The New York Times has published a piece about the challenges of tracking misinformation on social media. This is an interesting topic, and one that I am interested in learning more about.
5:51 p.m. ET, July 30, 2021
5:51 p.m. ET, July 30, 2021
A scene from a medieval artwork was overlaid on Instagram with text implying that Jews were to blame for the deaths of infants.
A photoshopped picture of global leaders with the Star of David on their heads was shared on Twitter with the hashtag #JewWorldOrder.
A video of the World Trade Center on fire was used as a background for an argument on YouTube that Jews were to blame for the terrorist assaults on the buildings 20 years ago.
All of these are instances of anti-Semitic material that has been expressly prohibited by social media platforms. According to a study published on Friday by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, they were shared on social media and were permitted to stay up even after being notified to social media firms.
The research, which showed that social media firms responded to less than one in every six reported cases of anti-Semitism, coincides with a report by the Anti-Defamation League with similar results. Both groups discovered that anti-Semitic material was extensively disseminated on major social media sites, and that the businesses failed to remove it after being notified.
The Center for Countering Digital Hate said, “As a consequence of their inability to police their own standards, social media platforms like Facebook have become safe venues to disseminate bigotry and propaganda against Jews.”
The center’s researchers spent six weeks reporting hundreds of anti-Semitic postings to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok using the tools the platforms established for users to report posts that include hate speech, nudity, and other prohibited material. The postings they looked at were viewed by up to 7.3 million people in total.
Facebook and Twitter had the lowest rates of enforcement action, according to the study. Facebook took action on approximately 10.9 percent of the anti-Semitic postings submitted to them. According to the study, Twitter responded to 11% of the requests. In contrast, YouTube received 21% of the vote, while TikTok received 18.5 percent.
The anti-Semitic material on YouTube and TikTok received millions of views. The number of views on Twitter and Facebook was in the hundreds of thousands.
“While we have made progress in combating anti-Semitism on Facebook, our job is never done,” Facebook spokesperson Dani Lever said. She went on to say that hate speech on Facebook was on the decline, and that “given the worrying increase in anti-Semitism across the globe, we have taken and will continue to take substantial action via our rules.”
According to a Twitter representative, the business condemns anti-Semitism and is striving to make Twitter a more secure platform for online interaction. “We realize that there is still work to be done, and we will continue to listen to and incorporate input from stakeholders into our continuing efforts,” the spokesman added.
TikTok stated in a statement that it eliminates accounts and material that violates its rules proactively, and that it opposes anti-Semitism and hate speech. The business said, “We are committed on always enhancing how we safeguard our community.”
In a statement, YouTube claimed it has made “great progress” in eliminating hate speech in recent years. YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi stated, “This effort is continuing, and we value this input.”
The poll conducted by the Anti-Defamation League was comparable but smaller. On each of the aforementioned sites, as well as Reddit, Twitch, and the game website Roblox, it reported between three and eleven pieces of material. It assigned each site a letter grade depending on how fast the businesses reacted and deleted the postings, such as a C- for Facebook and TikTok and a D for Roblox. Twitter, the highest-rated platform, earned a B-.
“We were disappointed, but not unexpected, to find poor ratings across the board,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the organization’s CEO. “Even if it leads to anti-Semitism, misinformation, hatred, racism, and harassment, these corporations maintain toxic material on their platforms because it is beneficial for their profit line.”
He went on to say, “It’s past time for internet firms to stand up and spend more of their millions in profit to safeguard the vulnerable populations affected on their platforms.”
5:07 p.m. ET, July 20, 2021
5:07 p.m. ET, July 20, 2021
The epidemic has given fresh life to and expanded on rumors concerning Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft. Credit… The New York Times’ Chona Kasinger
In the last year, Bill Gates has been a favorite target of right-wing conspiracy theorists. He has been erroneously depicted as the brains of Covid-19 and as a viral vaccination profiteer in postings on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
According to recent research, the popularity of those lies has given rise to at least two additional baseless allegations about him: that he has been collaborating with the Chinese Communist Party and that he is behind moonshot climate change initiatives.
