#19
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  • Controversy in India (#3)
  • Scammers in Africa (#7)
  • FB’s diviseness (#4)
  • Prison in Myanmar (#16)
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MIT Press
In September 1985, the Soviet State Security Committee (KGB) informed other Warsaw Pact foreign intelligence agencies that it had launched a new, major disinformation campaign. “We are carrying out a complex of [active] measures in connection with the appearance in recent years of a new dangerous disease in the USA known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).” The KGB explained that “the goal of the measures is to create a favorable opinion for us abroad — namely, that this disease is the result of secret experiments by the USA’s secret services and the Pentagon with new types of biological weapons that have spun out of control.”

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POLITICO
Over the past three years, American activists have butted into European online debates ahead of major elections with doctored photos of politicians and inflammatory online posts around hot-button issues like immigration and climate change. They’ve created misleading partisan websites pretending to be news outlets, honed their social media trolling tactics and encouraged local voters to share misinformation, including about the novel coronavirus.

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Poynter
The COVID-19 infodemic has brought chaos and violence to India. In late March, viral rumors about an indefinite lockdown exacerbated a mass exodus of migrant laborers. In early April, a false claim that Muslims were being injected with COVID-19 led to an attack on five medical workers.

Editor’s Note: Governments around the world have warned of the dangers of misinformation during the pandemic, though guidelines in India were quickly taken offline. Here Harrison Mantas of the International Fact-Checking Network writes for Poynter on the controversy around Alt-News and OpIndia.

WSJ ($)
“Our algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness,” read a slide from a 2018 presentation. “If left unchecked,” it warned, Facebook would feed users “more and more divisive content in an effort to gain user attention & increase time on the platform.”

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Al Jazeera
If social media platforms can clamp down on COVID-19 fake news, they can do so with political misinformation too.

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Euractiv
The Chinese government has flooded the European information space with disinformation, in an effort to control the narrative around the pandemic and divert the blame. This poisonous environment created by Chinese info-war operations calls for resolute answers, write Jakub Janda and Nathalie Vogel.

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Africa Check
Africa Check and the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab went on the trail of fraudsters who leave only disappointment in their wake.

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Inverse
Scientists are moving at warp speed toward the same goal: creating an effective Covid-19 vaccine. But just manufacturing an effective vaccine may not be enough to curb Covid-19. We’ll have to market it effectively.

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UC Berkeley
Residents of states with limited access to contraceptives and high rates of unplanned pregnancies are more likely to turn to the internet for information about abortion. These are the findings of a new study of Google search data across all 50 states by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley

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The Atlantic
Even as vaccines for the disease are being held up as the last hope for a return to normalcy, misinformation about them is spreading.

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Buzzfeed News
We’ve spent more than three years preparing for an information apocalypse. Why couldn’t we stop it with the coronavirus?

Editor’s Note: Craig Silverman has covered misinformation since far before the pandemic started. Here he reflects on “The Plandemic” among other subjects as he recounts how we got to this point.

NBC News
Fear and misinformation fuel worldwide attacks attacks against some who are risking their lives to save their fellow human beings from disease.

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BBC
A BBC team tracking coronavirus misinformation has found links to assaults, arsons and deaths. And experts say the potential for indirect harm caused by rumours, conspiracy theories and bad health information could be much bigger.

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CNBC
Two new Democratic proposals aim to crack down on the ways political campaigns can target narrow groups of voters on platforms like Facebook and Google. The latest to be announced comes from Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., whose “Banning Microtargeted Political Ads Act” would place limits on how narrowly political campaigns could target their messages online. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., announced last week he would introduce a similar measure, the “Protecting Democracy from Disinformation Act,” on Tuesday.

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The Verge
Twitter is testing a new feature that lets users decide who can reply to their tweets, the company announced on Wednesday, and some accounts are already using it in some interesting new ways.

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AFP
YANGON – A Myanmar news editor has been jailed for two years after his agency reported a coronavirus death that turned out to be false, his lawyer said on Friday (May 22).

Editor’s Note: While many of the articles on this list deal with platforms or recommendations about changes, another big part of the world of misinformation is countries that have created concrete legal measures. Here the AFP reports on the speedy trial of a journalist under a law about misinformation in Myanmar, a case criticized by human rights advocates.

Washington Post
Twitter on Tuesday slapped a fact-check label on President Trump’s tweets for the first time, a response to long-standing criticism that the company is too hands-off when it comes to policing misinformation and falsehoods from world leaders.

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Vox EU
The most recent manifestations of populism owe a portion of their rise to social media and the unfettered spread of false and misleading narratives or, as they are sometimes called, ‘alternative facts’. This column makes use of an online experiment conducted among Facebook users in France during the 2019 European Parliament elections to show that fact-checking can staunch the flow of false information, as can the imposition of small costs such as requiring an additional click to confirm a user’s willingness to share news.

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STAT News
As Covid-19 upends the world, people are putting their faith in the biopharma industry to save us from this crisis. Retail investors are pouring into biopharma stocks, and when any data are released on Covid-19-related vaccines or therapies, entire markets move — even if the news from the company isn’t entirely straightforward.

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News.com.au
Wild conspiracies about coronavirus have been spread on social media. Now just how easily that can happen has been exposed.

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BBC
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has told the BBC that it had and would remove any content likely to result in “immediate and imminent harm” to users.

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NPR
Nearly half of the Twitter accounts spreading messages on the social media platform about the coronavirus pandemic are likely bots, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University said on Wednesday.

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Press Association
Facebook, Google and Twitter face a fresh grilling by MPs after their latest evidence was lambasted for not providing “adequate answers”.

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The Globe and Mail
Doctors and nurses need to combat vaccine hesitancy in patients now, before one for coronavirus becomes available – if it does – for mass dispersion.

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Gizmodo
There are a few norms that constrain the behavior of newsgathering, one of which is to at least try, for any given story, to get the perspective of all parties involved. Many company PR teams abuse this constraint by providing journalists with spin or misinformation, which a reporter may or may not infuse with the necessary skepticism. Amazon, it seems, is no longer willing to take that chance.

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