Why Trump’s viral Covid and flu misinformation is hard for Facebook and Twitter to stop

A perfect storm of medical misinformation and political disinformation is creating new challenges for the press, for social media platforms and for the public. Take just the events of the last few days. On the heels of his release from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, President Donald Trump stood on the balcony of the White House, removed his mask and then gave a short speech that was quickly uploaded to social media. “Maybe I’m immune, I don’t know,” he declared. The truth is, he is still very contagious. But the public declaration alarmed scientists, who are working to produce an effective and safe vaccine. Online, fans cheered that Trump had beaten Covid-19, even as he put his staff in danger.

A perfect storm of medical misinformation and political disinformation is creating new challenges for the press, for social media platforms, and for the public.

Trump followed up that appearance

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Twitter seeks to limit spread of misinformation before vote

Twitter Inc. announced a handful of product changes intended to make it harder for users to spread misinformation on the service in the final weeks of the US presidential campaign.

Some of the alterations are related to Twitter’s retweet feature, which lets users share another person’s post to their own followers, and is the fastest way for a tweet to go viral. If someone tries to retweet a post that has been labeled as false, Twitter will show “a prompt pointing them to credible information about the topic,” the company said Friday. It will also put more misleading tweets behind a warning screen, forcing users to click in order to see the original post.

Twitter will also prompt users to “quote tweet” a post before retweeting it — asking them to “add their own commentary” to the message instead of just passing it along.

“Though this adds some extra friction

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Expert discusses the importance of getting wise to misinformation, conspiracy theories

conspiracy
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has opened gateways—allowing for people to continue learning and remain connected. But it’s also allowed for the steady flow of disinformation, misinformation and conspiracy theories.


From Facebook to Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat—social media is always at our fingertips. Slanted views can spread like wildfire on those platforms, despite efforts to stop it.

Jenny Rice, an associate professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies in the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences, is an expert on conspiracy theories. In her book, “Awful Archives: Conspiracy Theory, Rhetoric, and Acts of Evidence,” she looks to examples that lie at the fringes of public discourse—pseudoscience, the paranormal, conspiracy theories about 9/11, the moon landing, UFO sightings and Obama’s birth record. Such examples, she argues, bring to light other questions about evidence that force us to reassess and move beyond traditional

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Facebook bans all QAnon groups as dangerous amid surging misinformation

A person wearing a t-shirt supportive of QAnon participates in a “Back the Blue” rally in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, U.S. August 9, 2020.

Stephanie Keith | Reuters

Facebook on Tuesday classified the QAnon conspiracy theory movement as dangerous and began removing Facebook groups and pages as well as Instagram accounts that hold themselves out as representatives.

The step escalates an August policy that banned a third of QAnon groups here for promoting violence while allowing most to stay, albeit with content appearing less often in news feeds. Instead of relying on user reports, Facebook staff now will treat QAnon like other militarized bodies, seeking out and deleting groups and pages, the company said in a blog post here.

Since the August restrictions, some QAnon groups have added members, and others used coded language to evade detection, for example referring to “cue” instead of Q.

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Anti-vaxxer misinformation goes viral in the Philippines

Online misinformation is leaching out from cheap mobile phones and free Facebook plans used by millions in the Philippines, convincing many to reject vaccinations for polio and other deadly diseases.

Childhood immunisation rates have plummeted in the country — from 87 percent in 2014 to 68 percent — resulting in a measles epidemic and the reemergence of polio last year.

A highly politicised campaign that led to the withdrawal of dengue vaccine Dengvaxia in 2017 is widely seen as one of the main drivers of the fall.

But health experts also point to an explosion of vaccination-related misinformation that has undermined confidence in all types of immunisations.

In the northern city of Tarlac, government nurse Reeza Patriarca watched with horror the impacts of Facebook posts that falsely claimed five people had died after receiving an unspecified vaccination.

