Dana woke up in the hospital and reached for her phone.
Her face had been bruised by the explosion, and she was worried that her phone wouldn’t recognize her. But after an extra half-second, her phone unlocked, and she navigated to the camera roll.
Dana exhaled in relief. The video she had taken before the explosion was still there. In it, you could clearly see the soldiers carrying an explosive device onto the stage before the rally. She had only noticed them because, as a volunteer working security, she had seen them slip in the back. They had convinced her that the device was for surveillance, to protect everyone there to see the candidate speak. But it seemed suspicious, and so she shot a short, furtive video of them walking with it backstage.
A few minutes later, her world went black.
From her phone, she opened Facebook and went to post a video. After the upload, a now-familiar message appeared on the screen: DETERMINING ACCURACY.
The Fake News Act of 2024 had required social networks to prevent the spread of false information. Anyone who attempted to violate the act could be subject to fines or prison. It was off to a rocky start — Facebook was using a new artificial intelligence tool to do most of the compliance, and the results could be unpredictable.
But Dana knew what she saw.
A moment later, a blinking red square appeared on the screen. “It appears that you are trying to share false news,” the message read. “This is in violation of Facebook’s terms of services and of federal law. Your posting privileges have been temporarily suspended while we investigate.”
Dana’s heart dropped. She searched for news of the bombing across social media using the hashtag that everyone seemed to be using. What she saw was unrecognizable.
Every video she saw showed a different person carrying a bomb into the rally. Some showed the candidate herself carrying it in, in terrifying detail. Others showed long-dead historical figures and pop stars sneaking into the facility, their arms laden with explosives. One showed a beautifully animated Mickey Mouse as the culprit.
Dana switched to Twitter, where the president had recently sent out a message. “Incredible to see my opponents bombing themselves at their own rallies. Awful!”
A small cry now from Dana. Even the bad deepfakes were better than anything she had seen before.
The phone started to glitch, then made a loud and unfamiliar noise. A message appeared on the screen: “Dana Hassan, you are now a suspect in an open false news investigation. This phone is now evidence. Do not attempt to dispose of this phone in any way.”
A law enforcement officer, the message said, was en route to her location
Author Notes: This took me a very long time to Wright so plz leave a like