SOCIAL MEDIA AND US
Lately there has been intense focus on Facebook and the decisions which this social media corporate giant has taken with respect to tools of disinformation. Facebook executives have chosen to give their users a lot of latitude in what some might call fake news, reporting on “deep fake” videos, etc. In this professor’s opinion, that is the correct approach. Here’s a simple suggestion: Rather than react to what others post about Facebook, why not look at the company first hand through its own statements? Here’s a link to the corporation’s news releases:
With specificity, here’s a link to the January 9, 2020, news release Facebook made about its political ad policy. In this release, Facebook announced ways its users can implement additional controls on their FB and Instagram accounts.
Here’s an excerpt: We have based ours (policies) on the principle that people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinized and debated in public. This does not mean that politicians can say whatever they like in advertisements on Facebook. All users must abide by our Community Standards, which apply to ads and include policies that, for example, ban hate speech, harmful content and content designed to intimidate voters or stop them from exercising their right to vote. We regularly disallow ads from politicians that break our rules.
If this if great interest, you might also pay attention to what policies Facebook implemented in November 2019 for the December United Kingdom elections. That story is just beneath the above link in the Facebook online newsroom.
We all have a large variety of tools at our disposal for checking the veracity of social media posts which we see on our news feeds. In past posts, I’ve suggested websites such as www.tineye.com where you can “copy” and “paste” to learn the origin and usage of any picture or meme you might see on social media. Here are some other tools:
This is part of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
This site, part of the International Fact Checking Network, monitors and updates about 3,000 media outlets.
TWO RECENT INTERVIEWS OF NOTE
Bob Frantz, whose Bob Frantz Authority show runs each morning on WHK 1420 “The Answer,” interviewed me on January 13 about disinformation. Here’s a link to the interview. Forward to about halfway through the first hour of the podcast to hear the story.
My professorial colleague and friend Ron Rychlak gave an interview to Joshua Phillip of Epoch Times on disinformation. Rychlak and I are fellow alumni of Wabash College. Today he is the Jamie L. Whitten Chair of Law and Government at the University of Mississippi. He’s also the co-author of “Disinformation” a work which excellently chronicles the history of DI Campaigns of the former Soviet Union and (today) Russia. Phillip also does some education about propaganda as well as on how China conducts DI campaigns in this interview. Here’s a link:
The Harvard Kennedy School is launching an academic journal titled the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Misinformation Review, an open-source, interdisciplinary, scholarly journal focused on all aspects of misinformation. Above is a link to some details.
The Reporters’ Lab focuses on journalism research. It’s based in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. Among other things, Reporters’ Lab maintains a database of global fact checking. It is now also seeking to establish a Media Review, a system to investigate both photos and videos to see if they have been altered or manipulated in any way. Below is a link to a story about this: https://www.niemanlab.org/2020/01/is-this-video-missing-context-transformed-or-edited-this-effort-wants-to-standardize-how-we-categorize-visual-misinformation/?utm_source=API+Need+to+Know+newsletter&utm_campaign=d99ec6739d-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_01_17_01_15&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e3bf78af04-d99ec6739d-45837361
For about a year and a half, the Associated Press has been provided a weekly “Fake News” feature for its members. My local paper, the Akron Beacon Journal, has run this feature in its Sunday paper for some time now. Here’s a link you might want use and refer to on a regular basis, as it serves as another useful fact-checking mechanism (albeit only once a week).
Eric Wemple is the media critic for the Washington Post. Over the past several weeks, he has written a 10-part series about the Steel Dossier. One might give his series an unofficial title: “How the media got the story wrong.” This is not a trivial matter, as news coverage about the this dossier, now acclaimed as inauthentic, served as the catalyst for a floodgate of media stories — stating in some way, shape or form — that Russia colluded with the Trump campaign in 2016. Ponder the Fact of the Week at the top of this blog post as you peruse Wemple’s story, linked below.
If you want to learn more about how the media regards its responsibility in the areas of fake news and disinformation, here is a link to the series of reports from Stanford University’s Institute for the Future on this subject: http://www.iftf.org/journalismandfalseinfo
The Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security, representatives of the FBI and the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, the MITRE Corp, Booz Allen Hamilton, and others have written an Analytic Exchange Program White Paper titled Combatting Targeted Disinformation Campaigns. “We view this issue (DI campaigns) as a whole-of-society problem requiring a whole-of-society response,” reads a sentence in the paper’s executive summary. The white paper has five sets of strong recommendations. Here is a link to the white paper.
Vanessa Otero speaks at West, February 6
Cuyahoga Community College’s Carol Franklin Social Science Speaker Series will have Vanessa Otero, J.D., appearing at its Western Campus on Thursday, February 6. Otero is the creator of a Media Bias Fact Chart. In a previous story, I mentioned the importance of recognizing media bias and encouraged the use of a chart or frame of reference as we read, view, and listen to media. Above is a graphic containing details about Otero’s visit.
This will be the last post on this site for a few weeks, as I re-focus my efforts on additional research about how DI campaigns are affecting democracies and public discourse. Look for the next post in February 2020.
You can reach me at email@example.com or at 216-987-5040. Many thanks to my professorial colleagues (including one in New Zealand) who have already invited me to come to their campus and speak on the vital subject of Disinformation and DI campaigns.
AS WE REMEMBER MARTIN
In June 1965, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was invited to receive an honorary doctorate degree and speak at Oberlin College. Here’s a line from his speech: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” (Link to the speech: “Remaining awake through a great revolution.”) http://www2.oberlin.edu/external/EOG/BlackHistoryMonth/MLK/CommAddress.html)
At a time when the enemies of democracy and freedom are striving mightily to drive us apart as a nation through DI campaigns, Rev. Dr. King’s words ring just as true in 2020 as they did 55 years ago.