‘America’s Frontline Doctors’ website goes dark as platforms scramble to scrub misinformation

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Tech companies are struggling to scrub their platforms of a viral video that contains misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. The latest salvo in the battle to control online information is a group calling itself “America’s Frontline Doctors.” After its video making false claims about the coronavirus pandemic ricocheted across social media platforms yesterday, tech giants including Facebook, Twitter, Google, and others scrambled to stop the content from further going viral. It was removed from most major platforms, even as copies continued to reappear and spread all over again, leading to the familiar game of whack-a-mole that so often ensues when undesirable content proliferates. Read Full Story

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Is the explosion of COVID-19 conspiracies changing people’s real-world behavior?

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More than 20 million people saw a video filled with lies about COVID-19. Researchers still don’t know how this kind of viral misinformation is impacting people’s willingness to wear masks—or to get an eventual vaccine. On Monday night, Breitbart News launched a video of a press conference from a group of physicians called America’s Frontline Doctors, wherein several doctors repeated inaccurate claims about COVID-19, its treatments, and effects. The video reached over 20 million viewers on Facebook alone before being taken down Tuesday. The fast spread of this video and its false claims raises a big question about how much this kind of information affects people’s decisions to stay home, wear a mask, and ultimately, to get vaccinated when a COVID-19 vaccine is approved. Read Full Story

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A new report says Facebook’s anti-misinformation strategy isn’t working

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As the ‘Plandemic’ COVID-19 hoax video gets a sequel, an activist group concludes that Facebook’s effort to combat misinformation doesn’t go far enough. Plandemic , the viral conspiracy-laden video that claims the COVID-19 outbreak was orchestrated by government officials and billionaires, is back—now in feature-length form. This second installment and its various promotion efforts have coincided with a new report from privacy watchdog group Avaaz that calls out Facebook’s efforts to combat health misinformation on its platform. Read Full Story

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I’m a doctor. Here’s how I talk to my patients about COVID-19 conspiracies

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Listening with empathy and respect is the best medicine for those who believe health misinformation. A few weeks ago, I took an uncomfortable trip down the rabbit hole of COVID-19 conspiracy theory videos. As a newly minted M.D. who will soon be taking care of patients at a safety-net hospital on the front lines of an ongoing pandemic, I was especially pained by what I saw. There was the infamous “Plandemic” video, which asserts that a cabal of elite individuals and organizations is using COVID-19 to cement power. There were also false claims that the new coronavirus was created with the backing of Bill Gates, for the purposes of diminishing our freedoms. Read Full Story

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Researchers can’t even begin to assess the damage from viral suicide videos

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Psychologists still don’t know how dangerous suicide videos that spread online are to those who might be considering self-harm. For platforms, that creates a loophole. Earlier this month, a video of a suicide went viral on TikTok. The short-form video platform is now appealing to the broader social media industry to develop strategies to keep harmful content out of people’s feeds. In its plea, TikTok notes that the industry already works together to develop frameworks for suppressing child sexual abuse and terrorist-related content. When broadcasts or suicides and other violent events appear on social networks, there’s nothing users can do to ensure they won’t see them short of canceling their accounts. However, there is political pressure for these platforms to effectively control damaging content on their network, or else face tougher regulations. Read Full Story

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Influential QAnon accounts are still active on Twitter, despite a sweeping ban

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Scrubbing a platform of conspiracies is like playing whack-a-mole. At a time when the spread of misinformation can literally have life-or-death consequences, the danger of conspiracy theories is difficult to overstate. Just days after President Trump said “it would be interesting to check” if injecting disinfectants can prevent the coronavirus from doing a “tremendous number on the lungs,” health officials reported a steep increase in people drinking cleaning solutions. Read Full Story

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The coronavirus is already bursting the tech investment bubble

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The pandemic has revealed the shaky foundations of companies like Uber, WeWork, and Airbnb. A handful of technology companies have benefited from coronavirus. Amazon has profited handsomely, as have streaming and video conferencing platforms like Netflix and Zoom . But the pandemic has laid bare the shaky foundations of a number of other platforms that bill themselves as technology companies and have enjoyed the high valuations that come with this label. Read Full Story

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New proposal to steer nation through COVID-19 crisis would give a voice to frontline workers

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Today, scholars from Harvard Law School’s Clean Slate for Worker Power project and the Roosevelt Institute unveil a plan that channels the indignation—and expertise—of those who are underpaid while taking on the risks during this perilous time. As the coronavirus has spread throughout America so has the outcry from frontline workers anxious about their livelihoods—and their lives. Read Full Story

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