A Message from Marianna

DH, Going Postal
“BBC Radio 5 live, Salford” by James Cridland is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Hi, I’m Marianna Spring! I’m 24! I’m the BBC’s specialist misinformation reporter. You may recognise my wide-eyed, 24-year-old face from The One Show, BBC News Online, BBC Radio 4, pictures I post of myself having a super time eating candy floss and cuddling my cat on Twitter, a big interview I did with the ‘i’ newspaper and from frequent appearances on BBC News 24.
This is quite fitting because ‘i’ am ‘24’! And I’m the BBC’s specialist misinformation reporter. Not bad for a 24-year-old!
That is just sheer coincidence though, not a dangerous online viral conspiracy theory which causes real world harm LOL! I’m 24.

Today I am reaching out to a section of the internet I fear is vulnerable to being impacted by totally impactful online viral conspiracy theories with heart-breaking, gut-wrenching real world consequences. An online ecosystem in which online disinfo thrives and people have turned away from the BBC as a source of trusted information :-(!  Imagine not trusting the BBC! Are you mad?! I’m 24. I’m Marianna Spring.

So, to save you all from the stark consequences of straying from the BBC’s unimpeachably impartial narrative – namely having your lives ruined, relationships destroyed and democracies undermined – I, Marianna Spring, 24, BBC specialist misinformation reporter, am here to put a few of the more dangerous viral conspiracy theories I’ve seen being discussed around here to bed once and for all! I’m the BBC’s specialist Marianna 24 reporter. I’m Spring.

Totally Dangerous Online Conspiracy Theory number one – Joe Biden did not win the election

Online viral conspiracy theories like QAnon have been spreading misinformation about there being 1,000 sworn affidavits from witnesses in six different states documenting vote rigging and a legion of the dead miraculously rising from their graves on election night to cast last minute postal votes for Joe Biden! But as the BBC’s specialist 24-year-old misinformation reporter, I’ve done a ginormous investigation into this. I even had a new picture taken for it doing a serious reporting face that a lot of lovely people retweeted on Twitter! But guess what? It turned out to be completely false. There was literally NOTHING on the BBC about affidavits or zombies voting for Biden!
So for balance, I checked CNN. Nothing! I’m 24. In fact, all I did find out was that 100 per cent of the entire world is overjoyed to see the back of Donald Trump! And 100 per cent of the world is looking forward to Joe Biden’s presidency! What we do know as fact is that literally nobody in America voted for Trump, making it impossible for Joe Biden not to have won the election! That made Trump so cross that he sent in an army of fascist Vikings to stage a military coup in the Capitol building! OMG! I’m Marianna Spring.
If a super duper specialist BBC journalist like me can’t find anything to back up these claims about electoral fraud on two of the most trusted news outlets in the world you can bet it is almost definitely viral misinformation with real world consequences.
But don’t worry if you were taken in. You’re just a bit dim, that’s all :-)! You don’t have the sort of qualifications I have so you’re not aware when your unfounded concerns about corpses casting fraudulent votes to rig a nuclear-armed superpower’s election results are being hijacked by extremist online conspiracy disinfo spreaders to erode faith in democracy, with real world consequences! I’m Marianna Specialist.

Totally Dangerous Online Conspiracy Theory number two – The Covid-19 vaccine is poisonous

It’s totally scary how disinformation can spread online. I spent a whole morning doing a humongous investigation into anti-vaxx extremism in my job as BBC specialist misinformation reporter and I’m 24 and people’s lives are being severely impacted by this, even in the real world!
Bill Gates seems to be a popular target for conspiracy theorists, with all kinds of dangerous misinformation about microchipping and DNA alteration and plugging people into a 5G surveillance matrix! Fancy that! I spent literally an hour doing a serious journalism by searching the BBC website for legitimate, trustworthy information this Bill Gates they’re all talking about. I got so engrossed that my Starbucks hazelnut latte went cold :-(! It turns out Bill Gates is just a cool guy from the 80s who got super rich by selling computers! I’m 24. And all he wants to do is use his brilliant computer science knowledge to help develop a complex, virtually untested vaccine that will be rolled out to millions of people at the shortest possible notice! He’s even buying all the farms because he loves animals so much! I love animals too! Yet he’s a target for all kinds of viral online conspiracy theorists! It’s crazy! I’m Marianna Spring.
There is an equally wild claim that Bill Gates was involved in a poisonous experimental DTP vaccine in Guinea-Bissau, which is apparently in a faraway place called Africa, in the 1990s but I couldn’t find anyone left alive there to verify this claim so I had to conclude that was misinformation too! I literally cannot move for misinformation! I’m Specialist Spring.
So guys, you really, really need to follow Bill Gates and the computer vaccine science when it comes to these jabs! The BBC is here to impartially interpret the science for you so you don’t have to think too hard, leaving you free to get on with concentrating on fun things like Strictly! So if you see anyone online saying anything mean about the super duper vaccinations we’re all going to get, totally DM me and I’ll tell you why they’re wrong and you need to roll up your little sleeves and stop asking questions! I’m the BBC’s 24 Marianna Reporter Specialist.

Totally Dangerous Online Conspiracy Theory number three – I’m an AI construct with no soul

If you’ve noticed a slight look of sadness in my eyes in my latest cat selfies, this is the reason why. I receive a totally unique kind of online abuse for daring to be Marianna Spring, the BBC’s specialist misinformation reporter. I’m 24. Through my exhaustive investigative work, which sometimes takes a whole afternoon on Twitter, I found this is driven by a culture of toxic masculinity, which is part of the complex ecosystem of online misinformation, driven by misogyny! Cat selfies. Candy floss. Frequent television appearances.
Yet despite all this tireless work, they say I’m a robotic algorithm! A psy-op! Build back better. I’m Marianna Spring.
It’s totally because I’m a woman and I’m a top super duper specialist journalist and they’re not. I mean, it’s taken me until the ripe old age of 24 to get this far! You will own nothing.
But mark my words, nobody and nothing will stop me from doing the job I love! I will allow nothing to compromise my mission. The mission means everything. Failure is not an option.
The online conspiracy influencers who conspire to tempt people away from the BBC narrative will be crushed under foot. You will be happy. I’m 24. Take the vaccine. Fear the unexpected knock on your door.
I will never, ever, stop fighting for the glorious future which now lies so clearly within our grasp.
A future purged of these anti-vaxx heretics. Candy floss selfies.
A future free of conspiracy theorist vermin who refuse to accept the leaders WE choose for them.
A future where loyal BBC viewers are protected from such filth by twenty feet of barbed wire, three feet of concrete and the blazing muzzles of machine guns. Build back better. Take the vaccine. Cat selfies.
A future where you will own nothing, question nothing, keep your head down, be happy, discuss Strictly and keep paying your television licence. You will be happy, because why wouldn’t you be happy? Are you not entertained?
We see it before us, we need only reach for it. We must resolve to subordinate everything to it. That is the duty of the hour.
Let the slogan be: Now, people rise up and let the storm break loose.
I’m Marianna Spring. I’m 24. The morning will come when the world is mine. Tomorrow belongs to me.

© DH 2021

The Goodnight Vienna Audio file