Monday, November 02, 2020

The fight against fake news and electoral disinformation


The Clandestine Poet | The Russell Kirk Center 

What a wonderfully accurate self-image, the clandestine poet! The principal job of the Office of the Revisor of Statutes is the compilation of the state’s official statutory code. Creating that code goes hand in hand with keeping quiet about political subjects; one could lose the job for being considered a partisan of any kind. The poet had to pose as tight-lipped civil servant; anything she said about public affairs for all those years had to be veiled, or “in code.”

 Oxford University Press Blog: “Just as COVID-19 is a stress test of every nation’s health system, an election process is a stress test of a nation’s information and communication system. A week away from the US presidential election, the symptoms are not so promising. News reports about the spread of so-called “fake news,” disinformation, and conspiracy theories are thriving as they did in 2016. Disinformation and “fake news” are not new, but the 2016 US presidential election placed the phenomenon squarely onto the international agenda. The spread of false and manipulated information dressed as news is closely associated with social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. In a 2018 study, researchers examined the exposure to misinformation during the American election campaign in 2016; they found that Facebook was a key vector of exposure to fake news. It becomes harder to differentiate between false and trusted information when supposedly everyone can publish and spread information online that looks like news to large groups of people. The spread of disinformation and conspiracy theories has been identified as a problem in several states, for example in Florida, and news publications, such as the New York Times, are daily tracking viral misinformation ahead of the 2020 election. While disinformation and foreign influence was of great concern in the 2016 election,  disinformation from domestic sources is additionally reported as a major threat in the 2020 US election. The spread of fake new, rumors, and conspiracy theories is problematic in itself, but the main damage of such orchestrated campaigns might be the systematic erosion of citizens’ capacity to recognize facts, the undermining of established science, and the sowing of confusion about what is real or not…”

Brookings – “But what about Trump’s online speech? Just as he targets his opponents in rallies and speeches, he also takes to Twitter to dole out criticism and ad hominem attacks. Here, we examine three recent tweets from the president and whether his tweets have a similarly negative impact on the quality of other online speech. These three tweets offer a case study in how elite speech online can impact the incidence of harmful speech. The tweets in question are not obviously threatening in nature—they fall into a well-documented trend of Trump attacking politicians on Twitter while remaining in-bounds of platforms’ content moderation policies. But that does not mean that they do not impact the overall quality of online discourse. Our findings highlight the challenges platforms face as they define their content moderation guidelines and systems in the lead-up to, and aftermath of, the election…”

A list of 53 reasons to vote this year. "46. Because many thousands of Americans have died needlessly from Covid-19." (That should actually have been #1.)

One Last Time, With Feeling: VOTE.