An early test of how to spread digital misinformation: Before the Ruskies started influencing U.S. elections, they cut their digital teeth spreading hoaxes about American food poisoning incidents. At least that’s the story in a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal, which reported on its front page about a 2015 Thanksgiving incident in which 200 people in New York City went to the hospital with food poisoning from a Koch Turkey Farms bird sold at Walmart. Except it never happened. The fictitious story began on a cooking website forum, then spread to Twitter, where it was repeated hundreds of times, many apparently by legitimate U.S. citizens who were simply trying to warn others. It was an early test of how digital misinformation could be spread to wreak havoc and damage the credibility of American government agencies and companies, the Journal and its sources said. And it proved successful enough that it was replicated with stories of contaminated groundwater, terrorist attacks, a chemical plant explosion – all fictitious – and eventually with stories defaming Hillary Clinton and others. READ MORE