The creators of the bogus conspiracy theory Birds Aren’t Real say they’re shining a light on the current wave of misinformation by combating “madness with madness”.
What started as a spontaneous prank by Peter McIndoe, a 24-year-old college dropout in Memphis in 2017, has since morphed into a grassroots youth movement designed to shine a light on the absurdity of “real” conspiracy theories.
The central claim of the parody, which has spread to billboards and bumper stickers, is that the US government has deliberately killed billions of birds and replaced them with high-level surveillance drones. technology.
Continuing the act, Mr McIndoe told correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi that he 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 are starting to unfold and the matrix is starting to shatter as you ask questions.
the 60 minutes The segment aired footage from a recent Birds Are Not Real rally in Hollywood attended by 200 self-proclaimed bird truthers who all on the spot protested the “crisis of drone bird surveillance.”
The parodists denounced the “avian agenda” of the media and accused CNN of being “pro-bird”.
Mr McIndoe then broke character to explain the purpose of the ruse.
“It takes this concept of misinformation and almost builds a safe little space to come together and laugh about it, rather than being afraid of it,” he said. 60 minutes.
“And accept the craziness of it all and be a real bird for a time when everything is so crazy.”
The team behind Birds Aren’t Real also includes Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the 2018 Parkland school shooting who has since become a prominent gun control activist.
Kasky, 21, co-founded the student gun violence prevention advocacy group Never Again MSD and helped organize the March for Our Lives student protest in March 2018.
Mr Kasky has been accused of being a crisis actor and harassed by supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
“I kind of had this weird perspective on conspiracy theories because the internet was telling me that my dad and my grandfather were child traffickers because they’re adoption lawyers,” he said. he declares. 60 minutes.
Birds are not real “chief of staff” Claire Chronis told the program that they “fight madness with madness”.
The parody social movement was first “unveiled” in the mainstream press by the New York Times in December.
Mr. McIndoe had remained in character for years up to that point and explained that he was prepared to tell the truth about the parody in case anyone started to believe it was actually real.
“Treated in the world of misinformation over the past few years, we have been very conscious of the line we are toeing,” he told the Time.
“The idea is meant to be so absurd, but we make sure nothing we say is too realistic. That’s a consideration with coming out of character.
Birds Aren’t Real has over 850,000 followers on TikTok and 400,000 on Instagram.