally swooped in to win the hosting rights” for the funeral of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
A screenshot of the Arabi21 artical in Arabic.


Twitter removes accounts linked to Alex Jones, Infowars

Updated 23 October 2018
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Twitter removes accounts linked to Alex Jones, Infowars

  • Twitter permanently suspended @realalexjones and @infowars from Twitter and Periscope in early September
  • Other tech companies, including PayPal, YouTube, Apple and Spotify, have limited or banned Jones’ activities on their sites

LOS ANGELES: Twitter has removed some accounts thought to be used to circumvent a ban on conspiracy-monger Alex Jones and Infowars, the company said Tuesday.
A Twitter spokesman confirmed that the accounts had been removed but provided no additional comment. The company says it usually does not discuss specific accounts.
Twitter permanently suspended @realalexjones and @infowars from Twitter and Periscope in early September. It said it based that action in reports of tweets and videos that violated its policy against abusive behavior.
The company said it would continue to evaluate reports regarding other accounts potentially associated with @realalexjones or @infowars and would take action if it finds content that violates its rules or if other accounts are used to try to circumvent their ban.
Other tech companies, including PayPal, YouTube, Apple and Spotify, have limited or banned Jones’ activities on their sites.
Infowars has said the moves are intended to sabotaging the site just weeks before the midterm elections.
On Twitter and elsewhere, Jones has done such things as describe survivors of a shooting in Parkland, Florida, “crisis actors” and saying the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 was fake. He had about 900,000 followers on Twitter. Infowars had about 430,000.