The National:

DISINFORMATION doesn’t always stem from carefully calculated and purposeful dishonesty.

Indeed, while much of it is spread with specific aims in mind, there are many other instances where a person’s desire for a claim to be true simply takes precedence over any factual justification.

Take, for example, the recent rumours publicised by the Scottish Daily Express which alleged that Nicola Sturgeon would “shortly announce her decision to stand down as SNP leader before the next UK General Election.”

This was a statement tweeted out by self-proclaimed “political analyst” David Griffiths, which ended up being viewed by upwards of 350,000 people and re-tweeted more than 600 times.

The Daily Express article was even liked by Tory MSP Tess White on Twitter. 

Griffiths previously stood as a candidate in the West Scotland region for George Galloway’s Alliance 4 Unity party and is a passionate "anti-Nationalist".

His tweet stated: “I’m told @NicolaSturgeon will shortly announce her decision to stand down as SNP leader before the next UK General Election.”

He would not be drawn on who exactly told him this but simply stated that it was “informed speculation” from an insider.

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However, the very next day, Griffiths appeared to suggest that the insider may simply be himself.

He tweeted: “Yesterday’s tweet in which I predicted the FM will soon step down was my most-viewed and most-liked tweet ever.

“The ecstatic reaction from the FM’s critics and the weak denials from her supporters prove it's only a matter of time until the SNP announces Sturgeon’s departure.”

A prediction is very different than repeating what a trusted source has passed on.

It turns out that this wasn’t Griffiths’s first appearance in the tabloid media.

In 2020, the Daily Record accused Griffith of running a Twitter account which was used to attack women, Muslims and make sexual comments about Nicola Sturgeon and her husband.

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The since deleted account operated under the name @WindsorHugo and in May 2019 tweeted that they were the sole director of the Follow Rangers fan group company.

It read: “Originally we planned to be an association with no directors. But following legal advice, we set up as a limited company which meant we needed one director. I volunteered.”

Companies House records showed that Griffiths was the sole director of Follow Rangers at the time the tweet was posted.

Denying the allegations, Griffiths told the paper at the time: “This deleted Twitter account was not my account. Operation of the account took place without my authority or knowledge.

“Since I became active in the Rangers FC fan group community, several of my social media accounts have been hacked and fake accounts have been set up in my name; one of which still exists today after more than two years.”

He has also previously been criticised for attempting to paint the SNP as “Nazis” and Nicola Sturgeon as a “fascist dictator”.

This all serves to highlight the danger of sharing entirely unverified information on social media. It turns wishful thinking into a genuine news article from a political reporter in a national publication.

The Express claimed that Griffith’s tweet constituted the “latest rumours from Holyrood”.

In truth, they constituted the latest rumours from one man’s computer.