Facebook Hires Koch-Funded Climate Deniers for ‘Fact-Checking’ – EcoWatch – Business

By Andy Rowell

It may not come as a surprise that leading climate denier Donald Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims since he became president, according to fact-checkers at the Washington Post.

As the Post reports, Trump’s “tsunami of untruths just keeps looming larger and larger.”

Much of this tsunami of untruths will get reposted on Facebook as fact. Those hoping that Facebook will accurately check Trump’s statements and clean up the torrent of fake news on its platform will have to think again, especially if you are concerned about climate change.

In what can only be described as verging on the bizarre, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has given the contract to fight fake news to an organization that pushes fake news on climate change.

According to reports in Think Progress and Grist, Facebook has announced that it was teaming up with CheckYourFact.com, which is an offshoot of the anti-science media site, The Daily Caller.

The CheckYourFact website brags that: “Our mission is a non-partisan one. We’re loyal to neither people nor parties — only the truth. And while the fact-checking industry continues to grow, there are still countless assertions that go unchecked. We exist to fill in the gaps.”

In fact, the opposite seems to be true. As Think Progress outlines:

The Daily Caller, which has published misinformation about climate science for years, was co-founded by the science-denying Fox News host Tucker Carlson and is backed by major conservative donors, including Charles and David Koch, the billionaire fossil fuel barons who are the single biggest funders of climate science misinformation.
Think Progress includes a link back to 2015, when a peer-reviewed paper from scientists at Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute was published in the journal Nature Geoscience. The Daily Caller tried to twist the research to argue that “global warming is nothing new.”

It is hardly surprising that leading climate scientists and academics are outspoken about the Facebook fact-check tie up.”

Source: EcoWatch – Business

Opinion | A Way to Detect the Next Russian Misinformation Campaign – The New York Times

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By Philip N. Howard
Professor Howard is the director of the Oxford Internet Institute and the author of “Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up.”

March 27, 2019

Some of the Facebook ads linked to a Russian effort to disrupt the 2016 American presidential election, released by members of the House Intelligence Committee in late 2017.
Credit
Jon Elswick/Associated Press

“Despite the best efforts of several technology firms, there still seem to be secretive groups distributing political ads without disclosing who is funding those ads. Even if Facebook starts discouraging advertisers from targeting users on the basis of race, gender or age, as it recently announced, the wealth of existing data that it has already collected will still allow advertisers to do sophisticated ad targeting.

Social media firms want to regulate themselves, and Google has threatened to withdraw all political ads in Canada if it finds transparency rules too onerous. Facebook offers political ad archives in a few countries, and searching by hand is laborious. Independent researchers can investigate trends computationally, but Facebook, Twitter and Google are doing more and more to restrict access. There is negligible access to Instagram, where huge volumes of Russian-origin misinformation now flows. Banning political ads or creating partial ad archives in some countries won’t strengthen the world’s democracies. Ad bans give incumbent politicians an unfair advantage, and establishing partial ad archives gives political ad buyers an incentive to not declare their ads as political.

Elections officials and ad regulators in the world’s democracies urgently need to sort this out: Nearly a billion people in India and across Europe will prepare to vote in the next few months, and presidential campaigning in the United States has already started. The solution is to have all technology companies put all ads, all the time, into public archives.”

via Opinion | A Way to Detect the Next Russian Misinformation Campaign – The New York Times

Some of the Popular Images and Themes the Russians Posted on Social Media – The New York Times

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Using an array of accounts on multiple platforms and targeting a variety of demographics, the Russians have generated millions of interactions with their posts.

By Scott Shane
Dec. 17, 2018,  172c
When Russia targets Americans on social media, it has political goals: in 2016, to damage Hillary Clinton and help elect Donald J. Trump; since then, to press Russian views on issues like the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine; and in the future — who knows?

To wield influence, Russian online operators must first build an audience. Posing as Americans, they have to persuade Americans to pay attention and give them at least a modicum of trust.

Two reports prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee and released on Monday shed some light on how Russia does it. The reports identify some of the most popular of the images and themes created by the Internet Research Agency, which is based in St. Petersburg, Russia, and owned by a businessman with close ties to President Vladimir V. Putin.

