The Conversation: I watched hundreds of flat-Earth videos to learn how conspiracy theories spread

The Conversation: I watched hundreds of flat-Earth videos to learn how conspiracy theories spread. “By studying how flat Earthers talk about their beliefs, we can learn how they make their arguments engaging to their audience, and in turn, learn what makes disinformation spread online. In a recent study, my colleague Tomas Nilsson at Linnaeus University and I analysed hundreds of YouTube videos in which people argue that the Earth is flat. We paid attention to their debating techniques to understand the structure of their arguments and how they make them appear rational.”

CNET: Twitch, YouTube Debaters Are Talking People Out of Dangerous Conspiracy Theories

CNET: Twitch, YouTube Debaters Are Talking People Out of Dangerous Conspiracy Theories. “Debaters like [Hunter] Avallone spend hours each day discussing politics and current events, often pulling their viewers from the brink of the misinformation abyss. They’ve become an informal part of an alliance of fact-checkers and researchers who are fighting to promote facts about COVID-19, election security and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

PsyPost: New study examines the link between Trump’s offline speeches and QAnon-related Twitter discourse on January 6

PsyPost: New study examines the link between Trump’s offline speeches and QAnon-related Twitter discourse on January 6. “New research sheds light on how Donald Trump’s offline rhetoric might have mobilized online political discussions related to the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. The findings have been published in the journal Frontiers in Sociology.”

Vice: Trump Uses His New Social Media Site to Share QAnon Content

Vice: Trump Uses His New Social Media Site to Share QAnon Content. “At the start of February, the team behind former President Donald Trump’s news social media platform, Truth Social, was scrambling to get things ready for the big launch later that month…. Now, four months later, the platform is overrun with QAnon content, pushed by multiple QAnon influencers who have been given verified profiles on the platform. And now, Trump himself is boosting the QAnon content, resharing dozens of posts containing QAnon imagery, phrases, or memes.”

New York Times: ‘Crisis Actors’? Where Have I Heard That Before?

New York Times: ‘Crisis Actors’? Where Have I Heard That Before?. “Russia has long used incidents of American gun violence to support its propagandistic claims of cultural superiority. Now, during this war, the Kremlin is adopting the language of American mass shooting deniers to deny towering evidence of its army’s atrocities in Ukraine, including calling injured and killed Ukrainians crisis actors.”

NPR: Their mom died of COVID. They say conspiracy theories are what really killed her

NPR: Their mom died of COVID. They say conspiracy theories are what really killed her. “As America approaches a million deaths from COVID-19, many thousands of families have been left wondering whether available treatments and vaccines could have saved their loved ones. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 230,000 deaths could have been avoided if individuals had gotten vaccinated. Not everyone who refuses a vaccine believes in elaborate conspiracy theories, but many likely do. Anti-vaccine advocates have leveraged the pandemic to sow mistrust and fear about the vaccines. Local papers across the country are dotted with stories of those who refused vaccination, only to find themselves fighting for their very lives against the disease.”

Motherboard: Ebook Services Are Bringing Unhinged Conspiracy Books into Public Libraries

Motherboard: Ebook Services Are Bringing Unhinged Conspiracy Books into Public Libraries. “For years, the digital media service Hoopla has given library patrons access to ebooks, movies, and audiobooks through bulk subscriptions sold to public libraries. But more recently, librarians have started calling for transparency into the company’s practices after realizing its digital ebook collection contains countless low-quality titles promoting far-right conspiracy theories, COVID disinformation, LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, and Holocaust denial.”

NiemanLab: A new magazine delves into the ways that people consume wrong information

NiemanLab: A new magazine delves into the ways that people consume wrong information. “There’s a new magazine in town, one dedicated to pieces about misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and other ways that people consume wrong information. OpenMind Magazine (whose tagline is ‘tackling science controversies and deceptions’) was officially launched in mid-March and was really the result of old friends wanting to launch a magazine together.” The article notes that everything published in OpenMind Magazine is made available under a Creative Commons license, but I can’t find that information on the site itself.

Unmasking ‘Clandestine,’ the Figure Behind the Viral “Ukrainian Biolab” Conspiracy Theory (ADL)

ADL: Unmasking ‘Clandestine,’ the Figure Behind the Viral “Ukrainian Biolab” Conspiracy Theory. “The ADL Center on Extremism has, with a high degree of confidence, identified ‘Clandestine,’ the man behind the viral biolab conspiracy theory, as Jacob Creech, a self-described former restaurant manager and Army National Guard veteran living in rural Virginia. The discovery highlights how a fringe QAnon figure, harnessing the power of social media, sparked a viral conspiracy theory that – in just a few weeks – made its way from QAnon to the world stage, amplified by Tucker Carlson, white supremacists Nick Fuentes and Vincent James, members of the Proud Boys, and Steve Bannon – and even the Kremlin.”

Opinion: Big Tech needs to pull the plug on Russia’s biggest propaganda campaign (Washington Post)

Washington Post: Opinion: Big Tech needs to pull the plug on Russia’s biggest propaganda campaign. “The Z campaign started in the days after the invasion. It has now reached tens of millions of people across social media platforms. It is the rallying symbol of the Russian war machine and an effective weapon in the information war. Strikingly, the QAnon conspiracy has been barred from promotion on YouTube, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter. But as of now, Z continues to grow.”

Mother Jones: How Wellness Influencers Became Cheerleaders for Putin’s War

Mother Jones: How Wellness Influencers Became Cheerleaders for Putin’s War. “The path of disinformation follows a clear pattern. It starts in the shadows of the internet, where crusaders share some conspiracy with their die-hard followers. But these communities are not locked rooms—rather, people with overlapping interests flow in and out, grabbing pieces of disinformation that align with their own interests and then spreading it to their followers, who in turn do the same. In the last few weeks, I’ve watched this happen in real time, as natural-living Instagram accounts turn wild theories about US-supported biolabs in Ukraine into pastel-hued memes.”

Search Engine Land: 11 conspiracy theories about search, Google and Big Tech

Search Engine Land: 11 conspiracy theories about search, Google and Big Tech. “As search marketers, we know the teams at Google and other tech companies are doing a lot for the search and advertising world, but we can’t deny that Big Tech has gotten their hands caught in the cookie jar more than once. Whether fact or fiction, conspiracy theories can be entertaining, bizarre and freaky. Here are some of the juiciest conspiracy theories surrounding Big Tech, Google, and search, and the facts behind those theories.” This is more a collection of corrected misinformation, but it’s an interesting read, especially in aggregate!

Brookings Institution: Popular podcasters spread Russian disinformation about Ukraine biolabs

Brookings Institution: Popular podcasters spread Russian disinformation about Ukraine biolabs. “In recent weeks, Russian officials and state media have seized on a fresh piece of disinformation to justify the invasion of Ukraine: that the United States is funding the development of dangerous biological weapons in Ukraine. This claim, which has no basis in fact, has not been confined to Kremlin propaganda. Popular podcasters in the United States have repeated and promoted it for their own purposes.”