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Category Archives: Fake News

We’re launching an election-season ad campaign to fight fake news, and we need your help – USA TODAY

Posted: September 18, 2020 at 1:20 am

Alexander Heffner and Alan C. Miller, Opinion contributors Published 5:00 a.m. ET Sept. 13, 2020 | Updated 10:04 a.m. ET Sept. 14, 2020

Don't fall for misinformation on voting and candidates in 2020. Protect yourselves and democracy by verifying facts and breaking out of your bubbles.

In the 2016 presidential election, foreign and domestic disinformation flooded social media platforms, misled and misinformed Americans and sought to depress turnout, especially among historically marginalized young and Black voters. Memeswith false information were deliberately directed toward voters on Twitter and Facebook to deter people from voting.

Once again in 2020, disinformation about the election including the voting process has been spread widely and endangers our democracy. U.S. intelligence officials have issued warnings about ongoing tactics to hack Americans, manipulate the mediaand sow confusion about the campaign and election. President Donald Trump himself hassuggestedthat peoplevote twice, which is illegal, and has amplified electoral and QAnon conspiracies.

Thats why our organizations, the News Literacy Project and The Open Mind Legacy Project, are distributing public service announcements around the country this week to combat malicious fabrication, botsand online trolls that seek to mislead voters and suppress voting. These engaging and animated PSAs will seek to inoculate voters against viral deception about how and when they can vote and encourage them to be skeptical about the election information they encounter.

We fully expect the onslaught of disinformation to ramp up over these next weeks, including more pernicious and deliberate attempts to stymie voters and effectively deny them their franchise. Its essential to repel these efforts to dupe voters into believing that they can vote via text, social media, or telephone, that the election has been postponed or canceled, or that polling places have closed or moved.

Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and helped Donald Trump win. We look back at history and ask: Will they do it again? USA TODAY

Our PSAs, which will air in Spanish and English, debunk myths about voting,encourage voters to break out of their filter bubbles, and advise them to verify facts with multiple sources before sharing social media posts. The campaign will focus especially on Black and Latinx populations particularly hard hit by the pandemic that were targeted in previous election-related misinformation campaigns and remain vulnerable to suppression.

Don't be fooled:I'm a former CIA analyst trained to spot fake news. Here's how you can do it, too.

Earlier this year, during the initial stage of the coronavirus, Americans were voting in primaries and caucusing around the nation with little guidance on how to safely and reliably participate in our elections during a pandemic. Now, in addition to the continued public health advisories about mask wearing and social distancing, we need to increase public awareness to safeguard the countrys public life as well as our public health.

In the absence of more rigorous social media standards, spam protectionand the passage of legislation like the Honest Ads Act that establishes transparency in digital advertising, we know there will continue to be memes, robocallsand other nefarious online dirty tricks designed to hurt voters.

In 2016, most Americans did not know that they were victims of a cyberespionage campaign, and neither the government nor social media platforms wereable to protect the integrity of the airwaves or the digital ecosystem. This year can be different. Even during the pandemic, we have effective virtual means to communicate with our communities, neighbors, co-workersand classmates to ensure that the electorate stays informed.

Tory Burch:Don't take anything for granted. Voting now is as important as it was 100 years ago

We need to work together to preserve a fact-based future. Americans can protect themselves and our democracy by correcting misinformation in real time, staying vigilant for deepfakeor cheapfake videos, not sharing articles they have not read, and remaining skeptical about any information about voting they encounter. Remember: Voting depends on you, and democracy depends on us.

Alexander Heffner (@heffnera)is the host of The Open Mind on PBS and president of The Open Mind Legacy Project. Alan C. Miller (@alanmillerNLP) is the founder and CEO of the News Literacy Project.

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Conspiracy mentality linked to the acceptance of fake news about science – PsyPost

Posted: at 1:20 am

A study published in Politics and the Life Sciences suggests that a conspiracy mentality is linked to increased support for conspiracy theories and higher endorsement of fake news claims.

The nonacceptance of well-supported science is a pervasive problem in todays society. Support for pseudoscience is alarmingly common, and conspiracy theories and fake news claims are rampant on social media.