“While the worldwide epidemic has been a major accelerator over the last year and a half, it isn’t the source of many of the conspiracy ideas regarding Bill Gates now circulating in the media,” Jennifer Granston, head of insights at Zignal Labs, said. “Rather, it’s gasoline being thrown on a smoldering fire that’s been burning for over a decade.”
According to data by Zignal Labs, which monitored narratives about Mr. Gates on social media and cable television, as well as in print and online news sources from June 2020 to June 2021, as many as 100,000 references regarding Mr. Gates’ ties to the Chinese government were made in the previous year.
In one case, a post on The National Pulse, a far-right website, claimed without proof that Bill Gates, a co-founder of Microsoft, impacted US-China ties because a relative worked in a government position vaguely linked to US-China relations while Vice President Biden was in office. Another story in The National Pulse cited numerous occasions in which Microsoft collaborated with Chinese firms, and many users on the internet interpreted this as proof that Mr. Gates is working with the Chinese government. According to statistics from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned social media analytics platform, both stories may have reached hundreds of thousands of Facebook users.
According to Zignal, Mr. Gates was referenced another 260,000 times in climate change deceptions. Mr. Gates was allegedly financing a scheme to dull the light, according to one unsubstantiated allegation. (In fact, he is funding a small-scale Harvard University project to see whether there are aerosols that might slow or stop the depletion of the ozone layer.) In another, conspiracy theorists claim that Mr. Gates is promoting a plan to compel people in wealthy nations to consume only “100% synthetic beef” because he owns a business that produces it. (Mr. Gates did suggest it was a good idea for rich countries to think about it, but it was part of a broader discussion about technological advances and energy policy to combat climate change’s impacts.)
Those lies, although widely circulated, pale in contrast to the ones regarding his coronavirus profiteering. Mr. Gates is accused of intending to utilize microchip vaccine implants to monitor the populace, which is a baseless allegation (159,000 mentions). Mr. Gates’ charity work in providing vaccinations to poor countries was similarly distorted into false allegations that he was attempting to cull the world’s population (39,400 mentions). A third common misconception promoted by conspiracy theorists is that Mr. Gates lobbied for vaccination passports in order to advance a tech-enabled surveillance state (28,700 mentions).
According to Zignal Labs, the spreading of tweets connecting Mr. Gates to the vaccination passport story peaked around the time of his divorce announcement from Melinda French Gates, his wife of 27 years with whom he managed the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. His behavior in work-related situations has been scrutinized more closely as a result of the separation.
One tweet, which was liked and shared more than 30,400 times, stated, “Bill Gates: privacy please everyone.” “We also need vaccination passports, Bill Gates.”
3:09 p.m. ET on June 18, 2021
3:09 p.m. ET on June 18, 2021
On January 6, 2021, supporters of President Donald J. Trump seized control of the Capitol. Credit… The New York Times’ Jason Andrew
Influential right commentators have promoted the baseless notion that the F.B.I. orchestrated the Capitol siege on Jan. 6, based on a misunderstanding of legal language.
On his program on Tuesday, Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson hypothesized about the government’s participation, citing the work of the right-wing website Revolver News. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia have posted clips of Mr. Carlson’s argument on social media this week, collecting millions of views and being shared by Republican members of Congress including Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
Mr. Carlson said, “Strangely, several individuals who participated in the incident have not been prosecuted.” “Take a look at the paperwork. These individuals are referred to as “unindicted co-conspirators” by the government. What exactly does it imply? It may imply that they’re F.B.I. agents in every case.”
A request for comment from the Justice Department was not returned. Legal experts, on the other hand, argued that this assumption was irrational and far-fetched. A conspiracy is defined as a two- or more-person agreement to commit a crime. According to the Congressional Research Service, which is a neutral research organization for Congress, an undercover federal agent or informant cannot be considered a conspirator since they do not plan to carry out the crime.
