There is now a settlement investigation against the president of the United States, and today we read a credible complaint from a whistleblower claiming that the president had sought the help of a foreign nation in interfering with the 2020 elections heard some threatening audio of him who discussed the whistleblower with his staff.) The whistleblower further claimed that the White House had covered everything by moving the transcript of the request for foreign interference to "a separate system reserved for confidential information that is particularly sensitive", because the New York Times described it. That's a pretty good story about technology and democracy, but it's not real our a kind of story about technology and democracy, so here we are with a newsletter about our kind of stories about technology and democracy on a day when it could be forgiven that you just want to read about the kind of whistleblower.
That is a long way to say that I forgive you if you want to skip today's news and instead read only interpreters and Twitter discussions about accusation. It's the biggest story in the world right now and it's all taking place in new and exciting and probably frightening ways on all of our major social platforms, and if you want to read some speculation about how I'd point you to this smart piece by Kevin Roose on the subject (extract below).
But say that you have read all your accusations today and would like to enjoy an old-fashioned story of platform-based information warfare. In that case, I can recommend a new report from Oxford University researchers on the use of disinformation campaigns by governments around the world. And the use is … well, I bet you can guess!
The researchers collected information from news organizations, civil society organizations and governments to make one of the most comprehensive inventories of disinformation practices of governments around the world. They found that the number of countries with political disinformation campaigns had more than doubled to 70 in the last two years, with evidence that at least one political party or government entity in each of those countries was involved in social media manipulation.
Moreover, Facebook remains the number 1 social network for disinformation, according to the report. Organized propaganda campaigns were found on the platform in 56 countries.
You can read the report here yourself. Personally, I found it useful to simply read a simple guide to the varieties of state-sponsored information attacks – most of which have of course been used for a long time by more garden variety trolls.
Cyber troops use different communication strategies.
We have divided these activities into four categories:
(1) creating disinformation or manipulated media;
(2) massive reporting of content or accounts;
(3) data-driven strategies;
(4) trolling, intoxicating or harassing;
(5) increase online content and media.
Creating disinformation or manipulated media is the most common communication strategy. In 52 of the 70 countries we investigated, cyber troops actively created content such as memes, videos & fake news websites or manipulated media to mislead users. Sometimes the content created by cyber groups is targeted at specific communities or user segments. By using users' online and offline data sources and paying for advertisements on popular social media platforms, some cyber groups target specific communities with disinformation or manipulated media.
Most of these strategies are fairly inexpensive to use, making them so effective. Like the Times reporters note that governments around the world use them for the most obvious purposes: spreading positive stories about governments and destroying discord. This raises the question: why not Lake governments do this?
I suspect they will do that soon, if they are not yet. If security researcher Thaddeus E. Grugq wrote about the Oxford study: "120 countries are lying."
Today in news that could influence public perception of technology platforms.
Trending down: Facebook has raised nearly $ 1.6 million from SPLC-designated hate groups since May 2018, an investigation found. (Tom McKay / Gizmodo)
Trending down: Part 2 of a Guardian investigation TikTok & # 39; s content moderation policy discovered that they go far beyond what is legally required in some countries, banning almost all images of LGBT problems in Turkey. (Alex Hern / The Guardian)
Trending down: Uber stopped his own special investigation team, handling complaints from driver and driver, from reporting crimes to the police. The team was also unable to advise crime victims to seek legal advice. (Sean O & # 39; Kane / The edge)
⭐ On Tuesday, House Democrats announced that they were investigating President Trump's allegations. Shortly thereafter a disinformation campaign started. Kevin Roose is thinking about the first accusation of the social media age The New York Times:
As impeachment looms, disinformation experts look for a new cyclone of chaos, complete with rapid media manipulation, a lot of false and misleading claims, and hyper-polarized audiences clinging to the side of their reality.
"We've seen a significant increase in disinformation in the last two days, most of it in trolls and bots, to a degree we haven't seen in a while," said Yoel Grinshpon, vice president of research at VineSight, a start – up that detects disinformation on social media. "We assume that this will take a few days and then come back in waves whenever a new development in the Biden story or the deposition process comes to light."
