BNN Bloomberg: Google, Amazon Funnel Over $20 Million to Virus Conspiracy Sites

BNN Bloomberg: Google, Amazon Funnel Over $20 Million to Virus Conspiracy Sites. “Digital advertising platforms run by Google, Amazon.com Inc. and other tech companies will funnel at least $25 million to websites spreading misinformation about Covid-19 this year, according to a study released Wednesday. Google’s platforms will provide $19 million, or $3 out of every $4 that the misinformation sites get in ad revenue. OpenX, a smaller digital ad distributor, handles about 10% of the money, while Amazon’s technology delivers roughly $1.7 million, or 7%, of the digital marketing spending these sites will receive, according to a research group called the Global Disinformation Index.”

Poynter: Sarah Sanders didn’t tweet this COVID-19 conspiracy theory

Poynter: Sarah Sanders didn’t tweet this COVID-19 conspiracy theory. “The tweet was like a word cloud of popular conspiracy theory topics: COVID-19, Russia, antifa and Hillary Clinton. And it looked like it came from former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. Sanders has a couple verified Twitter accounts: @SHSanders45, where she last tweeted in 2019, @SarahHuckabee, where she actively tweets today. And she once tweeted from the handle @PressSec. But an image being shared on Facebook that looks like she tweeted a conspiracy theory from yet another account is not actually from Sanders.”

ScienceBlog: How Conspiracy Theories Emerge – And How Their Storylines Fall Apart

ScienceBlog: How Conspiracy Theories Emerge – And How Their Storylines Fall Apart. “A new study by UCLA professors offers a new way to understand how unfounded conspiracy theories emerge online. The research, which combines sophisticated artificial intelligence and a deep knowledge of how folklore is structured, explains how unrelated facts and false information can connect into a narrative framework that would quickly fall apart if some of those elements are taken out of the mix.”

New York Times: ‘PizzaGate’ Conspiracy Theory Thrives Anew in the TikTok Era

New York Times: ‘PizzaGate’ Conspiracy Theory Thrives Anew in the TikTok Era. “Four years ago, ahead of the 2016 presidential election, the baseless notion that Hillary Clinton and Democratic elites were running a child sex-trafficking ring out of a Washington pizzeria spread across the internet, illustrating how a crackpot idea with no truth to it could blossom on social media — and how dangerous it could be…. In the years afterward, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube managed to largely suppress PizzaGate. But now, just months before the next presidential election, the conspiracy theory is making a comeback on these platforms — and on new ones such as TikTok — underlining the limits of their efforts to stamp out dangerous speech online and how little has changed despite rising public frustration.”

CNET: Coronavirus, BLM protest conspiracy theories collide on Facebook and Twitter

CNET: Coronavirus, BLM protest conspiracy theories collide on Facebook and Twitter. “A pandemic, societal protests and a contentious election have created an especially challenging environment for Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Content moderators and fact-checkers are struggling to prevent the spread of obvious misinformation while giving users space to voice their opinions. The problem has gotten knottier for the online platforms as false claims about both the health crisis and Floyd’s killing collide, making content moderation decisions — taxing in the best of situations — even tougher.”

Coronavirus: 5G and microchip conspiracies around the world (BBC)

BBC: Coronavirus: 5G and microchip conspiracies around the world. “Some of the most persistent conspiracy theories surrounding the coronavirus pandemic have continued to spread around the world. We’ve picked out some of the most pervasive false claims and look at how far they’ve travelled.”

Mother Jones: How the Coronavirus Spread QAnon

Mother Jones: How the Coronavirus Spread QAnon. “Data compiled from social networking sites and Google and Wikipedia search trends show a broader spike in interest around QAnon among Americans after businesses started to close and various lockdowns started in mid-March in anticipation of further viral spread. Online activity around QAnon and related topics rapidly climbed to all-time highs. Interest in the search terms has yet to return to pre-COVID levels.”

