Archive | disinformation

»Fake news« overhyped?

Our study of search and politics in seven nations – which surveyed the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain in January 2017 – found these concerns to be overstated, if not wrong. In fact, many internet users trust search to help them find the best information, check other sources and discover new information in ways that can burst filter bubbles and open echo chambers. (…)

We found that the fears surrounding search algorithms and social media are not irrelevant – there are problems for some users some of the time. However, they are exaggerated, creating unwarranted fears that could lead to inappropriate responses by users, regulators and policymakers.

The Conversation » Fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles: Underresearched and overhyped »


Facebook gearing up for French presidential elections

Facebook says it has targeted 30,000 fake accounts linked to France ahead of the country’s presidential election, as part of a worldwide effort against misinformation.

The company said Thursday it’s trying to “reduce the spread of material generated through inauthentic activity, including spam, misinformation, or other deceptive content that is often shared by creators of fake accounts.”

It said its efforts “enabled us to take action” against the French accounts and that it is removing sites with the highest traffic.

ABC News: Facebook targets 30,000 fake France accounts before election »


California to make »fake news« illegal?

From a proposed Californian law:

18320.5. It is unlawful for a person to knowingly and willingly make, publish or circulate on an Internet Web site, or cause to be made, published, or circulated in any writing posted on an Internet Web site, a false or deceptive statement designed to influence the vote on either of the following:

(a) Any issue submitted to voters at an election.

(b) Any candidate for election to public office.

EFF comments…

In other words, it would be illegal to be wrong on the internet if it could impact an election. The bill is unconstitutional under U.S. Supreme Court case law (see our opposition letter for more information on that), and likely to draw immediate and costly lawsuits if it is signed into law.

EFF: California Bill To Ban “Fake News” Would Be Disastrous for Political Speech »


Fake news is nothing new

The debate on »fake news« might be new to some. But for us who are activist when it comes to a free and open internet, privacy and civil rights – this is what we have been fighting for a very long time.

Governments strive towards »total information awareness« has always been excused with e.g. the war on terror, the war on drugs, child protection, fighting organized crime and national security.

The same arguments – and some other, like hate speech – have been used to restrict free speech and freedom of information.

Then we have the corporatist battle over copyright vs. the Internet – sacrificing a global, free flow of information to save outdated business models.

When activists find out and go public, the reaction from politicians and bureaucrats is normally that we have got it all wrong. But the swarm is resourceful, and often we find some sort of a smoking gun. In a few cases, we manage to stop what is going on (like ACTA). In some cases, we manage to change details (like the EU telecoms package). But normally we loose. Then the proposals become law. And most things we warned people about is actually happening.

Told you so.

(In some very rare cases – like EU data retention – the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights objects strongly enough to stop what is happening in its’ tracks.)

Today the concept of total information awareness is a reality in countries like the U.S., the U.K., and France. In Germany, it has just been legalized.

And after decades of legal battles, it seems as if Big Entertainment is getting closer to having the Internet Service Providers to police the Internet – leading to extrajudicial filtering and censorship without the possibility to redress.

During the processes leading up to all of this – politicians and bureaucrats have labeled resistance as delusions and activists as tin foil hats. Doing so, they have managed to keep their plans under the radar, away from the public eye and the media. Until it’s too late.

I have seen lots of disinformation, faked news, and cover-ups trough the years. It has been used by politicians, governments, and special interests – forcing their restrictions on our free and open internet, undermining a democratic society and disturbing the free market.

The concept of fake news might have become a bit more obvious lately – but it is nothing new. The only reason it’s such a big thing at the moment is that it has been used by others than governments, mainstream politicians, bureaucrats and special business interests.




Information trench war over Snowden

It seems to be open season for mudslinging against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The latest example is a widely spread article by Edward Jay Epstein in the Wall Street Journal. However, it seems to offer very little or nothing of substance.

The purpose of the piece might rather be to promote Epstein’s upcoming book »How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft«.

Epstein is no fool. But he is very much into certain… theories. In the quite entertaining book »Deception: The Invisible War Between the KGB & the CIA« he rises to defend CIA:s former and widely criticized director of counterintelligence (1954-75), the late James Jesus Angleton. Epstein’s latest book is »The JFK Assassination Diary: My Search for Answers to the Mystery of the Century«.

I don’t say that Epstein is a conspiracy theorist. But it might be wise for those who are about to refer to him as an authority on Snowden, to be aware that he is a controversial author.


Also, read Errata Security: Your absurd story doesn’t make me a Snowden apologist »