Al Jazeera. August 15, 2022.
Facebook failed to filter out advertisements containing election disinformation in Brazil, a new report from human rights group Global Witness has found, as the country prepares for a tightly contested October vote.
The international rights group said on Monday that it had submitted 10 ads in Brazilian Portuguese to Facebook that contained election disinformation, including false claims about where and when to vote, or sought to delegitimize the country’s electoral process.
Fortune. Barbara Ortutay and AP. August 15, 2022.
Facebook failed to detect blatant election-related misinformation in ads ahead of Brazil’s 2022 election, a new report from Global Witness has found, continuing a pattern of not catching material that violates its policies the group describes as “alarming.”
The advertisements contained false information about the country’s upcoming election, such as promoting the wrong election date, incorrect voting methods and questioning the integrity of the election — including Brazil’s electronic voting system.
The African Report Victor Abuso. August 12, 2022
As Kenyans wait for the final presidential results, international observers – in their preliminary reports – say the voting exercise was largely peaceful, even though there has been spread of disinformation that confused some voters.
Centre for Strategic International Studies. August 11, 2022
A major effort to curb misinformation and disinformation in the United Kingdom hit a recent snag: the turmoil surrounding Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation and upcoming Conservative Party leadership election. Prior to Johnson’s announcement, the House of Commons had been expected to advance the proposed Online Safety Bill in mid-July. But due to new schedule constraints, the legislation has been tabled at least through the fall.
Some critics have seized the postponement as an opportunity to call for a “total rethink” of the bill, and the viability of any current or future content moderation proposal will likely depend on the standpoint of the next prime minister. Misinformation and disinformation can be harmful, but it is not always illegal in the United Kingdom—and the two frontrunners to succeed Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, have both stated that any government regulation to curb harmful content must also protect the freedom of speech. To illustrate the challenging trade-offs related to misinformation and disinformation, below is a summary of three significant points of controversy the Online Safety Bill faces, as well as some considerations from concurrent efforts to tackle false content across other governments.
UN Web TV. October 19, 2022
At the 77th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression presented her new report on disinformation and freedom of opinion and expression during armed conflicts.
University of Texas. Stacey Ingram-Kaleh. November 9, 2022
October 26, 2022 marked the first annual Disinformation Day hosted by Good Systems’ “Designing Responsible AI Technologies to Curb Disinformation” research team. Approximately 150 attendees from across the globe came together virtually to discuss challenges and opportunities in curbing the spread of digital disinformation. Thought leaders representing a range of disciplines and sectors examined the needs of fact checkers, explored issues of bias, fairness, and justice in mis- and disinformation, and outlined next steps for addressing these pressing issues together.
European university Institute. November 3, 2022.
In its first year of activity, the European Media and Information Fund (EMIF) has distributed €5,751,721 in grants supporting 33 projects aimed at countering disinformation across the continent.
The fund launched its first call for proposals in November 2021 to support fact-checking activities in Europe. This first initiative was followed by three further calls across three priority areas: “Multidisciplinary Investigations on Disinformation in Europe,” “Supporting Research into Media, Disinformation and Information Literacy Across Europe,” and “Media and Information Literacy for Citizens Empowerment.” Moreover, right after the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army, EMIF issued a special call to encourage fact-checking projects addressing conflict-related disinformation.
William and Mary. October 21, 2022.
Hundreds of undergraduate students across the NATO Alliance united for a seven-hour case Challenge to address and counter disinformation in one of seven realms, each competing to develop the most comprehensive and innovative solution that can be put into practice.
During the challenge and over seven hours, teams worked with expert mentors in one of seven topics: Russia-Ukraine War, Public Health, Climate Change: Clean Energy, Climate Change & Climate Security, Artificial Intelligence, Gender-Based Violence and Terrorism.
Mentors guided students as they discussed and deliberated their proposed plan of action, and have backgrounds in government, industry, academia, and other disciplines.
World Health Organization. October 22, 2022.
The spread of health-related misinformation poses a growing threat to societies, with more and more people turning to search engines or social media for their health information. Misguided perceptions of health risks – such as smoking, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diets or physical inactivity – can lead to numerous life-changing and potentially deadly noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer or diabetes.
WHO/Europe’s new “Toolkit for tackling misinformation on noncommunicable diseases” explores why current measures implemented in the European Region are not achieving optimal results, and makes recommendations on collaborative action to better protect people from misinformation.
Committees European Parliament. October 10, 2022.
