The big picture

The search for misinformation's measure

It's harder than you might think to reliably measure its scale or impact.

Dec 9, 2020 - Technology
When U.S. politicians exploit foreign disinformation

Each time a domestic politician embraces a disinformation campaign, it proves that they work.

Aug 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy
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 - Economy & Business
Tech platforms struggle to police deepfakes

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

Jan 10, 2020 - Technology
Human actors are changing the spread of disinformation

It's switching from employees to volunteers.

Oct 17, 2019 - Technology
The misinformation age

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

Sep 12, 2019 - Politics & Policy

All Misinformation stories

Jan 20, 2021 - Technology

QAnon faces the music

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Supporters of former President Donald Trump who thought he was about to stop the inauguration, seize power and crush his enemies were left blinking in the sunlight Wednesday as President Biden took the oath of office.

Why it matters: It's an inflection point for anyone who realizes they've been strung along by QAnon and related strands of pro-Trump magical thinking. They could either retreat from conspiracy theories or tumble deeper down the rabbit hole.

Jan 20, 2021 - Technology

The online far right braces for life after Trump

Photo: Joseph Prezioso / AFP via Getty Images

The online far right is about to face a cold reality it long denied was a possibility: the post-Trump era.

What's happening: Fringe-right internet users are broadly poised to enter the Biden era in one of three states: Denial, disenchantment or determination to use the moment to their advantage.

Trump's four-year information war

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch. Photos: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Last week's riot at the Capitol was many things, but perhaps chiefly it was the culmination of four years of information warfare waged against the country from within the Oval Office.

Why it matters: A sprawling disinformation campaign led by President Trump — and buttressed by his allies in the media, online and in Congress — has severely destabilized the U.S. and makes further acts of violence and would-be insurrection a near certainty.

YouTube takes down Trump video, bans new uploads for a week

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

YouTube said Tuesday that it has taken down newly posted video content from President Trump for violating its policies against inciting violence. In addition, it has assessed a "strike" against the account, which means the president can't upload new videos or livestream to the account for a minimum of 7 days.

Why it matters: YouTube has been under pressure to take action after Twitter permanently suspended Trump's account and Facebook instituted a 2-week ban.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jan 13, 2021 - Technology

Amazon says violent posts prompted Parler shutdown

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In a court filing late Tuesday, Amazon said it booted right-wing social network Parler from its AWS cloud service after flagging dozens of pieces of violent content starting in November.

Why it matters: Parler is suing Amazon, saying its expulsion violates antitrust laws. In its response, Amazon cites the violent content as well as its protection under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act among its defenses.

Big Tech's free speech showdown

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Amazon's decision to boot conservative chat site Parler from its hosting platform, on the heels of Twitter and many other services banishing President Trump, brings three decades of hot argument over online speech to a boil.

Why it matters: Four years of a president who behaved like a boundary-pushing online troll, fostering mayhem that culminated in Wednesday's assault on the Capitol, finally forced the executives who control today's internet to draw lines.

Jan 7, 2021 - Technology

The Capitol siege's QAnon roots

Trump supporters outside the Senate chamber. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Wednesday's assault on the U.S. Capitol was an appalling shock to most Americans, but to far-right true believers it was the culmination of a long-unfolding epic.

The big picture: A growing segment of the American far right, radicalized via social media and private online groups, views anyone who bucks President Trump's will as evil. That includes Democrats, the media, celebrities, judges and officeholders — even conservatives, should they cross the president.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Dec 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Nonprofit coalition demands Biden act on misinformation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A large collection of nonprofits is sending an open letter today calling on the incoming Biden-Harris administration to do a better job of both educating the public on misinformation and taking stronger action to protect the health care system, voting process and other critical institutions.

Why it matters: Misinformation amplified on social media has worn down the factual foundations of democracy and led to an upsurge in conspiracy theories on everything from the 2020 election results to how COVID-19 spreads.

Nov 30, 2020 - Technology

Facebook's pre-election restrictions didn't dent political ad reach

Photo: Valera Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Americans saw more political ads on Facebook in the week before the 2020 election than they did the prior week despite the company's blackout on new political ads during that period, according to Global Witness, a human rights group that espouses tech regulation.

Why it matters: The presidential election was a key stress test for Facebook and other leading online platforms looking to prove that they can curb misinformation. Critics contend measures like the new-ad blackout barely made a dent.

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