In two days, an EU committee will vote to crown Google and Facebook permanent lords of internet censorship

On June 20, the EU's legislative committee will vote on the new Copyright directive, and decide whether it will include the controversial "Article 13" (automated censorship of anything an algorithm identifies as a copyright violation) and "Article 11" (no linking to news stories without paid permission from the site). Read the rest

"The Biology of Disinformation," a paper by Rushkoff, Pescovitz, and Dunagan

My Institute for the Future colleagues Douglas Rushkoff, Jake Dunagan, and I wrote a research paper on the "Biology of Disinformation" and how media viruses, bots and computational propaganda have redefined how information is weaponized for propaganda campaigns. While technological solutions may seem like the most practical and effective remedy, fortifying social relationships that define human communication may be the best way to combat “ideological warfare” that is designed to push us toward isolation. As Rushkoff says, "adding more AI's and algorithms to protect users from bad social media is counterproductive: how about increasing our cultural immune response to destructively virulent memes, instead?" From The Biology of Disinformation:

The specter of widespread computational propaganda that leverages memetics through persuasive technologies looms large. Already, artificially intelligent software can evolve false political and social constructs highly targeted to sway specific audiences. Users find themselves in highly individualized, algorithmically determined news and information feeds, intentionally designed to: isolate them from conflicting evidence or opinions, create self-reinforcing feedback loops of confirmation, and untether them from fact-based reality. And these are just early days. If memes and disinformation have been weaponized on social media, it is still in the musket stage. Sam Woolley, director of the Institute for the Future’s (IFTF) Digital Intelligence Lab, has concluded that defenders of anything approaching “objective” truth are woefully behind in dealing with computational propaganda. This is the case in both technological responses and neuro-cultural defenses. Moreover, the 2018 and 2020 US election cycles are going to see this kind of cognitive warfare on an unprecedented scale and reach.

Read the rest

Leaked Kremlin memos reveal plan to destabilize Ukraine

The Kiberkhunta hacker group has dumped 2,000 messages from Putin aide Vladislav Surkov's email, including two documents related to the Kremlin's plans to consolidate their annexation of Ukraine: "Priority Action Plan to Destabilize the Social-Political Situation in Ukraine," and "Concrete Action Plan on the Promotion of the Federal Status of Zakarpattia Oblast." Read the rest

Egypt Lies I Read on Twitter: Debunking Rumors and Misinformation on the #Jan25 Uprising

Photo by Arabist, via TwitPic

In Egypt, six days of massive demonstrations against the government look set to continue.

Two days ago, the country's president of 30 years sacked his government. Yesterday, he named a new one - and for the first time during his reign, picked a vice president. Today, protesters continue to rally, calling for Hosni Mubarak to step down.

Like during Tunisia's "Jasmine Revolution" just a few weeks earlier, there's been an outpouring of support and interest on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. But, inevitably, with all the cheerleaders and nay-saying being bandied about, so too is a slew of ... less than reliable tweets.

For example:

Hearing UNCONFIRMED info that the Egyptian Army getting ready to announce President Hosni Mubarak is stepping down. #Egypt #Jan25

OR the more nuanced version:

Ben Wedeman @bencnn reported on air just now #Mubarak is preparing to step down, quoting sources inside regime #Egypt #Jan25

Well, needless to say, we're still waiting for that to happen... but here's what the New York Times Lede blog published Wedeman actually saying: Read the rest