Did President Donald Trump sign an executive order telling the Department of Justice to stop using Arabic numerals? No, that's not true. The story was published by a liberal satire website that tries to educate gullible Trump supporters and Republicans about the need to actually click and read links before sharing or liking them in order to avoid being embarrassed by fans of the site later. All the events described in the article are not real.
The story originated from an article published by America's Last Line of Defense on December 28, 2018 titled "President Trump Orders DOJ To Stop Using Arabic Numerals, Another Obama Policy GONE" (archived here) which opened:
When fighting terrorism, it's important to get rid of whatever policies you can that enable it. In 2011, the Obama administration made the controversial move of requiring the Department of Justice to use Arabic numerals rather than English ones when filing reports.
At the time, Fox News reported that this was a "clear nod to Al Qaeda and other factions that wish to do us harm." And they were right. On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order rescinding the Obama policy.
"This is an important move in the fight against terrorist activity globally," Department of Justice spokeswoman Johnna Henty said after President Trump signed the order. "Writing numbers the way terrorists do only emboldens them."
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
Of course there is no such executive order (you can check here) and Arabic numerals have been used in the West for centuries. The story is just a variation on an old joke campaign going on since at least 2016:
Dedicated to stopping the teaching of dangerous, extremist Arabic numerals to our children and upholding of American values in our schools.
The article also quotes "White House spokeswoman Fiona Dourif". Actress Fiona Dourif may be many things but she isn't working at the White House as far as we know.
Besides several other hints (like the category the article was posted in: "SATIRICAL SCANDALS THAT SOUND REAL") the site that posted the story also comes with a clear satire disclaimer at the bottom of each article:
the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, OR ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
If you disagree with the definition of satire or have decided it is synonymous with "comedy," you should really just move along.
The owner and main writer of the site is self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has made it his full time job to troll gullible conservatives and Trump supporters into liking and sharing his articles. He runs several other websites, including potatriotpost.us, dailyworldupdate.us and nofakenewsonline.us. Sometimes he is also known under his nickname "Busta Troll". A second man working on the sites is John Prager as revealed in this earlier story we wrote.
Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down in the past but new ones keep cropping up and he keeps knocking them down.
Blair and his operation were profiled by the Washington Post on November 17, 2018 by Eli Saslow:
November 17 The only light in the house came from the glow of three computer monitors, and Christopher Blair, 46, sat down at a keyboard and started to type. His wife had left for work and his children were on their way to school, but waiting online was his other community, an unreality where nothing was exactly as it seemed.
If you are interested in learning more about Blair and the history of his sites, here is something to get you started:
STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Yesterday Eli Saslow at the Washington Post wrote a fantastic article about Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has been trolling conservatives and Trump supporters online for years and occasionally even made a living out of it.
If you see one of his stories on a site that does not contain a satire disclaimer, assume it is fake news. If you do see the satire disclaimer it is of course also fake news.
NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes wearethellod.com as:
A site that publishes false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news, part of a network named America's Last Line of Defense run by hoax perpetrator Christopher Blair.
According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.
We wrote about wearethellod.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:
- Fake News: Mike Pence NOT To Resign 'At The Request of the President'
- Fake News: Democrats Did NOT Cave, Did NOT Authorize Full Funding Of Wall To Avoid Shutdown
- Fake News: Penny Marshall Did NOT Donate Estate to Trump 2020
- Fake News: Colin Kaepernick NOT Arrested In Massive $200k Drug Bust
- Fake News: Dearborn City Council Did NOT Force Christian Schoolkids To Sing Muslamic Hymns