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Matter of Facts #24

  • Psychology of misinfo
  • PizzaGate on TikTok
  • Facebook ad boycott
  • Duke and Duchess of Sussex
Published every Wednesday

The Guardian

Down the rabbit hole: how QAnon conspiracies thrive on Facebook

In early May, QAnon braced for a purge. Facebook had removed a small subset – five pages, six groups and 20 profiles – of the community on the social network, and as word of the bans spread, followers of Q began preparing for a broader sweep.

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Opinion | Exposing Jordan Peterson’s barrage of revisionist falsehoods about Hitler and Nazism

Jordan Peterson, YouTube psychology guru and right-wing cult figure, talks a lot about Hitler, WWII and Nazism – in lectures riddled with alarming errors, spurious analogies and a strange reluctance to use the word ‘Holocaust.’ This is why his constant misinformation matters.

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The Telegraph (UK) ($)

Is there any truth behind the Covid-19 conspiracy theories?

The coronavirus is a genetically engineered bioweapon made by the Chinese. Or possibly the Americans. It originated in a lab in Wuhan. Or possibly an American military lab. No, actually it’s a hoax. But even though it’s a hoax it’s also caused by 5G masts broadcasting electromagnetic waves. It is part of a scheme devised by Bill Gates to introduce mass global vaccination as a Trojan horse for totalitarian world government. Dr Anthony Fauci – the mild-mannered director of America’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and a prominent member of the White House’s coronavirus task force before being sidelined by Trump – is in on it. And so is the World Health Organization.

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First Draft News

The psychology of misinformation: Why we’re vulnerable

The psychology of misinformation — the mental shortcuts, confusions, and illusions that encourage us to believe things that aren’t true — can tell us a lot about how to prevent its harmful effects. Our psychology is what affects whether corrections work, what we should teach in media literacy courses, and why we’re vulnerable to misinformation in the first place. It’s also a fascinating insight into the human brain.

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Editor’s Note:

Part of the process of misinformation going viral of course takes place on the personal level. Here Tommy Shane begins a series for First Draft on the psychology, including concepts such as “cognitive miserliness.”

Independent (Nigeria)

The ‘Fake-News Pandemic’ And Declining Believability Threshold

“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.” – Adrienne Rich

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New York Times

‘PizzaGate’ conspiracy theory thrives anew in the TikTok era

In the video, someone had posted a comment asking Bieber to touch his hat if he had been a victim of a child-trafficking ring known as PizzaGate. Thousands of comments were flooding in, and there was no evidence that Bieber had seen that message. But the pop star’s innocuous gesture set off a flurry of online activity, which highlighted the resurgence of one of social media’s early conspiracy theories.

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Facebook’s war against one of the internet’s worst conspiracy sites

It’s been a year since Facebook deleted the page for Natural News for violating the company’s rules about spam. This was a big deal for Natural News, a conspiracy site that had attracted about nearly 3 million followers on its Facebook page. Then in May, Facebook took further action by banning the Natural News domain, so that any link to the site would be blocked, along with some pages that frequently shared its content. Still, Natural News content has found ways to stick around.

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Editor’s Note:

While much of the discussion this week is on Facebook’s lack of action in some domains, there are places where it has tried to combat misinformation. Here Rebecca Heilweil looks at the actions against Natural News, and how they haven’t totally stopped the conspiracy site’s influence on the platform.

Pew Research Center

Experts Predict More Digital Innovation by 2030 Aimed at Enhancing Democracy

Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center built a database of experts to canvass from several sources, including professionals and policy people from government bodies, technology businesses, think tanks and networks of interested networks of academics and technology innovators. The expert predictions reported here about the impact of digital technologies on key aspects of democracy and democratic representation and social and civic innovation came in response to a set of questions in an online canvassing conducted between July 3 and Aug. 5, 2019. In all, 697 technology innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists responded to at least one part of the battery of questions that are covered in this report. More on the methodology underlying this canvassing and the participants can be found here.

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Harper’s Bazaar

Prince Harry & Duchess Meghan Support #StopHateForProfit Facebook Advertising Boycott

Sources tell BAZAAR that the duke and duchess have also been speaking with U.S. civil rights groups who started the major boycott.

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Editor’s Note:

The British royals don’t pop up in Deepnews.ai’s newsletters that often, though here they do. Omid Scobie confirms the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s support for the Facebook ad boycott and reports on their Archewell charity foundation.


Facebook boycott: View the list of companies pulling ads

A growing list of companies are pulling ads from Facebook. For many of them, it’s part of an advertiser boycott in protest of what they say are the site’s failures to stop the spread of hate.

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