alt_facts   40

We’ve been told we’re living in a post-truth age. Don’t believe it.
We’ve been told that facts have lost their power, that debunking lies only makes them stronger, and that the internet divides us. Don’t believe any of it.
Ten years ago last fall, Washington Post science writer Shankar Vedantam published an alarming scoop: The truth was useless.
His story started with a flyer issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to counter lies about the flu vaccine. The flyer listed half a dozen statements labeled either “true” or “false”—“Not everyone can take flu vaccine,” for example, or “The side effects are worse than the flu” —along with a paragraph of facts corresponding to each one. Vedantam warned the flyer’s message might be working in reverse. When social psychologists had asked people to read it in a lab, they found the statements bled together in their minds. Yes, the side effects are worse than the flu, they told the scientists half an hour later. That one was true—I saw it on the flyer.
This wasn’t just a problem with vaccines. According to Vedantam, a bunch of peer-reviewed experiments had revealed a somber truth about the human mind: Our brains are biased to believe in faulty information, and corrections only make that bias worse.
truth  factcheck  propaganda  alt_facts  fake_news 
20 days ago by rgl7194
Trump Discovers the Costs of Undermining Truth - The Atlantic
At the same time that the president sows doubt and confusion to undermine his adversaries, he finds those forces depriving him of credit he believes he deserves.
A long weekend with lots of executive time, simmering tensions with politicians of both parties, a looming government shutdown: It’s the most potent cocktail that Donald Trump, a teetotaler, could imbibe, and it produced a predictably jarring and erratic series of statements.
Over the course of several days, mostly in tweets, Trump tried to make three points. First, he sought to discredit the idea that he had referred to African nations as “shithole countries” and said, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” (Trump also declared to a reporter that he was “the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”) Second, he jockeyed for position in negotiations over funding the government, arguing Democrats were imperiling the military as he tried to preemptively shift blame to them. Finally, for good measure, he whined a little bit that he doesn’t get more credit for what he’s done:
Do you notice the Fake News Mainstream Media never likes covering the great and record setting economic news, but rather talks about anything negative or that can be turned into the negative. The Russian Collusion Hoax is dead, except as it pertains to the Dems. Public gets it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2018
trump  truth  gov2.0  politics  twitter  fake_news  alt_facts 
5 weeks ago by rgl7194
Kelly Does Trump’s Dirty Work and Stains His Reputation - WhoWhatWhy
“I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”
Originally, this quote from 20th-century Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw meant that one shouldn’t wrestle against a pig. Nowadays, it could be interpreted to mean that if you are fighting on the side of Donald Trump, you will inevitably be dragged in the mud.
The latest case in point is White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. The retired Marine Corps general had previously enjoyed a stellar reputation in Washington, DC, and he is one of the “adults in the room” who are supposed to be a positive influence on an erratic president.
That’s clearly not happening, because when Trump picked yet another (!!!) fight with a gold-star family, Kelly dutifully followed his boss into the gutter.
trump  gov2.0  politics  military  reputation  truth  alt_facts 
october 2017 by rgl7194
Six Features of the Disinformation Age
We are living in a brave new world of disinformation and propaganda, and as long as only its purveyors have the data needed to understand it, the responses we craft will remain inadequate. Because they are also likely to be poorly targeted, they may even end up doing more harm than good.
Concern about the proliferation of disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda has reached the point where many governments are proposing new legislation. But the solutions on offer reflect an inadequate understanding of the problem – and could have negative unintended consequences.
This past June, Germany’s parliament adopted a law that includes a provision for fines of up to €50 million ($59 million) on popular sites like Facebook and YouTube, if they fail to remove “obviously illegal” content, such as hate speech and incitements to violence, within 24 hours. Singapore has announced plans to introduce similar legislation next year to tackle “fake news.”
In July, the US Congress approved sweeping sanctions against Russia, partly in response to its alleged sponsorship of disinformation campaigns aiming to influence US elections. Dialogue between the US Congress and Facebook, Twitter, and Google has intensified in the last few weeks, as clear evidence of campaign-ad purchases by Russian entities has emerged.
propaganda  social_media  fake_news  alt_facts 
october 2017 by rgl7194
Russia’s New ‘Useful Idiots’?
There are echoes of Soviet times in the way Russia has been courting far-right activists in the West. A new book looks at how and why it does it.
