The SXSW Interactive kickoff keynote address was delivered today by Baratunde Thurston. That name may not be widely familiar outside plugged-in circles, but Thurston’s work is: He’s a comedian and political satirist who's driven the digital development of satirical newspaper The Onion.
He’s also an author that discusses topics from an African-American perspective. His first book, “How to Be Black,” was just published. He entwined the threads of his heritage and digital connectivity by describing how his mother, raised in rural Pennsylvania, came to join in the Black Power movement. “She changed her social networks!” Thurston said, displaying pictures on his mother marching in the street.
But the Onion’s online content – and the strange way fake news can bleed over into real-life events – was another theme of Thurston’s speech: Earlier this year, Republican Rep. John Fleming shared a fictional Onion article, “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex,” with his followers on Facebook, allegedly believing the article to be real.