The proliferation of deceptive claims on social media has done a lot to normalize conspiracy, and to some extent conspiratorial worldviews, study authors Asheley R. Landrum and Alex Olshansky say. We can try to dismiss conspiracy theorizing as something undertaken only by a foil-hat-wearing fringe, however when our friends and neighbors (and sometimes ourselves) begin to believe and share conspiracies on social media, we must acknowledge that conspiracy theorizing is much more widespread.

Landrum and Olshansky wanted to explore factors that lead people towards a disbelief in science, by focusing on the role of conspiracy mentality.

A nearly nationally representative sample of 513 Americans was recruited to take part in an online survey. In order to capture data from individuals with heightened support for conspiracy theories, a separate sample of 21 adults recruited from a flat Earth convention was also included.

The survey measured scientific belief with questions addressing beliefs in climate change and evolution. The survey also questioned subjects belief in certain fake news topics proliferated on social media, such as the belief that the Zika virus was caused by the genetically modified mosquito or that childhood vaccinations are unsafe and cause disorders like autism. Conspiracy mentality was assessed by questioning subjects support for seven different conspiracy theories.

As expected, the sample recruited from the flat Earth conference had much stronger scores on the conspiracy mentality assessment than the national sample. Furthermore, 100% of those from the flat Earth convention reported not believing in climate change, while only 36% of the national sample did. While these findings seem to support the existence of a conspiracy mentality, when the two samples were merged, a conspiracy mentality did not predict the denial of climate change.

Greater conspiracy mentality did predict susceptibility to every fake news claim that was included in the survey (i.e., misleading claims about GMOs, the Zika virus, vaccinations, and a cure for cancer).

Support for these inaccurate, viral claims was not altogether uncommon. As the authors illustrate, About 56% of our national sample said it is likely or definitely true that Monsanto is covering up for the fact that GMOs cause cancer, and 32% of our national sample said that it is likely or definitely true that the Zika virus is caused by the genetically modified mosquito.

The authors stress, even though the number of individuals with pathological levels of conspiracy mentality is arguably small, viral fake news campaigns are dangerous because people who may not be conspiracy oriented are predisposed to accept conspiracies that support their worldviews.

The study was limited since it included a small number of items addressing scientific belief and the rejection of scientific fact. Future studies should aim to include assessments for a wider range of science-related beliefs.

The study, The role of conspiracy mentality in denial of science and susceptibility to viral deception about science, was authored by Asheley R. Landrum and Alex Olshansky.

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Letter: No need to rely on fake news and ignore good Trump news – Thehour.com

Posted: at 1:20 am

Updated 12:11pm EDT, Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Recently Hearst columnist Jacqueline Smith wrote that she wasnt aware of the fake news that gets mentioned so often these days. Id like to call her attention to the article on page B8 of The Hour for Sept. 5. The article with the lead Trump denies calling war dead losers, suckers is a story based on anonymous sources, which appeared in The Atlantic and claimed Trump insulted the American war dead from WWI back in 2018.

The story is a malicious smear published by a magazine whose publisher made a $500,000 contribution to the Biden campaign. The smear is then followed up by the outraged Democrats who are accepting it as truth. The Associated Press story in your paper was 75 percent Democratic Party talking points about Democrats reaction to the story. These types of smears appear regularly in your paper: racist, homophobic, fascist, Russian spy, misogynist, etc. Nothing is too outrageous if its something negative about Trump.

Nowhere mentioned in the paper is the peace agreement between Serbia and Kosovo after decades of disputes and civil war. The agreement includes Kosovo, a 96-percent Muslim state, recognizing the state of Israel and establishing normal relations between the countries. This is just a few weeks after the announcement of the mutual recognition between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, another Muslim state. These may be baby steps to a Middle East solution, but in an area of the world where success has been elusive, the Trump administration should be given credit for making progress.

Theres no need to rely on fake news, made-up stories, and politically motivated hit pieces to fill your pages. There is real news out there, some of it good!

Paul Hunter

Norwalk

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Man falsely accused of shooting deputies received threats – Los Angeles Times

Posted: at 1:20 am

Less than a day after two Los Angeles County sheriffs deputies were shot and wounded as they sat in their police cruiser outside a transit station in Compton, Darnell Hicks cellphone began to light up with messages from friends: He was identified as the alleged gunman in an alert circulated on social media.

