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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This tool could act as an early warning system for harmful conspiracy theories

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The automated approach can detect the telltale signs of a baseless conspiracy theory as it begins to turn into a narrative on social media. The audio on the otherwise shaky body camera footage is unusually clear. As police officers search a handcuffed man who moments before had fired a shot inside a pizza parlor, an officer asks him why he was there. The man says to investigate a pedophile ring. Incredulous, the officer asks again. Another officer chimes in, “Pizzagate. He’s talking about Pizzagate.” Read Full Story

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This game can stop people from falling for COVID-19 conspiracies

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Go Viral helps the average internet dweller understand the basics of how misinformation is made—which can help prevent people from believing falsities on social media. No one wants to know how the sausage is made—and this is as true about processed meat as it is misinformation on the web. But members of Cambridge’s Social Decision Making Lab are hoping to reform conspiracy theory believers in the same way that PETA turns meat eaters into vegetarians: by showing them what goes into creating and spreading misinformation. Read Full Story

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7 ways to talk to QAnon-obsessed loved ones, according to a former white nationalist

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In the wake of the Capitol riot, people are waking up to the dangers of the QAnon conspiracy. This is my best advice for supporting friends and family members who may be entrenched in hate-based worldviews. Over the past few years, many Americans have watched friends and family members immerse themselves ever deeper into the world of QAnon, a system of beliefs based on interwoven, overlapping conspiracy theories, driven through intense dis- and misinformation sharing via social media sites and messaging apps. In the wake of the storming of the Capitol on January 6, the concern many Americans have felt for their loved ones has rocketed to urgency. Many people realized for the first time that QAnon isn’t just a set of obsessive ideas one posts about online, but can yield to real, offline acts of violence. Read Full Story

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One secret weapon against extremism: Google ads promoting mindfulness

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Moonshot is part of a burgeoning counter-radicalization industry armed with ads, big data, and decades of experience engaging extremists. Can its strategies work against a new threat? How do you pull people out of the rabbit holes that lead to violent extremism, or keep them from falling in? If conspiracy-laced hate is another kind of pandemic pushed by online superspreaders, could we build something like a cure or a vaccine? Read Full Story

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The new ‘New York Times’ podcast ‘Rabbit Hole’ sends you down one to see what the internet does to us

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Hosted by Kevin Roose, the new pod expands on the star reporter’s work exposing how YouTube can radicalize viewers. Last year, New York Times reporter and columnist Kevin Roose wrote an engrossing, investigative story about the artificial intelligence behind YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. “ The Making of a YouTube Radical ” was anchored in the experience of 26-year-old Caleb Cain, a college dropout who was turned on to far-right conspiracy theories on the platform. The broader story was a look at how YouTube was shaping the views and actions of many young men like Cain by specifically aiming to keep users engaged for as long as possible. Read Full Story

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Why people might be worried about taking the COVID-19 vaccine—and why they don’t need to be

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There are some common concerns about the new vaccines that are driving a reluctance to take them. Here’s how you can ease people’s minds. It isn’t just anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists who are reluctant to get COVID-19 vaccines: In one recent survey, nearly half of Americans said they were hesitant to get vaccinated. Only 53% said they would be willing to do it; of the rest, most said they thought the vaccines were untrustworthy. But if at least 70% of the population doesn’t get the shots, it will be difficult to get the virus under control. Here’s why experts say that you should be confident getting vaccinated. Read Full Story

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People who believe COVID-19 conspiracies have these 7 tendencies

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The viral video ‘Plandemic’ illustrates many of the characteristics of conspiratorial thinking, from embracing contradictions to assuming nefarious intent. The conspiracy theory video “Plandemic” recently went viral . Despite being taken down by YouTube and Facebook, it continues to get uploaded and viewed millions of times . The video is an interview with conspiracy theorist Judy Mikovits, a disgraced former virology researcher who believes the COVID-19 pandemic is based on a vast deception, with the purpose of profiting from selling vaccinations. Read Full Story

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