The Digital-Humanities Bust

Dinosaurs evolved into birds. Not all of them, of course. Birds are so much a part of our environment that we barely notice them. I’ve said the same about weblogs. Monetized and platformized and app-ified, the basic functions of blogging life on — a reverse-sorted stream of posts, a mechanism to engage with visitors to your stream, and a mechanism for engaging with the authors of other streams. It is…

Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election

Russian trolls posing as Americans made payments to genuine activists in the US to help fund protest movements on socially divisive issues, according to a new investigation by a respected Russian media outlet. On Tuesday, the newspaper RBC published a major investigation into the work of a so-called Russian “troll factory” since 2015, including during the period of the US election campaign, disclosures that are likely to put further spotlight…

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Fake News Remains Top Industry Concern in 2017

“In the past, people fabricated content. There were ‘midnight flyers,’ which were pieces of propaganda usually sent out by candidates and put on the windshield of your car or under your door at home. And there were forms of content that contained serious misinformation in them. Sometimes they looked news-like and sometimes they didn’t,” explains Dr. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. “But there wasn’t a…

Anti-globalism Is Common Factor in Social Media Conspiracy Theories, says UW Prof

Fascinating academic effort to find a pattern in apparently random conspiracy theories that regularly pop up in our infostreams during social crises. Experts usually dismiss them because they are so wild and unlikely, and have thus failed to notice their impact. Starbird’s insight was to map the digital connections between all this buzzing on Twitter with a conglomeration of websites. Then she analyzed the content of each site to try…

First Evidence That Social Bots Play a Major Role in Spreading Fake News

Shad and co say bots play a particularly significant role in the spread of fake news soon after it is published. What’s more, these bots are programmed to direct their tweets at influential users. “Automated accounts are particularly active in the early spreading phases of viral claims, and tend to target influential users,” say Shao and co. That’s a clever strategy. Information is much more likely to become viral when…

Facebook’s Instant Articles restore subscription options they previously stripped

The ability to serve content faster than where it originated is the privilege of the platform on which people find it. Facebook, Google, and Apple have all been exploiting this privilege, which, while it does lower load times, is not conducive to a single, standardized web. And it deepens content providers’ dependence on those platforms — which in turn increases the latter’s leverage. Not good. It’s nice that Facebook is…