Pinterest, LinkedIn, NextDoor deal with election disinformation

Those social networks have long struggled with the misinformation runoff from bigger rivals, like Facebook and Twitter, who have worked to stifle the spread of election disinformation on their sites. Those tech giants have spent months preparing for this period, marshaling tens of thousands of content moderators to slap labels on posts, hide tweets and even shutting off political ads.

The more misinformation circulates on the large social networks, the more it trickles down to the smaller sites better known for posting wedding photos, connecting with potential employers and complaining about a neighbor’s dog.

“Of course, the Internet is a space without borders, and that means the conspiracy theories and propaganda and misinformation does not remain static across platforms,” said Samuel Woolley, program director of propaganda research at the University of Texas’s Center for Media Engagement.

In the past week, misinformation and conspiracy theories have surged across the board online

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Facebook’s latest attempt to slow disinformation means probation for groups

Facebook has started putting some groups on a type of probation, its latest move to slow the spread of disinformation and attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the U.S. election.



graphical user interface, text: The 2020 Election Facebook page


© Gabby Jones/Bloomberg News
The 2020 Election Facebook page

Any group, public or private, the company detects has too many posts that violate its community standards will be forced to have administrators and moderators approve each submission manually. The requirement will stay in place for 60 days for the group, with no way to appeal or override it.

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The company will be closely monitoring how group administrators and moderators handle posts during those three months, and could decide to shut a group down completely if it repeatedly allows too many offending posts. The change makes the volunteers who run groups more responsible for what happens inside them.

“We are temporarily requiring admins and moderators of some political and

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Wikipedia’s Disinformation Task Force Readies for Election Day on Cheddar

Wikipedia has joined the ranks of online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google to take steps to prevent disinformation on Election Day. 

“When we talk about disinformation, what we mean is coordinated attempts to misinform the public, to get people to think about something that is incorrect or to get people to do something based on false information,” Ryan Merkley, chief of staff at the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit behind the online encyclopedia, told Cheddar. “When we talk about misinformation, what we mostly mean is when those attempts are successful and well-meaning folks who actually believe that information spread it even further.”

In order to combat both mis- and disinformation, the nonprofit has assembled a special task force of technical, legal, and communication staff to provide support to the thousands of unpaid volunteers who the site relies on to write and edit entries. 

“The number one defense against disinformation

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Is there a website spreading election disinformation in Washington state?

Answer: No, but election officials thought there was.

Last week, the Washington state Secretary of State’s Office issued a statement warning voters about a new website, votewashington.info, that allowed Washington voters to type in their name and view their ballot status. The website was not an official site of the Secretary of State, and officials feared it may be an attempt by bad actors to interfere with the 2020 election and provide disinformation to voters. Officials reported the site to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

However, DHS’ investigation quickly revealed that the site had been created by two technologists and residents of the state of Washington who just wanted to help get important information out to voters. Their site used publicly available information, including from the Secretary of State’s Office, to allow voters to, among other things, look up the current status of their ballot.

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Disinformation Moves From Social Networks to Texts

Last week, a political action committee called the American Principles Project unveiled a new video on Twitter falsely claiming that Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden Jr. supported sex changes for 8-year-olds.

Since Friday, a similar video has also appeared on Facebook as many as 100,000 times — primarily in Michigan, a swing state in the Nov. 3 election.

What has been harder to pinpoint is how widely the video has been spreading through text messages.

Though companies like Facebook and Twitter have developed tools for tracking and policing disinformation on their social networks, texting activity is largely a free-for-all that receives little scrutiny from tech companies and government regulators.

“There is no way to audit this,” said Jacob Gursky, a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin. “Organizations are just collecting cellphone numbers from data brokers and mass-texting people.”

The video circulated in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania

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Minority communities fighting back against disinformation ahead of election

Before many had even heard of Russian troll farms, back in 2014, Shafiqah Hudson and I’Nasah Crockett, two Black Twitter users with no technical or law enforcement background, helped curb disinformation by using an inventive hashtag.

Hudson spotted a number of Twitter accounts purporting to be Black feminists that appeared to be purposely sowing division, calling for an end to Father’s Day and using the hashtag #endfathersday.

“A lot of tweets featured really terrible approximations of African American Vernacular English, or AAVE,” Hudson told ABC News. “And you can’t fake AAVE.”

An online friend of Hudson’s, Crockett did some digging and discovered a few of these bad

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Canadian professor’s website helps Russia spread disinformation, says U.S. State Department

As U.S. authorities guard against dirty tricks from foreign adversaries in the run-up to the Nov. 3 presidential election, an unlikely source has come under new scrutiny as a major conduit of Russian-linked disinformation: a Montreal-based website run by a retired University of Ottawa professor.

The platform, Global Research, features a Canadian domain name and offers an ever-expanding collection of conspiracy theories, such as the myth that the 9/11 attacks and COVID-19 pandemic were both planned in order to control the population. The website also hosts articles experts have attributed to a Russian spy agency.

With more than 275,000 Facebook followers and a potential readership in excess of 350,000 per article, the U.S. State Department has identified the site as having the single-biggest reach among “Kremlin-aligned” disinformation sites.

“This is part of a larger effort to sow disarray and distrust within Western democracies,” said James Andrew Lewis, a senior researcher

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