CNN: Elon Musk is now boosting the ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy theory. “Elon Musk on Monday boosted the dangerous, years-old ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy theory in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, just days after being roundly criticized and facing an advertiser exodus following his embrace of an antisemitic conspiracy theory.”
Mail & Guardian, South Africa: Using art and traditional storytelling as tools to combat the infection that is fake news in Africa. “Perhaps going back to the traditional way of storytelling — first about threats and opportunities of technology or the digital world — can influence mindsets, attitudes, perspectives, behaviour and understating. Especially to kill the bias that often comes with being stuck in the fixed mindset.”
Washington Post: A flood of misinformation shapes views of Israel-Gaza conflict. “Social media has long played a critical role in battles in the area. During the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in 2021, posts of carnage in Gaza rallied the public to the Palestinian cause. Researchers say increased internet access and the spread of smartphones enabled a watershed moment, revealing how tech platforms could show the horror and human toll of such events. But now, a volatile, months-long fight over Israel’s democratic future has primed conspiracies and false information to spread within its borders.”
WIRED: Elon Musk Is Shitposting His Way Through the Israel-Hamas War. “Instead of tackling the dangerous disinformation problem on his platform, Musk instead spent yesterday night into this morning continuing to spread disinformation about the conflict, conversing with a known QAnon promoter, boosting anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, and laughing at a video detailing how transphobic content on X can get you new followers.”
New York Times: Graphic Images of Violence Flood Social Media Amid Israel-Gaza Conflict. “On X, formerly known as Twitter, a violent video claiming to show the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers had been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Saturday morning. The New York Times found hundreds of X accounts sharing images of dead bodies, claiming to be Israeli civilians killed in the past 24 hours of fighting. Some of the images viewed by The Times appeared to be manipulated and edited. Underneath some of the videos and images posted on X, people warned that they could be spread as part of a campaign to stoke fear among Israelis. Some of the accounts claimed to be working on behalf of Hamas.”
ABC News (Australia): How a soap opera star pushed a conspiracy theory linking the Voice to Parliament to a UN takeover. “In the past few weeks, a conspiracy theory suggesting the Voice is a secret plot devised by the UN to strip Australians of their private property and sovereignty has spread like wildfire. Since early August, versions of a social media video promoting the baseless accusation have recorded nearly twice as many shares on Facebook as any content published by either the official Yes or No campaign.”
WIRED: The Truth About the Taylor Swift, Jets Game, Google Search Conspiracy Theory. “No one will ever know if Swift went to a Jets game specifically to shift the SEO for ‘Taylor Swift jets,’ but what is true is that interest in that search is currently the highest it’s ever been on Google Trends. Comparatively, the interest in the search term in summer 2022, when the news was going around about her PJs, has been bumped down to single digits. So if it was a gambit, it worked. Not only are the search results upended, but now TikTok videos about the ‘genius’ move are getting half a million views.” All you need to do to bypass this “genius move” is use Back that Ask Up and take one month off your search date. Presto, you’re back to reading about Taylor Swift and her carbon-burning globe hopping.
Washington Post: Misinformation research is buckling under GOP legal attacks. “Academics, universities and government agencies are overhauling or ending research programs designed to counter the spread of online misinformation amid a legal campaign from conservative politicians and activists who accuse them of colluding with tech companies to censor right-wing views.” The link is to a gift article so you should be able to read it without paywall.
The Verge: TikTok accidentally blocked Hollywood writers strike videos while casting a QAnon net. “TikTok videos about the Hollywood writers strike were temporarily blocked as the platform attempted to moderate QAnon conspiracy theories. Media Matters for America, a nonprofit media research group, reported today that TikTok users were unable to search for content related to the Writers Guild of America strike.”
The Guardian: Fake social media posts on Burning Man festival stir conspiracy theory frenzy. “Rumors of an Ebola outbreak at the Burning Man festival spread like wildfire over the weekend with social media users posting fake health advisories, flight data and conspiracy theories to TikTok and Twitter, Forbes reported. Though the rumors have been debunked, their rapid spread is another example of the dangers of online misinformation, particularly on Twitter.”
PsyPost: The “need for chaos” is linked to the sharing of conspiracy theories, study finds. “New research suggests that a psychological concept known as ‘the need for chaos’ plays a bigger role than partisanship and ideology in the sharing of conspiracy theories on the internet. The study, published in Research & Politics, indicates that individuals driven by a desire to disrupt and challenge established systems are more inclined to share conspiracy theories.”
CNN: Maui conspiracy theories are spreading on social media. Why this always happens after a disaster. “A slew of viral conspiracy videos on social media have made baseless claims that the Maui wildfires were started intentionally as part of a land grab, highlighting how quickly misinformation spreads after a disaster. While the cause of the fires hasn’t been determined, Hawaiian Electric — the major power company on Maui — is under scrutiny for not shutting down power lines when high winds created dangerous fire conditions.”
The Messenger: Wildfire Conspiracy Theories Burn on Social Media as Maui Smolders. “Conspiracy theories are circulating on online social media platforms that seek to blame the wildfires in Hawaii on various organizations and individuals, including the World Economic Forum and Oprah Winfrey.”
Maldita: How electoral fraud conspiracy theories went viral on TikTok after the 2023 Spanish general elections. “The general elections on July 23 have been followed by a wave of disinformation that says there has been a fraud to alter the results. This is a conspiracy theory that is sweeping TikTok, whose algorithm means that the more videos you consume with disinformation narratives about this alleged electoral fraud, the more they will continue to appear on your feed.”
The Conversation: Conspiracy theories: how social media can help them spread and even spark violence. “In our recent study, we set out to understand exactly why and how conspiracy theories persist and persevere over time on social media. We found that social media can help breed a shared identity toward conspiracy theory radicalisation by acting as an echo chamber for such beliefs. The core characteristics of social media play a critical role in building and reinforcing identity echo chambers.”