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Matter of Facts #29

  • Larry King “disinfomercial”
  • QAnon in Europe
  • Communicating in developing world
  • How to evaluate the news
Published every Wednesday


How Larry King got duped into starring in Chinese propaganda

Jacobi Niv had paid Larry King a few thousand dollars apiece to narrate half a dozen videos for companies or projects in Israel, where King is still a big name. But what Niv wanted King to tape on March 27, 2019, wasn’t the usual infomercial. It was more like a disinfomercial.

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Associated Press

Misinformation on coronavirus is proving highly contagious

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — As the world races to find a vaccine and a treatment for COVID-19, there is seemingly no antidote in sight for the burgeoning outbreak of coronavirus conspiracy theories, hoaxes, anti-mask myths and sham cures.

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QAnon theories are merging with European conspiracies: report

QAnon conspiracy theories are being pushed further towards the mainstream in Europe, according to a new report.

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Coronavirus truthers like Michael Porter Jr. pose big risks to leagues

Michael Porter Jr.’s misadventure on Snapchat Tuesday, in which the Denver Nuggets forward revealed himself to be both an anti-vaxxer and remarkably ignorant conspiracy theorist, is no laughing matter.

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Dhaka Tribune

OP-ED: Better communication strategies for the pandemic

The things we need to take into account for effective communication

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Scientific American

How to Evaluate COVID-19 News without Freaking Out

Disinformation expert Carl Bergstrom gives tips on how to stay calm and make sense pandemic news

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Las Vegas Review Journal

Disgraced Nevada researcher behind Fauci COVID-19 conspiracy theory

A discredited Nevada researcher continues to make waves with a COVID-19 conspiracy theory that claims Dr. Anthony Fauci created the new coronavirus and sent it to China to be released into the wild as part of a plan to profit from a vaccine.

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Confederate Groups Are Thriving on Facebook. What Does That Mean for the Platform?

Earlier this month, a meme was shared in the Facebook group Save Southern Heritage that featured the portraits of two men: the Prophet Mohammed on the left and Robert E. Lee on the right, their chins tilting toward each other. “[Mohammed] owned many slaves. Robert E. Lee was against slavery,” the caption reads. “So why are we tearing down statues instead of mosques?” That post, which received 248 likes, is still up, despite the suggestion of real-world violence (and its use of Mohammed’s image). But a comment, rambling about Arabs and Jews “running this mess” as a “little joke,” was removed within hours. Whether it was Facebook’s algorithms, or content moderators, or one of the group’s eight admins, a decision was made that one had to go while the other could stay. One slipped through the porous “free speech” filter; the other did not.

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Coda Story

Enter the Grayzone: fringe leftists deny the scale of China’s Uyghur oppression – Coda Story

This week, writer and commentator Max Blumenthal downplayed Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang on international TV — and he’s not the only one

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Just Security

False Information in the Time of Coronavirus

False or misleading information in the media is not a new phenomenon but during the coronavirus pandemic, governments around the world have sought to enact new laws and regulations, or to strengthen existing rules, in order to address it. Here, we compare the rules governing print and broadcast news media (as distinct from social media) in the United States of America and Australia (the jurisdiction in which the authors write). Although laws and regulations often aim to strike a fair balance between upholding a right to communicate ideas[1] and a right to make informed decisions based on fact,[2] regulation and freedom of speech are uneasy bedfellows. Lawmakers must be ever mindful to ensure that intervention is reasonably adapted to achieving its stated aims.

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