War via TikTok: Russia’s new tool for propaganda machine

“This is the way they go to war; it’s a central part of Russian doctrine,” said Jim Ludes, a former U.S. defense analyst who now directs the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University. Ludes said Russian disinformation campaigns are intended to galvanize Russian support while confusing and dividing the country’s opponents. Russia tailors its propaganda message for specific audiences. For Russians and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, the message is that Russia is trying to defend its own people against Western-fueled aggression and persecution in Ukraine. Similar tactics have been used, including by Nazi Germany…

How Fake News Happens: It’s simple! A governor tweets a Fox News graphic from a story that cites a British tabloid’s misinterpretation of a scholarly study, and a false narrative about Biden banning beef stokes political rage

How dare President Biden be invoked by a British tabloid that rather creatively linked a scholarly study to a plan Biden floated during the Democratic primary. How dare Biden be implicated in a Fox News graphic that falsely lists cutting beef sales by 90% as a requirement of Biden’s “climate requirements.” How dare Biden be targeted by the Texas governor who retweeted the misleading Fox News graphic that amplified the spin that the British tabloid put on a scholarly study. Biden is such a national embarrassment! Why doesn’t he just spend his time rage-tweeting from golf courses, like presidents are…

Fox News, accused of manipulating news images, relabels them as “collages,” “regrets these errors”

Using bits and pieces of real news in order to distort the public perception of a story is unethical. Not all news organizations distort the truth this way. What do you think about the ones that do? Today, Fox re-labeled three different altered images, identifying each as a “collage” and posting a note that says the company “regrets these errors.” Fox used a dramatic photograph of a person running past a flaming building in Minnesota to illustrate a story on the Seattle “Autonomous Zone” (which is occupied by protestors, but is not ablaze). Not all news insert the same image…

There’s nothing like a fair-minded, good-faith analysis of the facts

There’s nothing like a fair-minded, good-faith analysis of the facts. And this article from PJMedia is nothing like a fair-minded, good faith analysis. I see it instead as a cynical attempt to cloud the truth by feeding conspiracy theories. An actual news story would lead with the evidence — any charges filed against Gugino, quotes from a witness whose first-hand experiences challenge the mainstream interpretation of the video, behind-the-scenes photos documenting Gugino’s long career as a Hollywood stunt performer, court rulings showing he’s earned millions of dollars by falling down in front of police officers and suing them in civil…

Police Department, Fire Department Tell Different Versions of Same Richmond Incident

A Richmond police official and a fire official agree that Sunday, multiple individuals interfered with a fire truck’s response to a fire. But beyond that, each source tells a rather different story.

I just watched a pretty good Star Trek episode exploring the premise that well-intentioned people can remember and sincerely believe widely different interpretations of the same events, without being intentionally deceptive.

When equally credible sources make conflicting claims, there’s probably a story there somewhere. If a source makes unverifiable claims, or won’t respond to legitimate follow-up questions, or vilifies or aggrandizes a third party, that’s a good reason to be skeptical.

Meme unfairly blames “protesters” for four crimes

A Facebook meme that claims “3 of these 4 honorable men were killed by ‘protesters’” is false. I don’t mean that I can prove that not a single one of the guilty parties ever participated in a protest. However, Police never connected Beaty’s death with the protests (and the FBI declined to do so when asked). Police sent out an alert that specified Underwood’s death was unrelated to protests. Dorn was responding to a burglar alarm at a business that was being looted hours after a protest ended. Brewer was injured not during a protest, but 40 minutes after protesters…

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Minneapolis protest cleanup: Did you share this meme without fact-checking it? (Don’t spread fake news about the news.)

A Facebook meme with 52k reactions and 37k shares includes pictures of volunteers cleaning the streets in Minneapolis, the day after mass protests of the death of George Floyd. The pictures make a powerful point about the values of the community. However, the text includes an unnecessary slam against journalism, because it introduces the images with “Images you won’t see in the news.” I searched news.google.com for “minneapolis protesters cleaning” and found dozens of timely, relevant stories covering that angle of the story. Perhaps whoever created the meme didn’t see a cleanup story in whatever news source they checked. But…

Trump, Obama seem equally disinterested in portrait unveiling — but journalism takes hits from both sides

On social media recently I saw people mocking Trump for “refusing” to unveil the traditional presidential portrait of Obama, and I saw people attacking “the fake news media” for pushing a narrative designed to make Trump look bad. The original NBC story that broke this item accurately states that neither Trump nor Obama is interested in the unveiling ceremony. There’s a whole ecosystem of people across the political spectrum who gain a following by commenting on news stories. Some are trained, working journalists; some are entertainers, and some are just random people trying to attract attention. I seem to remember…

When People Only Read the Headline — Misuse of Journalism

The Society of Professional Journalists links to an interview with an MIT professor who’s studying misinformation on social media (which is not the same thing as bad journalism — some bad actors take journalism out of context in order to deceive). Responsible journalists are aware that sensational headlines can harm the public. The truth is journalists in the field reporting breaking news often don’t write the headlines. Marketers will try out three or four different headlines on social media, and whichever get more clicks on social media becomes the headline for the story. This is a challenge because people often…

Those mean fake news people at the Washington Post are at it again, this time publishing a vivid simulation of the effect of social distancing

Those mean fake news people at the Washington Post are at it again, this time pushing a series of four simulations that vividly illustrate the impact of social distancing. Where do they get off, creating clear and informative graphics to illustrate a scientific principle? What do they think they’re doing, some kind of public service? From they way these enemies of the people talk, you’d think the free press gets mentioned in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Don’t follow this clickbait — you might learn something from a nasty journalist. Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how…

These Fake Local News Sites Have Confused People For Years. (Buzzfeed) Found Out Who Created Them.

