+8 votes
in General Factchecking by Genius (36.2k points)
Pentagon talks about Taylor Swift being an “asset.”

6 Answers

+8 votes
by Journeyman (2.0k points)
selected by
 
Best answer

Let me first start by noting that TikTok is never a valuable source of information. The claim made by the TikTok user is backed by false and framed messaging. He uses a clip from a 2019 NATO meeting that discussed cyber defense and security, specifically covering technical, legal, policy, strategy, and military outlook. Instead, he uses the video to frame his claim that the Pentagon discussed using Taylor Swift to combat the growth of misinformation online.

Presidential Candidate Nikki Haley and numerous Pentagon officials, including DOD (Department of Defense) press secretary Sabrina Singh, rebuked the conspiracies. In a report to Politico, Singh states, "To set the record straight - Taylor Swift is not part of a DOD psychological operation. Period."

Additionally, this claim originates from FOX News host Jesse Watters, who suggested on live television that Swift could be "a front for a covert political agenda." He floats this theory in conjunction with how she could potentially impact and help Joe Biden in the 2024 election. We often see FOX News anchors make absurd claims on live television, mostly for the sake of viewership ratings and keeping their predominantly MAGA audience satisfied. In this case, this holds true. In response to Watters' claim, the Pentagon said, "As for this conspiracy theory, we're going to shake it off."

This claim is false and was an uncontextualized assertion made by a pro-MAGA FOX News anchor.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/an-exasperated-pentagon-responds-to-the-taylor-swift-conspiracy-theories#:~:text=In%20a%20statement%2C%20deputy%20Pentagon,Period.”

https://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/2024/01/17/pentagon-shakes-off-claims-taylor-swift-is-a-covert-asset/72200280007/

https://www.businessinsider.com/taylor-swift-pentagon-psyop-fox-news-jesse-watters-conspiratorial-segment-2024-1 

False
by Apprentice (1.1k points)
You did a great job in seeking secondary sources to prove that his claim was false.   I also believe TikTok is never a trustworthy way to find out news and other things.  One thing you could do is maybe provide the link to the clip in the 2019 NATO meeting, which would back up your claim even more and give it more credibility.
by Novice (680 points)
Great job at fact checking this claim! I agree with your point on TikTok not being a reliable source. As we have discussed and read about in my fact or fiction course misinformation and disinformation Is very popular especially on social media.
by Novice (690 points)
Great job factchecking this claim. It is very true that TikTok is not a reliable source. The sources use of an old clip for the claim is not helpful or reliable for the claim. You can tell that this claim is not reliable.
by Genius (36.2k points)
Nice work providing background context and citing sources within your fact-check.
by Novice (700 points)
I like how you immediately discredit TikTok as a valid source. Furthermore, after labeling the claim as false, you provide information from credible sources to back up your reasoning.
by Novice (680 points)
I liked how you used multiple sources and also stated at the start that TikTok is not a reputable source. I also liked you pulled a direct quote from Nikki Haley shooting down this claim. Great fact check!
by Newbie (320 points)
This is a great fact check. I had seen this rumor online but had not given it much thought after. The background for the origin of this claim you provided is very helpful, as well as the credible sources you referenced.
+11 votes
by Apprentice (1.8k points)

This claim comes from Tik Tok user youwon'tbemeoffical a content creator who claims to expose the truth. In this video he claims that the pentagon discussed turning Taylor Swift into a psychological asset to combat online misinformation in a NATO meeting in 2019. The "NATO video conference" that the Tik Tok user is referring to is actually a presentation by CCDCOE at the International Conference on Cyber Conflict - Cycon. According to the  CCDCOE website Cycon is ," a prominent multidisciplinary conference, introducing keynotes and panels focusing on the technical, legal, policy, strategy and military perspectives of cyber defence and security." The moment the Tik Tok user is referring to is when presentor, Alicia Bargar a Senior Data Engineer at TMNL, uses Taylor Swift as an example when talking about how major influencers can help combat misinformation. In this presentation Bargar is referring to her research on Challenges and Opportunities to Counter Information Operation Through Social Network Analysis and Theory. Bargar is not affiliated with the Pentagon and no where in her presentation does she refer to using Taylor Swift as a  psychological asset. Due to this I would label this claim as false. 

Resources: 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/aliciabargar/?originalSubdomain=nl 