Hicks, 33, a father of two and youth football coach from Compton who lives with his 93-year-old grandmother, then saw screenshots of something that seemed to be an official be on the lookout alert. It included his drivers license photograph, name and address and associated him with a Los Angeles gang.

A Twitter post characterized Hicks as wanted for attempted murder in connection with the shooting Saturday evening. The suspect has vowed to shoot more law enforcement officers, the fake alert added.

At first, Hicks said, he thought it was a prank. But then threats starting coming in as the post spread on social media.

It was terrible, he said. I feared for my familys safety.

He said he was dirt-biking in Compton all day Saturday, but that didnt stop people from questioning him.

I got so worried, I called in to the sheriffs station, he said.

Hicks said he didnt know who was behind the accusation and had no connection whatsoever to the shooting.

The post was retweeted and shared by bloggers. One Malaysia-based, conservative, self-styled independent journalist with more than 250,000 followers claimed he learned from sources that Hicks was the prime suspect.

The wounded 31-year-old female deputy and 24-year-old male deputy were on patrol Saturday evening, sitting in their SUV, when a man walked up to the vehicle, pointed a gun at the passenger window and fired multiple times. The deputies were hit in the face, head and arms. The suspect fled on foot and remains at large.

Hicks attorney, Brian Dunn, said the false accusation couldnt get much worse.

It is a sign of the times. We have drifted far away from rational thought, Dunn said.

He said that people were willing to make such accusations without a thought to the consequences and that he was still investigating the origins of the false report. The original poster removed it from Twitter. But others also claimed to have heard the information.

The Sheriffs Department took to Twitter on Sunday, calling the report erroneous and saying, There are no named or wanted suspects at this time.

Sheriff Alex Villaneuva said that his department never issued an alert and that the one on social media was fake news.

There was some bad information floating around yesterday about a suspect, he added in a briefing Monday. All that information is false.

Dunn said that it was impossible to undo the damage and that nobody has taken responsibility for it.

Hicks said he wanted to send my prayers to the two deputies. But he also worried about other young Black men, with such a generic description of the perpetrator floating around.

Community activist Jasmyne Cannick said the departments initial description of the suspect as dark-skinned and, then, as a Black male, age 28 to 30, opened the door to profiling.

Cannick, who works as a political strategist, became involved after she received calls from a friend of Hicks asking for her help.

What if he would have been killed? What if anybody would have thought he was the wanted suspect? she said. His kids, his 93-year-old grandmother could have got hurt.

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Technology has given amazing possibilities of communication but fake news remains a concern – India TV News

Posted: at 1:20 am

Image Source : INDIA TV

Fake news remains a concern.

Technology has opened up absolutely amazing possibilities of communication and personal engagement, with one of its arm being the social media that brought a 360 degree change in the society good or bad is debatable. In the past few years, we have an unprecedented situation in human history where almost 5 billion people are just one button away from each other. According to Statista, a global media research firm, 4.57 billion people were active internet users as of July 2020, encompassing 59 per cent of the global population. China, India and the United States alone contribute 70 per cent of these users. Another billion are online occasionally.

Virtually everyone using the Internet is active on one of the many leading social media platforms. Even as hundreds of millions wake up to a good morning message from friends and family, an equal if not more are busy spewing venom ad nauseum.

This has challenged decades of conventional wisdom of communication. Anyone anywhere anytime can express an opinion, criticise, endorse, abuse, applaud and contradict others.

Social media, an omnibus term for all applications and services which allow one to one, one to many and many to many interactions has upset the status quo in politics, diplomacy, news, arts and entertainment and, of course, interpersonal relationships.

Unfortunately, while billions of people are "posting" on social media constantly, they are not ready to face the consequences, social, political, cultural, economic or psychological.

So now, a blame game has begun on the insidious ramification of an always-on society. But, most are blaming platforms, websites and applications for their own inability to handle the cataclysmic change in our lives, real and virtual. It is we who are irresponsible in our comments on social media.