Jesse Norris, a criminal justice professor at the State University of New York at Fredonia who spent years studying entrapment in terrorist cases, said he had never heard of an F.B.I. agent being referred to as a “unindicted co-conspirator.”
“It wouldn’t make sense to label informants co-conspirators from a legal standpoint,” he added. “They wouldn’t be conspirators if they were allowed to engage in the conspiracy by the F.B.I. since they didn’t have the intent to commit a crime. Instead, they pretended to commit a crime on behalf of the government in order to apprehend actual criminals.”
Calling an informant a co-conspirator, according to Ira P. Robbins, a law professor at American University who has written on unindicted co-conspirators, would make no sense unless an F.B.I. agent had gone rogue.
“Even if that were true, where is the proof that it is true in one instance because it is true in every case?” he stated “Where are the facts?” says the narrator.
There are many reasons why someone is referred to as a “unindicted co-conspirator” by the government. The co-conspirator may have cooperated with authorities and been offered a bargain, or there may be insufficient evidence to press charges.
In reality, the Justice Department has a policy of avoiding naming unindicted co-conspirators “unless there is some compelling reason.” (In the Watergate case, a grand jury notably designated former President Richard Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator, while former President Donald J. Trump was essentially branded as one in a campaign finance violations case.)
Mr. Carlson cited the indictment of Thomas Edward Caldwell, a 65-year-old Virginia man labeled as the “apparent leader” of the far-right Oath Keepers organization in court papers. Unnamed individuals referenced in Mr. Carlson’s indictment were “very likely working with the F.B.I.” according to Mr. Carlson.
Several unidentified individuals are mentioned in the indictment. One of them, “Person 1,” is identified in the charge papers as the Oath Keepers’ leader, Stewart Rhodes, who is well known. However, there is no proof that Mr. Rhodes is a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant.
According to the criminal papers, “Person 2” took photos with Mr. Caldwell at the Capitol. According to the Washington Post, that individual might be Mr. Caldwell’s wife. On Jan. 6, Mr. Caldwell shared a picture of himself and his wife visiting the Capitol.
Mr. Carlson also claimed that F.B.I. agents were engaged in a plan to abduct Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer last year. That is correct. The operatives, on the other hand, are not named as “unindicted co-conspirators.” Rather, the criminal complaint refers to “undercover workers” and “confidential human sources.”
F.B.I. informants were referred to as “confidential source,” “confidential human source,” or simply “informant” in the Capitol riot trials, while agents were referred to as “working in an undercover capacity.”
Mr. Carlson also highlighted possible entrapment instances in terrorist trials detailed in writer Trevor Aaronson’s book “The Terror Factory,” saying, “That’s what we’re witnessing today.”
Experts say this is also improbable. Dr. Norris discovered that “right-wing cases had substantially fewer entrapment indicators” than left-wing or Islamist terrorist cases in a recent research.
Dr. Norris said that “not all covert operations entail entrapment; probably the majority do not.”
Professor Robbins believes that entrapment would occur if F.B.I. agents were substantially engaged in the planning of the assault. He said, however, that he was unaware of any Capitol rioters claiming entrapment as a defense.
“Tucker Carlson makes a big leap of faith when he says F.B.I. agents were engaged, therefore they were operatives, so they orchestrated it,” he added. “There is just no proof of that.”
14th of June, 2021, 4:10 p.m. ET
14th of June, 2021, 4:10 p.m. ET
Christian Eriksen was approached by medics during Saturday’s Euro 2020 Championship Group B match between Denmark and Finland. He was brought back to life. Credit… Martin Meissner took this picture of the pool.
The fall of Christian Eriksen, a Danish soccer player, during a game at Euro 2020 on Saturday has sparked a flurry of false conjecture about his vaccination status.
Mr. Eriksen, a 29-year-old midfielder who also plays for Inter Milan in Italy, fell into cardiac arrest during Denmark’s first game against Finland and was resuscitated. His illness was not caused by a coronavirus vaccination, as several social media postings claimed.
