• The Russia connectionRussian social-media-interference operations “active and ongoing”: Senate Intel Committee

    The Russian influence campaign on social media in the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign sought to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election by deepening divisions among Americans and suppressing turnout among Democratic voters, according to a report produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee. “What is clear is that all of the [Russian social media] messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party — and specifically Donald Trump,” the report says. “Increasingly, we’ve seen how social media platforms intended to foster open dialogues can be used by hostile foreign actors seeking to manipulate and subvert public opinion,” said the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina). “Most troublingly, it shows that these activities have not stopped.”

  • Democracy imperiledDemagogues on the right and left use digital tools to exploit popular resentment, dissatisfaction

    The digital era has spurred many advancements in many areas of human society, but it has also led to growing instability and inequality, notes Tom Wheeler, a Visiting Fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings’ Center for Technology Innovation. At the political level, the digital engine which is driving economic and social instability also provides the tools to exploit the resulting dissatisfaction so as to threaten liberal democratic capitalism, he argues.

  • HateMemes are taking the alt-right’s message of hate mainstream

    By Emiliano De Cristofaro

    Think of an internet meme and you’ll probably smile. The most memorable viral images are usually funny, from Distracted Boyfriend to classics like Grumpy Cat. But some memes have a much more sinister meaning. They might look as innocuous as a frog, but are in fact symbols of hate. And as memes have become more political, these hateful examples have increasingly found their way onto mainstream social media platforms.

  • Terrorism“Big picture” platforms boost fight against online terror activity

    The fight against terrorism-related content and illegal financing online is speeding up thanks to new platforms that join up different internet-scouring technologies to create a comprehensive picture of terrorist activity. The idea is that when an online tool discovers a fragment of information it can be added to a constellation of millions of others - revealing links that might otherwise have gone undetected or taken much longer to uncover.

  • PrivacySubtle visual cues in online forums nudge users to reveal more than they would like

    Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but icons may be even more powerful in nudging people to disclose more information online, according to an interdisciplinary team of Penn State researchers. In a study, researchers found that people using an online sexual health forum featuring computer graphics, called icons, that implied a sense of crowd size and connectivity, revealed more sensitive information than visitors to a site without those visual cues.

  • Truth decayThe manipulation of social media metadata

    Bad actors manipulate metadata to create effective disinformation campaigns. and a new study provides tips for researchers and technology companies trying to spot this “data craft.” “Data craft” is the term the report’s author uses to describe all those “practices that create, rely on, or even play with the proliferation of data on social media by engaging with new computational and algorithmic mechanisms of organization and classification.”

  • The Russia connectionU.S. documents suggest charges filed against WikiLeaks founder Assange

    U.S. court documents suggest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been criminally charged by prosecutors in a case that could be related to the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the U.S. elections. News outlets report that the disclosure was included as part of a court filing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, in a case unrelated to Assange.

  • Terrorism & social mediaUsing social media to weaken impact of terrorist attacks

    Governments and police forces around the world need to beware of the harm caused by mass and social media following terror events. In a new report, leading counter-terrorism experts from around the world offer guidance to authorities to better manage the impacts of terror attacks by harnessing media communication. “People only know what they see or read, so the immediate panic social media – and then on the news – perpetuates rumors and creates fear. This is exactly what terrorists want,” says one expert.

  • The Russia connectionDemocrats say they may tie legislation to protection of Russia probe

    A leading Democrat says his party is looking at introducing a bill to Congress that would protect the probe investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and any possible collusion with President Donald Trump’s campaign.

  • HatePittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bower had links to British far right

    Robert Bowers, 46, who killed eleven worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pennsylvania on 27 October, was in touch with neo-Nazis in Britain who share the same brand of conspiracy theories that Jews control the world and that Jewish financier George Soros is funding immigration to the United States and Europe. British security sources, who shared the information with the Times, note that this apparent collaboration comes against the backdrop of heightened concerns in Britain about the level of right-wing extremist activity as MI5 takes on an increasing role in countering the threat.

  • Election securityFacebook blocks 115 accounts after alert from U.S. authorities

    Facebook says it has blocked 115 user accounts after U.S. authorities alerted the social network to suspicious activity that may be linked to a foreign country. The company’s move, announced in a blog post late on 5 November, came hours after U.S. law enforcement agencies warned that, as U.S. voters go to the polls on 6 November, they should be wary of attempts by Russia, Iran, and other countries to spread fake news on social media.

  • Online hateDays after synagogue massacre, online hate is thriving

    A website popular with racists that was used by the man charged in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre was shut down within hours of the slaughter, but it hardly mattered: Anti-Semites and racists who hang out in such havens just moved to other online forums.

  • Online hateHate speech is still easy to find on social media

    By Jennifer Grygiel

    The alleged Pittsburgh synagogue shooter’s activity on the Gab social media site has drawn attention to that site’s role as a hate-filled alternative to more mainstream options like Facebook and Twitter. Those are among the social media platforms that have promised to fight hate speech and online abuse on their sites. However, as I explored online activity in the wake of the shooting, it quickly became clear to me that the problems are not just on sites like Gab. Rather, hate speech is still easy to find on mainstream social media sites, including Twitter. I also identified some additional steps the company could take.

  • HateHate crimes expert fears that shootings like Pittsburgh could become more common

    By Alex Yablon

    The gunman who killed 11 congregants at a Pittsburgh synagogue last Saturday could herald a new era of hate crimes, according to an expert who has tracked similar attacks since the 1990s. “We have more people drawn to white supremacist rhetoric who see themselves as on a mission to change the world,” said one criminologist. The Pittsburgh shooter’s online activity distinguished him from the majority of people who commit hate crimes. He was a deeply committed white supremacist who steeped himself in anti-Semitic and xenophobic propaganda.

  • Truth decayMathematicians to help solve the fake news voting conundrum

    With the American midterm elections around the corner, rumors of a U.K. general election in the winter, and a potential second referendum on Brexit, mathematicians have produced a mathematical model that details the impact of fake news on voting behavior.