Trump Affiliate Gave Data Profiles on 200 million Americans to US Adversary, Covid Fact Checks, and Trump on Facebook Despite Platform's Claims

Threats, Fact Checks, and Reads #6.3.21

Highlights

Threats

Mis/Mal/Disinformation

DEVELOPING NARRATIVES

FACT CHECKS

Research

Recommended Reads


Highlights

France Suspects Russian Role in Campaign to Discredit Pfizer Vaccine

Several French bloggers said they received emails offering to pay for social-media videos criticizing the Covid-19 vaccine

  • Kremlin-controlled outlets have denied the claims, portraying the influence operation as a red herring meant to distract from the dangers of Pfizer, while also making claims about Pfizer in a variety of languages and countries. 


New Report from Hoaxlines out soon

  • How are state-controlled media websites that spread disinformation finding an audience? 

  • Are American companies involved or funding them? 

  • Can we do anything to stop it? That's what we hoped to answer.

The project involved 100s of websites from Russia, Iran, and China, and will publish later this month. We’ll include it in the newsletter so if you’re on the mailing list it will come to you. 


Facebook Published A Report on Information Operations on the Platform That Confirm the Domestic Efforts Researchers Have Suspected on the Platform

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Threats

QAnon supporters and far-right message boards hail the Myanmar coup and say the same thing should happen in America--then, so did the former national security advisor--before he didn’t


Facebook fuels climate misinformation online, report finds

Facebook told Climate Home News that the platform directly connects over 100,000 people every day with reliable information through its Climate Science Information Centre, which was set up in September. The center compiles data and expert information from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the national oceanic and atmospheric administration, and the UN environment program. 

“We combat climate change misinformation by working with a global network of independent fact-checking partners to review and rate content,” a Facebook spokesperson said. 

But Buchan said the center does not do enough to prevent climate misinformation from slipping through. “It’s not sufficient right now. With Cop26 around the corner, climate misinformation is going to be on the rise,” said Buchan.

“This is a really big opportunity for Facebook to take leadership on this. These sorts of events have been derailed by misinformation campaigns before,” he added.

Australian MP George Christensen spread false information that was shared 1,400 times. The report highlights the global scale of misinformation, from Australia to the US. 

During the bushfires in Australia last year, bots and trolls spread false posts on Facebook claiming that arson by environmental campaigners was to blame, the report states. 

Misleading claims by US conservative pundits, saying that frozen wind turbines were causing mass power outages in Texas in February, were shared on Facebook without fact-checking labels.

  • This Fox News misinformation has no fact-check warning and has been viewed 4.4 million times.


Following the Senate declining to investigate the attack on Jan 6th, we picked up inauthentic activity promoting two narratives

  • The activity shown in screenshots highly suggests coordination and an effort to manipulate platform trending topics, possibly to shift the discussion. 

  • It’s not possible to say who is responsible. 

  • What we can say is that coordinated inauthentic behavior is used to influence the public discussion, most often and that this activity appears to be misrepresenting the circumstances of the death of a woman at the Capitol on Jan 6th.


Biden Will Meet With Republicans’ Top Infrastructure Negotiator

Democrats are ready to move on President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan unless there is a major breakthrough this week. The two sides are over $1 trillion apart in how much they want to spend, and they have not agreed on what to fund or how to pay for it


Same Data, Same Strategy: A New Look at How the Trump Campaign and Russian Intelligence Operated in 2016,

by John Sipher, a 28-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency’s National Clandestine Service

We already knew Manafort had passed confidential internal polling data to Kilimnik, who was described by the 2020 Senate Select Intelligence Committee report as a “Russian intelligence officer.” 

  • The major change is that the US government has now acknowledged Putin’s intelligence services were the recipient of the campaign data, which included the GOP data trust database, something revealed in recently unsealed interviews with Rick Gates--a cache of data points on some 200 million US voters handed willingly to an adversary. 

Full document

“The content was not designed to persuade people to change their views, but to harden those views…The intention of these campaigns was to activate—or suppress—target groups. Not to change their views, but to change their behavior.”

Molly McKew

Complicated crimes leverage our attention economy--or our lack of attention economy. A major American party gave information about 200 million Americans to an adversary, and that data could be used without GOP permission for other efforts in the future. Headlines related to it lasted less than a day.