Inter Milan’s director informed Italian sports daily Gazzetta Dello Sport that Mr. Eriksen has not been inoculated.
That didn’t stop others on social media from speculating or saying that he passed out after getting the vaccination. False reports claiming he had the Pfizer vaccination or “got the jab” in May circulated through Twitter and Facebook in English, German, Italian, Greek, Dutch, Romanian, Portuguese, French, Polish, and Arabic.
Some referenced a rumored radio conversation with an Inter Milan doctor on an Italian station as their source of knowledge. However, Radio Sportiva, a radio station in Italy, said on Twitter that it had not spoken to any Inter Milan medical personnel regarding Mr. Eriksen’s health.
Others have claimed that Mr. Eriksen was vaccinated based on an English translation of an Italian-language conversation between Inter Milan’s club doctor and Gazetta Dello Sport. In an interview published on May 18, the physician, Dr. Piero Volpi, informed the sports magazine that all of the players will be vaccinated before the start of the next tournament. Dr. Volpi didn’t say if he meant Euro 2020 or the opening of Serie A, Italy’s premier soccer league, which begins in August.
Mr. Eriksen is in a stable condition at a Copenhagen hospital. On Monday, he issued a statement in which he said that he was feeling better.
Athletes collapsing during sports is uncommon, but not unheard of. Fabrice Muamba, a former English soccer player, fainted during a game between Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur in 2012, and his heart stopped beating for 78 minutes. Mr. Eriksen “being alive is the greatest thing that can come out of Euro 2020,” Mr. Muamba told Sky Sports News.
According to a 2017 research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, professional soccer players had an incidence rate of 1.04 sudden cardiac deaths per 100,000 person years. According to the research, this is a modest incidence, but it is greater than the 0.72 rate for all sports-related accidents. Soccer and racing events were identified as “the sports linked with the highest number of instances of sudden cardiac arrest among elite athletes” in a separate 2017 research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking into allegations that a small number of adolescents and young adults who had coronavirus vaccinations had cardiac issues. On Friday, it will convene a meeting to consider the cases.
8:00 a.m. ET, June 11, 2021
8:00 a.m. ET, June 11, 2021
According to a publishing spokesperson, the book “Expect the Unexpected,” which was collected from Dr. Anthony S. Fauci’s lectures and interviews, was prematurely offered for presale. Credit… The New York Times’ Anna Moneymaker
Following the removal of a listing for a forthcoming book by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the Biden administration’s top adviser on Covid-19, from Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s websites in the last few days, right-wing outlets and social media commentators spread the rumor that it had been removed due to public outcry over Dr. Fauci’s “profiteering” from the pandemic.
Dr. Fauci isn’t earning any money from the book, which is about lessons he’s learned during his decades in public service, and the listing was taken down for one simple reason: the publisher had placed it too early.
According to Ann Day, a spokesperson for National Geographic Books, Dr. Fauci “will not receive any royalties from its publication and was not compensated” for the book “Expect the Unexpected.” She also said that Dr. Fauci will not be compensated for a related documentary. (A request for comment from Dr. Fauci was not returned.)
The book, which includes interviews and lectures made by Dr. Fauci throughout his 37 years as head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been removed off the websites because it was “prematurely placed for presale,” according to Ms. Day. She went on to say that the money will “go back to the National Geographic Society to support work in research, exploration, conservation, and education, as well as to reinvest in content.”
The national institution said in a statement that the book was not authored by Dr. Fauci himself. He will not get any profits from the publication, according to the institution.
The erroneous information regarding the book and Dr. Fauci quickly circulated throughout the internet. The right-wing website The Daily Caller published a story on May 31 regarding the book’s online presale. Representatives Andy Biggs of Arizona and Dan Bishop of North Carolina, among other extreme Republicans, jumped on the story and asserted without proof that Dr. Fauci would benefit from the book.
On June 1, Mr. Bishop said on Twitter, “His lockdown requirements devastated livelihoods and endangered our children’s futures.” “Now he’ll be making a lot of money.” More than 2,700 people liked and shared the post.
