Browse Case Studies

 

Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada
Disinformation, Disruption, and the Shifting Media Ecosystem in the 2022 Philippines Election

Kelly Grounds, Madelyn Koff. May 4, 2022.

Social media is playing an outsized role in the lead-up to the May 9 presidential elections in the Philippines. Government lockdowns and other COVID-19-related restrictions have made it difficult for candidates to hold in-person campaign events. These limits on large gatherings, combined with more than 90 per cent of Filipinos getting their internet access via social media, have meant that the candidates are heavily relying on social media to capture the attention and votes of the electorate.

These campaign conditions are happening against the backdrop of a longer-term trend in the Philippines: An accelerated shift away from traditional media and towards social media, where information may be free and accessible, but not always accurate. This new media landscape, however, is fertile ground for candidates and their supporters to turn increasingly to disinformation tactics on social media rather than traditional media techniques.

 

Disinformation is a high-stake game threatening freedom

Chatham House. July 12, 2022.

In the second of a series of interviews with the Queen Elizabeth II Academy Faculty, Jessica Cecil examines solutions to disinformation eroding trust in democratic leadership.

 

Not Real News

AP News. June 2022.

A list of articles that provides correct information of highlighted untrue stories starting in April 2022.

 

New evidence of thriving ‘disinformation industry’ on Twitter is worrying as Kenya gears for elections in August 2022

Maldita Explica Feb. 22, 2022

A new digital investigation by Mozilla Foundation says it found that a cross-border influence information operation rigged Twitter’s trending topics to manipulate public opinion in Kenya.

Researchers describe how a Spain-based organization, CitizenGo, paid Kenyan influencers between US$10-$15, to flood Twitter with misleading or false tweets and graphics in a campaign against two hot-button issues in the country’s parliament.

 

How video of fire festival from Ghana cause disinformation for Kenya, DR Congo and Nigeria.

BBC News-Pidgin. August 21, 2022.

Dem don use one video wey dem do for Bugum Chugu Fire Festival Ghana on August 8, 2022 to push disinformation for Kenya, DR Congo and Nigeria.

For Kenya, Twitter user @iam_nyakoi share di video on August 11, 2022 wey show hundreds of pipo with lit torches on di streets of one town for night, with di caption “Scenes pale Kisumu. Earth is Gone!”.

 

Facebook approves election disinformation ads ahead of tense Brazil election.

Global Witness. August 15, 2022.

Our new investigation shows Facebook failed to detect ads with election-related disinformation ahead of the 2022 Brazilian election. These ads contained false information about the election, promoting the wrong election date and false voting methods, which could prevent people from voting, and called into question the integrity of the election.

 

Hospitals Are Full of Kids Sick With RSV—And Anti-Vaxxers Think It’s a Hoax

Mother Jones. Kiera Butler. November 21, 2022

The current surge in RSV misinformation has also alarmed Aoife Gallagher, an analyst with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, an anti-extremism think tank with offices in Europe and the United States. At the beginning of the fall, during the start of the current wave of RSV cases, Gallagher said, she observed that the most widely shared tweets about RSV came from trustworthy medical authorities. When she ran the same analysis earlier last week, though, she found that seven of the top 10 tweets repeated conspiracy theories or misinformation.

The sources of the false RSV narratives, she found, were well-known anti-vaccine activists. Del Bigtree, the host of an online anti-vax show called The Highwire, falsely claimed that Covid vaccines were responsible for RSV infections. Judy Mikovits, the discredited virologist behind the Plandemic Covid conspiracy film, falsely suggested that RSV (along with Ebola and Zika) could be cured with the drugs hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

 

Russia and Russia-Ukraine conflict

Global Security Review: How Russia’s Disinformation Campaigns are Succeeding in Europe

Russian disinformation campaigns continue to increase, and increasingly seems to be part of a coordinated campaign to overwhelm democracies.

 

China's promotion of Russian disinformation indicates where its loyalties lie

In public statements and at international summits, Chinese officials have attempted to stake out a seemingly neutral position on the war in Ukraine, neither condemning Russian actions nor ruling out the possibility Beijing could act as a mediator in a push for peace.

But while its international messaging has kept many guessing as to Beijing's true intentions, much of its domestic media coverage of Russia's invasion tells a wholly different story.

 

Zelensky, Putin videos provide glimpse of evolving deep fake threat, experts say

CBC March 20, 2022.

Fake videos with war leaders seemingly saying things they didn't say are circulating EU governments call on online platform to scale up fact-checking efforts https://www.euractiv.com/section/digital/news/ukraine-les-27-exhortent-google-meta-et-twitter-de-passer-a-la-vitesse-superieure/ 

EU governments gathered in France for an informal meeting on 8 March 2022 to discuss how to counter online disinformation from the Kremlin, following the Russian aggression of Ukraine almost two weeks ago. Representatives from Google, YouTube, Meta and Twitter were invited to the discussion.

 

Russian Misinformation Is “A Military Assault” on the West

The Guardian and Observer journalist, Carole Cadwalladr

 

Minister Joly announces additional sanctions targeting Russian disinformation and propaganda agents

Global Affairs Canada. July 8, 2022

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced additional sanctions in relation to Russia’s illegal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, while attending the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bali, Indonesia.

Minister Joly reaffirmed Canada’s unwavering commitment to support Ukraine, a friend and ally, as it fights for freedom. Canada will not stand by as President Vladimir Putin wages his illegal and unjust war and seeks to justify it through disinformation, manipulation and propaganda.

 

Canada continues to apply pressure on Russia with broader services ban, sanctioning of disinformation and propaganda figures, and sourcing ban on gold products

McCarthy Tetrault. July 20, 2022.

On July 7, 2022, Canada added 29 individuals and 15 entities to Schedule 1 who were identified as state-sponsored “Russian disinformation agents” and “Russian disinformation entities” who “bear the responsibility for enabling and supporting Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.”

 

A pro-Russian bot network in the EU amplifies disinformation about the war in Ukraine

European Digital Media Observatory. April 28, 2022.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, on February 24, a large number of accounts, whose main goal was to spread pro-Russian disinformation, were detected on Twitter. Many of these profiles are suspected to be bots, but a large part could also be managed by actual human beings that act coordinately to spread false or misleading narratives about the conflict. This is what emerges from an exclusive investigation carried out by the EDMO task force on Ukraine which analyzed EU Member States, Switzerland and Great Britain.

 

Fact check: Fake news and content targets international media

DW Made for minds. July 8, 2022.

Pro-Russian fabricated posts pretending to be those of the BBC, CNN and DW are fuelling the mis- and disinformation war between Russia and Ukraine. They are also discrediting various international media outlets.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, fake news has been thriving. Hoax videos, reports and tweets pretending to come from the BBC, CNN and other news outlets have come up on social media platforms, some even went viral. The main purpose seems to be to spread false claims, aiding the Russian disinformation war. A second aim seems to be to discredit media outlets.

 

The Strengthened Code of Practice on Disinformation

Visegrad / Insight. July 7, 2022.

