fake news

White House shares manipulated Infowars video to justify CNN press ban

Read this slowly: The White House’s press secretary has tweeted a manipulated video shared by the editor-at-large of conspiracy theorist outlet Infowars to attempt to justify its decision to suspend the press credentials of CNN’s chief white house correspondent. CNN’s Jim Acosta had his press pass pulled by the White House earlier today after press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed he had “plac[ed] his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job”. Acosta disputes this. The journalist had being trying to continue asking president Trump questions during a contentious exchange at a White House press briefing. During this exchange Trump cut over him verbally — saying “that’s enough” — at which point a female White House intern moved towards Acosta and attempted to take the microphone out of...

Twitter removes thousands of accounts that tried to dissuade Democrats from voting

Twitter has deleted thousands of automated accounts posting messages that tried to discourage and dissuade voters from casting their ballot in the upcoming election next week. Some 10,000 accounts were removed across late September and early October after they were first flagged by staff at the Democratic Party, the company has confirmed. “We removed a series of accounts for engaging in attempts to share disinformation in an automated fashion – a violation of our policies,” said a Twitter spokesperson in an email to TechCrunch. “We stopped this quickly and at its source.” But the company did not provide examples of the kinds of accounts it removed, or say who or what might have been behind the activity. The accounts posed as Democrats and try to convince key demographics to stay at home an...

Twitter’s U.S. midterms hub is a hot mess

Today, Jack Dorsey tweeted a link to his company’s latest gesture toward ongoing political relevance, a U.S. midterms news center collecting “the latest news and top commentary” on the country’s extraordinarily consequential upcoming election. If curated and filtered properly, that could be useful! Imagine. Unfortunately, rife with fake news, the tool is just another of Twitter’s small yet increasingly consequential disasters. Beyond a promotional tweet from Dorsey, Twitter’s new offering is kind of buried — probably for the best. On desktop it’s a not particularly useful mash of national news reporters, local candidates and assorted unverifiable partisans. As Buzzfeed news details, the tool is swimming with conspiracy theories, including ones involving the migrant caravan. According to hi...

Twitter suspends accounts linked to mail bomb suspect

At least two Twitter accounts linked to the man suspected of sending explosive devices to more than a dozen prominent Democrats were suspended on Friday afternoon. Cesar Sayoc Jr., 56, was apprehended by federal law enforcement officers in Florida on Friday morning. “Though we’re still analyzing the devices in our laboratory, these are not hoax devices,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said during a press briefing. Facebook moved fairly quickly to suspend Sayoc’s account on the platform, though two Twitter accounts that appeared to belong to Sayoc remained online and accessible until around 2:30 p.m. Pacific. Both accounts featured numerous tweets, many of which contained far-right political conspiracy theories, graphic images and specific threats. TechCrunch was able to review the accounts ...

Fake news ‘threat to democracy’ report gets back-burner response from UK gov’t

The UK government has rejected a parliamentary committee’s call for a levy on social media firms to fund digital literacy lessons to combat the impact of disinformation online. The recommendation of a levy on social media platforms was made by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee three months ago, in a preliminary report following a multi-month investigation into the impact of so-called ‘fake news’ on democratic processes. Though it has suggested the terms ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ be used instead, to better pin down exact types of problematic inauthentic content — and on that at least the government agrees. But just not on very much else. At least not yet. Among around 50 policy suggestions in the interim report — which the committee put out quickly exactly to call ...

WhatsApp hits India’s Jio feature phones amidst fake news violence

False rumors forwarded on WhatsApp have led angry mobs to murder strangers in India, but the Facebook-owned chat app is still racing to add users in the country. Today it launched a feature phone version of WhatsApp for JioPhone 1 and 2’s KaiOS, which are designed to support 22 of India’s vast array of native languages. Users will be able to send text, photos, videos, and voice messages with end-to-end encryption, though it will lack advanced features like augmented reality and Snapchat Stories-style Status updates. WhatsApp was supposed to launch alongside the JioPhone 2 that debuted last month for roughly $41, but was delayed. 40 million JioPhone 1s had already been sold. Coming to JioPhone should open up a big new growth vector for WhatsApp as it strives to grow its 1.5 billion user cou...

