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Expand chart
Illustration: Gerald Rich, Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Efforts to sow discord via misinformation ahead of the 2020 election cycle are pegged to a new set of societal controversies, including the race to spread 5G, anti-vaccine fears, and immigration.

Why it matters: The timelier the issue within the national conversation, the more effective it can be to sow confusion.

Flashback: The key misinformation targets during 2016 focused on memes and posts around #BlueLivesMatter, #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo.

"The most effective form of disinformation has the ring of truth."
— Matthew F. Ferraro, a lawyer at Wilmer Hale who writes about misinformation issues

The big picture: Deepfake technology is making it easier to create misinformation about about our preconceived concerns or doubts.

  • A good example: The video of Nancy Pelosi that went viral last week, which was slowed down to make her appear drunk.
  • Similar misinformation schemes around Hillary Clinton being sick circulated in 2016, playing off a "weak, older woman" narrative.

The bottom line: "Sometimes that is the point – not to convince you of one thing but to make you doubt the accuracy of anything," says Ferraro.

Go deeper: How Russia’s disinformation strategy is evolving

Go deeper

29 mins ago - Health

America's new approach to masks is even more scattershot than before

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In grocery stores and pizza joints, main streets and downtowns across the country, pandemic precautions range wildly — from nonexistent to 2020 deja vu.

The big picture: As COVID-19 cases surge, especially in states with low vaccination rates, the country is once again in the throes of a fraught cultural and political debate over face masks.

From gypsy moths to Audubon, nature names face racism test

Freshly hatched caterpillars of gypsy moths on the bark of a red oak. Photo: Sebastian Willnow/picture alliance via Getty Images

Bugs, birds, fish and plants with names linked to white supremacists may be renamed, as science confronts its own ties to systemic racism.

Why it matters: The national reckoning was inevitably going to pass this way. The sciences have long underrepresented and erected barriers of entry to people of color and there’s a concerted effort for a reset under way in academia, research and hiring.

First Afghan allies and their families arrive in the U.S.

Head of the US Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie, speaks in the U.S. embassy compound in Kabul on July 25, 2021. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

The first plane with more than 200 Afghans who served as interpreters, contractors or other ally roles for the U.S. military has arrived in the U.S. — the first of many such flights as troops are withdrawn from the region.

Why it matters: More than 700 Afghan allies and their families are preparing to be brought into the U.S. in the coming days on special immigrant visas. More than 70,000 Afghans have received those since 2008.

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