Following the release of his book, Newsweek and Fox News ran stories emphasizing the “backlash” that Dr. Fauci received from right-wing pundits “for profiteering from epidemic.” The stories made no note of the fact that he would not profit from the book. According to statistics from CrowdTangle, a social media analytics platform owned by Facebook, they reached as many as 20.1 million individuals.
Just the News, a conservative publication, said on June 2 that Dr. Fauci’s book had been “scrubbed” from Amazon and Barnes & Noble due to the reaction. The site’s creator, John Solomon, a Washington media figure who was key in spreading false information about the Bidens and Ukraine, tweeted the deceptive story. Jack Posobiec, a pro-Trump activist who previously pushed the bogus Pizzagate hoax, felt the same way.
In a response to The New York Times, a Barnes & Noble spokesperson stated, “Books are deleted from bn.com from time to time if the information are loaded incorrectly.” “Barnes & Noble did not take this book down deliberately. We anticipate that it will be available for purchase again in the near future, as soon as the publisher chooses to sell it.” Amazon has declined to comment.
National Geographic Books made similar remarks in several publications on June 2, including Fox News and The Daily Mail. However, numerous far-right sources continued to promote the version of events that the book had been “scrubbed” from online listings due to the reaction, despite the fact that the information had been corrected. According to CrowdTangle statistics, the stories received over 32,000 likes and shares on Facebook and reached as many as six million people.
Days later, individuals like Fox News presenter Sean Hannity and former President Donald J. Trump’s doctor, Representative Ronny Jackson, a Republican from Texas, continued to promote the erroneous notion on Twitter.
Mr. Jackson tweeted, “Anthony Fauci is poised to earn a fortune on his forthcoming book; meanwhile, our nation continues to SUFFER from his ENDLESS non-scientific policies.” He received almost 4,000 likes, comments, and shares on his post.
Jacob Silver helped with the research.
3:24 p.m. ET on June 3, 2021
3:24 p.m. ET on June 3, 2021
Michael T. Flynn, center, speaks out against the presidential election results during a demonstration in Washington on Dec. 12. Credit… Reuters/Johnny Ernst
Former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn said on Sunday at a conference hosted by adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory that the US needs a Myanmar-style military revolution.
Mr. Flynn denied ever pushing the notion a day later, despite recordings of his remarks spreading on TV and online. “I am no stranger to the media twisting my words,” he said on Telegram on Monday.
Something odd has occurred since then: his accusations of media distortion have not gone down well with his conservative followers online, but his remarks have been extensively shared and attacked by the left.
Here’s a video showing former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn suggesting that a coup similar to the one in Myanmar should take place in the United States. pic.twitter.com/7mGYjfXg18
May 30, 2021 — Mamie (@MC Hyperbole)
According to a New York Times study, news articles and videos on Mr. Flynn’s demand for a coup d’état received 675,000 likes and shares on Facebook and Twitter. In contrast, his denial received just 61,000 likes and shares on Facebook and Twitter.
Only a few prominent right-wing accounts took seriously his denial, notably Sid Miller, Texas’ agricultural commissioner and an ardent Trump supporter, who received 68 likes and shares for his tweet. Right-wing political Facebook groups with titles like Apostolic Conservatives Show and A Little to the Right also shared.
Right-wing accounts had faded down by Wednesday, while many more left-leaning accounts continued to debate Mr. Flynn’s remarks — but mainly to express their disbelief at Mr. Flynn’s initial statements and his effort to refute and reinterpret the call for a coup.
Occupy Democrats, Being Liberal, and Ridin’ With Biden, for example, were among the top sharers of Mr. Flynn’s remarks on Facebook.
One image shared by Occupy Democrats on Tuesday asked, “Should Mike Flynn be sent to jail for advocating for a military coup against American democracy to forcefully restore Trump?” The single post received almost 11,500 likes and shares.
Jacob Silver contributed to this story.
5:55 p.m. ET, May 7, 2021
5:55 p.m. ET, May 7, 2021