• The Russia connectionCourt in Finland finds pro-Kremlin trolls guilty of harassing investigative journalist

    In a major ruling that exceeded prosecutors’ requests, a court in Finland sentenced a pro-Russian troll to prison for harassing journalist Jessikka Aro. an award-winning Finnish investigative journalist who was among the first reporters to expose the work of the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Kremlin’s troll factory. Russia and its Finland-based internet trolls made her a prime target for harassment since her reports appeared in 2014.

  • Conspiracy theoriesInnuendo and pointing suspicion in news coverage can fuel conspiracy theories

    Innuendo and hinting at fake information in news coverage is enough to fuel belief in conspiracy theories, new research shows. Implication alone can significantly increase belief in false facts, according to a new study. Experts have said the results show news outlets should be quicker to correct inaccurate information published or broadcast, and be more cautious about who they invite to provide analysis.

  • The Russia connectionTwitter’s massive data release shows the Kremlin’s broad pro-Trump strategy

    Twitter today (Wednesday) released ten million tweets it says represent all of the foreign influence operations on the social media platform, including Russia’s consistent efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid and support Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. The Internet Research Agency, the St. Petersburg-based Kremlin’s troll farm, created 3,400 accounts to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign and support Trump. Before helping Trump defeat Clinton, the Kremlin helped Trump secure the GOP nomination by targeting former governor Jeb Bush and Senator Ted Cruz.

  • Truth decayViral game which helps users spot fake news gets a makeover

    After helping more than 750,000 players spot fake news, a game that became an unexpected viral hit is getting a reboot right in time for the midterm election.

  • Truth decayMeasuring “iffy” news on social media in time for 2018 election

    As the crucial mid-term election approaches, the University of Michigan Center for Social Media Responsibility offers media and the public a tool to help monitor the prevalence of fake news on social media through a Platform Health Metric called the Iffy Quotient.

  • The Russia connectionKey takeaways from the Kremlin’s recent interference offensive

    By David Salvo and Bradley Hanlon

    Recent counterintelligence operations by U.K. and Dutch intelligence services, and similar operations by the U.S. and Swiss authorities, have exposed a broad, sustained, and determined Russian effort to undermine Western democracies. The main takeaways from the revelations about these Russian operations: First, the Kremlin uses cyber hacks and other asymmetric tools not only to interfere in elections, but also to execute a number of other objectives. Second, the Kremlin uses various asymmetric tools in conjunction with one another to achieve its objectives. Finally, the Kremlin has authorized its security services to pursue Moscow’s interests with brazen and aggressive vigor.

  • Conspiracy theoryWho believes in conspiracies? Research offers a theory

    The Apollo moon landing was staged. The CIA killed JFK. 9/11 was a plot by the U.S. government to justify a war in the Middle East. President Barack Obama was not a natural born citizen. The massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school was staged as a pretense for increased gun control. The “deep state” is trying to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency. Conspiracy theories have been cooked up throughout history, but they are increasingly visible lately, likely due in part to the president of the United States routinely embracing or creating them. What draws people to conspiracy theories? New research suggests that people with certain personality traits and cognitive styles are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories.

  • Truth decayFacing up to truth decay

    “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” That sentiment, once expressed by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, seems to be falling out of fashion in America’s current civil discourse. RAND Corporation’s Michael Rich has dubbed this phenomenon “Truth Decay,” and it is the subject of ongoing research designed to explore what is eroding the public’s trust in facts and institutions—and how to stop the trend.

  • Truth decayDisinformation and fake news on Twitter

    The Knight Foundation has just released a new report — Disinformation, ‘Fake News’, and Influence Campaigns on Twitter – which, among other disturbing findings, shows that despite government efforts taken against those responsible for the misinformation campaigns during the 2016 election, 80 percent of these accounts are still active and still tweeting. Together, they produce about 1 million tweets per day. The study also found that 60 percent of these accounts have evidence they are partially run by bots, and many of the bot-run accounts appear to be connected.

  • HateThe Road to Power: Idaho outfit behind rash of racist, anti-Semitic robocalls

    The Road to Power, a white supremacist and anti-Semitic broadcasting outlet based in Sandpoint, Idaho, continues to ramp up its tactic of robocalling communities nationwide with racist, anti-Semitic and bigoted language. The calls, which have targeted communities in California, Idaho, Iowa, Florida and Pennsylvania, seek to exploit current events by disseminating vile, offensive commentary. 

  • Truth decayAmnesty International toils to tell real videos from fakes

    Increasingly sophisticated artificial-intelligence video tools, like FakeApp, are raising concerns by helping the technically astute create realistic computer-generated videos known as “deepfakes.” A deepfake video can put a person’s face on somebody else’s body, make them say words they never uttered, show them in a place they’ve never been, or even put them at an event that never occurred.

  • Truth decayHow to fight information manipulations: 50 recommendations

    French government think tanks have issued 50 recommendations to combat “information manipulations.” The recommendations are part of an exhaustive new study published by the Center for Analysis, Planning and Strategy (CAPS) — attached to the ministry of foreign affairs — and the Institute for Strategic Research of the Military School (IRSEM) — attached to the ministry of the armed forces. It warns that information manipulation, defined as “the intentional and massive distribution of false or biased news for hostile political purposes,” aims to “undermine the foundations of our democracy” and thereby constitute a threat to national security.

     

  • Extremism onlineIdentifying extremists online even before they post dangerous content

    The number and size of online extremist groups using social networks to harass users, recruit new members, and incite violence is rapidly increasing. New research has found a way to identify extremists, such as those associated with the terrorist group ISIS, by monitoring their social media accounts, and can identify them even before they post threatening content.

  • Extremism onlineBroadcasting the reactionary right on YouTube

    A new report presents data from approximately 65 political influencers across 81 channels to identify the “Alternative Influence Network (AIN)”; an alternative media system that adopts the techniques of brand influencers to build audiences and “sell” them political ideology.

  • Truth decayBeyond deep fakes: Automatically transforming video content into another video's style

    Researchers have created a method that automatically transforms the content of one video into the style of another. For instance, Barack Obama’s style can be transformed into Donald Trump. Because the data-driven method does not require human intervention, it can rapidly transform large amounts of video, making it a boon to movie production, as well as to the conversion of black-and-white films to color and to the creation of content for virtual reality experiences.