Anyone who’s been surprised by the role of false news in elections probably wasn’t paying attention in history class. David Robert Grimes, an Oxford University researcher who’s studied misinformation and AIDS, writes in The Guardian that dezinformatsiya campaigns were created and directed by the Russians decades ago. Today, he says, nearly all of us are to blame for the spread of false news.
Quote of the week
“The communities spreading fake news have one weakness:They live in information bubbles and it takes some time for fake news to spread outside their community. We need to exploit that weakness by fighting them at the same time before the contamination of the other communities on social media.” — Gary Machado and Nicolas Vanderbiest writing for Euractiv
Is fact-checking a ‘valuable service’?
It depends, says Slate’s Will Oremus. While the world needs fact-checkers, he says, journalists assume their fact-checking has more power than it actually does.
Fact-checking the vote of no confidence
In Spain, Pablo Iglesias tried (and failed) to force Mariano Rajoy’s government out of power. El Objetivo fact-checked the speeches during the motion for censure.
A fake cat video that wasn’t so funny
Here’s the story of a remarkably tone-deaf press release from a public relations agency representing PETA. Abuse of a cat was faked in the video and the PR agency asked news organizations to go along with it.
Fake news, atrocious Photoshop skills
Chequeado debunks an image tweeted by an Argentine congressman allegedly showing the current President Mauricio Macri grinning in a grainy photo next to former dictator Videla. The photoshop job was so bad it became a meme, with Macri appearing next to Stalin and at Iwo Jima.
Some Twitter how-to’s for bad guys
Want to know how hackers hijack legitimate Twitter accounts? Fortune explains. … Here’s how that fake Time magazine cover photo was so widely distributed and then debunked. … And a New York Times writer explains how a false tweet became a viral fake story.
‘Fake news,’ Facebook and the filter bubble
Writing under the headline “Democracy Never Faced a Threat like Facebook,” the founder of a Russian business publication says Facebook’s efforts to ban fake news does nothing to fix destructive filter bubbles.
Google’s fake-news ‘field trips’
Yasmin Green, the head of research and development at Google’s Alphabet, told the audience at a Wired business conference that her team has taken “lots of field trips” to study fake news. Those trips included Iraq and Macedonia.
Not all incorrect statements are self-aggrandizing
Fact-checkers are accustomed to politicians exaggerating their results or underplaying their failures. Less common is when they understate the good news, as Africa Check found with Jacob Zuma and HIV-positive births in South Africa.
How are you feeling these days?
Feeling demoralized? Used? It might be a case of media manipulation, which is more harmful and sinister than fake news, says Jeff Jarvis.
An award-winning story to read again
Eric Alterman’s commentary about the 2016 U.S. election in “The Nation” won a top award this week in the Mirror competition for media industry reporting. We recommend reading it again for Alterman’s body-slam of the “he said-she said” style of journalism — a traditional writing style that lacks factual focus and usefulness.
13 quick fact-checking links
(1) The CEO of a global journalism organization says fake news “can be turned to our advantage.” (2) Forbes fact-checks President Trump’s economic tweets while Trump tweets that media doesn’t report good economic news. (3) Here are some fake news stories “that have rocked Africa.” (4) CQ takes a detailed look — including a timeline and bibliography — at journalism’s history of trust, fact-checking and more. (5) The U.S. celebrated Flag Day this week, and a television station knocked down some misinformation about the nation’s flag. (6) WikiTribune surveyed its potential readers and found some interesting things, including the percentage of respondents who subscribed because they’re tired of “fake news.” (7) A lot of people are killed by guns in America, but it’s not 93 million a day. (8) For Donald Trump’s 71st birthday, Libération compiled a list of 71 dubious claims he made over the years. (9) How should you interview conspiracy theorists? Some tips. (10) New tragedy, new round of misinformation. (11) The UK’s fact-checkers have been busy; here’s what Full Fact has done during this election. (12) There’s a new fact-checking effort in Paraguay. (13) The world-traveling “Truth Booth” visits Australia this week.