Tuesday, November 30News That Matters

Tag: Rumors and Misinformation

Inside the ‘Misinformation’ Wars

Inside the ‘Misinformation’ Wars

Business
This hints at a weakness of the new focus on misinformation: It’s a technocratic solution to a problem that’s as much about politics as technology. The new social media-fueled right-wing populists lie a lot, and stretch the truth more. But as American reporters quizzing Donald Trump’s fans on camera discovered, his audience was often in on the joke. And many of the most offensive things he said weren’t necessarily lies — they were just deeply ugly to half the country, including most of the people running news organizations and universities.It’s more comfortable to reckon with an information crisis — if there’s anything we’re good at, it’s information — than a political one. If only responsible journalists and technologists could explain how misguided Mr. Trump’s statements were, surely the...
They Died From Covid. Then the Online Attacks Started.

They Died From Covid. Then the Online Attacks Started.

LifeStyle
Reached by phone, the commenter said she stood by her online sentiments. “I do believe in everything I say,” she said. “I can be very passionate, sometimes a little too passionate.” She declined to discuss the matter further, but shortly after the call ended, her Facebook comments disappeared.Grappling With Grief (and Trolls)Drew Scott and his wife, Farrah Scott, both 45, chose not to get vaccinated because they felt they were young and healthy enough to survive. The couple, who were high school sweethearts, also had deep suspicions about the virus’s origin and the safety of the vaccines.“Drew put his faith in the lord, not man, and he questioned not only the virus being released, but the vaccine being created,” said Ms. Scott of her husband, a machine operator in Whitesburg, Ga.On Faceboo...

Tucker Carlson’s ‘Patriot Purge’ Special Leads Two Fox News Contributors to Quit

Business
For his part, Mr. Goldberg said he has been thinking about William F. Buckley, the late founder of National Review, who saw as part of his mission “imposing seriousness on conservative arguments” and purging some extreme fringe groups, including the John Birch Society, from the right.Understand the Claim of Executive Privilege in the Jan. 6. InquiryCard 1 of 8A key issue yet untested. Donald Trump’s power as former president to keep information from his White House secret has become a central issue in the House’s investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Amid an attempt by Mr. Trump to keep personal records secret and the indictment of Stephen K. Bannon for contempt of Congress, here’s a breakdown of executive privilege:What is executive privilege? It is a power claimed by p...

The Secret to Great Online Communities

Technology
This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. Here is a collection of past columns.We know that gatherings of humans on the internet can be either snarky and insensitive or welcoming and informative. On Tech is hosting a virtual event this week for New York Times subscribers to talk over what makes healthy online communities tick and how to get more of them.One essential ingredient is people like Kate Bilowitz.Bilowitz is a co-founder of a Facebook group called Vaccine Talk, which describes itself as an “evidence-based discussion forum” for people with varying beliefs about vaccinations to better understand one another.You might imagine raging shout fests, but I’ve been watching Vaccine Talk since I read about the group in The Washington Post, and I’ve mostly seen discussions that are em...

Covid-19 Misinformation Goes Unchecked on Radio and Podcasts

Technology
“People develop really close relationships with podcasts,” said Evelyn Douek, a senior research fellow at Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute. “It’s a parasocial medium. There’s something about voice that humans really relate to.”Marc Bernier, a talk radio host in Daytona Beach, Fla., whose show is available for download or streaming on iHeart’s and Apple’s digital platforms, was among the talk radio hosts who died of Covid-19 complications after expressing anti-vaccination views on their programs. The deaths made national news and set off a cascade of commentary on social media. What drew less attention was the industry that helped give them an audience.On a June episode, Mr. Bernier said, after referring to unvaccinated people: “I’m one of them. Judge me if you want.” ...
Scientists Fight a New Source of Vaccine Misinformation: Aaron Rodgers

Scientists Fight a New Source of Vaccine Misinformation: Aaron Rodgers

Sports
This spring, he was auditioning to be the host of “Jeopardy!” Nearly every day, he pops up on television ads for national brands like State Farm insurance. And on Sundays this fall, he has led the Green Bay Packers to a division-best 7-2 record.Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is not just the N.F.L.’s reigning most valuable player, he’s a celebrity who transcends the nation’s most popular sport, a household name on par with Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes.So when news broke that he tested positive for the coronavirus last week and was unvaccinated, Rodgers justified his decision to not get vaccinated by speaking out against the highly effective vaccines and spewing a stream of misinformation and junk science. Medical professionals were disheartened not just because it will make it harder for them t...
Researchers say a coordinated misinformation campaign on Twitter backed Kenya’s president.

Researchers say a coordinated misinformation campaign on Twitter backed Kenya’s president.

Technology
Two decades ago, Wikipedia arrived on the scene as a quirky online project that aimed to crowdsource and document all of human knowledge and history in real time. Skeptics worried that much of the site would include unreliable information, and frequently pointed out mistakes.But now, the online encyclopedia is often cited as a place that, on balance, helps combat false and misleading information spreading elsewhere.Last week, the Wikimedia Foundation, the group that oversees Wikipedia, announced that Maryana Iskander, a social entrepreneur in South Africa who has worked for years in nonprofits tackling youth unemployment and women’s rights, will become its chief executive in January.We spoke with her about her vision for the group and how the organization works to prevent false and mislead...

Oil Executives Grilled Over Industry’s Role in Climate Disinformation

Business
At a heated hearing on Thursday, Democrats had some big questions for the chief executives of Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Shell: Would they pledge to stop lobbying against efforts to reduce emissions? And were they willing to tell their powerful trade groups to stop working against electric vehicles?None of the executives agreed.Instead, the leaders of the four major oil and gas companies touted their support for a transition to clean energy and said they had never engaged in campaigns to mislead the public on the role of fossil fuel emissions in global warming. All four acknowledged that the burning of their products was driving climate change, but also told lawmakers that fossil fuels are not about to disappear.“Oil and gas will continue to be necessary for the foreseeable future,” said...

Facebook Changes Corporate Name to Meta

Business
In 2015, Google restructured itself under a new parent company, Alphabet, dividing itself into separate smaller companies to better differentiate its internet search business from the moonshot bets it was making in other areas. In 2011, Netflix announced plans to cleave its video business into two parts, briefly renaming the DVD-by-mail arm of the company as Qwikster. After The Verge reported last week that Facebook might change its name, social media also erupted with less desirable comparisons. Some recalled how Philip Morris, the tobacco giant, rebranded itself to Altria Group in 2001 after years of reputational damage over the health costs and effects of cigarettes on the American public.Nicholas Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global policy and communications, has rejected the com...
Facebook Debates What to Do With Its Like and Share Buttons

Facebook Debates What to Do With Its Like and Share Buttons

Technology
SAN FRANCISCO — In 2019, Facebook researchers began a new study of one of the social network’s foundational features: the Like button.They examined what people would do if Facebook removed the distinct thumbs-up icon and other emoji reactions from posts on its photo-sharing app Instagram, according to company documents. The buttons had sometimes caused Instagram’s youngest users “stress and anxiety,” the researchers found, especially if posts didn’t get enough Likes from friends.But the researchers discovered that when the Like button was hidden, users interacted less with posts and ads. At the same time, it did not alleviate teenagers’ social anxiety and young users did not share more photos, as the company thought they might, leading to a mixed bag of results.Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s ...