There are expectations that the 2022 Strengthened Code of Practice and the provisions of the recently approved Digital Service Act will provide the relevant instruments to its most vulnerable member states and citizens, especially in Central Eastern Europe (CEE). Recently, the European Commission unveiled the newly strengthened Code of Practice on Disinformation that seeks to deploy a collaborative, democratic, and European approach to combating online disinformation across the EU.

 

Zelenskyy: Develop 'Emotional Sovereignty' Over Disinformation

VOA News. July 17, 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his daily address Saturday, urged Ukrainians to develop “a kind of emotional sovereignty” over the disinformation and propaganda that Russia and others have distributed in various media about Ukraine.

 

Amid Rise in Misinformation, Hate Speech as Weapon of War, Strategic Communications Is Crucial to Achieve Peacekeeping Aims, Secretary-General Tells Security Council

United Nations. July 12, 2022.

This site features UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Security Council high-level debate on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: The Key Role of Strategic Communications, in New York today, July 12, 2022. In his speech he outlines six concrete actions that can be adopted to improve strategic communications in peacekeeping.

 

Government censorship rebrands with ‘disinformation’ campaign

Rabble.ca. Yves Engler. July 2022.

Social Media Lab at Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Management released a report titled, “The reach of Russian propaganda and disinformation in Canada.” According to lead author Anatoliy Gruzd, “the research provides evidence that the Kremlin’s disinformation is reaching more Canadians than one would expect. Left unchallenged, state-sponsored information operations can stoke societal tensions and could even undermine democracy itself.”

 

Are Canadians immune to Russian propaganda? New research says you’ve likely already seen it on social media.

Toronto Metropolitan University. July 11, 2022.

Canadians are being exposed to pro-Kremlin propaganda. Slightly over half of Canadians (51%) reported encountering at least one pro-Kremlin claim about the Russia-Ukraine war on social media, according to new research from the Social Media Lab at the Ted Rogers School of Management.

In recent years, Russia has deployed bots, trolls and hackers across social media and the internet, as part of Russia’s goal to shape their public perception on the world stage. These tactics are in an effort to curate a more favorable environment for their agenda in Ukraine, as well as other areas of geopolitical.

 

The Reach of Russian Propaganda & Disinformation in Canada

Social Media Lab. July 12, 2022.

This report examines the extent to which Canadians are exposed to and might be influenced by pro-Kremlin propaganda on social media based on a census-balanced national survey of 1,500 Canadians conducted between May 12–31, 2022. Among other questions, the survey asked participants about their social media use, news consumption about the war in Ukraine, political leanings, as well as their exposure to and believe in common pro-Kremlin narratives.

 

War in Ukraine and Disinformation: Newsletter June 21, 2022.

Program on Democracy and Technology. June 21, 2022.

Telegram has been one of the key sources of disinformation on the events in Ukraine. Many reports linked this to Telegram’s soft moderation policy. However, our research published in the Journal of Information Technology and Politics shows that trusted news content can still dominate political information on Telegram even when moderation is minimal. This finding highlights the importance of virality algorithms used by most social media platforms – but not Telegram – to increase engagement and profits. The research was co-authored by Aliaksandr Herasimenka, Jonathan Bright, Aleksi Knuutila, Philip N. Howard.

 

Disinformation and hate speech pave the way for war crimes and genocide: UK statement on Ukraine

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. June 21, 2022.

UK Ambassador James Kariuki gave a statement to the United Nations Security Council on Ukraine and how incitement to violence leads to atrocity crimes.

 

Canada to Create Team to Counter Russian Disinformation: Trudeau

CTV. August 23, 2022.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled plans to create a special team focused on countering Russian disinformation and propaganda on Tuesday, as Ukrainians prepared to mark the six-month anniversary of Moscow's invasion of their country. The prime minister announced the new initiative as part of a package of new Canadian measures designed to support Ukraine and punish Russia for launching a war that has killed tens of thousands and whose impacts are being felt around the world.

 

Russian propaganda is making inroads with right-wing Canadians

The Conversation. July 17, 2022.

On July 8, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced new sanctions against Russia as a counter to the Kremlin’s disinformation activities aimed at Canada......

The data we collected shows that Canadians are being exposed to pro-Kremlin propaganda. Slightly over half of Canadians (51 per cent) reported encountering at least one persistent, false claim about the Russia-Ukraine war on social media pushed by the Kremlin and pro-Kremlin accounts.

 

The Reach of Russian Propaganda & Disinformation in Canada

Social Media Lab @ Toronto Metropolitan University

About this Report: This report was produced by the Social Media Lab at Ted Rogers School of Management, Toronto Metropolitan University. The report is based on a census-balanced online survey of 1,500 online Canadian adults (18+). The survey was conducted between May 12–31, 2022. See Appendix A for more information about data collection. Appendix B includes the survey questions used in the report.

This report examines the extent to which Canadians are exposed to and might be influenced by pro-Kremlin propaganda on social media-based on a census-balanced national survey of 1,500 Canadians. Among other questions, the survey asked participants about their social media use, news consumption about the war in Ukraine, political leanings, as well as their exposure to and believe in common pro-Kremlin narratives.

 

War in Ukraine and Disinformation Newsletter 16 August.

Programme on Democracy & Technology. August 16,2022.

We share our research and colleagues’ analyses that explain how misinformation operations during the Russia-Ukraine war are changing the global information environment. The newsletter is a collaboration between the Programme on Democracy and Technology and PeaceTech Lab. It is prepared by Dr Aliaksandr Herasimenka with the assistance of Danielle Recanati.

 

Russian Disinformation in Canada

U Calgary Alumni All-Access – School of Public Policy. October 13 2022 

In February 2022, Russian forces invaded Ukraine, sparking the largest military conflict in Europe since the end of the Second World War. Propaganda has long been a major aspect of war.

How does the Russian propaganda machine work? What impact does disinformation have on the war in Ukraine? A panel of experts delved into the workings of disinformation and the dissemination of propaganda to both the Russian people and the world. Find out how propaganda is targeted at Russians and those living outside of Russia, and what impact these campaigns have on the war in Ukraine and other Russian-led efforts.

Still at war: Russia's disinformation targeting Ukraine

EU vs Disinformation – Latest Articles, November 17, 2022.

 

History Is a Good Antidote to Disinformation About the Invasion of Ukraine

CIGI. Heidi Tworek. March 8, 2022.

Much of the current misinformation online exists to scam and to manipulate through speed. TikTok has become a key platform for misleading content. TikTok’s algorithm appears to offer up many misleading videos alongside scam calls for donations. These videos often depict older conflicts or conflicts in other places; the posters claim they are occurring in Ukraine and can garner millions of views. Abbie Richards suggests that “TikTok’s platform architecture is amplifying fear and permitting misinformation to thrive at a time of high anxiety,” calling the platform’s design “incompatible with the needs of the current moment.” It is hard to resist the siren call of doom scrolling. But a slower accumulation of knowledge at moments of crisis can avoid hurtful faux pas and prevent inadvertent spreading of disinformation.

