Wall Street Journal: Facebook Tried to Make Its Platform a Healthier Place. It Got Angrier Instead.

Wall Street Journal: Facebook Tried to Make Its Platform a Healthier Place. It Got Angrier Instead.. “Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said the aim of the algorithm change was to strengthen bonds between users and to improve their well-being…. Within the company, though, staffers warned the change was having the opposite effect, the documents show. It was making Facebook’s platform an angrier place. Company researchers discovered that publishers and political parties were reorienting their posts toward outrage and sensationalism. That tactic produced high levels of comments and reactions that translated into success on Facebook.”

Disinformation for Hire, a Shadow Industry, Is Quietly Booming (New York Times)

New York Times: Disinformation for Hire, a Shadow Industry, Is Quietly Booming . “Private firms, straddling traditional marketing and the shadow world of geopolitical influence operations, are selling services once conducted principally by intelligence agencies. They sow discord, meddle in elections, seed false narratives and push viral conspiracies, mostly on social media. And they offer clients something precious: deniability.”

From corporate America to conspiracy theory promotion: How a Minnesota man made a career out of anonymously amplifying dark plots (Washington Post)

Washington Post: From corporate America to conspiracy theory promotion: How a Minnesota man made a career out of anonymously amplifying dark plots. “Sean G. Turnbull displays many of the hallmarks of a successful upper-middle-class family man, a former film producer and marketing manager for one of the country’s largest retail corporations who lives in a well-appointed home in this Minneapolis-St. Paul suburb. Former colleagues describe him as smart, affable and family-oriented. But for more than a decade, the 53-year-old has also pursued a less conventional path: anonymously promoting conspiracy theories about dark forces in American politics on websites and social media accounts in a business he runs out of his home. His audience numbers are respectable and his ad base is resilient, according to corporate records and interviews.”

Harvard Magazine: Can Disinformation Be Stopped?

Harvard Magazine: Can Disinformation Be Stopped?. “MISINFORMATION IS EVERYWHERE, an inherent part of communication that does not imply intent. Accidentally telling someone Independence Day falls on July 3 is misinformation. When misinformation becomes deliberate—deception on purpose—that’s disinformation. The purpose varies. Sometimes disinformation is spread for political or financial gain—convincing constituents that a rival candidate has a sordid history, or exploiting people’s interest in a made-up scandal to increase website traffic and sell merchandise. But often the reason is less clear: vague intentions to sow discord and muddy the waters around any given subject.”

Study: It might be unethical to force AI to tell us the truth (The Next Web)

The Next Web: Study: It might be unethical to force AI to tell us the truth. “….it’s easy to see how building robots that can’t lie could make them patsies for humans who figure out how to exploit their honesty. If your client is negotiating like a human and your machine is bottom-lining everything, you could lose a deal over robo-human cultural differences, for example. None of that answers the question as to whether we should let machines lie to humans or each other. But it could be pragmatic.”

Mashable: How Facebook, Twitter, YouTube reacted to big events in 2020, including Trump’s many lies

Mashable: How Facebook, Twitter, YouTube reacted to big events in 2020, including Trump’s many lies. “The Mozilla Foundation, a nonprofit which advocates for a secure, open internet that supports democracy, has released an interactive timeline that shows the misinformation policy changes online platforms made before, during, and after the 2020 election, and how those actions intersect with major political and cultural events that spurred misinformation. Mozilla is most widely known for its Firefox browser, but the nonprofit also tracks online misinformation in an effort to improve tech policies.”

Psychology Today: State-Sponsored Bullshit, and Why Truth Matters

Psychology Today: State-Sponsored Bullshit, and Why Truth Matters. “This important guest post had to be reviewed by the United States government before I could share it with you. That’s ironic, because the authors are challenging the government’s sweeping pre-publication review process in this article. That challenge is part of their broader examination of the normalization of bullshit in contemporary American politics and government, and how very dangerous that is.”

New York Times: Could Facebook Actually Nuke Elizabeth Warren’s Campaign?

New York Times: Could Facebook Actually Nuke Elizabeth Warren’s Campaign?. “Yes, Facebook’s willingness to let politicians lie sets a worrying precedent. And yes, lack of oversight into the platform’s decisions opens up a host of plausible election interference conspiracies. But Facebook’s essential threat to democracy isn’t that Mr. Zuckerberg will intervene on behalf of his preferred candidate — it’s more fundamental than that. Mark Zuckerberg need not intervene, because Facebook, the platform, will do so instinctively.”

Rent-a-troll: Researchers pit disinformation farmers against each other (Ars Technica)

Ars Technica: Rent-a-troll: Researchers pit disinformation farmers against each other. “The same sorts of organizations that once made their money performing ‘black SEO’—using fraudulent means to raise paying customers’ search engine ranks, often for illicit reasons—are now diving into a whole new sort of online manipulation. Researchers at security threat tracking company Recorded Future have found companies selling disinformation campaign capabilities similar to the ones used by Russian ‘troll factories’ during the 2016 US presidential campaign and other state-sponsored information operations.”

CNN: Websites that peddle disinformation make millions of dollars in ads, new study finds

CNN: Websites that peddle disinformation make millions of dollars in ads, new study finds. “As the United States gears up for another presidential election, aware of the role online disinformation played in 2016, the business of publishing false or extremist content online remains a lucrative one. At least $235 million in revenue is generated annually from ads running on extremist and disinformation websites, according to a new study from the Global Disinformation Index provided exclusively to CNN ahead of its September release.” Lying is more lucrative than telling the truth? Now there’s a thought that’ll make your mouth sour.

Phys .org: No lie! FSU researcher developing world’s first online polygraph

Phys .org: No lie! FSU researcher developing world’s first online polygraph. “It’s tricky enough in face-to-face conversations that offer facial expressions, gestures and tone of voice because those physical cues add context. Spotting a liar gets even tougher in blind computer conversations. Florida State University researcher Shuyuan Ho wants to shed those blinders by creating a revolutionary online polygraph.”