Washington Post: The Facebook page ‘Vets for Trump’ was hijacked by a North Macedonian businessman. It took months for the owners to get it back.. “The Facebook page ‘Vets for Trump’ was for most of its existence exactly what it seemed: a place where former U.S. service members touted Donald Trump, discussed veterans issues and shared conservative memes with its more than 100,000 followers. Then in March, say its longtime operators, a North Macedonian businessman hijacked it, leaving the Americans to watch helplessly as their page began operating under foreign control. Their messages seeking help from Facebook led to months of miscommunication and inaction.”
Financial Times: How the Internet Archive is waging war on misinformation. “The Internet Archive, founded in 1996, is a non-profit that collects and digitises information, from films to books. It is best known for the Wayback Machine, a free repository of web pages that allows users to see what a particular URL looked like when it was archived, regardless of whether it has since been changed or taken down. Since the 2016 US election, as fears about the power of fake news have intensified, the archive has stepped up its efforts to combat misinformation.” Usually when I try to look at FT articles they’re paywalled; this one was not.
Digital Intelligence: Beijing’s Computational Propaganda Goes Global: The Significance of China’s Debut as a Disinformation Actor. “While there has also been ample evidence of pro-China activity on social media in years past, much of it seemingly coordinated, there has not been attribution of Chinese state-sponsored disinformation on international platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. There have however been five peripheral, closely related activities that are worth noting.”
iAfrikan: Meet the ‘varakashi’ – Zimbabwe’s online army. “The avatar might be a cockerel, a razor or, most likely, a beautiful Eastern European or Latino woman. Behind the avatar, there might be a human, a bot or some combination of the two. With Zimbabwe’s ‘varakashi’ it is hard to be sure of much. Their job, at least, is clear cut: disrupt online debates and stymie criticism of President Emerson Mnangagwa and his government.”
Indiana University: Tracking coordinated disinformation campaigns online made easier with new BotSlayer tool. “The software, which is free and open to the public, scans social media in real time to detect evidence of automated Twitter accounts — or ‘bots’ — pushing messages in a coordinated manner, an increasingly common practice to manipulate public opinion by creating the false impression that many people are talking about a particular subject.”
NiemanLab: I create “convincing” manipulated images and videos — but quality may not matter much. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done, and hope it will help people keep track of the truth in a media-flooded world. But we’ve found that a key element of the battle between truth and propaganda has nothing to do with technology. It has to do with how people are much more likely to accept something if it confirms their beliefs.”
Phys .org: Right-wing WhatsApp users in Brazil are more effective at spreading disinformation. “After Brazil’s 2018 presidential election, international political pundits and journalists wondered if social media platform WhatsApp enabled far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro’s rise to power. Northwestern University computer scientists now confirm that WhatsApp use played a key role in the electoral process.”