 

Disinfodigest

Disinfowatch. October 5, 2022.

Disinformation narratives deployed by the Russian government in the months leading up to its invasion of Ukraine and afterwards have shifted over the past months to justify its invasion, erode Western support for Ukraine and undermine Western sanctions.

In a speech given in early September, Vladimir Putin repeated multiple Russian disinformation narratives, including a blanket denial of Russian responsibility for its invasion of Ukraine and it’s ongoing military operations in Ukraine, stating that “We did not start anything in terms of military action. We are trying to end it.”

 

Russian Propaganda and Disinformation Again Targeted by New Sanctions

Tereposky & DeRose. October 18, 2022

On October 17, 2022, the Government of Canada announced additional sanctions targeting 34 individuals and 1 entity “complicit in the dissemination of Russia disinformation and propaganda”, who “help assist the Russian regime in undermining the principles of state sovereignty and are responsible for spreading false narratives that serve as pretexts for the Russian regime’s unjustifiable war”.

The Government of Canada has indicated it intends to continue efforts to counter disinformation associated with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Government of Canada’s response has included to “work with its international partners to detect, correct and call out the Kremlin’s state-sponsored disinformation about Ukraine” and to publish “reliable and accurate information about the situation in Ukraine at home and abroad”.

 

What Russia’s Cyber Sovereignty Woes Tell Us About a Future “Splinternet”

International Forum for Democratic Studies. Elizabeth Kerley. October 13, 2022

Since launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia has been putting its longstanding aspirations for “cyber sovereignty” to the test. In keeping with its longstanding objectives of “technological independence and information control,” the Kremlin has promoted homegrown tech in the face of sanctions while also halting the flow of independent information. Meanwhile this April, 61 mostly democratic countries signed a declaration articulating a vision for the internet that is “open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure.” What does this clash of visions portend for the digital domain?

 

“Western Weapons in Wrong Hands”

Russian Disinformation Monitoring: October 31-November 6, 2022.

During the week from 31 October to 6 November 2022, Detector Media’s analysts recorded about fifty disinformation fakes spread by Russian propagandists to achieve Russia’s political goals. This week, the Russian propaganda machine claimed that Ukraine was losing the support of the West and would soon be left without weapons; stated that under the UN Charter, Russia had the right to “denazify” whomever it wanted; asserted that Russia was not waging war with full force and was about to launch a “large-scale offensive”.

 

EU: SHARP DISINFORMATION TOOL

Europe Diplomatic. October 24, 2022

“Today, East Stratcom Task Force is adding another tool that anyone could use to understand the threat better and to defend themselves against it. The EUvsDisinfo website, the EU’s first project raising awareness of disinformation, has been enriched with a new “Learn” section euvsdisinfo.eu/learn/.

“This page explains the mechanisms, tactics, common narratives and actors behind disinformation and information manipulation. It offers insights into the pro-Kremlin media ecosystem, and also explains the philosophy behind foreign information manipulation and interference. The readers can also find easy response technics that anyone can apply, and afterwards they can practise their newly acquired skills through quizzes and games”.

 

US Elections

Data misuse and disinformation: Technology and the 2022 elections

Brookings: Samantha Lai. June 21, 2022.

With the U.S. 2022 elections, the same issues over the algorithmic amplification of disinformation and misinformation and microtargeted political ads will once again resurface. Much work remains to be done for the U.S. to rise to the challenge of protecting the integrity of our elections. In response to growing concern over electoral disinformation the U.S. government has worked to established systems to protect election security. This article highlights and addresses a number of such initiatives.

 

Disarming Disinformation: Our shared responsibilities

US Department of State. July 15, 2022.

Disinformation is one of the Kremlin’s most important and far-reaching weapons. Russia has operationalized the concept of perpetual adversarial competition in the information environment by encouraging the development of a disinformation and propaganda ecosystem. This ecosystem creates and spreads false narratives to strategically advance the Kremlin’s policy goals. There is no subject off-limits to this firehose of falsehoods. Everything from human rights and environmental policy to assassinations and civilian-killing bombing campaigns are fair targets in Russia’s malign playbook.

 

Opinion Facebook misinformation is bad enough. The metaverse will be worse.

Washington Post. Rand Waltzman. August 22, 2022.

Here’s a plausible scenario that could soon take place in the metaverse, the online virtual reality environments under rapid development by Mark Zuckerberg and other tech entrepreneurs: A political candidate is giving a speech to millions of people. While each viewer thinks they are seeing the same version of the candidate, in virtual reality they are actually each seeing a slightly different version. For each and every viewer, the candidate’s face has been subtly modified to resemble the viewer.

 

On TikTok, Election Misinformation Thrives Ahead of Midterms

NY Times. Tiffany Hsu. August 14, 2022.

Ahead of the midterm elections this fall, TikTok is shaping up to be a primary incubator of baseless and misleading information, in many ways as problematic as Facebook and Twitter, say researchers who track online falsehoods. The same qualities that allow TikTok to fuel viral dance fads — the platform’s enormous reach, the short length of its videos, its powerful but poorly understood recommendation algorithm — can also make inaccurate claims difficult to contain.

 

Data misuse and disinformation: Technology and the 2022 elections

Brookings. Samantha Lai. June 2022.

Digital platforms, massive data collection, and increasingly sophisticated software create new ways for bad actors to generate and spread convincing disinformation and misinformation at potentially massive scales, disproportionately hurting marginalized communities. With the 2022 midterm elections around the corner, it is important to revisit how emerging technologies serve to suppress voting rights, and how the U.S. is going about the protection of such democratic ideals.

 

The politics of rage and disinformation — we ignore it at our peril.

National Observer. Supriya Dwivedi. July 18, 2022.

Misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories don’t exist in a vacuum, nor do they only live online. They spill out into the real world and impact very real people. And when misinformation, disinformation or conspiracy theories target groups of people already on the receiving end of hate, unsurprisingly, the hate experienced by those groups tends to increase.

In the aftermath of the last federal election, one thing that became abundantly clear was that much of our legacy political media seemed either unwilling or unable to report on the very real threat posed by politicians who use misinformation and conspiracy theories as part of their political shtick to appeal to voters.

 

Information Gaps and Misinformation in the 2022 Elections.

Brennan Centre for Justice. August 2, 2022.

False claims about the 2020 election have prompted anti-voter laws and mistrust in the process. Election officials, civic groups, and the media must act against the threat of election misinformation. The prob­lem of elec­tion misin­form­a­tion is vast. Part of the prob­lem occurs when there is high demand for inform­a­tion about a topic, but the supply of accur­ate and reli­able inform­a­tion is inad­equate to meet that demand. The result­ing inform­a­tion gap creates oppor­tun­it­ies for misin­form­a­tion to emerge and spread.

 

“Exhausting and Dangerous”: The Dire Problem of Election Misinformation and Disinformation

Majority Staff Report: Committee on Oversight and Reform U.S. House of Representatives. August 11, 2022.

