Misinformation Review: Research note: The scale of Facebook’s problem depends upon how ‘fake news’ is classified. “Ushering in the contemporary ‘fake news’ crisis, Craig Silverman of Buzzfeed News reported that it outperformed mainstream news on Facebook in the three months prior to the 2016 US presidential elections. Here the report’s methods and findings are revisited for 2020. Examining Facebook user engagement of election-related stories, and applying Silverman’s classification of fake news, it was found that the problem has worsened, implying that the measures undertaken to date have not remedied the issue. If, however, one were to classify ‘fake news’ in a stricter fashion, as Facebook as well as certain media organizations do with the notion of ‘false news’, the scale of the problem shrinks.”
New York Times: The Facebook-Twitter-Trump Wars Are Actually About Something Else. “Much of the outrage around the Trump era and social media platforms — like, most recently, the decision by Facebook and Twitter to reduce the reach of a highly questionable New York Post story about Hunter Biden — is actually about government power and accountability. More specifically, people are angry about the absence of those things.”
BNN Bloomberg: Most U.S. Voters See Misinformation Online and Many Believe It. “The SurveyUSA poll of more than 3,000 registered voters found that 65% reported seeing political disinformation in their Facebook feeds. A quarter of them reported believing the claims. Conducted between Oct. 14-19, the survey revealed that 85% of registered voters read that mail-in voting will lead to voter fraud, with 35% believing it.”
USA Today: Twitter adding messages to preemptively debunk misinformation ahead of election. “Twitter will roll out messages on its platform preemptively debunking false information about the 2020 election as social media companies brace for a deluge of misinformation. On Monday, Twitter said it will introduce prompts to U.S. users ‘that preemptively address topics that are likely to be the subject of election misinformation.'”
Brookings Institution: How Trump impacts harmful Twitter speech: A case study in three tweets. “Here, we examine three recent tweets from the president and whether his tweets have a similarly negative impact on the quality of other online speech. These three tweets offer a case study in how elite speech online can impact the incidence of harmful speech.”
Mother Jones: Facebook Manipulated the News You See to Appease Republicans, Insiders Say. “To be perfectly clear: Facebook used its monopolistic power to boost and suppress specific publishers’ content—the essence of every Big Brother fear about the platforms, and something Facebook and other companies have been strenuously denying for years. It’s also, ironically, what conservatives have consistently accused Facebook of doing to them, with the perverse but entirely intended effect of causing it to bend over backward for them instead.”
NBC News: QAnon accounts make a dent in voting discussion on Twitter. “More than 1 in 50 tweets about voting in the 2020 elections in August and September were posted by QAnon accounts, according to research released Friday by Advance Democracy, a nonpartisan nonprofit.”
CNET: New movie Clouds shows social media’s power to amplify hope and inspiration. “While more and more people — especially those under 30 — rely on social media as their primary source of news and information, two-thirds of people in the US now believe social media has a ‘mostly negative effect’ on how things are going in America today, according to Pew Research. There’s deep concern and mistrust about the disinformation, divisiveness, and prejudice that’s being amplified on social media. Now What?”
ProPublica: How to Spot (and Fight) Election Misinformation. “Misinformation and disinformation, especially online, continue to play a huge role in the 2020 election. Learn more about the types of false information you’re likely to come across this year — and how you can help fight it.”
CNET: Facebook pulled down your post. Here’s how to challenge that decision. “Facebook and its photo service Instagram are rolling out a new way for you to lodge a challenge if you think your content has been wrongly pulled down. The social networks remove millions of posts, photos and videos every quarter for violating their rules against nudity, hate speech and other types of offensive content. If you’re affected, you can ask Facebook and Instagram to review the decision, but that doesn’t guarantee a reversal. Now you have another option.” Oh good, another way to get Facebook to approve innocent content so it can be seen by AN EXTRA FOUR PEOPLE! Thanks, incredibly restrictive organic reach!
Scientific American: Social Media Restrictions Cannot Keep Up with Hidden Codes and Symbols. “On the same day that President Donald Trump announced his COVID-19 diagnosis, Twitter reminded users of its policy that ‘tweets that wish or hope for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against *anyone* are not allowed and will need to be removed.’ The social media platform soon filled with posts accusing it of hypocrisy: threats targeting women and people of color have accumulated for years without removal, users said. But even as Twitter attempted to enforce its rules more stringently, thinly veiled posts slipped through the cracks.”
Reuters: How social media companies will handle post-U.S. election scenarios. “In the run-up to the U.S. vote in November, social media companies like Facebook Inc and Twitter have announced new rules for various post-election scenarios.”
The Conversation: We must make moral choices about how we relate to social media apps. “As an ethics professor, I’ve come to realise that we must make moral choices about how we relate to our technologies. This requires an honest evaluation of our needs and weaknesses, and a clear understanding of the intentions of these platforms.”
Chiang Rai Times: Posting a Protest Selfie on Facebook in Thailand Could Land You in Jail. “Social media in Thailand is playing an important role in anti-government protests, now the government warns over selfies at rallies. The Thai Government has announced plans to take legal action against those using social media accounts to publicize the anti-government protests, which includes posting selfies on Facebook from rallies.”
Wall Street Journal (and not paywalled for me): Why Social Media Is So Good at Polarizing Us. “A growing body of research suggests that social media is accelerating the trend, and many political scientists worry it’s tearing our country apart. It isn’t clear how to solve the problem. And new research suggests that one often-proposed solution—exposing users on the platforms to more content from the other side—might actually be making things worse, because of how social media amplifies extreme opinions.” It was interesting to read this in context with a recent article in Scientific American. I encourage you to read both.