Mar 30, 2017

Fake news adapts

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Fake news creators are becoming more creative in the face of efforts to stamp them out, pivoting from circulating their own misleading stories to developing sophisticated techniques that manipulate real news.

Why it matters: Per Pew, 84% of adults feel either very or somewhat confident in their ability to spot traditional fake news stories. Fake news creators are trying harder to outsmart them.

Here are a few recent examples of sophisticated fake news techniques:

  • Altered Facebook headlines: A conservative group backing a Virginia gubernatorial candidate altered the headline of a local newspaper to misrepresent the truth about an opposing candidate's position, causing the post to go viral.
  • Misleading attribution: Last week, Russian TV channel Russia 24 repeatedly aired a photo of a knife-wielding man outside of the British Parliament from an unrelated incident in 2013, in an attempt to frame the incident as an Islamic terrorist attack, before authorities released details on the suspect.
  • Made up think tanks and opinions pieces: A fake think tank called Center for Global Strategic Monitoring (CGS Monitor), which publishes Russian propaganda alongside think pieces, attributes some of its writings and opinion pieces to real think tank experts who had nothing to do with them. CGS Monitor even lists some of those people as experts on their site.

Some accidental fake news shows the public's susceptibility: After the GOP health care bill was defeated Thursday, a satirical addition to a New York Times story about Paul Ryan listening to Papa Roach circulated on Twitter, but so many people believed the photoshopped image, the author had to clarify to his followers it was just a joke.

What's next: A Stanford University study shows how new technologies can alter facial expressions in real time to change the context of someone's reactions. Here's an example that a technologist did on George W. Bush's facial expressions during an interview last year:

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The cost of going after Bloomberg

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Here's the growing dilemma for 2020 Democrats vying for a one-on-one showdown with frontrunner Bernie Sanders: Do they have the guts — and the money — to first stop Mike Bloomberg?

Why it matters: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all must weigh the costs of punching Bloomberg where he looks most vulnerable: stop-and-frisk, charges of sexism, billionaire entitlement. The more zealous the attacks, the greater the risk he turns his campaign ATM against them.

How Trump’s economy stacks up

Source: "Presidents and US Economy", Trump figures through 2019 courtesy of Alan Blinder; Note: Data shows real GDP and Q1 growth in each term is attributed to the previous president; Chart: Axios Visuals

Average economic growth under President Trump has outpaced the growth under Barack Obama, but not all of his recent predecessors.

Why it matters: GDP is the most comprehensive economic scorecard — and something presidents, especially Trump, use as an example of success. And it's especially relevant since Trump is running for re-election on his economic record.

Coronavirus cases rise as 14 American evacuees infected

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

14 Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus before being flown in a "specialist containment" on a plane repatriating U.S. citizens back home, the U.S. government said early Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,770 people and infected almost 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China. Taiwan confirmed its first death on Sunday, per multiple reports, in a 61-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Health officials were investigating how he became ill.

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