Bots and Russian trolls spread misinformation about vaccines on Twitter to sow division and distribute malicious content before and during the American presidential election, according to a new study. Scientists at George Washington University, in Washington DC, made the discovery while trying to improve social media communications for public health workers, researchers said. Instead, they found trolls and bots skewing online debate and upending consensus about vaccine safety. The study discovered several accounts, now known to belong to the same Russian trolls who interfered in the US election, as well as marketing and malware bots, tweeting about vaccines. Russian trolls played both sides, the researchers said, tweeting pro- and anti-vaccine content in a politically charged context. “These trolls seem to be using vaccination as a wedge issue, promoting discord in American society,” Mark Dredze, a team member and professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins, which was also involved in the study, said.
Posts tagged news
The skill of intelligently reading the news is one that is not taught in our schools. But with some easy tricks, and a change in awareness, you can help protect yourself against fake news, hoaxes, and even poor reporting. It takes time to develop these skills, but it is not difficult or labor intensive.
The Disinformation Review collects examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation all around Europe and beyond. Every week, it exposes the breadth of this campaign, showing the countries and languages targeted. We’re always looking for new partners to cooperate with us for that. The Disinformation Review is a collection of disinformation examples sent to the EEAS East StratCom Task Force from a network of over 400 journalists, civil society organisations, academics and public authorities in over 30 countries. The East Stratcom Task Force provides an analysis of the trends emerging from the reports received. Opinions and judgements expressed here do not represent official EU positions.
Just months after the discovery that Facebook’s “trending” news module was curated and tweaked by human beings, the company has eliminated its editors and left the algorithm to do its job. The results, so far, are a disaster.
Over the weekend, the fully automated Facebook trending module pushed out a false story about Fox News host Megyn Kelly, a controversial piece about a comedian’s four-letter word attack on rightwing pundit Ann Coulter, and links to an article about a video of a man masturbating with a McDonald’s chicken sandwich.
The dismissal of the trending module team appears to have been a long-term plan at Facebook. A source told the Guardian the trending module was meant to have “learned” from the human editors’ curation decisions and was always meant to eventually reach full automation.
People playing the popular smartphone game Pokémon Go in Bosnia have been urged to avoid areas littered with unexploded mines left over from the 1990s conflict. “Today we received information that some users of the Pokémon Go app in Bosnia were going to places which are a risk for (unexploded) mines, in search of a pokemon,” the NGO Posavina bez mina said on its Facebook page. “Citizens are urged no to do so, to respect demarcation signs of dangerous mine fields and not to go into unknown areas,” it added. The new mobile app, which is based on a 1990s Nintendo game, has created a global frenzy as players roam the real world looking for cartoon characters.
Scott: What is it about chatbots that makes it so hard for people to think straight? Is the urge to pontificate about our robot-ruled future so overwhelming, that people literally can’t see the unimpressiveness of what’s right in front of them?