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8756832/references#references

https://ccdcoe.org

International Conference on Cyber Conflict – CyCon

False
by Novice (680 points)
Great job at breaking down the claim and getting to the bottom of it! As someone who was unfamiliar with the situation, this answer really helped confirm that the claim is not true. By getting down to the presenter and the no ties to the pentagon helps confirm that the source is not reliable.
by Novice (720 points)
I think your extensive research and citing multiple claims to be able to find the origin of the manipulated content was really precise. You were able to accurately trace each piece.
by Novice (510 points)
I thought your fact-check was very well done. It's funny to think that misinformation was being spread from a discussion about combatting misinformation. It seems like people will make any claim to get themselves views.
by Novice (530 points)
The nuance you included here is important, since although CCDCOE is not NATO, it still sounds like an official organization/conference and could be perceived as a reliable source if not for your explanation.
by Novice (630 points)
The sources you used to support your claim are great sources. They seem to be very credible and relatable to the claim being made.
+4 votes
by Novice (520 points)
This statement is false. It originated as a conspiracy theory from a Fox News anchor Jesse Watters saying that the government is going to use Taylor Swift as a political weapon due to her massive following and influence. The Pentagon spokes person Sabrina Singh spoke out about the theory making a reference to one of Taylor's songs saying, "as for this conspiracy theory, we are going to shake it off." I found this information on multiple sites. When you google this statement about Taylor Swift almost all the news sources say the same thing. It is also well known that Taylor encourages her fans to vote, but never makes specific statements on which party. I also don't think she would ever do something like that in general, Taylor is widely known to be very blunt and doesn't feed into others BS.

main source- https://www.politico.com/news/2024/01/10/pentagon-taylor-swift-fox-00134866

other news outlets that support that the claim is false-

https://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/2024/01/17/pentagon-shakes-off-claims-taylor-swift-is-a-covert-asset/72200280007/

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/an-exasperated-pentagon-responds-to-the-taylor-swift-conspiracy-theories

https://people.com/pentagon-shakes-off-jesse-watters-taylor-swift-conspiracy-theory-8425228

https://www.forbes.com/sites/maryroeloffs/2024/02/02/dod-confirms-taylor-swift-is-not-a-pentagon-asset-and-travis-kelce-probably-isnt-either/?sh=6d12532552d9
False
by Apprentice (1.1k points)
I thought the number of sources provided was great and really proves that this claim is false. I think it is important to mention the claim is from TikTok, which is known to be pretty unreliable with a lot of misleading content. In addition, I think it would be important to include the video or transcript from the pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh saying what she did. As it is from the pentagon it should be easy to find an official copy of the speech.
by Novice (830 points)
I think you did a great job providing sources and really explaining why this claim is indeed false. I really enjoyed reading it and those sources you provided added another layer of your knowledge.
by Apprentice (1.5k points)
+1
Overall this is a great job at fact checking this claim. I appreciate that you wrote about Taylor Swift promoting voting to her fans and that she doesn’t say what party to vote for. Although in recent years she has been semi clear on her personal stance of which political party she supports, including LBTQ+ communities into her music video for “You Need to Calm Down.” I would also recommend including where this conspiracy theory has gained its traction like Tik Tok.
by Apprentice (1.6k points)
Thank you for this answer. I very much appreciate that you brought up how the whole "Taylor Swift is a psy-op" trend is a baseless conspiracy promoted by right-wing actors against Taylor Swift, who is outspokenly a Democrat, and who just won Time's Person of the Year, putting her in the national spotlight. The claim is political disinformation with the attempt to discredit Taylor Swift's political views.
+2 votes
by Novice (860 points)

This claim started on TikTok but was amplified by FOX News, especially by FOX commentator Jesse Watters.  He showed a clip from the 2019 NATO conference that named Taylor a powerful influencer but said nothing about her being an asset.  FOX News has feared the popularity of Taylor Swift could sway the election in Joe Biden’s favor, so they are causing panic in their base that the Pentagon is using Taylor as an asset.  They fear Taylor Swift’s influence, so they are trying to discredit her and claim she is an asset, which has been debunked by the Pentagon and reported by several sources. They try to highlight it in the reports by using Taylor's songs to dismiss it. Taylor does have influence, and I can understand the panic of the Republican party if Taylor endorses Biden, but to say she is being used as an asset is a far stench. This claim is false.

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/maryroeloffs/2024/02/02/dod-confirms-taylor-swift-is-not-a-pentagon-asset-and-travis-kelce-probably-isnt-either/?sh=1ea5aaf352d9

https://www.politico.com/news/2024/01/10/pentagon-taylor-swift-fox-00134866

False
+1 vote
by Master (4.2k points)

This statement is not true. It started from FOX News anchor Jesse Watters when he shared a clip from a 2019 conference organized by NATO presenter appears to name Taylor Swift as a powerful influencer (Politico). Since Swift has been named Person of the Year in December, there have been multiple conspiracies and rumors with Swift in the middle. Department of Defense Secretary Sabrina Singh told Forbes that Swift is "not part of a DOD psychological operation" (Forbes). This comment is the second time the DOD has shut down rumors about a partnership. 

False
+1 vote
by Apprentice (1.3k points)

The claim is false. It began as a conspiracy theory when Fox News anchor Jesse Watters suggested that the government might exploit Taylor Swift as a political tool because of her extensive fan base and influence.

source: https://www.politico.com/news/2024/01/10/pentagon-taylor-swift-fox-00134866

by Apprentice (2.0k points)
Thank you for the fact check! I've never heard of politico.com so I was hesitant to trust it as a source, but after some research, it seems reliable enough. Your answer is very brief but straight to the point. Next time I would recommend just one more source to back up your response even more.

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