• Fake news, the First Amendment, and failure in the marketplace of ideas

    The rise of social media and fake news challenge long-held assumptions about the First Amendment and are undermining the functioning of the “the marketplace of ideas,” a Duke professor argues. “There are a number of very specific ways in which the structure and operation of today’s digital media ecosystem favors falsity over truth; and this shifting balance raises some troubling implications for how we think about the First Amendment,” he says.

  • The rise of online disinformation

    Last week the European Commission took steps to tackle the spread and impact of online disinformation in Europe and ensure the protection of European values and democracies. A new study by the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission, which examined the digital transformation of news media and the rise of disinformation. Among other things, the study finds that true news audiences dwarf false news audiences, though fake news travels faster and further on social media sites, also across echo chambers, and may capture consumer attention longer than true news.

  • EU supports Africa single digital market

    The EU said it was committed to helping Africa build a single digital market so the continent could enjoy the transformative power of e-commerce, as is the case in like Europe. The EU said that assuring affordable broadband connectivity, improving digital literacy and skills, promoting digital entrepreneurship, and using digitalization would be an enabler of sustainable development by deploying e-government, e-commerce, e-health, e-education, and e-agriculture in Africa.

  • European Commission to call out Russia for “information warfare”

    The European Commission is set to single out Russia directly for what it calls Moscow’s “information warfare” as part of EU efforts to fight back against online disinformation campaigns considered a threat to European security. The draft of a communique seen by RFE/RL states that “mass online disinformation campaigns are being widely used by a range of domestic and foreign actors to sow distrust and create societal tensions, with serious potential consequences for our security.”

  • Algorithm 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.

  • Activists 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.

  • Fake 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.

  • Russian 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.

  • Stealth: 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.

  • Russia 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.

  • Europe'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.

  • The ruse of “fake news”

    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.

  • Separating 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.

  • Propagating 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.

  • Why you stink at fact-checking

    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.