Sputnik: What is your take on the content that Avaaz has been sending over the situation in Syria?
Patrick Henningsen: We've been following Avaaz and their exploits for a number of years at our news organization, a small news organization 21st Century Wire. If you look back at who's founded Avaaz, this is a classic sort of astroturfing operation; you have MoveOn.org involved in the founding and promoting of this organization, it also has a PR arm called Purpose Inc who have been instrumental in launching and promoting the White Helmets in Syria; it's a UK, US government backed, funded pseudo-NGO that’s been used to disseminate quite a lot of propaganda to demonize the Syrian government, the Russian government and to call for more intervention in Syria from the West, so their petitions are completely emotive; this is a data collection and marketing organization basically and their job really is consensus building; so they are kind of a tool which can be used by the US government, NATO member states to manufacture a kind of consensus by harnessing the power of big data to synthesize this consensus using young people.
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Sputnik: Some experts have said that the information spread by Avaaz was done by fake bots, what's your take on that? It's ridiculous really, isn't it?
Sputnik: A recent report stated that fake news reaches users faster than real news and is more likely to be shared; what's your opinion regarding consequences this can have on news in general? Is that the case that you are aware of, fake news reaching individuals and customers quicker than real news?
Patrick Henningsen: Absolutely, especially when you consider the biggest producers and disseminators of fake news are major billion dollar networks like CNN; major newspapers like the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post even the BBC does its share of heavy lifting in terms of spreading fake news and they're even calling fake news anybody who criticizes the White Helmets in Syria, they're labeled as fake news. The establishment will put the fake news label on anything that is inconvenient for them.
Sputnik: Websites also calling for the boycott of the FIFA World Cup scheduled to take place here in Russia this summer causing some analysts to say such measures damage world sports. What's your take on that?
Sputnik: Russia has already stated that the massive propaganda attack is being carried out by mass media and it is undermining the efforts for a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict. What are your thoughts?
Patrick Henningsen: The whole raison d'être of the West has been to undermine any ceasefires, to undermine any peace process. If you look at what has happened in Astana over the last two years it's absolutely ground breaking, and also in Sochi in terms of the peace process in Syria; because what it's done it's moved the geopolitical center of gravity from West to East, or ostensibly from Switzerland or Geneva to Astana, or from Europe to Eurasia; this is massive, historically. What it shows is that these countries can come together, like Syria, Russia, Iran and even Turkey and have a forum where they can come to some sort of a resolution to de-escalate potentially the situation and this doesn't include the United States as the central international, so-called “honest broker.” So all major decisions in the Middle East potentially will have to go through Russia, or go to Tehran, you have to consult Damascus and also Turkey and Iraq and this is something that Washington is very uncomfortable with. London is very uncomfortable with this because they are losing their imperial or neo-colonial grip on the region.
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