The transition from traditional media to social media engagement has been rather swift. User generated content is the bedrock on which social media giants have been built. When individuals post on various topics, an inherent bias is likely.

When popularity on social media becomes a yardstick of measuring success, trolling, fake news, doctored posts and a lot of propaganda and promotion becomes the norm.

Since the last few years, there has been a constant chatter about politics, specially elections being influenced by fake news and social media manipulation. In fact, now apps and platforms are often unfairly accused of being partisan and manipulative.

What most people do not realise, leave alone understand, is that the rules of a networked society are being written every minute and virtual anarchy for a while is a foregone conclusion.

ALSO READ |Delhi riots: Police files over 15,000-page charge sheet under UAPA against 15 accused for larger conspiracy

ALSO READ |Zhenhua data leak: Govt sets up expert panel to study reports of China snooping on VIPs in India

(With inputs from IANS)

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With the election campaign underway, can the law protect voters from fake news and conspiracy theories? – The Conversation AU

Posted: at 1:20 am

Last weekends anti-lockdown protest in Auckland provided a snapshot of the various conspiracy theories and grievances circulating online and within the community: masks, vaccination, QAnon, 5G technology, government tyranny and COVID-19 were all in the mix.

The freedom rally also featured Advance NZ party leaders Jami-Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika, who has previously described COVID-19 as no more serious than influenza.

The same scepticism about the pandemic was reportedly behind the Mt Roskill Evangelical Church cluster and spread, which prompted Health Minister Chris Hipkins to ask that people think twice before sharing information that cant be verified.

Hipkins also refused to rule out punitive measures for anyone found to be deliberately spreading lies.

Its not a new problem. As far back as 1688, the English Privy Council issued a proclamation prohibiting the spread of false information. The difference in the 21st century, of course, is the reach and speed of fake news and disinformation.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has even spoken of a massive infodemic hindering the public health response to COVID-19: an over-abundance of information some accurate and some not that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.

This is particularly dangerous when people are already anxious and politically polarised. Disinformation spreads fastest where freedom is greatest, including in New Zealand where everyone has the right under the Bill of Rights Act to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.

This leads to an anomaly. On the one hand, people using misleading or deceptive information to market products (including medicines) can be held to account, and advertising must be responsible. On the other hand, spreading misleading or deceptive ideas is not, as a rule, illegal.

Read more: The Facebook prime minister: how Jacinda Ardern became New Zealand's most successful political influencer

However, there are restrictions on free speech when it comes to offensive behaviour and language, racial discrimination and sexual harassment. We also censor objectionable material and police harmful digital communications that target individuals.

So, should we add COVID-19 conspiracies and disinformation to that list? The answer is probably not. And if we do, we should be very specific.

Deciding who gets caught in the net and defining what information is harmful to the public is a very slippery slope. Furthermore, the internet has many corners to hide in and may be near impossible to police.

Given those spreading conspiracy theories and disinformation tend to believe already in government overreach, we risk pouring petrol on the fire by attempting to ban their activities.

The exception, where further restraint is justified, involves attempts to use misinformation or undue influence (especially by a foreign power) to manipulate elections. This is where a more focused approach to who and what is targeted makes sense.

Countries such Canada, the UK, France and Australia are all grappling with how best to protect their democracies from manipulation of information, but these initiatives are still in their infancy.

Read more: NZ's cyber security centre warns more attacks likely following stock market outages

In New Zealand we have a law prohibiting the publishing of false statements to influence voters, and the Justice Committee put out an excellent report on the 2017 general election that covered some of these points and urged vigilance.

While tools such as Netsafes fake news awareness campaign and official COVID-19 information sources are excellent, they are not enough on their own.

The best line of defence against malicious information is still education. Scientific literacy and critical thinking are crucial. Good community leadership, responsible journalism and academic freedom can all contribute.

But if that isnt enough, what can we do about the platforms where disinformation thrives?

Conventional broadcasters must make reasonable efforts to present balanced information and viewpoints.

But that kind of balance is much harder to enforce in the decentralised, instantaneous world of social media. The worst example of this, the live-streamed terror attack in Christchurch, led to the Christchurch Call. Its a noble initiative, but controlling this modern hydra will be a long battle.

