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  • Misinformation spreading like virus
  • Facebook’s Oversight Board
  • Twitter goes after deepfakes
  • Twitterati reaction to Iowa
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Reuters
At least 16 people have been arrested over coronavirus posts in Malaysia, India, Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong, while Singapore has used its controversial new “fake news” law, POFMA, to force media outlets and social media users to carry government warnings on their posts and articles saying they contain falsehoods

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Bloomberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says 2020 is a critical year for testing the company’s defenses against election interference, and expects to continue to draw heat over how it navigates the choppy political landscape.

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The Conversation
The world is not the same as it was in 2002 when SARS emerged. Social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, have allowed the rapid exchange of information — and sometimes misinformation. Many of the cutting-edge technologies and techniques scientists use today to analyze big data did not exist in 2002 either.

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National Post
As the reports of confirmed cases of coronavirus and the death toll in China spread, many are pointing fingers at the Asian-Canadian community for the outbreak

Editor’s Note: Many of the pieces this week deal with misinformation coronavirus, though along with that has come racism against those of Chinese descent. Here Larry Heng looks at the situation for Canada’s large Chinese-Canadian population.

AFP
Misleading bat soup videos, vastly inflated death tolls, quack remedies and vaccine conspiracies — a global deluge of misinformation is compounding public fears about China’s new coronavirus and stoking racial stereotypes. Phoebe, a 40-year-old Hong Kong doctor, has been dismayed by some of the messages cropping up in her family Whatsapp group in recent day

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The Guardian
Gwyneth Paltrow’s range of wellness products has been criticised by the head of NHS England who warns that one of the recommended procedures poses a considerable health risk.

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Foreign Policy ($)
Conspiracy theories are spreading faster than the coronavirus itself.

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Federal Computer Week
The federal rulemaking system includes periods of public input and discussion, but frequently the systems that collect comments are subject to spam, disinformation and other campaigns designed to spoof massive public support for positions that does not exist.

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Rappler
‘I have never seen the Chinese be more sorry just for being Chinese. I have also never felt more ashamed for having a Chinese family name.’

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AFP
SINGAPORE, Singapore – The first legal challenge to Singapore’s law against online misinformation was rejected Wednesday, February 5, a blow to opponents who say it is being used to stifle dissent before elections.

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The Guardian
A conservative not-for-profit organization and several prominent rightwing media figures spread false and misleading information about Iowa’s voter rolls in the hours leading up to the state’s first-in-the-nation caucus on Monday.

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Israel 21C
It’s November 2020, just days before the US presidential election, and a video clip comes out showing one of the leading candidates saying something inflammatory and out of character. The public is outraged, and the race is won by the other contender.

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The Conversation
Australia’s recent bushfire crisis will be remembered for many things – not least, the tragic loss of life, property and landscape. But one other factor made it remarkable: the deluge of disinformation spread by climate deniers.

Editor’s Note: Before the spread of coronavirus, much of the discussion of misinformation was around climate change and the Australian bushfires. Here researchers from Bristol and Tasmania look at “inoculation theory.”

Hurriyet Daily News
A Taiwanese self-acclaimed scientist has been occupying Turkey’s agenda with his earthquake projections amid a powerful quake that jolted the country’s east, claiming 41 lives.

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AFP
WASHINGTON, USA – Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday, January 29 proposed civil and criminal penalties for those who knowingly spread false information about when and how to vote in US elections.

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Bloomberg
Twitter Inc. will start labeling, and in some cases removing, doctored or manipulated media that users share on the platform beginning next month.

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Calcalist
Facebook does not intend to fact-check statements made by Israeli politicians nor take action to limit the spread of lies told by candidates ahead of the March election, according to Jessica Zucker, product policy manager at Facebook.

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CNN Philippines
Metro Manila — In the middle of the Senate discussion on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on Tuesday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III played a video that pointed at the virus as a US-led bioweapon against China.

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EU Observer ($)
Regulating digital platforms will be part of the EU Commission’s plan to defend European democracies and fight disinformation, the commission vice-president Vera Jourova said Thursday (30 January).

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Washington Post
As it became obvious late Monday night that a technical glitch would dramatically hold up the results of the long-anticipated Iowa caucuses, social media exploded with dark ideas about what had happened.

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Reuters
Twitter Inc has banned financial market website Zero Hedge from the social media platform after it published an article linking a Chinese scientist to the outbreak of the fast-spreading coronavirus last week.

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Harvard Business Review
Facebook is a step away from creating its global Oversight Board for content moderation. While there’s good reason to be skeptical of whether the company can fix problems like hate speech and disinformation on its platform by itself, we should pay closer attention to how the board proposes to make decisions. If its members were to agree to protect all human rights when doing so, it could help other tech companies grappling with similar problems. The more the board limits its scope, however, the more it will miss the big picture.

Editor’s Note: A recurring theme in Matter of Facts is the big tech platforms’ reactions to misinformation. Last week saw news about Facebook’s Oversight Board, explored here by Mark Latonero.

EU vs Disinfo
Zhanna Nemtsova is a Russian journalist and the founder of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation, which is named after her father, the opposition politician and former first deputy prime minister, who was assassinated in Moscow five years ago, on 27 February 2015.

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Federal Computer Week
The presidential campaign of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released a plan for curbing foreign disinformation online, calling for changes in the way social media companies share and label information through their platforms and more formal channels of cooperation with the government to thwart ongoing campaigns.

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Reuters
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday it will hold a public meeting on Feb. 19 to discuss the future of a federal law which largely exempts online platforms from legal liability for the material their users post.

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