American-Made Disinformation Strains Social Media’s Safeguards

(Bloomberg) — Facebook Inc.’s announcement Thursday that it had shut down a network of phony accounts attempting to influence the November elections reinforced fears that people are working to use social media to undermine U.S. democracy. But unlike 2016, when most attention focused on campaigns associated with the Russian government, this year’s wave of disinformation is coming largely from President Donald Trump and his American supporters, a growing body of research shows, raising new challenges for social media companies. 



a close up of a sign: American flags are displayed on privacy screens at a polling station in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. The fall election comes into better focus today, when Arkansas, Georgia, and Kentucky choose major-party nominees and runoffs will end months of uncertainty about which House candidates will be on the ballot in Texas.


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American flags are displayed on privacy screens at a polling station in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. The fall election comes into better focus today, when Arkansas, Georgia, and Kentucky choose major-party nominees and runoffs will end months of uncertainty about which House candidates will be on the ballot in Texas.

Facebook tied the campaign it exposed Thursday to Rally Forge, a U.S. marketing firm hired

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Researchers say a Project Veritas video accusing Ilhan Omar of voter fraud was a ‘coordinated disinformation campaign.’

A deceptive video released on Sunday by the conservative activist James O’Keefe, which claimed through unidentified sources and with no verifiable evidence that Representative Ilhan Omar’s campaign had collected ballots illegally, was probably part of a coordinated disinformation effort, according to researchers at Stanford University.

Mr. O’Keefe and his group, Project Veritas, appear to have made an abrupt decision to release the video sooner than planned after The New York Times published a sweeping investigation of President Trump’s taxes, the researchers said. They also noted that the timing and metadata of a Twitter post in which one of Mr. Trump’s sons shared the video suggested that he might have known about it in advance.

Project Veritas had hyped the video on social media for several days before publishing it. In posts amplified by other prominent conservative accounts, Mr. O’Keefe teased what he said was evidence of voter fraud, and urged

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Data, Disinformation, and the Art of Skepticism

The Open Mind explores the world of ideas across politics, media, science, technology, and the arts. The American Prospect is republishing this edited excerpt.

Alexander Heffner: You are author of the new book called Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World.

Carl Bergstrom: My colleague Jevin West, the co-author on the book, and I had seen information, particularly quantitative information being misused to try to confuse people.  We’ve come into a world where data is so important in decision-making and presented so centrally in the public sphere. But we felt like we needed help people take on data being presented [as] disinformation: the BS being presented in the form of statistics or facts and figures [and] data graphics.

Heffner: I’m going to use malarkey as our BS for the purpose of this conversation—and also because one of our leading presidential candidates loves to employ that word malarkey. So

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