Read more: Survey shows 1 in 4 New Zealanders remain hesitant about a coronavirus vaccine

Attempts to control misinformation on Facebook, Twitter and Google through self-regulation and warning labels are welcome. But the work is slow and ad-hoc. The European Commission is now proposing new rules to formalise the social media platforms responsibility and liability for their content.

Like tobacco, that content might not be prohibited, but citizens should be warned about what theyre consuming even if it comes from the president of the United States.

The final line of defence would be to make individuals who spread fake news liable to prosecution. Many countries have already begun to make such laws, with China and Russia at the forefront.

The risk, of course, is that social media regulation can disguise political censorship designed to target dissent. For that reason we need to treat this option with extreme caution.

But if the tolerance of our liberal democracy is too sorely tested in the forthcoming election, and if all other defences prove inadequate, new laws that strengthen the protection of the electoral process may well be justified.

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‘The Social Dilemma’: Netflix’s documentary and what it means for startups – EU-Startups

Posted: at 1:20 am

If you havent heard of it yet, The Social Dilemma is the new Netflix documentary that launched this August 2020 to an eager audience, after being selected for the Sundance Film Festival 2020.

You probably think that youve heard it all before when it comes to the subjects of social media addiction, personal data protection and fake news, but this documentary offers something different. Its led by interviews with the great minds of Silicon Valley that actually created Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, such as the co-inventor of the Facebook Like button, Justin Rosenstein, and the former President of Pinterest and former Director of Monetization at Facebook, Tim Kendall, to name just a few. Its this element that makes us sit up and listen.

The world has long recognised the benefits of social media, from connecting families across borders, to acting as an organisational tool for activists. However, the dark side of social media has also reared its ugly head, exasperating issues such as mental health, bullying, political polarization, fake news and misinformation, and even riots and conflict.

Lets go back to how social media platforms work. Its clear that by being free for users, social media platforms are built to treat our attention as the product, which is then sold to advertisers. Its the goal, therefore, of social media platforms to take the most addictive elements of human psychology and pair them with deep personalisation technologies, in order to present us with exactly what we want to see, cause us to use up more and more of our time, and sell our attention to advertisers.

However, what this documentary also highlights is that fake news spreads 6 times faster than true news, making this the king of online content. What this means is that social media platforms are perpetuating an online (and now offline) world where truth is irrelevant, as long asthe content getsas many views and likes as possible. When you add to the mix the fact that Facebook has found that they can actually affect real-world behaviours and emotions, without users even being aware of it, this all results in real-life (offline) effects such as governments and other organisations weaponising social media to incite political polarisation, conflicts, riots, and even violence.

What we also learn through this documentary is that even the people that created these social media platforms are not immune to the negative side effects of these apps, and feel powerless as they watch them not only suck away hours of our personal lives for profit, but on a wider level cause mass conflict and political unrest.

But what does this have to do with startups? Well, a lot, actually. Lets jump into it.

Paying for reach

If you didnt know that the monetisation strategy of Facebook is to sell advertising to companies, then this may explain why your startups business accounts are not reaching many people when you post free (organic) posts. Increasingly, companies like Facebook are reducing the reach of organic postings made by business accounts, in order to entice companies like yours to spend money on promotions. What can you do about it? Set aside a paid media budget for the future. A well-timed piece of content sent to the right audience can be incredibly effective, but make sure that you have a strategy to avoid wasting your cents.

Market dominance

What this documentary also highlights is that big tech companies simply have too much market power. A power imbalance such as this means that large tech companies are not only influencing our personal and political environments, but also single handedly determining how the internet of the future is being shaped. This is restricting innovation across areas such as news, visual media, cloud storage, communication like calls and messaging, and more. A fairer competitive environment would see more opportunity for Europes startups to develop and grow their innovations. How could this be achieved? Regulations. The challenge is that, with national and supranational bodies (like the EU) adhering to lengthy approval processes, oftentimes technology out-innovates any new regulation that comes in.

