The Internet Archive's massive repository of scanned books will help Wikipedia fight the disinformation wars

For years, the Internet Archive has been acquiring books (their goal is every book ever published) and warehousing them and scanning them. Now, these books are being "woven into Wikipedia" with a new tool that automatically links every Wikipedia citation to a print source to the exact page and passage from the book itself, which can be read on the Internet Archive. Read the rest

The far right is dominating the information wars through "keyword signaling"

It's an old story: someone searches Google for a common keyword -- "jews," "women," "black people" -- and gets back a bunch of far-right conspiracist/genocidal garbage; Google gets embarrassed, twiddles some search-weighting knobs, and the results change. Read the rest

GOP-led Senate panel agrees Russia infowar campaign helped Trump

In the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, a bipartisan panel of lawmakers presented evidence that Russia conducted information warfare against the U.S. in 2016 and demanded urgent action from Congress, the trump White House, and Silicon Valley to prevent the same thing from happening in 2020. Read the rest

"Troll Factory" games teaches you how fake news is spread - and why

Troll Factory is an entertaining online edugame that shows you how disinformation merchants infiltrate social media and spread their corrosive anti-democracy propaganda.

Yle's Troll Factory game asks you to imagine you are a professional troll who tries to amass influence in social media by spreading fear, bias and suspicion using botnets, paid marketing and internet memes. The game combines authentic social media content with game-like simulation that's personalised based on the user's choices.

Fake news, hate speech and conspiracy theories spread in Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. The big internet behemoths can't stop this from happening. So it's becoming increasingly hard for people to notice when they share, comment or like something inaccurate online -- even unintentionally.

"We decided to turn the whole fake news problem upside down. What if you became an actual troll to understand the motives and intentions behind today's information wars?" says Jarno M. Koponen who's leading the project for the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle's News Lab in Helsinki.

Read the rest

China's using LinkedIn to recruit spies... again

I don't think that I've ever met anyone that actually enjoys using LinkedIn. I mean sure, depending on what you do for a living, it might help you land a new gig. Maybe, it can help you to network with folks within your industry. But it's awful. On the occasions where I need to use it in order to get hold of a PR rep from some hard-to-reach tech firm, I've always found it slow to load and a drag to navigate. That said, the problems that folks like you and I have leveraging the platform for anything useful might not be enough to keep a motivated employer from using the social media platform to track down top-shelf talent.

From the New York Times:

Foreign agents are exploiting social media to try to recruit assets, with LinkedIn as a prime hunting ground, Western counterintelligence officials say. Intelligence agencies in the United States, Britain, Germany and France have issued warnings about foreign agents approaching thousands of users on the site. Chinese spies are the most active, officials say.

“We’ve seen China’s intelligence services doing this on a mass scale,” said William R. Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, a government agency that tracks foreign spying and alerts companies to possible infiltration. “Instead of dispatching spies to the U.S. to recruit a single target, it’s more efficient to sit behind a computer in China and send out friend requests to thousands of targets using fake profiles.”

Lazy access to potential intelligence assets? Read the rest

Podcast: Fake News is an Oracle

In my latest podcast, I read my new Locus column: Fake News is an Oracle. For many years, I've been arguing that while science fiction can't predict the future, it can reveal important truths about the present: the stories writers tell reveal their hopes and fears about technology, while the stories that gain currency in our discourse and our media markets tell us about our latent societal aspirations and anxieties.

Read the rest

A "Fake News Game" that "vaccinates" players against disinformation

Bad News is a free webgame created by two Cambridge psych researchers; in a 15-minute session, it challenges players to learn about and deploy six tactics used in disinformation campaigns ("polarisation, invoking emotions, spreading conspiracy theories, trolling people online, deflecting blame, and impersonating fake accounts"). Read the rest

Analysis of a far-right disinformation campaign aimed at influencing the EU elections

F-Secure Labs used a bot to harvest and analyze high-ranked disinformation tweets aimed at influencing the EU elections; they found that some of the highest-ranked xenophobic/Islamophobic disinformation came from a pair of related accounts: NewsCompact and PartisanDE, both in "the top three most engaged accounts in the EU election conversation space on Twitter two weeks ago." Read the rest

U.S. Cyber Command DDOS'd Russian troll factory's internet on 2018 midterms voting day: WaPo

The official cyberwarfare division of America's military successfully blocked off Internet access for the Russian government's notorious “troll factory” on the day of the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. Read the rest

'He has learned nothing,' Zuckerberg considers crowdsourcing news fact-checks for Facebook

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg reveals the company may crowdsource fact-checking as a new model for Facebook’s third-party factchecking partnerships, now that they've botched the deal they had with Snopes.

