Newsweek: How An Alt-right Bot Network Took Down Al Franken. “The operation commenced on November 15, when Stone—who is now banned from Twitter for racism and profanity—tweeted from one of his accounts “Roger Stone says it’s Al Franken’s ‘time in the barrel.’ Franken next in long list of Democrats accused of ‘grabby’ behavior.” On the same day, a developer named Atsufumi Otsuka registered a web domain in Japan called RealUSA.site, and a fake-news website soon emerged at that web address, according to research shared with the voting rights outfit Unhack the Vote.”
WPTV: Social Media Is Important For Politicians, But How Well Does It Work?. “Politicians are spending more and more money on social media — but is it worth it? Last year, research firm Borrell Associates estimated political campaigns spent more than $1.4 billion on digital advertising in 2016. That includes ads for video, mobile, email, social media and online searches. And Hamid Bendaas, press secretary for U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, offered some insight on how effective social media is.” Video and written story.
Bloomberg: This Far-Right Italian Politician Is Relying on Social Media to Spread Her Message. “[Giorgia] Meloni, 41, is the leader of the Brothers of Italy, a political party with fascist roots that is a junior partner in the center-right coalition assembled by media mogul and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to contest the March 4 national elections. A Bloomberg compilation of polls has the grouping at 36 percent as of Feb. 9—in the lead, but short of the 40 percent needed to form a government. And while support for Meloni’s party hovers at 5 percent, the congresswoman’s social media savvy could boost the coalition’s chances of winning power.”
Wired: Inside The Two Years That Shook Facebook—and The World. “[Benjamin] Fearnow, a recent graduate of the Columbia Journalism School, worked in Facebook’s New York office on something called Trending Topics, a feed of popular news subjects that popped up when people opened Facebook. The feed was generated by an algorithm but moderated by a team of about 25 people with backgrounds in journalism. If the word ‘Trump’ was trending, as it often was, they used their news judgment to identify which bit of news about the candidate was most important. If The Onion or a hoax site published a spoof that went viral, they had to keep that out. If something like a mass shooting happened, and Facebook’s algorithm was slow to pick up on it, they would inject a story about it into the feed.”
Quartz, on Thursday: Facebook is a “surveillance operation“ in an “abusive relationship” with its users, say UK lawmakers. “UK lawmakers visiting the US didn’t pull any punches at a Washington DC hearing on fake news today. ‘Isn’t Facebook a massive surveillance operation?’ asked conservative MP Rebecca Pow. Members of the UK House of Commons’s digital, culture, media and sport committee called US tech companies to George Washington University today, questioning representatives of Facebook, Alphabet, and Twitter, as well as academics and journalists on the general topic of fake news.”
Fast Company: Find out if your coworkers or company gave money to Trump or Hillary. “Zippia just released a fun new tool that will help you while away the hours in your cubicle. They released a website that helps you figure out the favorite political parties of your favorite companies. For example, Apple and Walmart employees have both made big donations, but to opposing parties, proving that politics’ favorite color is not red or blue, but green.” It’s kind of weird; I put in some larger company names and this site had no data on political donations, but then I put in JBC Inc of Plano, Texas (which I’m sure is a lovely company but is small in comparison to, say, Monster Energy), and a ton of information pops up.
BuzzFeed: Russian Trolls Ran Wild On Tumblr And The Company Refuses To Say Anything About It. “Russian trolls posed as black activists on Tumblr and generated hundreds of thousands of interactions for content that ranged from calling Hillary Clinton a ‘monster’ to supporting Bernie Sanders and decrying racial injustice and police violence in the US, according to new findings from researcher Jonathan Albright and BuzzFeed News.”