Our weekly newsletter on disinformation issues.
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Facebook is paying the bill
Following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Facebook has been fined £500,000 by UK’s data protection watchdog and European Parliament urges for the ban of targeted political advertisement on Facebook to restrict the diffusion of false political information during the upcoming European elections. Under such scrutiny, Facebook has announced it will be downranking stories with false headlines. The new rating comes after several other recent changes to Facebook’s fact-checking project. Timely, former UK prime minister Nick Clegg, just has been appointed head of the global affairs and communications team. Hopefully, this appointment will ease relations between the social media platform and EU institutions. But on the eve of US mid-term elections, and as Facebook promised it would disclose the identity of whom political ads were paid by, Vice revealed it has easily managed to buy news on behalf of senators. Just when the company said last week it had removed 82 pages, accounts and groups linked to Iran that had targeted U.K. and U.S. users. Still a long way to go…
Brazil, India and Whatsapp
On 28/10/2018, Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil. As for most recent elections, false news were intensively spreading during the campaign. Different in Brazil was the massive spread of disinformation through Whatsapp. Alarmed, fact-checkers published an opinion in the New York Times which revealed the scale of the phenomenon. Similar situation on Whatsapp is happening in India. Viral misinformation has become a core problem on the platform, especially because misleading content is now shared virally through end-to-end encrypted solutions.
Join our next webinar on November 8. Govindraj Ethiraj, founder of fact-checking initiative BOOM will describe the disinformation landscape in India and how we can deal with fact-checking on Whatsapp.
From journalism to viruses
Did you ever wonder how journalists verify the truthfulness of eyewitness videos? The New York Times provides some insight on his eyewitness raw video verification process: a mix of traditional journalistic diligence and cutting-edge internet skills. Besides journalists, a new actor has entered the fight against disinformation. McAffee, the 30-year old company traditionally known for is anti-virus software, published an analysis of how cybersecurity breaches could contribute to disseminate false information during the US mid-terms elections campaign.
Some readings recommendations for your week
- Human and digital rights organisations Access Now, Civil Liberties Union for Europe, and European Digital Rights (EDRi) joint report evaluating the European Commission’s online disinformation and propaganda initiatives. Main recommendations focuses on addressing the business model of online manipulation through appropriate data protection laws, preventing the misuse of personal data in elections and increasing media information and literacy.
- Marten’s centre policy brief on political subversion in the age of social media: four areas of vulnerability are identified, namely individualized political messaging, group dynamics and political polarisation, platform algorithms and self-radicalisation, and falsehood dissemination dynamics. Read their 4 political recommendations
- In a report from ISD and LSE institute of global affairs, investigated foreign attempts to influence the 2018 Swedish elections online. The project revealed the relative isolation of the
- The European Political Strategy Center from the European Commission gathered a collection of think pieces from 35 leading practioners and experts on the topic “election interference in the digital age, building resilience to cyber enabled threats”.
- 29/11 Riga: event hosted by civil society organisation “ManaBalss” and it is a part of a EC supported project “Smart eDemocracy Against Fake News (SMARTeD)”
- November 29 @ Pullman Riga Oldtown — “Disinformation and Fake news challenge to democracy” event hosted by civil society organisation “ManaBalss”, part of a EC supported project “Smart eDemocracy Against Fake News (SMARTeD)””