The Oversight Committee began investigating the pernicious effects of lies about election administration on our democracy in early 2021. In particular, the Committee has investigated how misinformation and disinformation drive fraudulent efforts to cast doubt on legitimate election results, increase threats to election administrators, and create pathways for bad actors to subvert our democratic elections.

Earlier this year, the Oversight Committee and the Committee on House Administration launched an investigation to gather information directly from local election officials about the threat posed by election misinformation. On April 1, 2022, the Committee sent request letters to organizations of election officials in Arizona, Florida, Ohio, and Texas – states where election misinformation appeared to be having a significant impact.

The investigation uncovered that coordinated campaigns of election disinformation are disrupting the crucial work of local election officials, subjecting these Americans to violent threats, and overwhelming the limited resources available to provide accurate information to voters and protect the integrity of our democratic system. The findings indicate that strong federal leadership is needed to support the state and local officials responsible for running our elections.

 

Meta, TikTok, and Twitter Hope to Fight Election Misinformation. Experts Say Their Plans Aren’t Enough

Time Magazine. Nik Popli. August 18, 2022.

With less than three months from the U.S. midterm elections, social media companies are preparing for another intense fight against misinformation. TikTok, Meta, and Twitter say they’re ready for the challenge this time, and they’ve each drafted a similar playbook that includes more fact-checking, labelling misinformation more carefully and adding more restrictions on political advertising.

But experts who study social media and politics point out that these new policies aren’t that different from those in place in 2020—which could have consequences, since video content may play a larger role in the spread of misinformation this year.

 

Big Tech Must Step Up Now to Fight Misinformation in the Midterms

NYU Centre for Social Media and Politics. July 10, 2022.

Instead of pulling back election integrity measures, platforms should enhance their election safeguards. As researchers who study the intersection of social media, politics and democracy, here are four questions we’re watching:

  • How will social media respond to threats to democratic legitimacy?
  • How will companies stop extremists from organizing on their platforms?
  • What about video?
  • Will platforms share their data?

 

DHS Needs a Unified Strategy to Counter Disinformation Campaigns

Office of the Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security. August 10, 2022.

The Department of Homeland Security began internal and external coordination efforts in 2018 to counter disinformation appearing in social media. These efforts were predominantly focused on disinformation campaigns that pertained to election infrastructure or to distinct mission operations.

 

‘Hackers against conspiracies’: Cyber sleuths take aim at election disinformation

Politico. Maggie Miller. August 15, 2022.

The security experts who have spent years exposing flaws in voting technology are still at it — but ongoing election conspiracy theories are forcing them to make changes.

One of the country’s biggest hacking conferences became a test site this year for an urgent political question for the midterms: How to hunt for vulnerabilities in voting machines without fuelling election misinformation.

 

Twitter Looks to Prevent a Disinformation Free-for-All Ahead of 2022 Midterms

PCMag. Nathaniel Mott. August 11, 2022.

By applying its Civic Integrity Policy to the upcoming US elections, Twitter is looking to 'enables healthy civic conversation' on its platform. (Don't laugh.) The company expanded(Opens in a new window) the Civic Integrity Policy ahead of the 2020 presidential election to "further protect against content that could suppress the vote and help stop the spread of harmful misinformation that could compromise the integrity of an election or other civic process." Now it's looking to apply those same measures to the 2022 midterms being held in November.

 

TWITTER - The mission of our civic integrity work is to protect the conversation on Twitter during elections or other civic processes.

We're working to prepare for elections, elevate credible information, and help keep you safe on Twitter. Our civic integrity policy aims to prevent the use of Twitter to share or spread false or misleading information about a civic process (e.g., elections or census) that may disrupt or undermine public confidence in that process.

This policy is enforced when the risk for manipulation or interference is highest — generally a few months before and a couple of weeks after election day, depending on local and external factors. This policy is an additional, temporary protection on top of all the Twitter Rules, which are enforced year-round.

 

Meta quieter on election misinformation as midterms loom

AP. Amanda Seitz. August 5, 2022.

Facebook owner Meta is quietly curtailing some of the safeguards designed to thwart voting misinformation or foreign interference in U.S. elections as the November midterm vote approaches.

It’s a sharp departure from the social media giant’s multibillion-dollar efforts to enhance the accuracy of posts about U.S. elections and regain trust from lawmakers and the public after their outrage over learning the company had exploited people’s data and allowed falsehoods to overrun its site during the 2016 campaign.

 

COVID-19

 

Understanding the challenges posed by mis- and disinformation to develop better policy responses

The rapid spread of mis- and disinformation, which has been especially significant during the COVID-19 pandemic, poses fundamental challenges to public governance by drowning out and confusing official messages and factual information. Beyond the health crisis, mis- and disinformation more broadly cast evidence and facts into doubt, sow distrust and can threaten the integrity of democratic processes.

 

Disinformation: new actions from online platforms and extension of the monitoring programme

The Commission announces today the extension of its Coronavirus disinformation monitoring programme for another six months until June 2022, as it publishes the latest reports by online platforms on their actions taken between September and October.

 

Combating the disinfodemic: Working for truth in the time of COVID-19

COVID-19 has led to a parallel pandemic of disinformation that directly impacts lives and livelihoods around the world. Falsehoods and misinformation have proven deadly and sowed confusion about life-saving personal and policy choices.

To #ShareKnowledge, UNESCO has published two policy briefs offering critical insights into the fast-growing COVID-19-related disinformation that is impeding access to trustworthy sources and reliable information.

 

COVID disinformation campaign targeted BioNTech-Pfizer

A mysterious PR agency bribed health bloggers to spread false information on the BioNTech-Pfizer COVID vaccine.

 

COVID-19 misinformation

COVID-19 misinformation refers to misinformation and conspiracy theories about the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic and the origin, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease COVID-19, which is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. False information, including intentional disinformation, has been spread through social media, text messaging,[1] and mass media. False information has been propagated by celebrities, politicians, and other prominent public figures. Many countries have passed laws against "fake news," and thousands of people have been arrested for spreading COVID-19 misinformation. The spread of COVID-19 misinformation by governments has also been significant.

 

Fighting Coronavirus Misinformation and Disinformation

Although online disinformation and misinformation about the coronavirus are different—the former is the intentional spreading of false or misleading information and the latter is the unintentional sharing of the same—both are a serious threat to public health. Social media platforms have facilitated an informational environment that, in combination with other factors, has complicated the public health response, enabled widespread confusion, and contributed to loss of life during the pandemic.

 

ScienceUpFirst

ScienceUpFirst is a national initiative that works with a collective of independent scientists, researchers, health care experts and science communicators. They share the best available science in creative ways to stop the spread of misinformation.

 

COVID 19: A Severe Strain on the Information Space

Dean Jackson. April 2020.

Changes, including the promotion of accurate information from official sources, have not been enough to stem the tide of bad information: conspiracy theories, scams, and other forms of misleading content continue to flow, especially outside of the English language.

