Disinfo Update – 22/11/2018

Our weekly newsletter on disinformation issues.

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Mr. Evil

On 18 December, Next DisinfoLab Webinar will feature Mieje Arentze from Drog, a research and media-litteracy initiative that will teach you how to create your very own fake-news. So build your army of online trolls and spread conspiracies to influence the public debate and contemplate the dangerous implications disinformation can have on your daily life and society as a whole!

Facebook Season 3 Episode 6 : Thanksgiving

Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s outgoing head of communications and policy, took responsibility for hiring Definers Public Affairs in a blog post on the eve of the US Thanksgiving holiday. He admitted mandating the firm to investigate “Freedom from Facebook” campaign financing by George Soros. The whole company policy towards external consulting firms will be reviewed he claims.

An international “Grand Committee” of national parliaments (UK, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Irland, Brasil, Latvia and Singapour), called for Mark Zuckerberg to appear in an audition in London on November 27. Zuckerberg turned down the request, but Policy VP Richard Allan will go. In reply, the Parliament has used its legal powers to seize internal Facebook documents alleged to contain significant revelations about Facebook decisions on data and privacy controls that led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

This call happens just when the LSE Commission on Truth, Trust and Technology, a group made up of British MPs, academics and industry leaders, proposed the Government should hand fresh powers to a new observation body in the UK, rather than existing regulators such as Ofcom and the Information Commissioner.

Journalists: one for all, all for one

In an age of misinformation, is collaboration the future of journalism? Former Vice CTO Jesse Knight advocates for media to consolidate a common publishing platform, and thus gain independence from Google and social media platforms. First Draft also calls for support of sustainable newsroom collaborations and verification projects. Verification project “Comprova” in Brazil is a concrete example of such cooperation. In the context of Brazilian elections, partners worked on debunking rumors and suspicious content on social media and on WhatsApp.

Good bots / Bad bots?

Speaking of Whatsapp, Witness, an NGO working on teaching people to use video to testify human rights abuses, issued a series of recommendations on regulating content on Whatsapp. For example, a database of debunked messages that allows reverse image search or easier ways to block WhatsApp direct marketing services

Good news, such reverse databases already exists for Twitter. In the lead up to last month’s election in Brazil, Aos Fatos built a Twitter bot that automatically corrects people who share fake news stories. Called Fátima, the automated account leverages AI to scan Twitter for URLs that match fact checks in Aos Fatos’ database of articles. Then, the bot replies to the Twitter user with a link to the fact check. Bots spread a lot of fakery, but they can also debunk it.

Library

What to read, watch and listen to this week:

Agenda

See all previous and upcoming disinfo events in our agenda

HR corner