As health misinformation and politics collide, social networks face a choice

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Misinformation targeting citizens who vote based on pandemic response may force Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to police political content. Researchers watching the constant swirl of COVID-19 misinformation and disinformation say that it’s about to become very political. That may pose a problem for platforms such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Read Full Story

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Facebook weighs banning political ads before the 2020 election

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As hundreds of advertisers boycott the the social media monolith over its divisive content, a political blackout may be coming in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election. Political ads on Facebook have long proven a lightning rod for controversy. They’re all too easy to pack with misinformation , while removing misleading ads is its own separate ordeal. Experts such as professor and digital rights advocate David Carroll have long suggested banning microtargeted political ads from Facebook, following the Cambridge Analytica fiasco from the 2016 election . Read Full Story

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Facebook is finally using a potent tool against COVID-19 misinformation

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Facebook is now deploying notifications to directly tell people when they have engaged with misinformation. But experts say it may be too little, too late. Facebook is changing how it reaches people who have encountered misinformation on its platform. The company will now send notifications to anyone who has liked, commented, or shared a piece of misinformation that’s been taken down for violating the platform’s terms of service. It will then connect users with trustworthy sources in effort to correct the record. While researchers think the additional context could help people better understand their news consumption habits, it may be too little, too late to quell the tide of COVID-19 misinformation. Read Full Story

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10 ways social media platforms can fight election disinformation

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The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, but that doesn’t mean the major platforms have to guarantee bad actors freedom of reach. Approaching the U.S. presidential election, social media platforms have been feverishly introducing new measures to curb disinformation. Twitter announced the suspension of all political advertising, the addition of warning labels on tweets containing misleading information and their deamplification, and limits to how users can retweet. Facebook also announced the suspension of political advertising (though much later). In September it started taking down and labeling posts that tried to dissuade people from voting. Both platforms have started aggressively banning QAnon. They have also removed or labeled some posts by President Trump containing false information and declared that they would take down any content attempting to wrongly claim election victory. YouTube, despite being a key platform of misinformation, has remained fairly quiet. Read Full Story

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Facebook is quietly pressuring its independent fact-checkers to change their rulings

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As Facebook struggles with waves of misinformation, the company’s political and business concerns are influencing its fact-checking policies. When Mark Zuckerberg went to Washington for a rare, three-day charm tour last September, his schedule featured behind-closed-doors lunches, dinner with President Trump and Peter Thiel, and one-on-ones with lawmakers who, among other things, wanted to talk about a video on Facebook. Read Full Story

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Twitter has acquired its first design firm ever. Here’s why

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You might have never heard of Ueno, but it’s the first design studio that Twitter has ever acquired. For years, Twitter has faced criticism for enabling harassment and the spread of misinformation and, in recent months, the company has shown signs of trying to right its course. With an important election in balance, the company banned political ads, flagged Donald Trump’s tweets as disputed, and used its interface to nudge people to read and comment on stories before retweeting them. Last week, it banned Trump from its platform outright . Read Full Story

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There’s a simple way to reduce extreme political rhetoric on Facebook and Twitter

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Tech companies should stop forcing politicians to vie for their algorithms’ attention, writes political digital strategist Eric Wilson. Instead, they should rethink their platform’s incentives—and follow the example of the USPS. As major tech companies struggle with their responsibilities to the users and communities they serve, the question of what political candidates should be allowed to say in their online postings has emerged as a flash point. Each of the various platforms have taken different approaches to this question, but they each ignore the most important consideration of all: Why is it more advantageous online for a political candidate to be sensational rather than measured? Read Full Story

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