A virus without respect for borders has forced the world’s people to simultaneously reckon with threats to government accountability, press freedom, and the vitality of public discourse. Societies cannot understand these trends solely through the narrow lens of their own local political contexts. Doing so would mean failing to engage in important debates about democracy and the broader information space—which will surely have implications for future pandemics and other transnational crises to come.

 

Misinformation Alerts

Public Health Communications Collaborative. July 2022.

Knowing what misinformation is being shared can help you generate effective messaging. These insights are based on a combination of automated media monitoring and manual review by public health data analysts. Media data are publicly available data from many sources, such as social media, broadcast television, newspapers and magazines, news websites, online video, blogs, and more.

 

National Endowment for Democracy

COVID19-Analysis Hub

This resource includes essays and a selection of blog posts and podcast episodes concerning COVID19.

 

Physicians Spreading Misinformation on Social Media — Do Right and Wrong Answers Still Exist in Medicine?

New England Journal of Medicine July 7, 2022.

Considering widespread falsehoods about Covid-19 and its treatment and prevention, the American Board of Internal Medicine has informed doctors that disseminating misinformation is grounds for disciplinary sanctions.

 

Misinformation causes real harm and potentially kills, Canada’s top doc says

Globe and Mail. July 1, 2022.

Chief public health officer Theresa Tam says the racist, misogynistic abuse she’s faced during the pandemic has been a source of personal difficulty, and underscore the growing threat posed by the proliferation of misinformation about COVID-19.

Dr. Tam made her comments in a recent interview with The Globe and Mail, in which she offered a rare glimpse at her personal experience and perspective leading Canada through the worst public health crisis in a century.

 

Misinformation on social media linked to higher spread of COVID-19 in new study

CTV News. June 11, 2022.

A new study found social media use was linked to a higher spread of COVID-19 in the early stages of the pandemic, which researchers suggest could be due to widespread misinformation.

“What we found was surprising,” says research lead Jude Kong, an assistant professor at York University’s faculty of science. “This highlights the need to consider the dynamic role that social media plays in epidemics.”

 

The Disinformation Project

International Science Festival. July 14, 2022.

With a focus on social cohesion and inclusion, this talk by Kate Hannah, Director of the Disinformation Project, explores the misinformation ecosystem, the role of trust, and provides a call to action for communities.

 

Health Messaging in the Disinformation Age

Project Syndicate. William A. Haseltine August 24, 2022.

Unclear, opaque public health messaging has been a major problem throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, sowing confusion and making the crisis worse than it needed to be. To regain the public's trust, health officials must start learning from their mistakes and stop confusing credibility with infallibility.

 

Anti-vax Twitter accounts pushing food crisis misinformation, study finds

The Guardian. Adam Gabbatt. August 1, 2022.

Research says conspiracy theorists shifting from QAnon and Covid to disinformation about crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine Twitter accounts that have promoted QAnon and anti-vaccine conspiracy theories are switching focus and increasingly spreading disinformation about the global food crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a new study.

 

Disinformation is a Regional Economic Problem

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Emmanuel A. San Andres. October 25, 2022  

Information disorder is a catch-all phrase for the spread of false information which may cause negative societal and even economic harm—whether or not the harm was the intent of the creators and spreaders. It can be divvied into three categories: misinformation, or the sharing of falsity but with no intent to harm anyone; disinformation or the sharing of false information with intent to do harm; and malinformation, or the repurposing or recontextualization of facts, also with harmful intent. All three are reliant on how fast stories can be spread online to dangerous effect.

Truck Convoy Ottawa

 

The politics of rage and disinformation — we ignore it at our peril (Canada)

National Observer. July 18, 2022.

Misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories don’t exist in a vacuum, nor do they only live online. They spill out into the real world and impact very real people. And when misinformation, disinformation or conspiracy theories target groups of people already on the receiving end of hate, unsurprisingly, the hate experienced by those groups tends to increase.

 

‘Queen of Canada’: the rapid rise of a fringe QAnon figure sounds alarm.

The Guardian. Leyland Cecco. August 23, 2022.

She travels Canada in a flag-draped RV with an entourage. She greets supporters in small towns, who eagerly film the encounters on mobile phones. She’s called on her disciples to execute healthcare workers and politicians who support mass vaccination campaigns.

To her more than 60,000 followers online, she’s the newly installed Queen of Canada. But to law enforcement and national security officials, she represents the threat that online conspiracy theorists may be all too capable of inflicting real-world harm.

 

Russia Today covered ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests more than any foreign outlet: research

Global News. Rachel Gilmore. July 13, 2022.

Russia Today (RT) covered Canada’s so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests far more closely than any other international outlet, according to new research.

The Russian state-controlled television network used key words associated with the convoy protest during more than four and half hours of broadcasts between Jan. 13 and Feb. 12 — dwarfing the rate of any other international outlet’s coverage of the anti-mandate occupation that snarled Ottawa streets earlier this year.

 

Weapon of mass disruption: How disinformation is fuelling political division

Science Borealis. May 16, 2022.

Like many people, I typically scroll through my social media feeds when I’m taking a break from work or connecting with family and friends. I view these online spaces as places where my brain can go to zone out for a little while.

When the Freedom Convoy participants paralyzed downtown Ottawa for several weeks, ostensibly to protest COVID-19 mandates, I felt a reflex-like need to vent my own anger about the situation online. But something prevented me from rage tweeting or launching into a Facebook rant: the spectre of misinformation.

 

One quarter of Canadians believe online conspiracy theories, expert tells MPs

CBC. Elizabeth Thompson. April 28, 2022.

A quarter of Canadians believe in online conspiracy theories, an expert on radicalization and terrorism told a parliamentary committee Thursday. David Morin, a professor at the Université de Sherbrooke, said a poll conducted for an upcoming report he is preparing for the Quebec government found that 9 to 10 per cent of Canadians strongly believe in conspiracy theories, while another 15 per cent moderately believe them.

 

Canada sanctions additional Russian propaganda agents

Global Affairs Canada. October 17, 2022

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced that Canada is imposing further sanctions in relation to Russia’s unjustifiable invasion and attempted annexation of Ukrainian territory. The announcement was made during the visit to Ottawa of human rights and media freedom activists Bill Browder and Evgenia Kara-Murza, wife of detained Russian opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza.

 

Czech War on Disinformation is Still Mostly Talk

Reporting Democracy. Tim Gosling. November 9, 2022.

The recent huge cost-of-living protests – organized by extremist, pro-Russian elements – was a wake-up call for a government that seems to have forgotten its earlier pledge to build a blueprint to fight back against disinformation.

 

International 

 

Facebook misses election disinformation ads in Brazil: Report

Al Jazeera. August 15, 2022.

Facebook failed to filter out advertisements containing election disinformation in Brazil, a new report from human rights group Global Witness has found, as the country prepares for a tightly contested October vote.

The international rights group said on Monday that it had submitted 10 ads in Brazilian Portuguese to Facebook that contained election disinformation, including false claims about where and when to vote, or sought to delegitimize the country’s electoral process.

