An interesting addition to our gallery of Frauds (freuds) is Tommaso Benedetti, an Italian teacher who spends his time making up interviews with celebrities, creating false Facebook profiles, and sending fake news around the twittersphere – most recently announcing the death of Cormac McCarthy. He’s also pretended to be Sonia Gandhi, Gore Vidal, Hamid Karzai, Bashar al-Assad, Henning Mankell, Italian prime minister Mario Monti, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu and Russian interior minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, and broken fraudulent news stories about Mario Vargos Llosa, who wrote of him in his 2015 essay collection, Notes on the Death of Culture,
“He really is a hero of our times,” Vargas Llosa wrote – in a tone that suggests it’s not a compliment. “He excuses his behaviour with the nice paradox: ‘I lied, but only to tell a truth.’ What truth?
“That we live in fraudulent times, in which any offence, if it is amusing and entertains enough people, is forgiven.”
Benedetti claims his acts are intended to expose the weaknesses of the media and the way it pounces on unverified information and uses it without any concern for its truth. He says some outlets publish his stories even though they know they’re false, because they attract attention.
But for someone who claims this is his only motivation, he seems to spend a huge amount of time on it, and he’s been doing it for twenty years. Maybe when he says he has invented “a new genre” we’re getting closer to his real motivation: like those celebrities who are famous because they’re famous, he’s made himself a social media celebrity by (he says) despising social media. (And yes, we’ve just given him an immense boost with a post on this highly influential blog!)
When ideas and opinions have been let loose to run wild in the paddocks of social media, truth’s an old-fashioned idea with a very short lifespan. Who needs it?