[Read more about the reports here.]

Here are a few of the Russians’ greatest hits.

via Some of the Popular Images and Themes the Russians Posted on Social Media – The New York Times

Facebook- Twitter and YouTube Withheld Russia Data- Reports Say – The New York Times

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By Sheera Frenkel- Daisuke Wakabayashi and Kate Conger
Dec. 17, 2018,       77c
SAN FRANCISCO — When lawmakers asked YouTube, a unit of Google, to provide information about Russian manipulation efforts, it did not disclose how many people watched the videos on its site that were created by Russian trolls.

Facebook did not release the comments that its users made when they viewed Russian-generated content. And Twitter gave only scattered details about the Russian-controlled accounts that spread propaganda there.

The tech companies’ foot-dragging was described in a pair of reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee published on Monday, in what were the most detailed accounts to date about how Russian agents have wielded social media against Americans in recent years.

In the reports, Google, Twitter and Facebook (which also owns Instagram) were described by researchers as having “evaded” and “misrepresented” themselves and the extent of Russian activity on their sites. The companies were also criticized for not turning over complete sets of data about Russian manipulation to the Senate.

via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Withheld Russia Data, Reports Say – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

One commenter called for all of us to quit Facebook. I responded,

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval

 

The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked | Technology | The Guardian

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A shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign influenced the result of the EU referendum. As Britain heads to the polls again, is our electoral process still fit for purpose?

by Carole Cadwalladr

Sun 7 May 2017 04.00 EDT Last modified on Wed 21 Mar 2018 19.52 EDT
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This article is the subject of legal complaints on behalf of Cambridge Analytica LLC and SCL Elections Limited.
“The connectivity that is the heart of globalisation can be exploited by states with hostile intent to further their aims.[…] The risks at stake are profound and represent a fundamental threat to our sovereignty.”
Alex Younger, head of MI6, December, 2016

“It’s not MI6’s job to warn of internal threats. It was a very strange speech. Was it one branch of the intelligence services sending a shot across the bows of another? Or was it pointed at Theresa May’s government? Does she know something she’s not telling us?”
Senior intelligence analyst, April 2017

In January 2013, a young American postgraduate was passing through London when she was called up by the boss of a firm where she’d previously interned. The company, SCL Elections, went on to be bought by Robert Mercer, a secretive hedge fund billionaire, renamed Cambridge Analytica, and achieved a certain notoriety as the data analytics firm that played a role in both Trump and Brexit campaigns. But all of this was still to come. London in 2013 was still basking in the afterglow of the Olympics. Britain had not yet Brexited. The world had not yet turned.

Follow the data: does a legal document link Brexit campaigns to US billionaire?
Read more
“That was before we became this dark, dystopian data company that gave the world Trump,” a former Cambridge Analytica employee who I’ll call Paul tells me. “It was back when we were still just a psychological warfare firm.”

Was that really what you called it, I ask him. Psychological warfare? “Totally. That’s what it is. Psyops. Psychological operations – the same methods the military use to effect mass sentiment change. It’s what they mean by winning ‘hearts and minds’. We were just doing it to win elections in the kind of developing countries that don’t have many rules.”

via The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked | Technology | The Guardian

Meet the KGB Spies Who Invented Fake News – By Adam B. Ellick- Adam Westbrook and Jonah M. Kessel – The New York Times

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Meet the KGB Spies Who Invented Fake News

By Adam B. Ellick, Adam Westbrook and Jonah M. Kessel

via Breaking News, World News & Multimedia – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

This is an excellent video piece about the KGB’s Disinformation work in the 1980’s.

It is unfortunate that the jounalists badly overreach, in suggesting that the KGB invented Fake News in the Cold War. Fake News, or disinformation and propaganda,  was referenced and esteemed in The Art of War by SunTsu over a  thousand years ago.

Opinion | Russians Meddling in the Midterms? Here’s the Data – The New York Times

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InconvenientNews.Net

By Jonathon Morgan and Ryan Fox
Mr. Morgan and Mr. Fox run a cybersecurity company.