 

Facebook failed to catch blatant misinformation in ads ahead of Brazil’s 2022 election — for the fourth time

Fortune. Barbara Ortutay and AP. August 15, 2022.

Facebook failed to detect blatant election-related misinformation in ads ahead of Brazil’s 2022 election, a new report from Global Witness has found, continuing a pattern of not catching material that violates its policies the group describes as “alarming.”

The advertisements contained false information about the country’s upcoming election, such as promoting the wrong election date, incorrect voting methods and questioning the integrity of the election — including Brazil’s electronic voting system.

 

Kenya 2022: International Observers Praise Voting, Warn on Disinformation

The African Report Victor Abuso. August 12, 2022

As Kenyans wait for the final presidential results, international observers – in their preliminary reports – say the voting exercise was largely peaceful, even though there has been spread of disinformation that confused some voters.

 

The United Kingdom’s Online Safety Bill Exposes a Disinformation Divide

Centre for Strategic International Studies. August 11, 2022

A major effort to curb misinformation and disinformation in the United Kingdom hit a recent snag: the turmoil surrounding Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation and upcoming Conservative Party leadership election. Prior to Johnson’s announcement, the House of Commons had been expected to advance the proposed Online Safety Bill in mid-July. But due to new schedule constraints, the legislation has been tabled at least through the fall.

Some critics have seized the postponement as an opportunity to call for a “total rethink” of the bill, and the viability of any current or future content moderation proposal will likely depend on the standpoint of the next prime minister. Misinformation and disinformation can be harmful, but it is not always illegal in the United Kingdom—and the two frontrunners to succeed Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, have both stated that any government regulation to curb harmful content must also protect the freedom of speech. To illustrate the challenging trade-offs related to misinformation and disinformation, below is a summary of three significant points of controversy the Online Safety Bill faces, as well as some considerations from concurrent efforts to tackle false content across other governments.

 

Disinformation and freedom of expression during armed conflict

UN Web TV. October 19, 2022  

At the 77th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression presented her new report on disinformation and freedom of opinion and expression during armed conflicts.

 

Disinformation Day 2022 Considers Pressing Need for Cross-sector Collaboration and New Tools for Fact Checkers

University of Texas. Stacey Ingram-Kaleh. November 9, 2022

October 26, 2022 marked the first annual Disinformation Day hosted by Good Systems’ “Designing Responsible AI Technologies to Curb Disinformation” research team. Approximately 150 attendees from across the globe came together virtually to discuss challenges and opportunities in curbing the spread of digital disinformation. Thought leaders representing a range of disciplines and sectors examined the needs of fact checkers, explored issues of bias, fairness, and justice in mis- and disinformation, and outlined next steps for addressing these pressing issues together.

 

EMIF awards €5.7M for projects fighting disinformation in 2022

European university Institute. November 3, 2022.

In its first year of activity, the European Media and Information Fund (EMIF) has distributed €5,751,721 in grants supporting 33 projects aimed at countering disinformation across the continent.

The fund launched its first call for proposals in November 2021 to support fact-checking activities in Europe. This first initiative was followed by three further calls across three priority areas: “Multidisciplinary Investigations on Disinformation in Europe,” “Supporting Research into Media, Disinformation and Information Literacy Across Europe,” and “Media and Information Literacy for Citizens Empowerment.” Moreover, right after the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army, EMIF issued a special call to encourage fact-checking projects addressing conflict-related disinformation.

 

WMGIC x NATO Countering Disinformation Challenge 2022

William and Mary. October 21, 2022.

Hundreds of undergraduate students across the NATO Alliance united for a seven-hour case Challenge to address and counter disinformation in one of seven realms, each competing to develop the most comprehensive and innovative solution that can be put into practice.

During the challenge and over seven hours, teams worked with expert mentors in one of seven topics: Russia-Ukraine War, Public Health, Climate Change: Clean Energy, Climate Change & Climate Security, Artificial Intelligence, Gender-Based Violence and Terrorism.

Mentors guided students as they discussed and deliberated their proposed plan of action, and have backgrounds in government, industry, academia, and other disciplines.

 

Collaboration is key to countering online misinformation about noncommunicable diseases –new WHO/Europe toolkit shows how

World Health Organization. October 22, 2022.

The spread of health-related misinformation poses a growing threat to societies, with more and more people turning to search engines or social media for their health information. Misguided perceptions of health risks – such as smoking, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diets or physical inactivity – can lead to numerous life-changing and potentially deadly noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer or diabetes.

WHO/Europe’s new “Toolkit for tackling misinformation on noncommunicable diseases” explores why current measures implemented in the European Region are not achieving optimal results, and makes recommendations on collaborative action to better protect people from misinformation.

 

Hearing on “Foreign interference and disinformation in enlargement countries”

Committees European Parliament. October 10, 2022.

Members will exchange views with experts on interference and disinformation in the enlargement countries, in particular those located in the Western Balkans. The hearing will be held against the background of a flare-up of tensions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and to the geopolitical context of Serbia, where polls show a majority of pro-Russian opinions.

 

New pro-China disinformation campaign targets 2022 elections: Report

Axios. Sam Sabin. October 26, 2022.

Researchers at Google-owned Mandiant said in a report Wednesday that they've detected a group attempting to sow division in the U.S. and "operating in support of the political interests of the People’s Republic of China."

Mandiant's information adds to growing reports that pro-China actors are interested in influencing and disrupting next month's elections — although there's no evidence they've been successful.

 

Pro-PRC DRAGONBRIDGE Influence Campaign Leverages New TTPs to Aggressively Target U.S. Interests, Including Midterm Elections

Mandiant Intelligence. October 26, 2022.

Mandiant has recently observed DRAGONBRIDGE, an influence campaign we assess with high confidence to be operating in support of the political interests of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), aggressively targeting the United States by seeking to sow division both between the U.S. and its allies and within the U.S. political system itself.

 

Czech War on Disinformation is Still Mostly Talk

Reporting Democracy. Tim Gosling. November 9, 2022.

The recent huge cost-of-living protests – organized by extremist, pro-Russian elements – was a wake-up call for a government that seems to have forgotten its earlier pledge to build a blueprint to fight back against disinformation.

 

20 Young Changemakers Join the Fight against Misinformation and Disinformation in ASEAN

Asean Foundation. October 10, 2022.

ASEAN Foundation, with support from the US Mission to ASEAN and Google.org, proudly officiated today 20 members of the ASEAN Youth Advisory Group (ASEAN YAG) who will lead an awareness-raising campaign to combat misinformation and disinformation across ASEAN.

ASEAN is not immune to the threat of misinformation and disinformation. With increasing internet penetration across the ASEAN region, information has a powerful role in society, but there is a lag in awareness of how to identify misleading information. The members of ASEAN YAG will play pivotal roles in bridging this gap by spreading awareness about the importance of digital literacy in their communities through creative, and, most importantly, localised approach.

 

Social media failing to keep up with Brazil electoral disinformation, rights groups say

Reuters. Steven Grattan. October 28, 2022.