CNN: Some Facebook groups created to protest lockdowns are now hotbeds for misinformation

CNN: Some Facebook groups created to protest lockdowns are now hotbeds for misinformation. “Earlier this spring, as some Americans increasingly tired of stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, groups began cropping up on Facebook demanding that state officials reopen the economy. Some of these groups, which researchers say total in the hundreds on Facebook, echoed rhetoric by President Donald Trump and quickly gained a massive following, in some cases adding thousands of members a day. But even after all 50 states have moved to reopen their economies in recent weeks, engagement within these Facebook groups remains high. Now, instead of focusing on calls to end the lockdowns, many of these groups are increasingly becoming hotbeds of conspiracy theories and misinformation for other issues, according to researchers who track their activities.”

New York Times: A Conspiracy Made in America May Have Been Spread by Russia

New York Times: A Conspiracy Made in America May Have Been Spread by Russia. “The Americans who pushed a conspiracy theory the night of the Iowa caucuses have migrated to coronavirus conspiracies on Twitter, with help from a very Russia-friendly account.”

CNBC: Facebook, YouTube usage linked to belief in coronavirus conspiracy theories, study finds

CNBC: Facebook, YouTube usage linked to belief in coronavirus conspiracy theories, study finds. “People using social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube to find information about the coronavirus are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories about the disease, according to new research out of the U.K.”

CNET: Amid George Floyd protests, weaponized misinformation floods social media

CNET: Amid George Floyd protests, weaponized misinformation floods social media. “…social media’s inability to contain the explosion of misinformation takes on new urgency as peaceful protesters battle the perception that all of the demonstrations have devolved into looting and violence. Twitter’s role in spreading news in real time without any checks makes it particularly vulnerable to manipulation. Over the past few weeks, along with tweets about protestors being responsible for [Dave Patrick] Underwood’s death, other false theories have made the rounds, including an internet blackout in Washington and the far-left militant group antifa sending protesters to cause unrest in cities across the US.”

CNN: Why conspiracy theorists think 5G is bad for your health and why experts say not to worry

CNN: Why conspiracy theorists think 5G is bad for your health and why experts say not to worry. “…concerns about 5G’s effects on health were spreading even before coronavirus. Experts say these fears, too, are unfounded. ‘Is there anything to worry about? The short answer is no,’ said Chris Collins, a professor and research director in the radiology department at the New York University School of Medicine.”

Las Vegas Sun: White House eyes travel from Mexico as source of virus spike

Las Vegas Sun: White House eyes travel from Mexico as source of virus spike. “The White House is floating a theory that travel from Mexico may be contributing to a new wave of coronavirus infections, rather than states’ efforts to reopen their economies. The notion was discussed at some length during a meeting of the administration’s coronavirus task force in the White House Situation Room Thursday that focused, in part, on identifying commonalities between new outbreaks, according to two administration officials familiar with the discussions.”

Bloomberg: Google Helps Place Ads on Sites Amplifying Covid-19 Conspiracies

Bloomberg: Google Helps Place Ads on Sites Amplifying Covid-19 Conspiracies. “Google has taken aggressive action to scrub coronavirus conspiracies from its news service and YouTube, at a time when social media companies have come under intense scrutiny for their potential to spread dangerous disinformation about the global pandemic. It has begun labeling misleading videos aimed at U.S. audiences, and has joined with other major internet companies to coordinate a response against what the World Health Organization has described as an ‘infodemic.’ But Google is also placing advertisements on websites that publish the theories, helping their owners generate revenue and continue their operations. In at least one instance, Google has run ads featuring a conspiracist it has already banned.”

ABC News (Australia): Queensland researchers analysing coronavirus conspiracy theories warn of social media danger

ABC News (Australia): Queensland researchers analysing coronavirus conspiracy theories warn of social media danger. “It’s one of the major conspiracy theories to flourish during the global pandemic — that coronavirus is a biological weapon. Now, a new Australian report suggests that theory has been amplified on Twitter through the ‘coordinated’ efforts of clusters of Pro-Trump, QAnon and Republican partisan accounts.”