Fake You! (as tutor)
Social experiment and installation about Fake News
Together with the course “Rebranding Reality” by Joachim Hofmann
In the winter semester 2016/17 I was a tutor in the Digital Media Bachelor course “Rebranding Reality” by Joachim Hofmann at the University of Arts Bremen. In the course we engaged with a variety of topics revolving around rumors, conspiracy theories and the spreading of false information, even before the term “Fake News” became popular.
To better understand the mechanisms and dynamics at work, we decided to set up our own fake news website and make it as popular as possible. Therefore we created the website www.bremer-buerger-bote.de that reported about topics relevant in the local context of the city of Bremen and mixed real articles with imaginary stories just on the brink of plausibility. As one of the first stories, and as an attempt to get started all together, we created a short trailer for the Hochschultage (annual exhibition) at the HfK Bremen. The trailer claims, it is the last time, the Hochschultage are happening at the current building, as the whole structure would be turned into luxury apartments by some dubious investors.
The website was embedded in a network of various social media accounts and accompanied by the interaction with multiple fake profiles and comments. Over the course of just some weeks we managed to create an network of some thousand followers and gained a lot of insights into the shady side of the internet, but nevertheless failed to create some viral buzz around any of our fake stories.
At the very end of this social experiment we exhibited and opened our fake-infrastructure for public use during the Hochschultage at the HfK Bremen. In the installation the visitors would see a collection of some of our findings and observations in a spatial installation. On two computers they could slip in the role of the editors of the Bremer Bürger Bote website or interact through our fake social media accounts. On the last day of the exhibition we let the cover of our fake project bust: All online content was labeled with a “fake” banner and all further interaction was discontinued.