Disinfo Update 25/02/2019

Our weekly newsletter on disinformation issues.

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Platforms progresses

Implementation reports from signatories of the EU code of practice are expected to be published by the European Commission this week. Here’s what to expect:

Twitter is expanding transparency around political ads. An ad endorsing a party or a candidate will be viewable in Twitter Ads Transparency Centre, with details such as billing information, ad spend and impressions data per Tweet. Enforcement of this policy will begin on 11 March, after which only certified advertisers will be allowed to run political campaigning ads.

Google has released a white paper on the sidelines of Munich cybersecurity conference. This paper summarizes in a single document the efforts across the products of the company in fighting intentional spread of disinformation. Nothing much new, but a good recap.

Facebook: Also in Munich, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook head of cybersecurity, hold a discussion with DFR Lab Graham Brookie, discussing the importance of industry partnerships.

Zuckerberg fireside chat part II

As expected in his new year wishes, Mark Zuckerberg hosted its first discussion with thinkers on tech and society. In a conversation with Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain, Zuckerberg said that Facebook has been developing private communication tools since the service’s early days at Harvard, and that the company continues to focus on improving them.

Discussing the problem of disinformation on the platform at 0:38, Zuckerberg explains that it should not be up to Facebook to decide what is true or false, a reason why the company relies on the work of fact-checkers. According to him, the challenge is to strike a difficult balance between limiting the spread of misinformation and not positioning itself as arbiter of the truth.

How to cure the virus?

Anti-vaccine theories have been spreading online just as a virus. Information discouraging people from vaccinating their children might indeed have contributed to an increase in several diseases. In fact, the conspiracies on vaccine are getting more engagement on Facebook, despite being fact-checked.

In this context, politicians are trying to pressure social platforms to act and stop recommending such content. Also related to health misinformation, House Democrats are pressing Facebook on the privacy protection it has in place for people who share sensitive health information in groups.

As Google and Facebook struggle on the measures to take, Pinterest has stopped showing vaccination results as it was showing false health claims. Users can still pin fringe images to their own boards, but they can no longer use Pinterest for free viral distribution. This approach can be referred to as “freedom of speech versus freedom of reach.” Casey Newton calls it a perfect r

The reason why Mickey Mouse left Youtube

Youtube has been under growing scrutiny for its recommendation algorithms, which according to some might lead to clickbait videos and conspiracy theories. In the New York Times, Kevin Roose comes back to the booming of conspiracy theories on the platform. Walt Disney withdrew its advertising spending from YouTube, joining other companies including Nestle, after a blogger detailed how comments on Google’s video site were being used to facilitate a “soft-core pedophilia ring.” This move is particularly interesting as advertisers are increasingly scrutinized for their support in the ad economy financing misleading content. (On this issue, join our Webinar on Wednesday to discuss online advertising with Johnny Ryan from Brave).

This reaction happens just when the video service announced it is tweaking its algorithms in the US to “begin reducing recommendations of borderline content and content that could misinform users in harmful ways”.

Library

What to read, watch and listen to this week:

Calendar and announcements

The EU announced it will make 2.2 Million EUR available for three separate pilot projects in the area of media freedom and pluralism geared at promoting quality journalism and cross-border cooperation between media professionals and media councils in the digital age.

See all past and upcoming events in our agenda

HR Corner

Full Fact is looking for:

  • A Designer to strengthen our visual identity
  • A Product Manager to overhaul our website
  • A Web Developer to refresh our website
  • A Policy and Impact Officer to turn our fact checking into action

More open positions in our past newsletters