Earlier this month, we wrote that Snopes ended their 'debunking false stuff' partnership with Facebook.

This is the first time we've read that Mark Zuckerberg has come up with a new plan.

It sucks.

From today's new reporting at the Guardian:

In the first of a series of public conversations, Zuckerberg praised the efforts of factcheckers who partnered with Facebook following the 2016 presidential election as a bulwark against the flood of misinformation and fake news that was overtaking the site’s News Feed.

“The issue here is there aren’t enough of them,” he said. “There just aren’t a lot of factcheckers.”

He continued: “I think that the real thing that we want to try to get to over time is more of a crowdsourced model where people, it’s not that people are trusting some sort, some basic set of experts who are accredited but are in some kind of lofty institution somewhere else. It’s like do you trust? Like if you get enough data points from within the community of people reasonably looking at something and assessing it over time, then the question is: can you compound that together into something that is a strong enough signal that we can then use that?”

Here's the bullshit-free response from Snopes' Brooke Binkowski, same Guardian story:

Brooke Binkowski, the former managing editor of Snopes, a factchecking site that previously partnered with Facebook, said Zuckerberg’s comments signaled that he “has learned nothing at all”.

Read the rest

The Convoy: a glimpse of a deepfakes future owned by James O'Keefe-style hoaxers

On Motherboard, Brian Merchant's (previously) new science fiction story The Convoy poses an eerily plausible future for political deepfake hoaxing -- with James O'Keefe-alikes running the show -- that skillfully weaves in elements of the Innocence of Muslims hoax with the current state-of-the-art in high-tech fakery. Read the rest

Regardless of political affiliation, over-65s are most likely to share "fake news" (and there's not much fake news, and it's largely right-wing)

A peer-reviewed study conducted by a trio of Princeton and NYU political scientists and published in Science Advances systematically examined the proliferation of fake news in the 2016 election cycle and found that, contrary to earlier reports, disinformation did not get shared very widely, and that most of it was right-wing, and that the people who shared disinformation of all political orientation were over 65. Read the rest

'SANCTIONS ARE COMING' - Trump has 'Game of Thrones' poster of himself on table in Cabinet meeting

“Sanctions are Coming - November 4.”

For today's Cabinet meeting at the White House, there was a weird Trump Game of Thrones political meme poster, wall sized, displaying Trump's face and those words, placed right on the middle of the table as some kind of weird creepy internet fascist prop. Read the rest

Robert Mueller was target of Russian infowar, Senate report reveals

After Donald Trump was sworn in as President, Russia's information warfare teams focused on a new target: special counsel Robert Mueller. Read the rest

Using information security to explain why disinformation makes autocracies stronger and democracies weaker

The same disinformation campaigns that epitomize the divisions in US society -- beliefs in voter fraud, vaccine conspiracies, and racist conspiracies about migrants, George Soros and Black Lives Matter, to name a few -- are a source of strength for autocracies like Russia, where the lack of a consensus on which groups and views are real and which are manufactured by the state strengthens the hand of Putin and his clutch of oligarchs. Read the rest

Twitter kills pro-Saudi “botnet” spreading Khashoggi disinformation tweets

Twitter today pulled down a disinfo bot network that was amplifying pro-Saudi talking points about disappeared journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who is presumed to have been tortured and killed on orders of the government of Saudi Arabia. Read the rest

When should the press pay attention to trolls, lies and disinformation?

Whitney Phillips (previously), a researcher at the "think/do tank" Data & Society (previously) has prepared a snappy, short report on the paradox of covering disinformation campaigns, trolling, and outright lies? Read the rest

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