Misinformation

The big picture

2020 rules of the road for the Age of Misinformation

Political strategists to find ways to navigate the new rules of Big Tech.

Jan 14, 2020
Tech platforms struggle to police deepfakes

Facebook, TikTok and Reddit all updated their policies on misinformation this week.

Jan 10, 2020
How online ad targeting weaponizes political misinformation

Internet companies are weighing limiting their ad targeting as a way to curb the misinformation maze.

Nov 17, 2019
Platforms give pols a free pass to lie

One set of rules for politicians or "world leaders," another for the rest of us.

Oct 20, 2019
Human actors are changing the spread of disinformation

It's switching from employees to volunteers.

Oct 17, 2019
The misinformation age

It's undermining trust in politics and government, but also business, technology, science and health care.

Sep 12, 2019

All Misinformation stories

QAnon's 2020 resurgence

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The strange realities of 2020 have perfectly played to the kind of fear QAnon thrives on, driving record online interest in the conspiracy theory.

Why it matters: QAnon is not just one fringe conspiracy theory — it's a sprawling network of falsehoods that's seeping into the mainstream. Its growing influence is sowing fear and confusion around some of today's most important issues, such as election integrity and the coronavirus pandemic.

America’s meme machine is fueling the populist movement globally

Data: GroupSense; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The QAnon conspiracy is picking up steam abroad, particularly in Europe, where populist movements are on the rise.

Why it matters: "The U.S. has started exporting these domestic-in-origin conspiracy movements to the outside world, "says Zarine Kharazian, Assistant Editor at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab.

Aug 3, 2020 - Technology

System for thwarting deepfakes unveiled

Photoshop: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

A group whose members include Adobe, Twitter and the New York Times Monday offered a plan for restoring trust in photos and video in the face of a rising tide of digital fakery.

Why it matters: Deepfakes — images manipulated or generated by AI in a deceptive way — undermine trust both by tricking people into thinking phony images or videos are real and by making them doubt the veracity of real imagery.

Jul 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Twitter temporarily bars Donald Trump Jr. from tweeting over coronavirus misinformation

Photo: Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Twitter temporarily prevented Donald Trump Jr. from tweeting and retweeting on Tuesday after the president's son shared coronavirus-related misinformation.

Why it matters: The 12-hour hold — set off by a video touting hydroxychloroquine — is one of the toughest moves yet against a member of the Trump inner circle by the social media platform.

Jul 21, 2020 - Technology

Facebook adds label to Trump post on elections

Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook Tuesday added a label — directing users to electoral information — to a post by President Donald Trump that criticizes mail-in voting.

Why it matters: The move follows through on a promise by Facebook to label all posts from political candidates that mention voting. The company wants to show it will apply the new rules equally to everyone, including Trump. It has added similar links to posts from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Jul 18, 2020 - Technology

Tweeting our way to a nuclear war

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new report outlines how miscalculations and misinformation on Twitter could lead to global war.

Why it matters: Social media platforms like Twitter have vastly accelerated the pace of communication. Without restraints, it's far too easy to imagine how errant tweets could cause international disputes to escalate out of control.

Project Origin is watermarking media to fight fake news ahead of the election

Illustration: Caresse Haaser, Rebecca Zisser/Axios

An international coalition of news and tech companies, including the AP, The Washington Post, Facebook and others, is partnering with a different coalition led by the BBC, CBC/Radio-Canada, Microsoft and The New York Times called Project Origin to fight fake news during the U.S. election.

How it works: The project aims to place digital watermarks on media originating from authentic content creators. The watermark will degrade when content has been manipulated. The verification system will be deployed in the month leading up to the U.S. election.

Jul 13, 2020 - Technology

Online conspiracy theory links child trafficking to Wayfair furniture sales

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Platforms including Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have been playing host to a baseless conspiracy theory that picked up steam over the weekend claiming that furniture e-tailer Wayfair is a front for human trafficking.

Why it matters: The claims caught fire among QAnon, the online group that believes President Trump is fighting a secret war against deep-state pedophiles. Since beginning in 2017, QAnon has moved slowly toward mainstream notice, and a number of supporters of the fringe belief system are now running for Congress.

Facebook bans accounts linked to Roger Stone and far-right Proud Boys

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook announced Wednesday it removed nearly 100 social media accounts and pages with links to Trump associate Roger Stone and the Proud Boys, a far-right group, for posting misinformation.

Why it matters: Facebook began looking into the accounts as part of an investigation into the Proud Boys' attempt to return to Facebook following a 2018 ban. The accounts posed as Florida residents and shared misinformation about local politics, land and water resource bills as well as misinformation about Stone's trial, books and media appearances.

Jul 8, 2020 - Podcasts

The misinformation virus

The spread of misinformation is crippling our fight against the coronavirus. Social media and a deeply partisan divide are fueling what the World Health Organization calls an "infodemic" — just as urgent as the virus itself.

More Misinformation stories