Civil society & the fight against disinformation
The Institute for Strategic Dialogue has released two excellent resources for supporting civil society’s role in the fight against disinformation:
- The 101 of Disinformation Detection – Intended for any NGO looking to tackle disinformation, this report serves as a toolkit for those who require accessible but structured ideas on disinformation research methods and tools.
- Developing a Civil Society Response to Online Manipulation – This report covers two major components: the technological capabilities that are needed to provide agile and accurate research on the evolving threats; and the human skills, coalitions and funding required to make that possible and meaningful.
Exposure to engagement metrics increases vulnerability to misinformation
In September 2019, we held a webinar with Mihai Avram — co-creator of Fakey. Fakey is a gamified approach to media literacy that works by simulating a social media feed. Players score points by sharing content from credible news outlets and fact-checking questionable sources. Just recently, new research has emerged from Mihai and his team that looks into the significance of social engagement metrics (likes and shares) in the spread of misinformation. Based on the recording of 8,500+ Fakey game sessions, the researchers found that exposure to engagement metrics increases the vulnerability of users to low credibility information. In essence, “the higher the engagement, the more prone people are to sharing questionable content and less to fact-checking it”. This has implications for product design in that social media platforms must rethink how engagement metrics should be displayed so as to not facilitate the spread of misinformation.
In the news
- From missiles to birds, Bellingcat has examined the rumours and misinformation related to the Beirut explosion, spread on social media. In addition, BBC News has similarly looked into the conspiracy theories surrounding the blast.
- The New York Times has reported on how a story about protesters burning bibles — which drew widespread condemnation from US conservatives — turned out to be wildly exaggerated. The NYT has argued that this is the “first viral hit in Russia’s 2020 disinformation campaign”.
- In a new piece, First Draft explores why we need a Google Trends-type feature on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit and TikTok to deal with data voids, which can create harmful barriers for users to access credible information.
- From alternative doctors to wellness coaches, Tortoise Media has detailed the infodemic superspreaders, examining (amongst other things) how they have helped amplify Facebook posts containing COVID-19 dis– and misinformation.
- COVID-19 related Infodemic and its Impact on Public Health: A Global Social Media Analysis – This study claims that at least 800 people may have died worldwide because of COVID-19 misinformation in the first three months of 2020. Looking for a quick summary? CNN has it.
- What if Facebook goes down? Ethical and legal considerations for the demise of big tech – Focusing on the EU, this study looks at what would happen to our data if the big tech companies were to close or fail, arguing that existing governance frameworks are inadequate for addressing the ethical and legal risks involved.
Events and Announcements
- IREX’s comprehensive Learn to Discern curriculum is now fully available for download. This curriculum serves as a guidebook for educators in formal and informal education environments. It provides step-by-step guidance and interactive exercises for helping learners of all ages recognise why and how manipulative content works and gain skills to reject half-truths, clickbait, hate speech, and fakes.
- 20 August, 17:00 CEST @ First Draft webinar – Coronavirus: Tracking the infodemic across social media.
- 28 Sept – 2 Oct, 14:15-16:30 CEST @ EU DisinfoLab Virtual Annual Conference – REGISTER HERE.
- 28-30 September @ Online conference – Cybersec 2020: European Cybersecurity Forum.
- Shorenstein Center’s Technology and Social Change Project (TaSC) has announced Political Pandemonium 2020 — a series of four digital workshops exploring the harmful effects of media manipulation on our society. More information on how to register can be found here.
- Civitates is hiring a Fund Manager
- Wikimedia Foundation is looking for a Disinformation Researcher.
- The Sciences Po Médialab is advertising a Postdoctoral position on online scientific misinformation.