2018 has been an intense year in the fight against disinformation. We wish 2019 to be the year of new resolutions (and actions) from online platforms and regulators. DisinfoLab is preparing a great present for you and you can make a wishlist!  What are your plans on 28-29 May? Binge-watching Netflix? Depression after European elections? Tell us who you would like to hear at our annual conference instead.
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Whatever dirty tricks it takes?

The political debate is not done yet with online manipulation in the US. A top official in President Trump’s campaign, Paul Manafort shared political polling data with a business associate tied to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing unsealed on Tuesday. The document provided the clearest evidence to date that Trump ‘s campaign may have tried to coordinate with Russians during the 2016 presidential race.

Well, is the grass greener by the Democrat’s? Nothing is so sure, as it has been revealed the Democrats faked Facebook pages on the outlaw of alcohol in Alabama Race. According to an activist who worked on the project “If you don’t do it, you’re fighting with one hand tied behind your back” According to him Republicans are using such trickery and that Democrats cannot unilaterally give it up “You have a moral imperative to do this — to do whatever it takes.” The New York Times already reported last month on a separate project by the cybersecurity company New Knowledge that used its own bogus conservative Facebook page and sent Russian-looking Twitter accounts to follow Republican candidate Roy S. Moore to make it appear as if he enjoyed Russian support.

If disinformation becomes a legitimate campaign tool, some candidates might win the race, but we’ll be losing the democratic debate in society.  

Mark good resolution or Zuck Fireside chat

Apparently, Mark Zuckerberg’s 2019 challenge is to get out of his bunker and talk to people, describes Quartz. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his annual challenge: hosting public talks about the future of technology. Zuckerberg, who doesn’t like public appearances, will every few weeks meet with leaders, experts and Facebook’s community members to talk about “the opportunities, the challenges, the hopes, and the anxieties” related to the topic, he said in a Facebook post on Jan. 8.  Damian Collins, chair of the UK DCMS parliamentary committee reacted to this announcement in a sarcastic Tweet by inviting Zuckerberg to come to London to answer questions from parliamentarians, as he refused to appear for an audition. But according to Kurt Wagner in Recode, we should actually listen to him.

Mark, we heard you. Today, we are inviting Facebook VP for Public Policy Richard Allan to speak at our annual conference and meet with the civil society working on disinformation. We’ll keep you posted on his reply.

Twitter breaking the ice

At CES last week, Twitter representatives announced to Engadget that it will be launching a new program to let users reshape how conversations on its site look and feel. The first version of the beta will focus on a new design for the way conversation threads work on Twitter told Sara Haider, Twitter’s director of product management to TechCrunch. This includes a different colour scheme, and visual cues to highlight important replies. The idea is for users to try out new organization and context features with their followers, such as the status updates and “ice breaker” tweets we saw being tested last year, which are designed to encourage people to talk to each other. Twitter is set to start testing the program in the coming weeks, and while anyone will be able to apply to join, only a few thousand users are going to get in.

Older and wiser?

Older Americans are disproportionately more likely to share fake news on Facebook, according to a new analysis by researchers at New York and Princeton Universities. The study, published in Science Advances, examined user behaviour in the months before and after the 2016 US presidential election. Among the users who agreed to share their Facebook data, 11 percent of users older than 65 shared a hoax, while just 3 percent of users 18 to 29 did. These findings clearly support that media literacy efforts should also target elders.


What to read, watch and listen to this week:


See all past and upcoming events in our agenda

Looking for fame? Calls for papers and awards

  • EU Project call for proposal “Media Literacy for All”: open until 28 February 2018
  • WeVerify, an EU co-funded horizon 2020 project that deals with algorithms supported verification of digital content hold its first meeting in Sofia on 14 and 15 January, and you can let them know what issues you think are the most pressing in this area. They might include your answer in their research and project work.