People who caught the sites plagiarizing began speculating about the motivations of whoever was running them. One person noticed that their Google Alerts for Julian Assange were flooded with results from the sites, leading them to warn that “cyber marketing tools are being used in the propaganda war against #WikiLeaks.” One researcher labeled the network of sites “a malicious information operation masquerading as a news aggregator.” Neither was the case. In fact, the plagiarized sites are part of an operation run by a North Carolina man with a background in the financial information industry. And the motivation is simple: money. A BuzzFeed…

Snowfall at the White House (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour, Jan 7) Tweeted by WH on Jan 12

My social media feed was full of people mocking the White House yesterday for publishing a photo titled “First snow of the year!” on a day when Washington had clear skies and freakishly warm weather. What was the Trump administration trying to pull? Why would they publish such a blatant lie? It wasn’t a lie. The photo was real photo of Washington’s first snowfall of the winter, but the picture was taken Jan 7. Once critics of the Trump administration established the narrative that the White House was lying, that message went viral. Newsweek at first simply reported on the…

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Inverted Pyramid, #SharpieGate edition

Context: Sunday, President Trump tweeted a supportive message for people in the path of Hurricane Dorian; however, he included Alabama in the list of states in the path of the storm. Within minutes the National Weather Service posted a statement asserting that Alabama would not be affected. As usual, Trump doubled down when facing any opposition, and variously asserted that he was operating on new information, and that he was referring to older predictions. At an Oval Office event, he produced a National Weather Service chart which appears to have been altered with a hand-drawn line extending the forecast region…

Reporters accurately repeat what VP spokesperson says; different official cites “misreporting”

The media reports that on an official trip to Ireland, VP Pence will not stay in the vicinity where he is doing work, but his entourage will fly 180 miles away to stay at a Trump-owned property. To respond to public criticism, the Pence camp organizes a media event, where the main speaker is the VP’s spokesman, Marc Short, who says Trump said, “Well, you should stay at my place.” Reporters publish several quotes, including one in which Short clarifies that Trump was not a “request, like a command” but rather “a suggestion.” On whether the president asked Pence to…

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Yellow Journalism Did Not Cause the Spanish-American War (Role of Sensationalized Headlines Often Exaggerated)

When a correspondent sent to Cuba to cover a possible war telegraphed that there would be no war and he wanted to come home, Newspaper mogul Willam Randolph Hearst is said to have replied, “Please remain. You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.”   It’s a story I remember learning in middle school.   But there’s no contemporary evidence of this exchange, which would never have been permitted by the Spanish telegraph censors. The first reference to this story comes in a book written by a journalist who was in Europe at the time.   Historian Joseph Campbell sees…

Students in a Finnish community college learn how to spot "fake news".

Finland is Winning the War on Fake News

This is story is from May, but it’s very relevant. Standing in front of the classroom at Espoo Adult Education Centre, Jussi Toivanen worked his way through his PowerPoint presentation. A slide titled “Have you been hit by the Russian troll army?” included a checklist of methods used to deceive readers on social media: image and video manipulations, half-truths, intimidation and false profiles. Another slide, featuring a diagram of a Twitter profile page, explained how to identify bots: look for stock photos, assess the volume of posts per day, check for inconsistent translations and a lack of personal information. The…

Why Fears of Fake News Are Overhyped

Facebook seems to have made changes that mean it is less involved in the spread of fake news. Overall, and for reasons that extend beyond whatever unknown changes Facebook may have made to its algorithm, fake news seems less prevalent now than it was in 2016. “[T]he role of Facebook in the spread of fake news appears to have changed. In 2016, the site differentially appeared in web traffic just before visits to fake news sites, suggesting it played a key role in enabling the spread of fake news. No such pattern is apparent in the 2018 data. This result,…

Don’t Want to Fall for Fake News? Don’t Be Lazy

Fake news is not a problem caused by those dishonorable people whose political values differ from yours. Misinformation researchers have proposed two competing hypotheses for why people fall for fake news on social media. The popular assumption—supported by research on apathy over climate change and the denial of its existence—is that people are blinded by partisanship, and will leverage their critical-thinking skills to ram the square pegs of misinformation into the round holes of their particular ideologies…The other hypothesis is that reasoning and critical thinking are, in fact, what enable people to distinguish truth from falsehood, no matter where they fall…