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The Canary Deleted A False Viral Story About The Sun's Coverage Of The Manchester Attack

Criticising the failings of the mainstream media is a surefire way to go viral on Facebook – but sometimes it's not as clear-cut as it seems.

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The Canary has quietly deleted an article which alleged The Sun had ignored the victims of the Manchester terror attack by failing to put the incident on the front page of the newspaper – despite the fact that the paper's first edition went to print 30 minutes before the attack took place.

The incredibly viral article was entitled "Manchester is the second city to ban The Sun after its appalling response to the concert bombing" and was shared tens of thousands of times on social media – making it one of the most popular news stories of the week on Facebook.

The Canary's piece consisted of an image of the Sun's first edition front page, which featured an story attempting to portray Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as an IRA supporter, with the caption "this was what The Sun chose to put on its front page in the aftermath" of the attack.

"On a day set aside for mourning, with all political campaigns stood down, The Sun ran this," The Canary article said. "A naked manipulation of tragic events to serve its own political purposes. And just two years after it was ordered to place an apology to the Labour leader on its front page over another anti-Corbyn slur."

"But of course, by the time any new apology could be forced out of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid, the election would be long over. And the damage would be done."

In reality The Sun rewrote the entire front of the newspaper when news of the terror attack broke, and there was no way the newspaper could have covered an attack which took place at 10.30pm in the first edition of a newspaper that went to the printers at around 10pm.

Although some more remote parts of the country would have received copies of the newspaper featuring the original anti-Corbyn front page, many would have would received the updated edition which led on the terror attack.

The Canary has now removed its story, with all links now referring back to the site's homepage, although it is still available to view in Google's cache.

19 DEAD AT TEEN CONCERT: Ariana gig terror attack. 2am @TheSun front page.

Criticising the failings of the mainstream media is one of the surefire ways to go viral online during this election – with attacks on the journalistic standards of right-wing tabloids often reaching more people than articles about the election itself. The Canary, one of the legion of hyperpartisan left-wing British news sites which have grown enormous audiences in the last two years, has built its readership partly by criticising poor journalistic standards at traditional media outlets.

The Sun confirmed a complaint had been made about the Canary post.

"The Sun is very keen to clear up any confusion about the timings of its editions on Tuesday, 23 May, and has the utmost contempt for those knowingly exploiting this confusion to suit their own prejudices against the newspaper," said a spokesperson for the newspaper, who added the Sun's parent company had donated £100,000 to a fund to raise money for the victims of the attack.

"The Sun stands as one with the whole of Manchester and our hearts go out to all affected by this tragedy," they said.

The Canary has also promoted two petitions on Change.org calling on Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, to call for a city-wide boycott of the newspaper over its supposed failure to recognise the terror attack. BuzzFeed News understands the petitions were both taken down after The Sun complained to Change.org that they were based on a false premise. The newspaper is already boycotted in Liverpool over its coverage of the Hillsborough disaster.

A spokesperson for The Canary declined to comment on the record. The site followed-up the deleted post with a new attack on The Sun for its coverage of the Manchester attack on subsequent days, which included criticism of the newspaper from a brother of one of the victims.

Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Jim Waterson at jim.waterson@buzzfeed.com.

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