— Thomas Carlyle, who died on this date in 1881
The one who inhibits and suppresses the expression of truth-seeking (and falsehood-exposing), even should the suppressor be right in a given matter, is a malefactor. In dishonoring truth and persecuting the allegedly erroneous one, he does more harm than the propagation of error ever could.
Amazon’s Home Security Company Is Turning Everyone Into Cops Motherboard
Facebook’s entire business model is in danger after it was given an unprecedented kicking by an EU regulator Business Insider (David L)
Dozens of Cities Have Secretly Experimented With Predictive Policing Software Motherboard. Resilc: “With all the gunz we have in USA USA, I wonder how many cameras will be shot out or laser blinded?”
US Senators Ask DHS To Look Into US Government Workers Using Foreign VPNs ZDNet
Beware Trojan horse of proposed E-commerce rules IPS News
Jeff Bezos Protests the Invasion of his Privacy as Amazon Builds a Sprawling Surveillance State For Everyone Else Intercept
Jeff Bezos’ investigator suspects ‘a government agency’ intercepted Amazon CEO’s text messages Boing Boing. Resilc: “Wow if real”
Fact-checking the State of the Union
1. Repetition made the job easier — but also less interesting.
2. The Super Bowl metaphor is apt.
3. Real-time fact-checking is still the hardest kind.
- Snopes announced that it has withdrawn from its partnership with Facebook, saying the project was too labor-intensive for its remote staff. ABC News has also reportedly stopped participating and the AP is reevaluating its role. Meanwhile, debunking site Lead Stories has joined the partnership and will us its Trendolizer platform to identify viral false stories, images and videos to flag on Facebook.
- A new report from The Knight Commission on Trust, Media & Democracy includes some recommendations aimed at Big Tech. One of the commissioners, author and former USA Today editor Joanne Lipman, outlines them here. Meanwhile, Brendan Nyhan and Patrick Ball wrote that employees at tech companies should put more internal pressure on their bosses to change anti-misinformation policies.
- Facebook and YouTube are key platforms for the amplification of antivaxxer misinformation, The Guardian reported. While YouTube said just a couple of weeks ago that it would start downranking conspiracy theories in its recommendation algorithms, it appears that it hasn’t really been working so far. And health misinformation is a growing problem for the platforms: new fact-checking project Health Feedback found that 7 out of 10 of the most popular health stories of 2018 included at least one piece of misinformation.
- Ivory Coast minister Alain Lobognan was imprisoned on “false news” charges after tweeting about how a state prosecutor had arrested another MP. But Lobognan said he was arrested for political reasons — not spreading false information. Ivory Coast is just the latest sub-Saharan African to imprison someone on false news charges for a tweet, albeit among the few that have imprisoned politicians.
- Columnists continue to write about U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) run-in with fact-checkers — and criticize their alleged false equivalence. Sigh.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has launched her own fact-checking project as part of her 2020 campaign for U.S. president. The move is part of a global pattern of politicians copying fact-checkers’ format to push back on their critics.
...the future of news
- NewsGuard, a startup that rates the credibility of different websites, has come under fire for its grading system in recent weeks. But it also has an unintended positive consequence: Getting news sites to improve their transparency.
- Here’s how Chequeado is leveraging automated technology to make its fact-checking process more efficient and effective. Maybe it’s time to revisit this fact sheet published by the Reuters Institute last year on how close we are to automated fact-checking.
- We spend a lot of time in this newsletter talking about the threat that misinformation poses around the world — and how that threat is changing. But in a new study released this week, researchers found that the scope of fake news consumption and its effect on American politics has been overestimated. In a Medium post, Brendan Nyhan wrote that “Fake news consumption is concentrated among a narrow subset of Americans with the most conservative news diets.”
- PolitiFact: “No, New York abortion law doesn't let mothers abort babies a minute before they would be born” (Fact: 31.2K engagements // Fake: 7.2K engagements)
- Factcheck.org: “Pelosi Didn’t Spend $497 Million on Renovations” (Fact: 5.5K engagements // Fake: 1.1K engagements)
- Aos Fatos: “Marina Silva did not license dams of Brumadinho and Mariana; permission came from the government of Minas Gerais” (Fact: 3.3K engagements // Fake: 36.4K engagements)
- Les Décodéurs: “No, this photo does not show Edouard Philippe sleeping in the National Assembly” (Fact: 3.3K engagements // Fake: 23.8K engagements)
- Full Fact: “Are dogs dying from eating jerky treats?” (Fact: 245 engagements // Fake: 30.3K engagements)
- The Agence France-Presse has expanded its fact-checking endeavors to Arabic. The AFP has also posted fact-checker jobs in Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
- A Macedonian military official was behind a series of fake news sites first identified by Lead Stories and Nieuwscheckers.
- Digiday published a guide for understanding the different ways people commit digital ad fraud.
- The New York Times’ Jack Nicas took a closer look at the numbers of fake accounts Facebook have reported in recent years and asked the question: Does the company *actually* know how many there are?
- Anticipating attempts by bad actors to suppress participation in its 2020 census count, the U.S. government is developing a plan to fight back, according to NextGov.
- U.K. Digital Minister Margot James said the government would make efforts to crack down on social media platforms that she said have "fallen short" in responding to online bullying, abuse and misinformation.
- WhatsApp is trying to battle fake news in India by tinkering with its app, bolstering local fact-checking organizations and airing national ads. The Los Angeles Times reported on those moves, saying WhatsApp’s efforts are seen as a test of parent company Facebook’s commitment to solving its fake news problem.
- Popular debunking tool InVid is seeing some features restricted for Facebook videos after the company decided to reevaluate its participation.
- Jules Darmanin, formerly of BuzzFeed France, is heading up the FactCheckEU project, which will unite European fact-checkers ahead of this year’s parliamentary elections.
- Facebook took down hundreds of accounts linked to a fake news syndicate in Indonesia.