A Brief History of Online Influence Operations

from Lawfare The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Files series resumed last week, revealing that the platform took action against an online campaign to set up a new right-wing “Patriot Party” after the Jan. 6 insurrection. Earlier this month news outlets reported that a number of former employees excoriated the company’s content moderation practices in their departure emails. And on Oct. 25, a dozen news outlets released new stories based on yet more leaked Facebook documents. In congressional hearings on the initial Facebook leak, Sen. Richard Blumenthal succinctly captured the tone of the public sentiment, saying that “Facebook and Big Tech […]

Continue reading

We Can Have Social Media As We Know It, Or We Can Have Democracy

from Fast Company In early September, President Trump retweeted a video allegedly showing an “black lives matter/antifa” activist pushing a woman into a subway car. The video is nearly a year old, and the man in question was mentally ill and had no connection to either group. As a researcher studying social media, propaganda, and politics in 2016, I thought I’d seen it all. At the time, while working at University of Oxford, I was in the thick of analyzing Twitter bot campaigns pushing #Proleave messaging during Brexit. As a research fellow at Google’s thinktank Jigsaw that same year, I […]

Continue reading

Five Steps To Avoid Election Misinformation

from News Literacy Project Nothing is more fundamental to democracy than information. It’s what we use to understand which issues are most important, and to assess which policies and political candidates are best suited to address those concerns. A democracy thrives when its citizens are informed and can wither when they are misled and deceived — especially in an election year, when political messaging appears nonstop in our social-media feeds and foreign agents amp up their campaigns to divide and polarize us. As the 2020 presidential campaign heats up, here are five ways that you can protect yourself from being […]

Continue reading

How Wikipedia’s Volunteers Became The Web’s Best Weapon Against Misinformation

from Fast Company For a few minutes near the end of his first presidential debate, Mike Bloomberg was dead. At 9:38 p.m. Eastern time, a Wikipedia user named DQUACK02 added some text to the Wikipedia page for the former Democratic presidential candidate and New York City mayor: “death_date   = {{Death date and age|2020|02|19|1942|02|14}}; |death_place  = [[Las Vegas, Nevada]], U.S.; |death_cause = [[Getting stabbed by Warren, Biden and Sanders]].” Within three minutes, another user named Cgmusselman had reverted the page back. By then the inevitable screenshots and joke tweets had already begun to spread. It was an obvious hoax, and […]

Continue reading