Remember Richard Spencer, the U.S. white supremacist whose “alt-right” followers celebrated Donald Trump’s presidential election victory with a show of Nazi salutes?
Back in 2011, Spencer was appearing in another guise, as an expert on Libya, on Russia’s English-language propaganda channel RT. Deriding the West’s strategy, he accused NATO of siding with the “thugs” who killed the Libyan dictator — and erstwhile Western ally — Muammar Gaddafi.
Given the chaos in Libya since, Spencer’s argument hardly looks controversial now. But that’s not why RT and other Russian state-controlled outlets have been so keen to book him and other Western far-right activists as guests.
For the Kremlin’s information machine, these activists serve a bigger purpose, to help promote the narrative of the West in chaos — and thereby also boost the idea of Russia as the alternative global power.
In effect, they are a new version of the “useful idiots” — the term coined for Western supporters of the early communist regime, whom Lenin, and then later Stalin, happily exploited.
But is Russia’s reach-out to the far right actually effective? And how has the Kremlin cultivated the relationship? “Tango Noir: Russia and the Western Far Right,” a new book by Anton Shekhovtsov, who is a specialist on extremist networks, provides some of the answers.
russia  propaganda  KKK  racism  usa  alt_facts  fake_news  election 
october 2017 by rgl7194
Facebook’s role in Trump’s win is clear. No matter what Mark Zuckerberg says. - The Washington Post
What a ridiculous notion, Mark Zuckerberg scoffed shortly after the election, that his social-media company — innocent, well-intentioned Facebook — could have helped Donald Trump’s win.
“Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook . . . influenced the election in any way — I think is a pretty crazy idea,” he said. “Voters make decisions based on their lived experience.”
In fact, voters make their decisions based on many factors, not just their “lived experience.”
Disinformation spread on Facebook clearly was one — a big one. That was obvious in November. It was obvious in April when Facebook, to its credit, announced some moves to combat the spread of lies in the form of news stories.
trump  facebook  politics  fake_news  alt_facts  hillary  election 
september 2017 by rgl7194
Who owns Snopes? Fracas over fact-checking site now front and center | Ars Technica
Snopes' parent company was split—one half may be held by 5 men, or a single company.
As of Tuesday evening,, one of the Internet’s most longstanding fact-checking websites, successfully raised over $600,000 in less than 48 hours—an effort to stay afloat while an ugly legal battle is underway.
Snopes’ founder, David Mikkelson, told Ars in a lengthy phone interview that a Web development company, Proper Media, and two of its founders have essentially held the website "hostage" for months, keeping both data and money that should have gone to Snopes’ parent company, Bardav.
rumor  factcheck  politics  alt_facts  fake_news 
july 2017 by rgl7194
What is Media Literacy? | Media Literacy Project
For centuries, literacy has referred to the ability to read and write. Today, we get most of our information through an interwoven system of media technologies. The ability to read many types of media has become an essential skill in the 21st Century. Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media. Media literate youth and adults are better able to understand the complex messages we receive from television, radio, Internet, newspapers, magazines, books, billboards, video games, music, and all other forms of media. Media literacy skills are included in the educational standards of every state—in language arts, social studies, health, science, and other subjects.  Many educators have discovered that media literacy is an effective and engaging way to apply critical thinking skills to a wide range of issues. 
Media Literacy Project’s approach to media literacy education comes from a media justice framework. Media Justice speaks to the need to go beyond creating greater access to the same old media structure. Media Justice takes into account history, culture, privilege, and power. We need new relationships with media and a new vision for its control, access, and structure. Media Justice understands that this will require new policies, new systems that treat our airways and our communities as more than markets.
media  literacy  social_media  education  fake_news  alt_facts  propaganda 
june 2017 by rgl7194
"Most common way that fake news spreads is from laziness" - Aric Toler (Bellingcat)
Do you think facts can defeat propaganda in this so called “post-truth” epoch, when things are said without any and they  influence political decisions and geopolitics. Do journalists need to invent new tools to effectively resist propaganda and fake news?
I don’t think tools are the answer. The most common way that fake news spreads is from laziness. See the recent account published by the New York Times a fake story about the electronic jamming and an American plane over the Black Sea. That would have been stopped by journalists being more responsible and understanding sources. No tool can stop that.
ukraine  russia  fake_news  alt_facts  propaganda 
june 2017 by rgl7194
There are now 114 fact-checking initiatives in 47 countries
Facts may be passé, but fact-checking appears to be a growth industry.