Human rights groups and researchers have raised concerns in Brazil that social media platforms are failing to effectively police disinformation ahead of a highly polarized presidential vote on Sunday.

Brazil's Superior Electoral Court (TSE) bolstered measures this month to tackle disinformation around the election, especially on video-sharing platforms. Sunday's runoff vote pits far-right President Jair Bolsonaro against leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

 

Turkish lawmakers ratify new disinformation bill

Global Voices. Arzu Geybullayeva. October 2022

Turkish lawmakers approved a bill on October 13 purportedly meant to combat fake news and disinformation, but local civil society organizations describe the bill as an underhanded censorship or disinformation bill which will be used to squash dissent and criticism. Critics of the bill say the 40-article legislation passed by Turkey's parliament is a threat to freedom of speech and could have disastrous consequences ahead of Turkey's 2023 election.

 

The Truth in Fake News: How Disinformation Laws Are Reframing the Concepts of Truth and Accuracy on Digital Platforms

BRILL: In European Convention on Human Rights Law Review. Paolo Cavaliere. October 11, 2022

The European Union’s (EU) strategy to address the spread of disinformation, and most notably the Code of Practice on Disinformation and the forthcoming Digital Services Act, tasks digital platforms with a range of actions to minimize the distribution of issue-based and political adverts that are verifiable false or misleading. This article discusses the implications of the EU’s approach with a focus on its categorical approach, specifically what it means to conceptualize disinformation as a form of advertisement and by what standards digital platforms are expected to assess the truthful or misleading nature of the content that they distribute because of this categorization. The analysis will show how the emerging EU anti-disinformation framework marks a departure from the European Court of Human Rights consolidated standards of review for public interest and commercial speech and the tests utilized to assess their accuracy.

 

Musk’s Twitter takeover highlights disinformation risk

Emerald Insight. November 7, 2022

Musk has repeatedly said he wants the platform to prioritize ‘free speech,’ but has also reassured European regulators that he will be complying with local laws, even where they involve content screening. Although Twitter’s policy has yet to be finalized, the turmoil highlights the risks of online disinformation.

The business models of social media companies and tech platforms contain strong incentives that promote misinformation and disinformation. Advertising comprises 80% of the income of Google's parent company Alphabet, and well over 90% for Twitter and for Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram.

Social media offer advertisers hundreds of millions of users who are difficult to reach through other media. High levels of engagement ensure that the audience becomes 'captive'. Moreover, using data collected on users enables platforms to match advertisers and potential customers

 

Tackling disinformation: EU Commission steps up action among young people

Insight EU Monitoring. October 11, 2022.

Today, the Commission published Guidelines for teachers and educators in primary and secondary schools, on how to address disinformation and promote digital literacy in their classrooms. The guidelines provide practical support for teachers and educators and include definitions of technical concepts, class exercises and how to encourage healthy online habits. This toolkit covers three main topics: building digital literacy, tackling disinformation, and assessing and evaluating digital literacy.

Currently in Europe, one in three 13-year-old students lack basic digital skills when directly tested, and according to the OECD, only a little over half of 15-year-olds in the EU reported being taught how to detect whether information is subjective or biased. There is consequently a clear need to strengthen the role of education and training in tackling disinformation and promoting digital literacy as well as media literacy. It will increase resiliency and the possibility to fight the impact of online disinformation more effectively.

 

Misinformation confuses Qatar 2022 World Cup fans

Atalayar. Jose Toril. November 18, 2022

The World Cup in Qatar has been receiving all kinds of rejection for years. With just a few days to go before it kicks off, there is concern about the consequences of acting against the strict Qatari laws. Disinformation is trying to mislead fans travelling to Qatar or following the event from home. Alleged prison sentences for flying the rainbow flag or that alcohol will not be allowed to be drunk are among them.

 

Resilience Against Disinformation: A New Baltic Way to Follow?

RKK ICDS. October 20, 2022.

The Baltic states, although not immune to disinformation, have accumulated unique experience and developed effective methods to resist and combat this malice.

This report is based on in-depth semi-structured interviews and supplementary surveys conducted with the representatives of several clusters – media, civil society organizations, state institutions, think-tanks/academia and business communities. It aims to assess risks and vulnerabilities, as well as the three nations’ preparedness to counteract foreign-led disinformation. This report also reviews the existing indices that lead to a greater understanding of the intricate nature and interdependence of resilience-shaping factors at various levels, while contributing the unique Baltic perspective to the evolving, global study of disinformation.

 

How Disinformation Splintered and Became More Intractable

New York Times. Steven Lee Myers & Sheera Frenkel. October 20, 2022.

On the morning of July 8, former President Donald J. Trump took to Truth Social, a social media platform he founded with people close to him, to claim that he had in fact won the 2020 presidential vote in Wisconsin, despite all evidence to the contrary.

The spread of Mr. Trump’s claim illustrates how, ahead of this year’s midterm elections, disinformation has metastasized since experts began raising alarms about the threat. Despite years of efforts by the media, by academics and even by social media companies themselves to address the problem, it is arguably more pervasive and widespread today.

 

How to Outsmart Election Disinformation

ProPublica. Karim & Cynthia Gordy Giwa. October 21, 2022.

It’s time to talk about misinformation. You already know it’s all around us, but understanding how to spot it and defend against it is one of the most important parts of being an informed and active voter.

 

How to Report Election Misinformation and Disinformation Online

Asian Americans Advancing Justice. October 28, 2022.

Mis- and disinformation about elections is harmful to our democracy. If you see content online about elections that could suppress or mislead voters, you can report it. Read through our easily shareable cheat sheet to learn how to report disinformation on different platforms, dos and don'ts of reporting disinfo, and key definitions.

 

Why Spanish-language mis- and disinformation is a huge issue in 2022.

Brookings. Gabriel R. Sanchez & Carly Bennett. November 4, 2022.

As prepare for election night, it will be important to consider the impact that misleading and biased information has on the voting behaviour of the public. This post draws from a conversation we had with Dr. Nicole Turner Lee for the TechTank podcast which focused on the implications of misinformation targeting Latinos, with a particular emphasis on Spanish-language media.

 

Truth Cops: Leaked Documents Outline DHS’s Plans to Police Disinformation

The Intercept. Ken Klippenstein & Lee Fang. October 31, 2022

The Department of Homeland Security is quietly broadening its efforts to curb speech it considers dangerous, an investigation by The Intercept has found. Years of internal DHS memos, emails, and documents — obtained via leaks and an ongoing lawsuit, as well as public documents — illustrate an expansive effort by the agency to influence tech platforms.

 

As 2022 midterms approach, disinformation on social media platforms continues

PBS. David Klepper (AP). October 21, 2022

With less than three weeks before the polls close, misinformation about voting and elections abounds on social media despite promises by tech companies to address a problem blamed for increasing polarization and distrust.