The posts, which have been shared thousands of times, went online in August,

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Twitter Considers Changing Misinformation Labels

Twitter  (TWTR) – Get Report is reassessing how its misinformation labels appear and reach users, the microblogging site’s head of site integrity told a news service.

The San Francisco social-media company currently attaches small blue notices to false tweets.

It is assessing how to make these signals more “overt” and “direct,” Twitter’s Yoel Roth told Reuters.

Roth made no mention of whether the changes would be implemented before the Nov. 3 U.S. election.

The changes will include testing a reddish-magenta color that is more visible, Roth told the news service.

Twitter reduces the reach of tweets that it labels for false content by limiting their visibility and not recommending them in search results, Reuters reported.

Feedback from users tells the company that they want to know whether an account has been repeatedly labeled, Roth said. Twitter will consider whether to flag users who constantly post false information, he

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Twitter’s ‘Birdwatch’ looks like a new attempt to root out propaganda and misinformation

Twitter has confirmed it’s working on a new feature, currently dubbed “Birdwatch,” that could let the Twitter community warn one another about misleading tweets that could cause harm.

There’s an awful lot we don’t know about the idea, including whether Twitter will actually release it to the public or how it might work in its final form, but enough has leaked out that we do have a pretty fair glimpse at the feature — which, we understand, is still early in development and would not be released ahead of the US election.

As TechCrunch notes, the existence of such a tool was first discovered by Jane Manchun Wong, who often digs through app code for evidence of unreleased features, back in August. At a basic level, the idea is that you’ll be able to attach a note to a misleading tweet:

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Misinformation spikes after Trump reveals he has COVID-19

By Amanda Seitz and Beatrice Dupuy | Associated Press

CHICAGO — News Friday that President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19 sparked an explosion of rumors, misinformation and conspiracy theories that in a matter of hours littered the social media feeds of many Americans.

Tweets shared thousands of times claimed Democrats might have somehow intentionally infected the president with the coronavirus during the debates. Others speculated in Facebook posts that maybe the president was faking his illness. And the news also ignited constant conjecture among QAnon followers, who peddle a baseless belief that Trump is a warrior against a secret network of government officials and celebrities that they falsely claim is running a child trafficking ring.

In the final weeks of the presidential campaign, Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis was swept into an online vortex of coronavirus misinformation and the falsehoods swirling around this polarizing election.

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Misinformation spikes as Trump confirms COVID-19 diagnosis

CHICAGO (AP) — News Friday that President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19 sparked an explosion of rumors, misinformation and conspiracy theories that in a matter of hours littered the social media feeds of many Americans.

Tweets shared thousands of times claimed Democrats might have somehow intentionally infected the president with the coronavirus during the debates. Others speculated in Facebook posts that maybe the president was faking his illness. And the news also ignited constant conjecture among QAnon followers, who peddle a baseless belief that Trump is a warrior against a secret network of government officials and celebrities that they falsely claim is running a child trafficking ring.

In the final weeks of the presidential campaign, Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis was swept into an online vortex of coronavirus misinformation and the falsehoods swirling around this polarizing election. Trump himself has driven much of that confusion

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Twitter is building ‘Birdwatch,’ a system to fight misinformation by adding more context to tweets

Twitter is developing a new product called “Birdwatch,” which the company confirms is an attempt at addressing misinformation across its platform by providing more context for tweets, in the form of notes. Tweets can be added to “Birdwatch” — meaning flagged for moderation — from the tweet’s drop-down menu, where other blocking and reporting tools are found today. A small binoculars icon will also appear on tweets published to the Twitter Timeline. When the button is clicked, users are directed to a screen where they can view the tweet’s history of notes.

Based on screenshots of Birdwatch unearthed through reverse engineering techniques, a new tab called “Birdwatch Notes” will be added to Twitter’s sidebar navigation, alongside other existing features like Lists, Topics, Bookmarks and Moments.

This section will allow you to keep track of your own contributions, aka your “Birdwatch Notes.”

The feature was first uncovered this summer in early

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