The latest figures by the Duke Reporters’ Lab indicate there are 114 dedicated fact-checking teams in 47 countries. When the Lab first counted up fact-checkers in 2014, the same number was 44.
While some of this increase is a matter of identification rather than creation — Duke is recognizing existing fact-checkers it hadn’t previously counted — a good part of it is new initiatives.
The growth is all the more remarkable considering that the United States, by far the country with the largest group of dedicated projects, has transitioned out of an election year.
politics  fake_news  alt_facts  factcheck 
april 2017 by rgl7194
How to Spot Visualization Lies
It used to be that we’d see a poorly made graph or a data design goof, laugh it up a bit, and then carry on. At some point though — during this past year especially — it grew more difficult to distinguish a visualization snafu from bias and deliberate misinformation.
Of course, lying with statistics has been a thing for a long time, but charts tend to spread far and wide these days. There’s a lot of them. Some don’t tell the truth. Maybe you glance at it and that’s it, but a simple message sticks and builds. Before you know it, Leonardo DiCaprio spins a top on a table and no one cares if it falls or continues to rotate.
So it’s all the more important now to quickly decide if a graph is telling the truth. This a guide to help you spot the visualization lies.
truth  alt_facts  propaganda  visualization  data 
april 2017 by rgl7194
10 Investigative Reporting Outlets to Follow
Here are some new organizations, as well as a few established ones, that are working to uncover the truth.
We’ve just started a new series highlighting some of the best, in-depth investigative journalism that is uncovering real news, revealing wrongdoing and fomenting change. As a compendium, here are 10 investigative reporting outlets that are worth following if they’re not already on your radar.
news  truth  politics  gov2.0  alt_facts  fake_news 
april 2017 by rgl7194
A Major New Study Shows That Political Polarization Is Mainly A Right-Wing Phenomenon | WGBH News
A major new study of social-media sharing patterns shows that political polarization is more common among conservatives than liberals — and that the exaggerations and falsehoods emanating from right-wing media outlets such as Breitbart News have infected mainstream discourse.
Though the report, published by the Columbia Journalism Review, does an excellent job of laying out the challenge posed by Breitbart and its ilk, it is less than clear on how to counter it. Successfully standing up for truthful reporting in this environment “could usher in a new golden age for the Fourth Estate,” the authors write. But members of the public who care about such journalism are already flocking to news organizations like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and, locally, The Boston Globe, all of which have experienced a surge in paid subscriptions since the election of President Trump. That’s heartening, but there are no signs that it’s had any effect on the popularity or influence of the right-wing partisan media.
gov2.0  politics  psychology  fake_news  alt_facts  social_media  news 
march 2017 by rgl7194
Donald Trump Finally Pays a Price for His False and Reckless Words - The New Yorker
As a Presidential candidate, Donald Trump led a charmed existence. Whatever he said, no matter how outrageous, it didn’t seem to hurt him. He could insult his Republican opponents, make misogynistic comments about female journalists, call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, describe Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers, trot out blatant falsehoods by the dozen, encourage the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s e-mail account—none of it proved damaging to his candidacy. As he famously remarked, it was as if he could go out and shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue “and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
Now things have changed. He might never admit it, but Trump has belatedly discovered a basic principle of politics: words matter. They matter so much, in fact, that they can make or break a Presidency. That’s why every one of his predecessors—during the modern era, at least—has chosen his words carefully. It took a few weeks for it to become clear that President Trump, as opposed to candidate Trump, would be subject to this principle. But, at this stage, there can be no doubt about it. Virtually every day brings a fresh example of his own loose words coming back to hurt him.
trump  politics  gov2.0  fake_news  alt_facts 
march 2017 by rgl7194
Three kinds of propaganda, and what to do about them / Boing Boing
Jonathan Stray summarizes three different strains of propaganda, analyzing why they work, and suggesting counter-tactics: in Russia, it's about flooding the channel with a mix of lies and truth, crowding out other stories; in China, it's about suffocating arguments with happy-talk distractions, and for trolls like Milo Yiannopoulos, it's weaponizing hate, outraging people so they spread your message to the small, diffused minority of broken people who welcome your message and would otherwise be uneconomical to reach.
