Containing a link to an article from NewsPunch, a “news” website that describes itself as being in opposition to mainstream news, the story claims that climate activists are now calling for millions of dogs worldwide to be slaughtered in an effort to reduce the “carbon pawprint” they produce as a result of eating meat.
Curiously, the article features a “fact checked” tag above the byline, without any evidence to suggest the methodology used to verify the claim in the headline. Looking through their website, we found that all theirarticles featured this tag, lending an extra layer of credibility to their content by suggesting that their content had been verified before being posted as a way of influencing the perceptions of readers. In reality however, the fact-checked tag is simply an image that cannot be clicked on. There is no mention of the actual fact-checking process and reading through the articles from NewsPunch, their content features subjective viewpoints with no basis in objectivity.
Reading through the article, it cites an article from CNN as evidence for the claim. However, the CNN report has no mention of any proposed slaughter. Instead it offers tips on how to minimise “carbon pawprints” from pets. Choosing biodegradable poop bags for dogs and environmentally friendly litter options for cats were some of the suggestions, along with sourcing environmentally friendly food for pets.
While it is true that pets contribute to the climate problem to some degree then, mainly through the food they eat and the items marketed towards them, the claim that climate activists vowed to slaughter millions of dogs in an effort to combat climate change is absolutely false. There is no mention of vows to slaughter dogs. Instead, the article simply offers tips to help reduce your pet’s carbon footprint.
Even though this claim is not necessarily the most elaborately crafted, it does point to the evolving techniques used by fake news actors in spreading harmful narratives. The use of “fact-checked” verification markers by NewsPunch shows that spreaders of misinformation are aware of the impact that framing an article as fact-checked or verified can have on the perceived credibility of an article. As such, we advise members of the public to not take fact-checks at face value and verify unsourced information before sharing them.