Members will exchange views with experts on interference and disinformation in the enlargement countries, in particular those located in the Western Balkans. The hearing will be held against the background of a flare-up of tensions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and to the geopolitical context of Serbia, where polls show a majority of pro-Russian opinions.
Axios. Sam Sabin. October 26, 2022.
Researchers at Google-owned Mandiant said in a report Wednesday that they've detected a group attempting to sow division in the U.S. and "operating in support of the political interests of the People’s Republic of China."
Mandiant's information adds to growing reports that pro-China actors are interested in influencing and disrupting next month's elections — although there's no evidence they've been successful.
Mandiant Intelligence. October 26, 2022.
Mandiant has recently observed DRAGONBRIDGE, an influence campaign we assess with high confidence to be operating in support of the political interests of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), aggressively targeting the United States by seeking to sow division both between the U.S. and its allies and within the U.S. political system itself.
Reporting Democracy. Tim Gosling. November 9, 2022.
The recent huge cost-of-living protests – organized by extremist, pro-Russian elements – was a wake-up call for a government that seems to have forgotten its earlier pledge to build a blueprint to fight back against disinformation.
Asean Foundation. October 10, 2022.
ASEAN Foundation, with support from the US Mission to ASEAN and Google.org, proudly officiated today 20 members of the ASEAN Youth Advisory Group (ASEAN YAG) who will lead an awareness-raising campaign to combat misinformation and disinformation across ASEAN.
ASEAN is not immune to the threat of misinformation and disinformation. With increasing internet penetration across the ASEAN region, information has a powerful role in society, but there is a lag in awareness of how to identify misleading information. The members of ASEAN YAG will play pivotal roles in bridging this gap by spreading awareness about the importance of digital literacy in their communities through creative, and, most importantly, localised approach.
Reuters. Steven Grattan. October 28, 2022.
Human rights groups and researchers have raised concerns in Brazil that social media platforms are failing to effectively police disinformation ahead of a highly polarized presidential vote on Sunday.
Brazil's Superior Electoral Court (TSE) bolstered measures this month to tackle disinformation around the election, especially on video-sharing platforms. Sunday's runoff vote pits far-right President Jair Bolsonaro against leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Global Voices. Arzu Geybullayeva. October 2022
Turkish lawmakers approved a bill on October 13 purportedly meant to combat fake news and disinformation, but local civil society organizations describe the bill as an underhanded censorship or disinformation bill which will be used to squash dissent and criticism. Critics of the bill say the 40-article legislation passed by Turkey's parliament is a threat to freedom of speech and could have disastrous consequences ahead of Turkey's 2023 election.
BRILL: In European Convention on Human Rights Law Review. Paolo Cavaliere. October 11, 2022
The European Union’s (EU) strategy to address the spread of disinformation, and most notably the Code of Practice on Disinformation and the forthcoming Digital Services Act, tasks digital platforms with a range of actions to minimize the distribution of issue-based and political adverts that are verifiable false or misleading. This article discusses the implications of the EU’s approach with a focus on its categorical approach, specifically what it means to conceptualize disinformation as a form of advertisement and by what standards digital platforms are expected to assess the truthful or misleading nature of the content that they distribute because of this categorization. The analysis will show how the emerging EU anti-disinformation framework marks a departure from the European Court of Human Rights consolidated standards of review for public interest and commercial speech and the tests utilized to assess their accuracy.
Emerald Insight. November 7, 2022
Musk has repeatedly said he wants the platform to prioritize ‘free speech,’ but has also reassured European regulators that he will be complying with local laws, even where they involve content screening. Although Twitter’s policy has yet to be finalized, the turmoil highlights the risks of online disinformation.
The business models of social media companies and tech platforms contain strong incentives that promote misinformation and disinformation. Advertising comprises 80% of the income of Google's parent company Alphabet, and well over 90% for Twitter and for Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram.
Social media offer advertisers hundreds of millions of users who are difficult to reach through other media. High levels of engagement ensure that the audience becomes 'captive'. Moreover, using data collected on users enables platforms to match advertisers and potential customers
Insight EU Monitoring. October 11, 2022.
Today, the Commission published Guidelines for teachers and educators in primary and secondary schools, on how to address disinformation and promote digital literacy in their classrooms. The guidelines provide practical support for teachers and educators and include definitions of technical concepts, class exercises and how to encourage healthy online habits. This toolkit covers three main topics: building digital literacy, tackling disinformation, and assessing and evaluating digital literacy.