Facebook stands for (!) a new antitrust investigation by the Ministry of Justice, after prosecutor-general William Barr pokes). The case of the Ministry of Justice will focus on behavior other than what the FTC is investigating. (David McLaughlin / Bloomberg)
YouTube said it will remove content from politicians if it violates company standards, with the exception of videos that are considered educational, news, scientific or artistic value. The move is coming after Facebook announced that it will not delete messages from politicians, even if they are factually incorrect or violate company guidelines. (Julia Alexander / The edge)
The Attorney General's office in Texas comes to investigate possible violations of antitrust law Google. They hired one Microsoft veteran and an economist who participated with Google competitors in the study. (Paresh Dave and Diane Bartz / Reuters)
Microsoft disputes a & # 39; confidentiality order & # 39; from a federal judge forbidding the company to tell a major business customer that the government has issued an order for their data. The case is part of a long-standing battle between Microsoft and the government over "sneaking and peeking" searches where the subject of a federal investigation does not know that their data has been requested or transferred. (Dina Bass / Bloomberg)
The young women who lead the climate movement – many of them teenagers – experience what appears to be coordinated online harassment, including threatening messages, doxxing and hacking. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist, gets the worst of it.
⭐ TikTok & # 39; s efforts to localize content moderation have led the app to ban content that supports the gay community, even in countries where homosexuality has never been illegal. The new rules were applied in addition to general content moderation guidelines, including a ban on a number of political speeches in China (those guidelines were updated in May). This is Alex Hern from The Guardian:
In addition to the general moderation guidelines, described as the & # 39; single version & # 39; for moderators, TapTok has performed at least two other sets.
One, the & # 39; strict & # 39; guidelines, were used in countries with conservative moral codes and contain a considerably more limited set of rules regarding nudity and vulgarity, which include, for example, & # 39; partially bare buttocks & # 39; banned, exposed cleavage with & # 39; a length of more than 1/3 of the whole neck length ”, and long images of sanitary pads.
The other was a set of guidelines for individual countries, which introduced new rules to deal with specific local controversies – but also further limited what can be shown. For example, the Guardian has seen Turkey-specific guidelines in which TikTok explicitly forbade a strip of content regarding Kurdish separatism, and adds the country's father, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and his president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to the list of political leaders who cannot be criticized, defamed or falsified on the platform.
TapTokThe parent company ByteDance is trying to sell its Western news app, called TopBuzz. With the sale, ByteDance can concentrate even more on the growth of TikTok. (Juro Osawa, Shai Oster and Carleton Engels / The information)
Facebook announced this week that it is developing LiveMaps, a 3D, augmented reality version of the world that allows users to access virtual assistants and view relevant information about the artificially generated landscapes around them. But if it succeeds, can users opt out of this new (virtual) reality? (Jessica Conditt / Engadget)
Facebook, next Instagram for the, test hiding Like Like on Posts. Facebook & # 39; s first test will be in Australia to begin with. It started to hide as it counts Instagram in April, first in Canada and now in six other countries. (Josh Constine / TechCrunch)
Google has removed at least 46 apps from the Play Store from iHandy, a major Chinese developer, but won't say why they did it. Google's crackdown on Chinese developers gives cause for concern about the advertising and privacy practices of Android developers based there. (Craig Silverman / BuzzFeed)
Match.com is charged with allegedly linking non-paying daters with fake accounts to have them registered. The lawsuit filed against the Match Group – parent company of Tinder and Hinge – claims that Match.com has notified daters of messages even after the company found that the account that sent the message was fraudulent. (Ashley Carman / The edge)
Nervousness has been given a new name for the first time, with a series of colorful new logos that show the different identities and identities of its users. The new appearance ranges from a traditional and light company logo to a logo that is an ever-changing rainbow. (Mark Wilson / FastCompany)
Zheping Huang van Bloomberg played the popular new reboot of online multiplayer games World of Warcraft, known as WOW Classic, on its Taiwan server and noted that the virtual world of the Azeroth game had become a gathering point for Hong Kong demonstrators:
When I performed my character last weekend in the hyena-occupied Barrens region of Azeroth, I heard the omnipresent scream that was often sung by Hong Kong protesters:
"Free Hong Kong," cried a thief.
"Revolution of our time," a wizard answered.
Huang came to the same conclusion as me. "If there is room for dialogue, there is more room for understanding," he writes. "Even if it can only take place in Azeroth."