Mis/Mal/Disinformation

DEVELOPING NARRATIVES

Narratives related to the vaccine and children have become popular across platforms. The claims often stem from a misunderstanding of the VAERS database, which has low specificity and detects many instances that are not related to vaccines, and false claims, like a false report in VAERS that reported a two-year old's death although, at the time, children had not yet been permitted to get the vaccine.


COVID-19 Vaccine Data Was Peer-Reviewed, Contrary to Meme's Claim

  • The meme includes this heading: “Things NOT being offered to take the Covid jab.” Then it lists: “Peer-reviewed clinical studies proving its safety and efficacy” and “Liability when something goes wrong.”

  • It’s easy enough to show the first claim is false. The New England Journal of Medicine — a peer-reviewed publication — has published studies finding that the vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson are effective and safe. The NEJM is the oldest continuously published general medical journal in the world and is among the most frequently cited journals.

  • It’s also worth noting that more than 290 million vaccines have been administered across the country so far with only rare documented cases of serious adverse reactions, including anaphylaxis occurring in approximately 2 to 5 patients per million.


Engagement with Deceptive Sites on Facebook, Twitter Dropped in the First Months of 2021

Engagement with content from deceptive sites on Facebook and Twitter retreated from last year’s historic highs during the first three months of 2021. On Twitter, the drop was dramatic: a 60 percent quarterly decline in shares of content from deceptive sites by “verified accounts.” 

On Facebook, interactions with content from deceptive sites dipped by 15 percent in the first quarter of 2021, reflecting a comparable decline in interactions with all U.S.-based sites on the platform.

The changes were likely driven by platforms’ suspension of accounts and pages that have propagated deceptive content in the past as well as policy change such as prioritizing original news reporting within Facebook’s News Feed. 

At the same time, there was an increased concentration among Manipulators (see below) as The Daily Wire’s share of interactions grew from 13 to 22 percent.

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FACT CHECKS


”This Morning” guest makes misleading claims on vaccine efficacy


Did Pennsylvania Lawmakers Vote to Fine Women Who Have a Miscarriage?

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Val Arkoosh condemned Pennsylvania House Bill 118 as "unbelievable" and "outrageous" in May 2021. The claims appear inaccurate.


Fact Check: Video Provides NO Evidence For Claim Fauci Had PCR Test Inventor Murdered

Does a video back up its claim that Dr. Anthony Fauci had Nobel laureate Kary Mullis murdered to silence the chemist, who often criticized Fauci? 

No, that's not true: The claim is made without reference to physical or documentary evidence and with one piece of circumstantial evidence that scarcely deserves that label. Mullis' unchallenged obituaries say he died of pneumonia.

The claim is made in a video (archived here) credited to Gary Null Productions.


The CDC Did NOT Lift Mask Guidelines 'Out Of The Blue With No Solid Explanation'

The tweet where this originated has since been deleted. 


Mostly False: Facebook posts circulating in South Korea claim that asymptomatic Covid-19 carriers are non-infectious as they have lower viral loads.


The Instagram post warns about the safety of vaccines in children

  • A post circulating on Instagram claims, "The latest CDC data show reports of adverse events from COVID vaccines surpass 220,000, including 943 among 12-17-year-olds."

  • This is false.


Research

Key Trends in Demonstrations Supporting the BLM Movement

Given the highly polarized coverage of the movement, a data-driven approach is a welcome addition. 


CONTENT WARNING: Please note that the two following reports contain offensive and extreme language because 4chan was the queried platform.

Word Tree for “vaccin*" on 4chan/pol from May 24 to 30, 2021

Word Tree for “vaccin*" from May 19-27, 2021 on 4chan/pol


We Have Some Qualms With This Article: Study: QAnon Is as Big as Some Major Religions in the US — and One in Four White Evangelicals Believe It 

Twitter avatar for @NovelSciE. Rosalie @NovelSci
6/7 can manipulate Americans to act. We need to face this threat. So can domestic actors. Texas:
texastribune.org/2017/11/01/rus… Russians made us believe in a fabricated emergency: nytimes.com/2015/06/07/mag… Our enemies won't hesitate, and we shouldn't either in addressing the threat. Image

Recommended Reads

Worthwhile Read

The media must stop using misleading headlines

Often the article doesn’t actually say what the headline promised. We call this an ‘Edline.’

Sometimes the contradiction between the headline and the rest of the piece hides in plain view. 

  • Last May, a MailOnline headline said “Coronavirus IS causing deadly new inflammatory fever in some children”—but just three bullet points below, the “IS” turned into “may.” 

  • Critical Point: At the time the scientists, unlike the headline, were not sure.

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