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Matter of Facts #25

  • Fake op-ed writers
  • Africa as a test lab
  • Parler games
  • Egypt cracks down
Published every Wednesday


Is Congress Ready For QAnon?

On the day Jo Rae Perkins won Oregon’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate this May, she tweeted a catchphrase that a select group of people would instantly recognize: “Where we go one, we go all.” It was the signature slogan of QAnon, a far-right conspiracy movement.

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The Daily Beast

Right-Wing Media Outlets Duped by a Middle East Propaganda Campaign

Conservative sites like Newsmax and Washington Examiner have published Middle East hot takes from “experts” who are actually fake personas pushing propaganda.

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Editor’s Note:

Misinformation can happen not just in social media posts but through outlets that their readers trust. Here Adam Rawnsley investigates op-ed writers who turn out not to exist at all.

African Arguments

Africa: Corporate Weaponization of Social Media Platforms Threatens Democracy

Cambridge Analytica’s electoral manipulation of the US’s 2016 election along with its abuse of Facebook data became an international scandal. Now in the midst of the 2020 presidential election, US social media platform companies are under increasing scrutiny for their response to misinformation and their responsibility to democracy.

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Facebook Confronts Civil Rights Complaints It Put Off for Years

For years, brushed off complaints from civil rights groups that it didn’t do enough to combat racism, discrimination and voter suppression flourishing on its site. Now, pressure from a boycott by major advertisers is forcing the social media giant to address their concerns.

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Deseret News

Why conservatives are considering a ‘Twexit’

SALT LAKE CITY — Prominent conservative voices such as Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are urging like-minded Americans to leave Twitter for a new social media platform named Parler.

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Editor’s Note:

Dislike of mainstream social media has led to many trying to offer an alternative, though Parler has been boosted by conservative politicians in the latest round of Twitter and Facebook criticism. Here Jennifer Graham digs into what it’s about.

National Interest

Dangerous Political Agendas in India and Pakistan are Being Promoted

Twitter has been adopted by nationalist and extremist groups seeking to promote their political agendas by way of hashtags.

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How an Anti-Trump Flash Mob Found Itself in the Middle of Russian Meddling

This detail was shockingly familiar; community theater has always been a hobby of mine, and I recalled friends posting about an Independence Day flash mob. They planned to dress in colonial attire at the height of Washington’s muggy summer to sing a parody of “Do You Hear the People Sing?,” the famous revolutionary anthem from the musical Les Miserables, in front of the so-called people’s house.

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Associated Press

Egypt arrests doctors, silences critics over virus outbreak

A doctor arrested after writing an article about Egypt’s fragile health system. A pharmacist picked up from work after posting online about a shortage of protective gear. An editor taken from his home after questioning official coronavirus figures. A pregnant doctor arrested after a colleague used her phone to report a suspected coronavirus case.

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The Conversation

We live in an age of ‘fake news’. But Australian children are not learning enough about media literacy

Following a summer of bushfires and during the COVID-19 pandemic, young people have told us they consume news regularly. But they also say they can find it frightening and many don’t ask questions about the true source of the information they are getting.

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Editor’s Note:

One route to fighting fake news may be education. Here Tanya Notley and Michael Dezuanni discuss research they did into how young people get their news.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

How the ADL went from working with Facebook to boycotting against it

It was when Mark Zuckerberg said he would allow Holocaust denial on his platform that the Anti-Defamation League realized its partnership with Facebook wasn’t working. The social media giant and the Jewish civil rights group had been working together for years to curb hate speech online. In October 2017, Facebook headlined a new ADL initiative to start a Cyberhate Problem-Solving Lab in collaboration with Silicon Valley’s biggest companies.Then, nine months later, Zuckerberg told the tech site Recode that while he personally found Holocaust denial “deeply offensive,” he said, “I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong.”People who monitor antisemitism criticized Zuckerberg for what they saw as undeservedly giving antisemites the benefit of the doubt — as if they were making an innocent mistake rather than propagating a deliberate lie.

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