Civil, the blockchain journalism startup, has partnered with one of the oldest names in media

Civil, the two-year-old crypto startup that wants to save the journalism industry by leveraging the blockchain and cryptoeconomics, has partnered with the 172-year-old Associated Press to help the wire service stop bad actors from stealing its content. Civil, using its blockchain-enabled licensing mechanism, which is still in development, will help the AP track where its content is going and whether it’s licensed correctly. In exchange, the AP has granted the newsrooms in Civil’s network licenses to its content. Civil, which has raised $5 million from the blockchain venture studio ConsenSys, plans to make the licensing tool available to all the newsrooms in its ecosystem once it’s up and running. Matthew Iles, the founder and CEO of Civil, told TechCrunch he wants the company to become the...

Twitter puts Infowars’ Alex Jones in the ‘read-only’ sin bin for 7 days

Twitter has finally taken action against Infowars creator Alex Jones, but it isn’t what you might think. While Apple, Facebook, Google/YouTube, Spotify and many others have removed Jones and his conspiracy-peddling organization Infowars from their platforms, Twitter has remained unmoved with its claim that Jones hasn’t violated rules on its platform. That was helped in no small way by the mysterious removal of some tweets last week, but now Jones has been found to have violated Twitter’s rules, as CNET first noted. Twitter is punishing Jones for a tweet that violates its community standards but it isn’t locking him out forever. Instead, a spokesperson for the company confirmed that Jones’ account is in “read-only mode” for up to seven days. That means he will still be able to use the servi...

Apple has removed Infowars podcasts from iTunes

Apple has followed the lead of Google and Facebook after it removed Infowars, the conspiracy theorist organization helmed by Alex Jones, from its iTunes and podcasts apps. Unlike Google and Facebook, which removed four Infowars videos on the basis that the content violated its policies, Apple’s action is wider-reaching. The company has withdrawn all episodes of five of Infowars’ six podcasts from its directory of content, leaving just one left, a show called ‘Real News With David Knight.’ The removals were first spotted on Twitter. Later, Apple confirmed it took action on account of the use of hate speech which violates its content guidelines. “Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment ...

Facebook buys ads in Indian newspapers to warn about WhatsApp fakes

As Twitter finally gets serious about purging fake accounts, and YouTube says it will try to firefight conspiracy theories and fake news flaming across its platform with $25M to fund bona fide journalism, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is grappling with its own fake demons in India, where social media platforms have been used to seed and spread false rumors — fueling mob violence and leading to number of deaths in recent years. This week Facebook has taken out full page WhatsApp -branded adverts in Indian newspapers to try to stem the tide of life-threatening digital fakes spreading across social media platforms in the region with such tragic results. It’s not the first time the company has run newspaper ads warning about fake news in India, though it does appear to be first time it’s responded t...

YouTube is fighting fighting fake news with $25M to promote journalism and more context in search results

YouTube announced new measures today to stem the spread of conspiracy theory videos and fake news on its platform, including inserting context from trustworthy sources into search results about hot topics. In a blog post, YouTube also said it is working with the Google News Initiative, which was launched by its parent company earlier this year to support journalists and publishers. This includes earmarking $25 million in Google News Initiative funding to create a working group of news organizations and media experts that will advise YouTube on new features. Members already include Vox Media, Brazilian radio station Jovem Pan and India Today, with more to be added in the coming weeks. Part of the funding will also be used for grants that will be awarded to news organizations through an appl...

Digital campaigning vs democracy: UK election regulator calls for urgent law changes

A report by the UK’s Electoral Commission has called for urgent changes in the law to increase transparency about how digital tools are being used for political campaigning, warning that an atmosphere of mistrust is threatening the democratic process. The oversight body, which also regulates campaign spending, has spent the past year examining how digital campaigning was used in the UK’s 2016 EU referendum and 2017 general election — as well as researching public opinion to get voters’ views on digital campaigning issues. Among the changes the Commission wants to see is greater clarity around election spending to try to prevent foreign entities pouring money into domestic campaigns, and beefed up financial regulations including bigger penalties for breaking election spending rules. It also...