Evolving Media & News Sources

Competing Against Misinformation

This topic contains 4 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  PopeBeanie 3 years, 7 months ago.

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    Posts here should focus on specific fake news misinformation sub-topics and reliable debunking sources. (I’m starting it off in the next post with Christopher Wylie, Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower.)

    [Late edit: Changed “Fake News” to “Misinformation” in the topic name]

    • This topic was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by  PopeBeanie. Reason: chg'd topic name and reworded this intro post


    Christopher Wylie

    Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: ‘We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles’




    After reading this Scientific American article, I see I shouldn’t be promoting the phrase “fake news” as if it describes the whole problem.

    Misinformation Has Created a New World Disorder


    • Many types of information disorder exist online, from fabricated videos to impersonated accounts to memes designed to manipulate genuine content.

    • Automation and microtargeting tactics have made it easier for agents of disinformation to weaponize regular users of the social web to spread harmful messages.

    • Much research is needed to understand the effects of disinformation and build safeguards against it.


    Purveyors of disinformation—content that is intentionally false and designed to cause harm—are motivated by three distinct goals: to make money; to have political influence, either foreign or domestic; and to cause trouble for the sake of it.

    Those who spread misinformation—false content shared by a person who does not realize it is false or misleading—are driven by sociopsychological factors. People are performing their identities on social platforms to feel connected to others, whether the “others” are a political party, parents who do not vaccinate their children, activists who are concerned about climate change, or those who belong to a certain religion, race or ethnic group. Crucially, disinformation can turn into misinformation when people share disinformation without realizing it is false.

    We added the term “malinformation” to describe genuine information that is shared with an intent to cause harm. An example of this is when Russian agents hacked into e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign and leaked certain details to the public to damage reputations.


    Technology platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest play a significant role in encouraging this human behavior because they are designed to be performative in nature. Slowing down to check whether content is true before sharing it is far less compelling than reinforcing to your “audience” on these platforms that you love or hate a certain policy. The business model for so many of these platforms is attached to this identity performance because it encourages you to spend more time on their sites.


    Understanding how each one of us is subject to such campaigns—and might unwittingly participate in them—is a crucial first step to fighting back against those who seek to upend a sense of shared reality. Perhaps most important, though, accepting how vulnerable our society is to manufactured amplification needs to be done sensibly and calmly. Fearmongering will only fuel more conspiracy and continue to drive down trust in quality-information sources and institutions of democracy. There are no permanent solutions to weaponized narratives. Instead we need to adapt to this new normal. Just as putting on sunscreen was a habit that society developed over time and then adjusted as additional scientific research became available, building resiliency against a disordered information environment needs to be thought about in the same vein.

    Full article




    Fact Checker Websites

    Preliminary list, subject to updates. Comments and additions appreciated!

    [First link is to their website, second link to their RSS. Some browsers handle RSS feeds nicely, presenting a clean list of stories. But if yours doesn’t, it will merely present a lot of harmless geeky-looking code to you. More info later on good RSS readers and browser extensions.]

    • FactCheck.ORG Nicely broken down topic categories. Lot’s of Trumpisms (so I’m also stay wary of possible biases). RSS feed: 10 most recent stories. Stated Affiliation: “A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center”
    • Snopes.com Their  front page focuses more on current stories, some of them rather trivial (imo). Search bar at the top helps you avoid that. RSS feed: 10 most recent stories. Stated Affiliation: David Mikkelson, Brad Westbrook, and Chris Richmond.




    Bad polls, fake news, and that damned needle: Here’s how the media covered a twisty Election Night [Nieman Lab story, link]

    I think the article’s worth a skim, at least, but I didn’t see anything particularly eye-opening because I already tend to heavily discount what polsters say.

    Meanwhile, thinking about how close recent election results have been so close, isn’t it possible that poles make voters on opposite sides converge? After all, even if we can’t trust poles, the politicians certainly do, and they adjust their campaigns according to poles.

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