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Foreign Policy ($)
The West is obsessing about how its democracies are under attack — except when it comes to all the self-inflicted damage.

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The Guardian
“The toughest part is not knowing whether it’s going to be a normal day, or a not normal day,” says Maria Ressa, speaking by phone from her office in Manila. A former CNN bureau chief who spent two decades as an investigative reporter, Ressa is the founder of a news website that has found itself on the frontline of the global disinformation wars.

Editor’s Note: Matter of Facts readers will be familiar with Rappler, the Philippines-based outlet that makes it its business to cover misinformation. Beyond reporting the news, Rappler is sometimes the story itself, as reported here by The Guardian.

The Markup
Insurers are supposed to price based on risk, but Allstate’s algorithm put a thumb on the scale

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Coda Story
The resurgence of measles in the United States and the UK, a polio outbreak in the Philippines, HPV-vaccine resistance in Japan — these headlines from the past year have roots in global anti-vaccine campaigns that stretch back over 200 years.

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The Conversation
In June 2019, a paper by prominent US academics found that people who used e-cigarettes were at greater risk of a heart attack. The authors concluded that e-cigarettes were just as risky as tobacco in provoking heart attacks, and that using e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes at the same time was even riskier. Unsurprisingly, this caused a stir in the media – in the form of 35 news stories, to be exact. Also unsurprisingly, it provoked vigorous scientific debate. Eight months later, the paper was retracted.

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The China Post
The United States has much to learn from Taiwan when it comes to countering disinformation, a country that has fallen victim to China’s malign attacks, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT, 美國在台協會) said on Wednesday.

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Ad Age ($)
Facebook and the rest of the digital industry are being more careful with data collected from devices.

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Rappler
‘Now’s the best time to give ourselves an immunity shot to avoid succumbing to misinformation, malice, and meanness’

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First Draft News
A new study analyses the role of social media in spreading vaccine misinformation and panic in the wake of a politicised controversy.

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The Conversation
A new set of laws in Albania empowers a government agency to review citizen complaints about online news websites. If a site is found to have published untrue information, official regulators can fine the site’s owners and demand that they issue retractions. Informally called the “anti-defamation package,” the laws followed a year of heated public and legislative debate about how to create rules that would limit the spread of disinformation campaigns.

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NBC News
Twitter is experimenting with adding brightly colored labels directly beneath lies and misinformation posted by politicians and other public figures, according to a leaked demo of new features sent to NBC News.

Editor’s Note: Platforms are major actors in the field of misinformation, and are experimenting with new ways that they hope could be effective. Here NBC News got a look at what Twitter is up to.

The Guardian
Maintaining public media infrastructure should be non-negotiable for a democratic society. We have to be bold

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First Draft News
New research from First Draft goes into detail on how staged footage became an engine for vaccine misinformation and mistrust in Pakistan, derailing efforts to immunise millions of children.

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Global Voices
Presidential election debates are usually occasions for candidates to explain their policy platforms and hone their presentation skills, but very few viewers actually check on the factual details of their speeches. However, this year’s Taiwanese presidential election was different. For the first time, the Taiwan Fact Check Center fact-checked the live, televised 2020 presidential debates on December 29, 2019.

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CNBC
Amazon informed third-party sellers it’s removing listings for products that include false claims about the coronavirus, according to emails obtained by CNBC.

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AP
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday minimized new warnings from U.S. intelligence experts that Russia is interfering in this year’s election campaign, and revived old grievances in claiming that Democrats are determined to undermine the legitimacy of his presidency.

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Reuters
WASHINGTON — U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday questioned whether Facebook, Google and other major online platforms still need the immunity from legal liability that has prevented them from being sued over material their users post.

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The Conversation
What is real can seem pretty arbitrary. It’s easy to be fooled by misinformation disguised as news and deepfake videos showing people doing things they never did or said. Inaccurate information – even deliberately wrong information – doesn’t just come from snake-oil salesmen, door-to-door hucksters and TV shopping channels anymore.

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Marketing Technology Insights
The internet is made of trillions of facts. And for many consumers, it’s the first port of call when it comes to finding an answer to something – whether it’s the opening times of the closest pharmacy, or the calories in a meal. But how often are they getting the correct answer?

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Economic Times
BENGALURU: The world’s biggest social media companies, including Facebook, Google, Twitter and ByteDance, are exploring an industry-wide alliance to curb fake news on their platforms in India, even as the government finalises regulations aimed at censoring content.

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Business Insider
As the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak continues to rise, online scammers are using email phishing schemes in an attempt to profit on people’s confusion and fear surrounding the virus.

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Reuters
WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Friday warned Russia to stay out of 2020 White House elections after U.S. officials had told him Moscow was trying to aid his campaign.

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Economic Times
The 2016 US presidential elections and allegations of hacking forced companies to take unprecedented measures to counter misinformation and interference on their platforms.

Editor’s Note: Much attention has been paid to the role of platforms in the U.S. election, but the American elections come after polls in other places. Here ET looks at how Google wants to build on what it learned in India.

GCN
Much has been made of the vulnerabilities inherent in voting infrastructure over the past few years. DEFCON hacking villages have repeatedly found flaws in voting machines, and researchers across the country have outlined the ways attackers could infiltrate voting systems and influence an election. While these headlines generate attention, they tend to overshadow the myriad of other ways attackers could impact elections without touching a single vote.

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Indian Express
Probably playing around with phone, didn’t realise what he pressed; it’s a mistake, says boy’s mother.

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