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Matter of Facts #23

  • TikTok in Europe
  • Malaysia xenophobia
  • Section 230 NAFTA
  • Colloidal silver
Published every Wednesday

Foreign Affairs

When the CIA Interferes in Foreign Elections

Russian President Vladimir Putin tends to respond to questions about his government’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with a mix of denials and countercharges. It is the United States, he alleged in June 2017, that “all over the world is actively interfering in electoral campaigns in other countries.” The purpose of this claim is to excuse and distract from Russia’s actions, and in many places overseas, it’s working. From Kyiv to Brussels to London, government officials told me that they assume the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) frequently interferes in elections abroad.

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Keep Voters Healthy. Keep Elections Secure. Can the U.S. Do Both?

During the recent months of the pandemic, U.S. adversaries have stepped up both cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns. The United States should expect them to also take advantage of the logistical challenges of voting in a COVID-19 world to redouble their efforts against elections.

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TikTok joins the EU’s Code of Practice on disinformation

TikTok is the latest platform to sign up the European Union’s Code of Practice on disinformation, agreeing to a set of voluntary steps aimed at combating the spread of damaging fakes and falsehoods online.

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Editor’s Note:

TikTok is emerging as a social network, which means that it needs to jump into the same debates on issues of misinformation that Twitter and Facebook have been up to for years. Here Natasha Lomas covers the ByteDance startup making moves in Europe.

Foreign Policy

Malaysia’s Coronavirus Scapegoats

Undocumented migrants and refugees are caught in the crossfire of Malaysia’s coronavirus response and a xenophobic backlash.

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The Atlantic

A Common Snake Oil Reemerges for the Coronavirus

The pandemic has sparked an interest in dubious cures such as colloidal silver — and some are trying to capitalize on it.

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Editor’s Note:

Have you seen people promoting colloidal silver? Here Olga Khazan explores all the snake oil-style cures that have been offered for coronavirus by companies such as My Doctor Suggests.

The Wire

Backstory: Reading Between the Headlines in Times of Almost-War

In the battle to capture public perception, the use of information and disinformation has always played a key role and never more so when there is actual warfare taking place. The brutal encounter that took place on Monday, June 15, between Indian and Chinese forces in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, which led to at least 20 deaths on the Indian side, will long haunt us as a country. What makes this even more painful is the fact that the full truth of these deaths may never emerge, enshrouded as they already are in a miasma of truths, half-truths and stuff that is totally fake.

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China cyber attacks: Beijing’s misinformation war against Australia

Our hearts and minds are under attack. The battlefields are social media, news services and parliaments. Lies are its weapons. Democracy is its target. And we’re losing. Badly.

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American Prospect

The Section 230 Fight Ended Six Months Ago

If you were to ask me to pick the legislation the policy world would be obsessing over in June 2020, during a coronavirus pandemic and persistent anti-racism protests, the fme would not have been at the top of the list. But CDA, and specifically Section 230 of the law, has vaulted near the top of policymakers’ concerns.

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Editor’s Note:

Section 230 has become a hot topic after President Donald Trump’s executive order on it several weeks ago. However, as David Dayen explains here, discussions have been ongoing for years, including in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.


You’re Living in the Golden Age of Conspiracy Theories

But to think this is just about the president is to miss something much bigger: a mix of partisanship, anxiety and distrust that threatens to shape American politics in profound and troubling ways.

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Journalist Maria Ressa, convicted of libel in the Philippines, takes on Duterte in new documentary

“[Ressa] believes justice will win the day,” filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz, who fears she is now a target, tells Salon

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