Nov. 6, 2018

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CreditCreditIllustration by Jeffrey Henson Scales, photographs by Matt Anderson Photography/Moment and Blend Images-Hill Street Studios/Brand X Pictures, via Getty Images

“Since the 2016 United States presidential election, which Russian operatives influenced through a coordinated campaign of disinformation on social media, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have taken steps to address the problem. Thousands of “sock puppet” personas with hundreds of thousands of followers have been taken down on Facebook, for example, and cannot easily be rebuilt. Twitter has reduced the risk that propaganda is spread through automated accounts, or bots.

Such efforts may be helping. The consensus among researchers monitoring the 2018 midterm elections is that there has been less of the specific sort of interference the Russians engaged in two years ago, when they attempted to aggravate social tensions in…

View original post 106 more words

Opinion | Russians Meddling in the Midterms? Here’s the Data – The New York Times

By Jonathon Morgan and Ryan Fox
Mr. Morgan and Mr. Fox run a cybersecurity company.

Nov. 6, 2018

Image
CreditCreditIllustration by Jeffrey Henson Scales, photographs by Matt Anderson Photography/Moment and Blend Images-Hill Street Studios/Brand X Pictures, via Getty Images

“Since the 2016 United States presidential election, which Russian operatives influenced through a coordinated campaign of disinformation on social media, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have taken steps to address the problem. Thousands of “sock puppet” personas with hundreds of thousands of followers have been taken down on Facebook, for example, and cannot easily be rebuilt. Twitter has reduced the risk that propaganda is spread through automated accounts, or bots.

Such efforts may be helping. The consensus among researchers monitoring the 2018 midterm elections is that there has been less of the specific sort of interference the Russians engaged in two years ago, when they attempted to aggravate social tensions in the United States and foster distrust of our democratic institutions.

But an analysis by Kris Shaffer, a senior analyst for our cybersecurity company, suggests that while these measures may have rendered some of the Russian tactics of 2016 less effective, they haven’t fully stopped Russian influence operations. In many instances, they seem to have merely caused Russia to shift or develop new tactics.

Indeed, our company is currently detecting more overall activity in real time from continuing Russian online influence operations targeting the midterm elections than has been disclosed by social media platforms or detected by researchers during the same period before the election in 2016.”

We Asked for Examples of Election Misinformation. You Delivered. – The New York Times

“But the ad transparency push has not always gone smoothly. Investigations by The Times and other news organizations have found numerous problems with social networks’ ad transparency policies. These include a loophole in Facebook’s ad policy that allows advertisers, once they have verified their identities and are approved to run political ads, to fill the “paid for by” field in their ads with whatever text they want, essentially letting them disguise their identity.

The extent of this loophole was explored by news organizations reporting on the policy, such as Vice News, which bought ads “paid for by” all 100 United States senators, as well as fictitious groups like “Ninja Turtles PAC.” “

Opinion | Voters- You’re Being Manipulated – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“. . . . . HIAS, the Jewish agency whose assistance for refugees infuriated the synagogue attacker (he blamed Jews for bringing in brown people in the caravan from Central America), has been flooded with donations, many from non-Jews. As my own feeble way to challenge hatred, I donated to HIAS on Saturday and suggested to my newsletter readers that they might as well. If we all find our own ways to light a candle, we can drive out the enveloping darkness.

These expressions of our shared humanity are important in and of themselves, but also as a way of fighting back at the fear and loathing that are being weaponized in this election cycle. One example: the breathless fear-mongering about the caravan still almost 1,000 miles away in Mexico.

Let’s be blunt: Voters, you are being manipulated.

President Trump has described the caravan as an “invasion of our country,” and Fox News referred to it as an invasion more than 60 times in October, along with 75 times on Fox Business Network, according to CNN.

This should be a nonstory. As I’ve written, most in the shrinking caravan will never enter the United States and they would amount to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of immigrants this year. In just the period of the caravan’s journey, another 16,800 Americans may die from drugs — a real threat!”