Currently in Europe, one in three 13-year-old students lack basic digital skills when directly tested, and according to the OECD, only a little over half of 15-year-olds in the EU reported being taught how to detect whether information is subjective or biased. There is consequently a clear need to strengthen the role of education and training in tackling disinformation and promoting digital literacy as well as media literacy. It will increase resiliency and the possibility to fight the impact of online disinformation more effectively.
Atalayar. Jose Toril. November 18, 2022
The World Cup in Qatar has been receiving all kinds of rejection for years. With just a few days to go before it kicks off, there is concern about the consequences of acting against the strict Qatari laws. Disinformation is trying to mislead fans travelling to Qatar or following the event from home. Alleged prison sentences for flying the rainbow flag or that alcohol will not be allowed to be drunk are among them.
RKK ICDS. October 20, 2022.
The Baltic states, although not immune to disinformation, have accumulated unique experience and developed effective methods to resist and combat this malice.
This report is based on in-depth semi-structured interviews and supplementary surveys conducted with the representatives of several clusters – media, civil society organizations, state institutions, think-tanks/academia and business communities. It aims to assess risks and vulnerabilities, as well as the three nations’ preparedness to counteract foreign-led disinformation. This report also reviews the existing indices that lead to a greater understanding of the intricate nature and interdependence of resilience-shaping factors at various levels, while contributing the unique Baltic perspective to the evolving, global study of disinformation.
New York Times. Steven Lee Myers & Sheera Frenkel. October 20, 2022.
On the morning of July 8, former President Donald J. Trump took to Truth Social, a social media platform he founded with people close to him, to claim that he had in fact won the 2020 presidential vote in Wisconsin, despite all evidence to the contrary.
The spread of Mr. Trump’s claim illustrates how, ahead of this year’s midterm elections, disinformation has metastasized since experts began raising alarms about the threat. Despite years of efforts by the media, by academics and even by social media companies themselves to address the problem, it is arguably more pervasive and widespread today.
ProPublica. Karim & Cynthia Gordy Giwa. October 21, 2022.
It’s time to talk about misinformation. You already know it’s all around us, but understanding how to spot it and defend against it is one of the most important parts of being an informed and active voter.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice. October 28, 2022.
Mis- and disinformation about elections is harmful to our democracy. If you see content online about elections that could suppress or mislead voters, you can report it. Read through our easily shareable cheat sheet to learn how to report disinformation on different platforms, dos and don'ts of reporting disinfo, and key definitions.
Brookings. Gabriel R. Sanchez & Carly Bennett. November 4, 2022.
As prepare for election night, it will be important to consider the impact that misleading and biased information has on the voting behaviour of the public. This post draws from a conversation we had with Dr. Nicole Turner Lee for the TechTank podcast which focused on the implications of misinformation targeting Latinos, with a particular emphasis on Spanish-language media.
The Intercept. Ken Klippenstein & Lee Fang. October 31, 2022
The Department of Homeland Security is quietly broadening its efforts to curb speech it considers dangerous, an investigation by The Intercept has found. Years of internal DHS memos, emails, and documents — obtained via leaks and an ongoing lawsuit, as well as public documents — illustrate an expansive effort by the agency to influence tech platforms.
Recorded Future. November 7, 20223.
This report presents Recorded Future’s insights and assessments on disinformation and influence efforts targeting United States (US)-deployed voting technologies up to, during, and in the aftermath of the 2022 midterms, including electronic voting systems, voting machines, and various Election Assistance Commission-approved software and hardware used in the administration of US elections at the local, state, and federal levels. While we acknowledge that voting technologies have faced a long history of criticisms in the US, we intentionally focus this report on election infrastructure disinformation and influence efforts generated between the 2020 general election and the 2022 midterm elections.
The Conversation. October 26, 2022.
The 2016 U.S. election was a wake-up call about the dangers of political misinformation on social media. With two more election cycles rife with misinformation under their belts, social media companies have experienced identifying and countering misinformation. However, the nature of the threat misinformation poses to society continues to shift in form and targets. The big lie about the 2020 presidential election has become a major theme, and immigrant communities are increasingly in the crosshairs of disinformation campaigns – deliberate efforts to spread misinformation.
Social media companies have announced plans to deal with misinformation in the 2022 midterm elections, but the companies vary in their approaches and effectiveness. We asked experts on social media to grade how ready Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube are to handle the task.
CNN Politics. Zachary B. Wolf. October 31, 2022
Misinformation is trending now that Elon Musk, the self-described “Chief Twit,” has bought Twitter, his favourite social media platform.
Meanwhile, displays of hate are breaking out in public now that Kanye West, who now goes by Ye, has despicably fashioned himself as a folk hero for those spewing antisemitic messages, pushing his own anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.