While platforms like Twitter, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube say they’ve expanded their work to detect and stop harmful claims that could suppress the vote or even lead to violent confrontations, a review of some of the sites shows they’re still playing catch-up with 2020, when then-President Donald Trump’s lies about the election he lost to Joe Biden helped fuel an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

 

Hoax in the Machine: Disinformation Against Voting Systems Manufacturers and Technologies in the 2022 US Midterm Elections

Recorded Future. Nov ember 7, 20223.

This report presents Recorded Future’s insights and assessments on disinformation and influence efforts targeting United States (US)-deployed voting technologies up to, during, and in the aftermath of the 2022 midterms, including electronic voting systems, voting machines, and various Election Assistance Commission-approved software and hardware used in the administration of US elections at the local, state, and federal levels. While we acknowledge that voting technologies have faced a long history of criticisms in the US, we intentionally focus this report on election infrastructure disinformation and influence efforts generated between the 2020 general election and the 2022 midterm elections.

 

Experts grade Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube on readiness to handle midterm election misinformation

The Conversation. October 26, 2022.

The 2016 U.S. election was a wake-up call about the dangers of political misinformation on social media. With two more election cycles rife with misinformation under their belts, social media companies have experienced identifying and countering misinformation. However, the nature of the threat misinformation poses to society continues to shift in form and targets. The big lie about the 2020 presidential election has become a major theme, and immigrant communities are increasingly in the crosshairs of disinformation campaigns – deliberate efforts to spread misinformation.

Social media companies have announced plans to deal with misinformation in the 2022 midterm elections, but the companies vary in their approaches and effectiveness. We asked experts on social media to grade how ready Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube are to handle the task.

 

Misinformation and hate are trending in this election year

CNN Politics. Zachary B. Wolf. October 31, 2022

Misinformation is trending now that Elon Musk, the self-described “Chief Twit,” has bought Twitter, his favourite social media platform.

Meanwhile, displays of hate are breaking out in public now that Kanye West, who now goes by Ye, has despicably fashioned himself as a folk hero for those spewing antisemitic messages, pushing his own anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.

The stories dovetail not just because they are built on the wild spread of false claims, but also because West’s Twitter account – locked in early October for an antisemitic tweet in which he said he was going “death con 3 on Jewish people” – was recently reactivated. More on that below.

 

Turkey: “Dark day for online free expression” as new ‘disinformation law’ is passed

Amnesty International. October 13, 2022

Responding to the Turkish parliament passing the so-called disinformation law which tightens government’s grip over social media platforms and news websites while criminalizing the sharing of information that is deemed false, Güney Yildiz, Regional Researcher at Amnesty International, said: “Today is yet another dark day for online freedom of expression and press freedom in Turkey. Coming on the heels of the government’s increased control of the media over the last few years, these new measures enable them to further censor and silence critical voices ahead of Turkey’s upcoming elections and beyond, under the guise of fighting disinformation.

“In fact, rather than ensuring information safety, the law’s vaguely defined provisions facilitate further the prosecution of those who allegedly publicly disseminate ‘false information’ and could see people facing jail terms of up to three years merely for a retweet.

 

Disinformation Attacks Threaten US Midterm Elections

Dark Reading. Robert Lemos. October 17, 2022

While traditional cyberattack operations against US government organizations have remained fairly consistent, influence and disinformation attacks by foreign nations have increased in the run-up to the US midterm elections.

On the cyberattack front, the China-linked hacking group Budworm has targeted several government agencies, including the legislature for a US state, over the past six months, according to Symantec, part of Broadcom Software. The attack on a US government organization is the second recent incident — after a hiatus of more than six years — where the group has targeted a US private-sector agency, the company's researchers stated in an advisory.

 

Dark Money Political Ads Proliferate on Facebook and Instagram Ahead of the U.S. Midterms, Enabled by the Platforms’ Policies

NewsGuard Misinformation Monitor. Lorenzo Arvanitis and McKenzie Sadeghi. October 2022.

“Pink slime” newsrooms secretly backed by partisan donors are spending big on Facebook and Instagram ads in battleground states, taking advantage of the Meta platforms’ ad-targeting tools and advertising policies.

NewsGuard’s analysis of Meta’s Ad Library identified thousands of ads from the four pink slime groups promoting either Democrats or Republicans and focusing on hot-button issues, such as abortion, inflation, education, and crime. The ads, which were disguised as articles from local news publications, and which ran on Facebook and Instagram.....

Meta says that it is committed to “protecting elections and increasing authenticity, transparency and accountability for advertisers,” according to “The Election Integrity at Meta” page. However, by providing the ideological networks with powerful tools to target audiences in battleground states, with loose standards that can be manipulated by partisan actors, Meta has in fact been contributing to the deception.

 

Coalition Sends Letter Urging Social Media Platforms to Prevent Online Election Disinformation

Legal Defence Fund. October 13, 2022

Today, LDF and a coalition of civil rights, public interest, voting rights, and other organizations, sent a letter urging social media companies to take immediate steps to curb the spread of voting disinformation in the midterms and future elections and to help prevent the undermining of our democracy. This letter is a follow up to another sent last May. Many companies have announced updates to their voter interference and disinformation policies in recent weeks but the policies have little effect unless enforced continually and consistently.

 

COVID-19 Misinformation: The Flip Side of ‘Knowledge is Power’

Penn Medicine. Frank Otto. October 25, 2022.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the phrase “Knowledge is power” has taken on significant meaning. While it’s typically associated with a force of good — the more someone knows about something they can do to make a positive difference in their lives or others’ — it’s becoming clear through recent ongoing research that many have underestimated the force of knowledge that doesn’t originate from the truth.

The term “infodemic” — which has its very own page on the World Health Organization’s website — became common parlance for the exponential way in which COVID-19 misinformation spreads. Every part of the pandemic seemed to have its own piece of untruth or lie to go with it, ranging from the disease’s origins to treatments and the vaccines that have dulled COVID-19’s impact.

This misinformation has hurt people: An early study estimated that one rumour, which had to do with drinking highly concentrated alcohol-based cleaning products as a “cure” for COVID-19, led to more than 5,800 people being hospitalized (with 800 dying) from January through March of 2020 alone.

 

Social Media and the 2022 Midterm Elections: Anticipating Online Threats to Democratic Legitimacy

Centre for American Progress.E. Simpson,A. Conner, A. Maciolek. November 3, 2022.

Social media companies continue to allow attacks on U.S. democracy to proliferate on their platforms, undermining election legitimacy, fuelling hate and violence, and sowing chaos.

This issue brief outlines what is needed from social media companies and identifies three of the top threats they pose to the 2022 midterm elections—the season opener for the 2024 presidential election.

 

Canada hits back at Russian disinformation with entertainment sanctions

National Observer. Dylan Robertson. October 18, 2022

Canada is sanctioning 34 individuals and a television network in Russia that the federal government considers "propaganda agents," Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced Monday. In the latest update to Canada's sanctions regime, Joly said Ottawa is targeting those responsible for Russian disinformation as the war in Ukraine nears the nine-month mark. The people on the list have tried to justify Russia's illegal attempts to annex parts of Ukraine, she said.