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Study Finds Explosion in Fake News on Social Media

Craig Timberg - Washington Post
go to original
July 17, 2017



4 Ways to Spot a Fake News Story (HowStuffWorks)

Campaigns to manipulate public opinion through false or misleading social media postings have become standard political practice across much of the world, with information ministries, specialized military units and political operatives shaping the flow of information in dozens of countries, a British research group reported Monday.

These propaganda efforts exploit every major social media platform — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and beyond — and rely on both human users and computerized “bots” that can dramatically amplify the power of disinformation campaigns by automating the process of preparing and delivering posts. Bots interact with human users and also with other bots.

Though most social media platforms are designed and run by corporations based the United States, the platforms are infiltrated almost immediately upon their release to the public by a range of international actors skilled at using information to advance political agendas, both within their own countries and often beyond, said the researchers from Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Research Project.

“The government propaganda evolved with social media and has grown along with it,” said Philip N. Howard, an Oxford professor and co-author of the report, called “Troops, trolls and trouble makers: A global inventory of organized social media manipulation.”

The report draws on news accounts of social media propaganda in 29 countries to reach broader conclusions about the global growth of various techniques, including issuing false news reports, attacking journalists or countering critical social media posts with messages supporting a government position or political view.

... Howard said he and the report’s other lead researcher, Oxford’s Samantha Bradshaw, were struck by how much of the propaganda activity and innovation happened in Western-style democracies, including Britain, the United States, Israel, Australia and Mexico.

Read the rest at Mercury News

Related: The Clandestine Efforts Behind Fake News (The Washington Post)

Related: How Bots Win Friends and Influence People (The Computational Propaganda Project)

Related: Government 'Cyber Troops' Manipulate Facebook, Twitter, Study Says (Bloomberg)

Related: Journalism Is Dying and Content Marketing Is Taking Its Place (I Know Because I Do Both) (Truthout)

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