The creators of the fake Birds Aren’t Real conspiracy theory say they are highlighting the current wave of misinformation by fighting “madness with madness.”
What started as a spontaneous prank by Peter McIndoe, a 24-year-old college dropout in Memphis in 2017, has since grown into a popular youth movement designed to shed light on the absurdity of “real” conspiracy theories. .
The central claim of the parody, which has spread to billboards and number stickers, is that the US government deliberately killed billions of birds and replaced them with high-tech surveillance drones.
In an interview with 60 minutes which aired Sunday, founder Peter McIndoe was initially interviewed “in character” as the chief architect of the Birds Aren’t Real crusade.
Keeping up the act, McIndoe told correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi that it was suspicious that the presidents’ preferred mode of communication was Twitter.
“They tweet on the Bird app with their politics left or right, you know? I think a lot of things start to unfold, and the matrix starts to break down with the questions you ask.”
The 60 minutes The segment aired footage from a recent Birds Aren’t Real rally in Hollywood attended by 200 self-described bird-truths who, all on the spot, protested the “unmanned bird policing crisis.”
The parodists denounced the “avian agenda” of the media and accused CNN of being “pro-bird”.
Later, McIndoe broke character to explain the point of the ruse.
“It’s taking this concept of misinformation and almost building a little safe space to come together and laugh at it, instead of being scared,” he said. 60 minutes.
“And embrace the craziness of it all and be a real bird for a moment in time when everything is so crazy.”
The team behind Birds Aren’t Real also features Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the 2018 Parkland school shooting who has since become a prominent gun control activist.
Mr. Kasky, 21, co-founded the student-led gun violence prevention advocacy group Never Again MSD, and helped organize the March for Our Lives student protest in March 2018.
Kasky has been accused of being a crisis actor and harassed by supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
“I had this weird perspective on conspiracy theories because the internet was telling me that my father and grandfather were child traffickers because they are adoption attorneys,” he said. 60 minutes.
Birds Aren’t Real’s “chief of staff,” Claire Chronis, told the show that they were “fighting madness with madness.”
The parody social movement was first “discovered” in the mainstream press by the New York Times in December.
Mr. McIndoe had stayed in character for years up to that point, explaining that he was ready to confess to the skit should anyone start to believe he was actually real.
“Dealing in the world of misinformation for the last few years, we have been very conscious of the line we walk,” he told the Times.
“The idea is meant to be so absurd, but we make sure that nothing we say is too realistic. That’s a consideration in getting out of character.”
Birds Aren’t Real has more than 850,000 followers on TikTok and 400,000 on Instagram.