• Truth decayAlgorithm identifies fake users on many social networks

    Researchers have developed a new generic method to detect fake accounts on most types of social networks, including Facebook and Twitter. The new method is based on the assumption that fake accounts tend to establish improbable links to other users in the networks.

  • The Russia connectionActivists cry foul as Russian court orders Telegram app blocked

    A Moscow court has issued an order to block access to Telegram, ruling in favor of the state and against the defiant self-exiled Russian entrepreneur who created the popular messaging app. The 13 April ruling was expected, but is certain to deepen concerns that the government is seeking to close avenues for dissent as President Vladimir Putin heads into a new six-year term. Amnesty International warned that blocking Telegram would be “the latest in a series of attacks on online freedom of expression” in Russia.

  • Direct-force replacementFake news and subversion: Waging war without firing a single shot

    Propaganda by way of “fake news” is one way a nation can wage war without firing a single shot. Another is through tactics of subversion and coercion, in which a country intentionally keeps neighboring countries weak in order to advance its own foreign policy interests. “Think of this as a replacement for direct force and warfare of another kind. Countries can advance their own interests without using direct force or taking over territory,” says a researcher.

  • EncryptionRussian court to hear request to block Telegram

    A Russian court says it will begin considering this week a request by state media regulator Roskomnadzor to block the messaging app Telegram. Roskomnadzor has asked the court to block Telegram following the company’s refusal to give the Federal Security Service (FSB) access to users’ messaging data.

  • Terrorism & the DarknetStealth: Terrorists use encryption, the Darknet, and cryptocurrencies

    Terrorists and extremists are increasingly moving their activities online – and areas of the web have become a safe haven for Islamic State to plot its next attacks, according to a report. The report shows how those planning to commit terrorist atrocities are using extremist networks on the Darknet to indoctrinate sympathizers, create a reservoir of propaganda, evade detection and fundraise. It calls for urgent action by government and the policing and security services to step up intelligence gathering and action to counter online extremist activity.

  • Internet freedomRussia seeks to block Telegram in showdown over internet freedom

    Russia’s state media regulator has asked a court to block the messaging app Telegram following the company’s refusal to give the Federal Security Service (FSB) access to users’ messaging data. The move may fuel concerns that Russia is seeking to curtail Internet freedoms following President Vladimir Putin’s 18 March election to a new six-year term.

  • Hate onlineEurope's top court upholds Germany’s law banning displaying Nazi swastika

    The European Court of Human Rights ruled yesterday that German courts acted properly in convicting a German man for posting a picture of Nazi war criminal and SS leader Heinrich Himmler in SS uniform bearing a swastika. The court argued that German authorities had not undermined freedom of expression given the country’s history. Under German law, displaying Nazi symbols is illegal, and these symbols can be shown exclusively for educational purposes.

  • Truth decayThe ruse of “fake news”

    By Peter Reuell

    As Americans increasingly turn to social media as their primary source for news and information, the dangers posed by the phenomenon of “fake news” are growing. Researchers want to use science to combat techniques that can make the true seem false, and the reverse.

  • Disaster responseSeparating factual from fake messages during a crisis

    How well can you tell facts from fake on social media? How about in a crisis? DHS S&T, together with Canadian partners, concluded the fifth Canada-U.S. Enhanced Resiliency Experiment (CAUSE V) event last year, running drills involving the hypothetical eruption of Mt. Baker, an active volcano in the Pacific Northwest. As part of the simulation, a group of digital disaster services volunteers practiced separating fact from fiction on the web, with the mission of keeping responders informed during the event.

  • Truth decayPropagating online conspiracies

    Due to the Internet, conspiracy theories are on the rise and playing an increasingly significant role in global politics. Now new research has analyzed digital data to reveal exactly who is propagating them and why. The researchers said that conspiracies such as Pizzagate (which falsely claimed high-ranking Democratic Party officials were running a child-sex ring out of a pizza shop) and the anti-vaccination movement are becoming a bigger issue.

  • Truth decayWhy you stink at fact-checking

    By Lisa Fazio

    People are very bad at picking up on factual errors in the world around them. Research from cognitive psychology shows that people are naturally poor fact-checkers and it is very difficult for us to compare things we read or hear to what we already know about a topic. In what’s been called an era of “fake news,” this reality has important implications for how people consume journalism, social media and other public information.

  • Digital privacyPrivacy of Americans not protected in omnibus spending bill

    The CLOUD Act, inserted at the very end of the 2,232-page omnibus spending bill, will make substantial amendments to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). It grants U.S. law enforcement entities new powers to compel U.S. companies to disclose communications and data on U.S. and foreign users that is stored overseas. It also empowers foreign governments to demand the stored and real-time data and communications of users outside the U.S.

  • Truth decayWhy junk news spreads so quickly across social media

    By Samantha Bradshaw and Phillip N. Howard

    Why and how has the rise of social media contributed to the spread of what we at the Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project call “junk news” — the tabloidization, false content, conspiracy theories, political propaganda we have become all too familiar with? Three reasons: Algorithms, advertising. and exposure in public life.

  • Data analyticsCambridge Analytica: the data analytics industry is already in full swing

    By David Beer

    Revelations about Cambridge Analytica have laid bare the seeming lack of control that we have over our own data. Suddenly, with all the talk of “psychographics” and voter manipulation, the power of data analytics has become the source of some concern. But the risk is that if we look at the case of Cambridge Analytica in isolation, we might prevent a much wider debate about the use and control of our data. By focusing on the reports of extreme practices, we might miss the many everyday ways that data analytics are now shaping our lives.

  • PrivacyCambridge Analytica’s abuse of Facebook user data shows “profound impact of technology on democracy”

    Facebook has suspended Cambridge Analytica from its platform for violating its guidelines on the use of user data. The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) says that a weekend New York Times article further illuminated the scale of Cambridge Analytica’s efforts and showed how the company used personal information about users to conduct targeted political outreach. “These revelations illustrate the profound impact internet platforms can have on democracy,” CDT says.