Reduced productivity at work

As explained in the documentary, social mediainherently turns your psychology against you so that you stay stuck to the screen,and is now classed as anaddictive activity. While will power has a large part to play in staying focused at work, founders and team leaders at work should recognise that users are battling some pretty powerful forces here. If youre leading a team in your startup, it could be worth having a think about starting an open and non-judgmental dialogue with the team to share useful tips (such as downloading an app that restricts your daily use), or agree on any measures like turning off notifications on desktop. The challenge here is to not assume the worst (as many team members may have already got it under control) and to focus on mental health where appropriate.

Founder and startup profiles

While its tempting to panic and just delete all of your accounts having watched the documentary, its worth remembering that businesses nowadays need to have a presence on social media to maintain visibility in front of customers and partners. For your startup, think about whether you really need all of your accounts and where your customers are hanging out online. For instance, a B2C foodtech startup might require an Instagram account to promote their product to customers, however a B2B AI startup might not find their target on this platform. Founders could consider whether its worth it to have personal and professional accounts on all platforms, and where they lose the most time scrolling.

Opportunity for fake news startups

Finally, a silver lining. With big tech companies like Facebook failing to curb fake news and misinformation, a market opportunity has popped up for startups to fill the gap. Whether its fake news, deep fakes, disinformation or the deliberate spreading of false information, European startups are already at the forefront of the fight. Check out this list that we published recently to meet the rising stars of this sector and even use some of their products yourself: 10 European startups fighting fake news and disinformation.

Will you watch the documentary? Let us know how your startup manages the opportunities and challenges presented by social media, and check out these articles for more tips: 10 useful social media tips for early-stage startups and 10 steps to your startups first influencer marketing campaign.

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Think more, share less: How to avoid falling for misinformation, disinformation and fake news – KING5.com

Posted: at 1:20 am

Cleansing the internet of lies and propaganda starts with being a better and more proactive information consumer. Sponsored by AARP Washington.

SEATTLE Disinformation and misinformation run rampant on the internet, muddling the discourse in maddening, sometimes dangerous ways. Combating this tidal wave questionable information is a difficult, but necessary, task facing all of us.

If you gave me a magic wand, one of the first things I would do would be to inject media literacy into every single classroom not just in high school, not just at universities, but all the way down to elementary school kids, said Jevin West, director of the nonpartisan Center for an Informed Public at the University of Washington. Everyone is susceptible to this and if we can improve the information consumers, that to me is one of the best antidotes that we have.

For the adults out there, West says there are ways to self-improve your online discourse, and that its never too late to be better in cyberspace. His biggest piece of advice? Think more, share less.

There's this idea that we simply just need to share and like on things that we immediately see and get an emotional reaction for. If the world would slow down the spread of information in general, it would definitely give us all a chance to try and vet the information that's coming.

Learning to evaluate sources of what may seem like too-good-to-be-true (or worse, too-bad-to-be-true) stories is an important part of weeding out the garbage. He explained doing further research on new sites is vital to determining accuracy: learn about a site's history, their owners and their political leanings.

Curating a network of respected, trusted sources can help you evaluate some of the more outlandish things you encounter on social media. Fact-checking sites like Snopesand PolitiFactare two examples that work to ferret out mis- and disinformation.

Additionally, supporting local news-gathering efforts staffed by local journalists who know your community is a crucial part of maintaining an informed democracy.

I think it's one of the saddest stories right now, West said. Across America these news deserts that are popping up these places that used to have local papers that don't have them, used to have local stations that don't have them it's one of the most important things we can do because people are going to trust local media better.

And unfortunately that's just all going away and people are going to the internet and just finding a lot of pollution and garbage.

Finally, West says one of the easiest ways to be a better consumer and sharer of information online is to admit when you are wrong.

Don't double down. That seems to be the trend of everyone on the internet now it's to double down. Admit mistakes, do your best to let those that you spread this to know that it was a mistake. But simply admit the mistake and don't double down. I think we need to do more of that our leaders need to be doing more of that and we can at least start with ourselves.

To help Washingtonians better sort fact from fiction, AARP, the Center for an Informed Public at the University of Washington and BECU are offering a four-part series of free online events called Sorting Fact from Fiction: Finding truth in an infodemic. The event is open to everyone. Pre-registration is required. Sign up now at AARP.org/factfromfiction.