Stray cites some of the same sources I've written about here: Tucker Max's analysis of Yiannopoulos's weaponized hate and The Harvard Institute for Quantitative Science team's first-of-its kind analysis of leaked messages directing the activities of the "50-cent army, which overwhelms online Chinese conversation with upbeat cheerleading (think of Animal Farm's sheep-bleating, or Nineteen Eighty-Four's quackspeak).
propaganda  russia  china  fake_news  alt_facts  politics  gov2.0  social_media 
march 2017 by rgl7194
Defense Against the Dark Arts: Networked Propaganda and Counter-Propaganda | Jonathan Stray
In honor of MisinfoCon this weekend, it’s time for a brain dump on propaganda — that is, getting large numbers of people to believe something for political gain. Many of my journalist and technologist colleagues have started to think about propaganda in the wake of the US election, and related issues like “fake news” and organized trolling. My goal here is to connect this new wave of enthusiasm to history and research.
This post is about persuasion. I’m not going to spend much time on the ethics of these techniques, and even less on the question of who is actually right on any particular point. That’s for another conversation. Instead, I want to talk about what works. All of these methods are just tools, and some are more just than others. Think of this as Defense Against the Dark Arts.
Let’s start with the nation states. Modern intelligence services have been involved in propaganda for a very long time and they have many names for it: information warfare, political influence operations, disinformation, psyops. Whatever you want to call it, it pays to study the masters.
propaganda  russia  china  fake_news  alt_facts  politics  gov2.0  social_media 
march 2017 by rgl7194
A Survey of Propaganda - Schneier on Security
This is an excellent survey article on modern propaganda techniques, how they work, and how we might defend ourselves against them.
Cory Doctorow summarizes the techniques on BoingBoing: Russia, it's about flooding the channel with a mix of lies and truth, crowding out other stories; in China, it's about suffocating arguments with happy-talk distractions, and for trolls like Milo Yiannopoulos, it's weaponizing hate, outraging people so they spread your message to the small, diffused minority of broken people who welcome your message and would otherwise be uneconomical to reach.
As to defense: "Debunking doesn't work: provide an alternative narrative."
propaganda  russia  china  fake_news  alt_facts  politics  gov2.0  social_media 
march 2017 by rgl7194
The fake news phenomenon: How it spreads, and how to fight it
This past weekend, Northeastern University and Harvard University co-hosted a conference on fake news and how to combat it. Experts ranging from network scientists and psychologists to social media gurus, journalists, and political scientists convened at Harvard’s law school to bring their knowledge to bear and determine what can be done to stem the pernicious flow of misinformation.
“A well-functioning democracy requires a healthy ecosystem of truth-tellers,” said David Lazer, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Science at Northeastern and co-director of the university’s NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. “Citizens need to be informed, and we need institutions to communicate what’s happening in the world. In a democracy, we have to respect these enduring differences in a body politick, but the fact that there’s legitimate diversity doesn’t mean that all presentations of reality are legitimate.”
Along with Harvard professor Matthew Baum, Lazer co-organized the conference, which he said was aimed at catalyzing research and action on this issue. Here are some of the highlights from the conference, which featured several panel discussions.
fake_news  alt_facts  propaganda  social_media  politics  trump  russia 
february 2017 by rgl7194
Fake news. It’s complicated
To understand the misinformation ecosystem, here’s a break down of the types of fake content, content creators motivations and how it’s being disseminated
By now we’ve all agreed the term “fake news” is unhelpful, but without an alternative, we’re left awkwardly using air quotes whenever we utter the phrase. The reason we’re struggling with a replacement is because this is about more than news, it’s about the entire information ecosystem. And the term fake doesn’t begin to describe the complexity of the different types of misinformation (the inadvertent sharing of false information) and disinformation (the deliberate creation and sharing of information known to be false).
To understand the current information ecosystem, we need to break down three elements:
The different types of content that are being created and shared
The motivations of those who create this content
The ways this content is being disseminated
fake_news  alt_facts  propaganda  russia  ukraine  politics  news  trump 
february 2017 by rgl7194
FBI refused White House request to knock down recent Trump-Russia stories -
Washington (CNN)The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN.
But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate.
White House officials had sought the help of the bureau and other agencies investigating the Russia matter to say that the reports were wrong and that there had been no contacts, the officials said. The reports of the contacts were first published by The New York Times and CNN on February 14.
trump  gov2.0  politics  russia  FBI  alt_facts  news 
february 2017 by rgl7194

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