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Internet

'Don't Believe Every Tweet' campaign proves its own point

It's a parody, but the point is well taken.

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The Don't Believe Every Tweet campaign wants you to be skeptical.

Screenshot/CNET

Not everyone is an expert.

That's the message an ad campaign called Don't Believe Every Tweet -- seemingly from Twitter itself -- is trying to drive home. The irony, though, is the campaign isn't an effort by the platform to educate users about being critical of what they see. It's the work of a 35-year-old Los Angeles-based writer and director named Nathan Gotsch.

The parody campaign, whose Twitter account started tweeting on Saturday, comprises a series of ads, a Twitter-like website with a pledge to sign and a statement supposedly -- but not really -- signed by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

"It's a simple reminder to be skeptical of everything you see on Twitter because our users can put literally anything in a tweet," says the statement.

Twitter confirmed that it isn't affiliated with Don't Believe Every Tweet.

Gotsch said via email that the idea came from conversations with comedian Greg Barris, who stars in the commercials as a sketchy figure claiming expertise but giving bad advice on topics such as birthing and how to make $1 million, and with cinematographer Jenn Gittings about "Twitter and social media and fake news and basically everything that all of us have been discussing recently."

The campaign comes as social media platforms are grappling with how to handle the dissemination of false information on their sites. Last week, companies that included Facebook, YouTube and Apple booted conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his site Infowars off their services. Meanwhile, Twitter took heat for not immediately doing the same. Twitter later suspended Jones for one week.

Gotsch and company aren't necessarily on an ideological crusade, though. A graduate of film school at the University of Southern California, Gotsch said he's been looking to get more work in commercial and branded content, but has found it tough to break in. Posing as Twitter seemed likely to attract some extra attention.

So far, he said, Twitter hasn't told him to cut it out.

Yet he does have an opinion on Twitter's struggles that's more forgiving than you might expect: "I'm not saying they don't bear some responsibility for what gets shared on their site, but let's be honest," he said. "The problem isn't that people tweet crazy shit. It's that other people believe it."