In Fake Food, Fake News: On China’s For-Profit Version of Wikipedia, Chenxin Jiang introduces us to the wacky world of Baidu Baike (百度百科), Baidu search engine’s politically correct, Chinese-language version of Wikipedia for the masses:
But in many cases the misinformation on Baidu Baike cannot be attributed to commercial interests; much of it is bizarre or just plain wrong. For instance, Baidu Baike lists Barack Obama as a member of the “Barack family” and identifies his mother’s citizenship as “White American from Kansas.” It quotes Bill Clinton calling Obama “the worst president in American history.” It also says Obama was a “drug addict” as a teenager and inexplicably recounts an anecdote about a couple whose wedding plans were disrupted by Obama’s golf schedule. Despite having the same open-content, anyone-can-edit structure as Wikipedia’s, Baidu Baike is a virtual quagmire of arbitrary opinions and what one might call fake facts.
The existence of the fake fact gives the pleonasm “true fact” meaning. A fake fact doesn’t perform the most crucial function of a fact. If you absorb a fake fact, you might feel more informed (just as you might feel full, at least momentarily, after you consume fake food). But unlike a true fact, it doesn’t tell you anything about the world. A fake fact sits on a website just where an actual fact might be, but it can’t get you from a place where you know less about Barack Obama to a place where you know more.