#21
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  • Quitting Facebook (#1)
  • TikTok and the EU (#14)
  • China’s Twitter campaign (#4)
  • 5G conspiracies and the economy (#20)


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CNN

Timothy Aveni, a 22-year-old Facebook software engineer, quit after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg refused to take action on President Donald Trump’s warning last week that “looting” would lead to “shooting,” as protests gripped the United States. Aveni announced the move in a Facebook post that went viral.


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The Diplomat

In Italy, the COVID-19 crisis has brought a health, economic, and social toll unseen since the end of World War II. As the country is slowly opening up after three months of complete lockdown, one aspect of the crisis that needs more attention is the active role of external players during the pandemic. A recent report of the Italian parliamentary committee for security (Copasir) has certified the existence of a massive “infodemic” during the COVID-19 crisis, and more specifically the role of Russian and Chinese propaganda in the country. The pandemic and its negative repercussions have created ample opportunities for influence operations, and the European Union and the wider neighborhood have been targeted by disinformation and conspiracy theories by various governments, including Russia and China.


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Project Syndicate

Would you believe that the coronavirus was developed by a government to weaken its foreign rivals? Or that “patriots” created it to foment a revolution against “big government” and the “deep state”? Sadly, far too many people who have encountered such disinformation online have shared it with their friends and family.


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The spread of misinformation and disinformation online involves not just the content itself, but how it is distributed and how much engagement it can garner on social networks. Here Philip N. Howard of the Oxford Internet Institute digs into some of his research, including things like the role of celebrities.

New York Times

Swarms of accounts are amplifying Beijing’s brash new messaging as the country tries to shape the global narrative about the coronavirus and much else.


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San Jose Mercury News

Although I don’t agree with the president’s executive order to revise or repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, I do agree that it’s time for a national conversation on the role and power of social media.


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Open Democracy

COVID-19 lays bare the nuances of a society undergoing digital data transformation in nearly every field of human activity, from its most beneficial to its most disturbing aspects


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RAND

Flattening the curve to contain the coronavirus is the current mantra, but after that, what?


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Euractiv

European Union (EU) nations banking on 5G to boost economic growth are eager to tackle conspiracy theories linking the wireless technology to the spread of the novel coronavirus that have seen masts torched in several places.


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Columbia Journalism Review

Earlier this year — before the pandemic, before the mass protests across the United States — another crowd gathered, this time in Tehran, Iran. They were attending the funeral of Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani, who had been killed by US forces.


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Economy for All

US President Donald Trump threatened to close Twitter down a day after the social-media giant marked his tweets with a fact-check warning label for the first time. He followed this threat up with an executive order that would encourage federal regulators to allow tech companies to be held liable for the comments, videos, and other content posted by users on their platforms.


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FiveThirtyEight

Last week, Twitter tried something new. When President Trump tweeted that “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” Twitter appended this message to Trump’s tweet: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” — which in turn, linked to a page with the headline: “Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud.”


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Coda Story

The sun was setting over the historic city of Dijon, in eastern France. A group of people milled around the courtyard of a conference center on the edge of town, drinking kir cocktails. The occasion was the annual meeting of the Association Liberté Information Santé, an organization that campaigns for what it terms “medical liberty” – or the right to refuse vaccines. This year, one topic dominated the agenda: the human papillomavirus injection, given to girls at puberty to protect them from a leading cause of cervical cancer.


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Misinformation often targets particular groups, particularly those who those pushing it feel may be most susceptible to certain messages. Here Isobel Cockerell digs into a movement that tries to convert young women into anti-vaxxers.

CNet

A survey finds a false conspiracy theory about Gates using vaccines to implant people with tracking microchips is popular among Fox News viewers, Republicans and Trump voters.


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Reuters

Chinese video app TikTok’s new Chief Executive Kevin Mayer has told EU digital chief Thierry Breton he intends to play an active role fighting disinformation, an EU official said on Tuesday, as Breton pushes tech giants to step up their efforts against fake news.


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Wall Street Journal ($)

It wasn’t all that long ago that digital technologies and Big Tech were largely seen as catalysts for positive change: the internet had become a global platform for collaborative innovation; social media was a liberating force and the smartphone was transforming the lives of people all over the world.


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Gizmodo

This video, obtained by Gizmodo, was posted to — then deleted from — the official White House Twitter account. Gizmodo has obscured some identities and added commentary but has not altered or edited the source video otherwise.


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The Economist ($)

“DOCTORS NEED three qualifications: to be able to lie and not get caught; to pretend to be honest; and to cause death without guilt.” So wrote Jean Froissart, a diarist of the Middle Ages, after an outbreak of bubonic plague in the 14th century. Fake news then meant rumours that the plague could be cured by sitting in a sewer, eating decade-old treacle or ingesting arsenic.


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Scientific American

An expert on climate denial offers tips for inoculating against coronavirus conspiracy notions.


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Yasha Levine (Substack)

This is an installment of an investigative series into the history and origins of America’s propaganda machine — and the central role that weaponized immigrants play in it. To read the series from the beginning, start here, here, and here.


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Washington Post

As though Americans don’t have enough to worry about right now, some people have recently been stoking fears about the supposedly harmful health effects of 5G — the new generation of wireless broadband networks. The New Republic recently ran an article with the understated headline “Is 5G Going to Kill Us All?” Celebrities, including actors Woody Harrelson and John Cusack, have suggested that 5G may somehow contribute to the spread of covid-19. Meanwhile, vandals subscribing to 5G conspiracy theories have set fire to cellphone towers throughout Europe.


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Nieman Lab

“Even before COVID-19, many African countries used libel laws, defamation laws, and internet shutdowns to limit the freedom of expression of citizens and the media…The pandemic is now being used as an excuse to further limit freedom of expression.”


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A danger with laws against misinformation is that they are used to crack down on people’s liberties to express themselves online. Here Ashwanee Budoo compares different countries in Africa as they confront the pandemic and the misinformation that has come along with it.

Dawn

Investing in a cohesive, localised public health communication strategy will be essential in the coming months.


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iNews

Social media platforms remove fewer than one in 10 posts reported for containing misinformation relating to the coronavirus outbreak, despite repeated promises to do so.


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Africa Check

African countries are charged astronomical interest rates when borrowing from international institutions while developed countries get sweeter terms, says an outspoken former top African Union envoy. But is Arikana Chihombori-Quao correct?


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Christian Science Monitor

As thousands of people gathered in Richmond, Virginia, on Wednesday around a heavily graffitied Robert E. Lee statue to protest racism and police brutality, some in the crowd worried that not everyone was there for the right reasons.


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