The stories dovetail not just because they are built on the wild spread of false claims, but also because West’s Twitter account – locked in early October for an antisemitic tweet in which he said he was going “death con 3 on Jewish people” – was recently reactivated. More on that below.
Amnesty International. October 13, 2022
Responding to the Turkish parliament passing the so-called disinformation law which tightens government’s grip over social media platforms and news websites while criminalizing the sharing of information that is deemed false, Güney Yildiz, Regional Researcher at Amnesty International, said: “Today is yet another dark day for online freedom of expression and press freedom in Turkey. Coming on the heels of the government’s increased control of the media over the last few years, these new measures enable them to further censor and silence critical voices ahead of Turkey’s upcoming elections and beyond, under the guise of fighting disinformation.
“In fact, rather than ensuring information safety, the law’s vaguely defined provisions facilitate further the prosecution of those who allegedly publicly disseminate ‘false information’ and could see people facing jail terms of up to three years merely for a retweet.
Dark Reading. Robert Lemos. October 17, 2022
While traditional cyberattack operations against US government organizations have remained fairly consistent, influence and disinformation attacks by foreign nations have increased in the run-up to the US midterm elections.
On the cyberattack front, the China-linked hacking group Budworm has targeted several government agencies, including the legislature for a US state, over the past six months, according to Symantec, part of Broadcom Software. The attack on a US government organization is the second recent incident — after a hiatus of more than six years — where the group has targeted a US private-sector agency, the company's researchers stated in an advisory.
NewsGuard Misinformation Monitor. Lorenzo Arvanitis and McKenzie Sadeghi. October 2022.
“Pink slime” newsrooms secretly backed by partisan donors are spending big on Facebook and Instagram ads in battleground states, taking advantage of the Meta platforms’ ad-targeting tools and advertising policies.
NewsGuard’s analysis of Meta’s Ad Library identified thousands of ads from the four pink slime groups promoting either Democrats or Republicans and focusing on hot-button issues, such as abortion, inflation, education, and crime. The ads, which were disguised as articles from local news publications, and which ran on Facebook and Instagram.....
Meta says that it is committed to “protecting elections and increasing authenticity, transparency and accountability for advertisers,” according to “The Election Integrity at Meta” page. However, by providing the ideological networks with powerful tools to target audiences in battleground states, with loose standards that can be manipulated by partisan actors, Meta has in fact been contributing to the deception.
Legal Defence Fund. October 13, 2022
Today, LDF and a coalition of civil rights, public interest, voting rights, and other organizations, sent a letter urging social media companies to take immediate steps to curb the spread of voting disinformation in the midterms and future elections and to help prevent the undermining of our democracy. This letter is a follow up to another sent last May. Many companies have announced updates to their voter interference and disinformation policies in recent weeks but the policies have little effect unless enforced continually and consistently.
Penn Medicine. Frank Otto. October 25, 2022.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the phrase “Knowledge is power” has taken on significant meaning. While it’s typically associated with a force of good — the more someone knows about something they can do to make a positive difference in their lives or others’ — it’s becoming clear through recent ongoing research that many have underestimated the force of knowledge that doesn’t originate from the truth.
The term “infodemic” — which has its very own page on the World Health Organization’s website — became common parlance for the exponential way in which COVID-19 misinformation spreads. Every part of the pandemic seemed to have its own piece of untruth or lie to go with it, ranging from the disease’s origins to treatments and the vaccines that have dulled COVID-19’s impact.
This misinformation has hurt people: An early study estimated that one rumour, which had to do with drinking highly concentrated alcohol-based cleaning products as a “cure” for COVID-19, led to more than 5,800 people being hospitalized (with 800 dying) from January through March of 2020 alone.
Centre for American Progress.E. Simpson,A. Conner, A. Maciolek. November 3, 2022.
Social media companies continue to allow attacks on U.S. democracy to proliferate on their platforms, undermining election legitimacy, fuelling hate and violence, and sowing chaos.
This issue brief outlines what is needed from social media companies and identifies three of the top threats they pose to the 2022 midterm elections—the season opener for the 2024 presidential election.
National Observer. Dylan Robertson. October 18, 2022
Canada is sanctioning 34 individuals and a television network in Russia that the federal government considers "propaganda agents," Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced Monday. In the latest update to Canada's sanctions regime, Joly said Ottawa is targeting those responsible for Russian disinformation as the war in Ukraine nears the nine-month mark. The people on the list have tried to justify Russia's illegal attempts to annex parts of Ukraine, she said.