KING 5'sNew Day Northwestpresents Sorting Fact From Fiction. Sponsored byAARP Washingtonin partnership with theCenter for an Informed Public at the University of WashingtonandBECU. All segments available atking5.com/factfromfiction.

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Election fake news weekly report to monitor New Zealand campaigning – RNZ

Posted: at 1:20 am

Fake news is already hitting New Zealand's election campaign, with a weekly research group pointing to NZ Public Party and the New Conservatives as the main offenders so far.

Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

Victoria University researchers Dr Mona Krewel and Professor Jack Vowles have joined a project monitoring social media during election campaigning, identifying fake news.

Part of the challenge is to assess if techniques such as data mining or misinformation has intruded onto the campaign trail here as has been identified in some overseas elections and referenda.

Dr Krewel told RNZ Morning Report's Corin Dann that, backed by an army of coders, they would be publishing findings on a weekly basis starting this week.

"We have our coders and they have a huge thing which we call a codebook and they go through all the Facebook posts and have a definition of what fake news is.

"We also ask the coders to fact check, so if they are not fully sure that something could be fake news we ask them to actually kind of Google this, go to traditional media, to reliable sources like your radio station for example, and look if this has already been called out as fake news."

She said they had defined fake news as "stories that are completely or for the most part made up and intentionally and verifiably false to mislead voters".

"On the fake news half-truth side, I would say it's mostly the New Zealand Public Party and New Conservatives that engage in a little bit of that."

Many other metrics would also be examined, including looking at misinformation, negative versus positive campaigning, inclusion of Mori, and many more things, presented in interactive graphs.

"If it's flying below the radar of fake news ... If it's not entirely or for the most part made up, does it still contain some half truths or somewhat questionable regarding its factual accuracy," Dr Krewel said.

She says the coders are already training and have some initial results.

"My current impression is that they are campaigning very fair ... a little bit of negative campaigning we are starting to see."

She said New Zealand was a very different landscape than the US, and was more likely to see New Zealand-made fake news than high volumes of Russian bots and articles created by state actors.

"It's definitely the other end ... I would imagine that for the US and particularly the upcoming presidential election we would see a very high bar for fake news and negative campaigning, this is also due to the electoral system, it's a two-party system so you have a clear antagonist who you attack, which is different from the multi-party system.

"We still see high-quality democratic campaigning in New Zealand overall."

Dr Krewel said this New Zealand project was based on the Campsource group that had followed other elections overseas, but would be different in that results would be published weekly during the election campaign, instead of afterwards.

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Fake news of Rafale crash circulated in Pakistan using bogus handles – THE WEEK

Posted: at 1:20 am

Pakistans unease at the Indian acquisition and the formal induction of the Rafale jets on July 29 has resulted in a viral hoax about one of the jets crashing during training, leaving two pilots dead.

Not only were fake Twitter profiles of journalists used to spread the news, a fake profile of the Indian Air Force was also created, with a tweet that read: Very shocked news! During exercise, Rafale has crashed near Ambala Airforce Station due to technical fault and a pilot martyred.

This false tweet was put out on 11.33 pm at September 4. It became the start of a string of hoax tweets and posts which floated around till at least September 11. The Twitter handles remained the same but the names of the handles kept changing from one journalist to another. Hundreds of retweets of these fake tweets were made by Pakistanis. The same news was also shared hundreds of time over other social media.

A reverse image search done by SM Hoax Slayer found that the three photos used to illustrate news of the current crash were from the Mirage 2000 crash in Benguluru in February 2019. Two pilots had lost their lives in the aforementioned clash.

The acquisition of the jets by India has not been received well by Pakistan.

In July this year, when Pakistan had first received news of the acquisition, Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui had said, It is disturbing to note that India continues to amass military capabilities beyond its genuine security requirement. Transfer of advanced systems, where there is an open intention of conversion into nuclear delivery platforms, calls into question the commitment of international suppliers to non-proliferation commitments.

She had further said that India had nuclearised the Indian Ocean. Pakistan has been consistently highlighting the risks of massive Indian arms build-up as well as their offensive security doctrine and force postures, she said.

See the article here:

Fake news of Rafale crash circulated in Pakistan using bogus handles - THE WEEK

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