Misinformation

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

Facebook, Google, Twitter CEOs face House grilling

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Lawmakers from both parties attacked online platforms for causing offline harm to children, public health and democracy at a House hearing with the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter testifying virtually on Thursday.

The big picture: The hearing is focused on social media's role in spreading misinformation and extremism, with the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and false information about the pandemic top of mind for Democratic lawmakers who have pledged to pursue legislation.

The mismeasure of misinformation

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Social media giants keep trotting out jaw-dropping stats about fake accounts and rule-violating posts they're removing. But the number that matters most is how much misinformation remains up. 

Driving the news: CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter will recite more numbers Thursday, when their CEOs testify at a marquee hearing before a Congressional committee investigating online misinformation.

Social media's great misinformation clean-up act

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Social media giants have taken a number of steps to try to clear misinformation off their platforms, but those efforts aren't likely to appease furious lawmakers in both parties.

What's happening: When they testify virtually before House lawmakers on Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will point to recent company policy changes to argue they're doing what they can to stem the tide of misinformation and extremism online.

Native American tribes lead the way on coronavirus vaccinations

In Shiprock, N.M., Northern Navajo Medical Center staff were among the first in the Navajo Nation to receive Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations. Photo: Micah Garen/Getty Images

Native American tribes are pulling off many of the most successful coronavirus vaccination campaigns in the U.S., bucking stereotypes about tribal governments.

The big picture: Despite severe technological barriers, some tribes are vaccinating their members so efficiently, and at such high rates, that they've been able to branch out and offer coronavirus vaccines to people outside of their tribes.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Mar 3, 2021 - Technology

AI is industrializing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Artificial intelligence is becoming a true industry, with all the pluses and minuses that entails, according to a sweeping new report.

Why it matters: AI is now in nearly every area of business, with the pandemic pushing even more investment in drug design and medicine. But as the technology matures, challenges around ethics and diversity grow.

Congress focuses on cable providers' role in misinformation

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Congress' effort to squelch misinformation is broadening to target the cable companies that bring right-wing networks like Newsmax, OANN and Fox News to Americans' screens.

Why it matters: Conspiracy theories, false election claims, anti-vaccination propaganda and other kinds of misinformation spread through a complex ecosystem: Lies bubble up online, then get amplified when cable news channels repeat them, then spread further via social media. Breaking the cycle will require more than just stricter content moderation by online platforms.

How memes became a major vehicle for misinformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wall Street's populist uprising, the Capitol siege and a strong U.S. anti-vaccination movement show the power of memes in spreading misinformation and influencing communities online.

Why it matters: For years, there's been growing concern that deepfakes (doctored pictures and videos) would become truth's greatest threat. Instead, memes have proven to be a more effective tool in spreading misinformation because they're easier to produce and harder to moderate using artificial intelligence.

Feb 23, 2021 - Health

Fast-spreading misinformation on COVID vaccine and infertility worries health experts

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Health officials are worried that misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines and infertility will drive down vaccination rates among women, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: False claims about the vaccines are rampant, and threaten to prevent the U.S. from vaccinating enough people to put the pandemic safely behind us.

How countries amplify COVID disinformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

China, Russia and Iran — drawing on one another’s online disinformation — amplified false theories that the COVID-19 virus originated in a U.S. bioweapons lab or was designed by Washington to weaken their countries, according to a nine-month investigation by AP and the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab.

Why it matters: Through a series of overlapping, if slapdash, efforts, America's global adversaries benefited from mutually reinforcing counter-narratives propagated online that aimed to falsely place responsibility for the pandemic on the U.S. and often to sow doubt on its actual origin within China.

Experts say vaccine misinformation crackdown is coming too late

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook on Monday became the latest in a run of tech firms and media outlets taking action to stem the tide of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, but experts worry the scramble to limit vaccination skepticism may be too little, too late.

Why it matters: "With all of these press releases, what we don't understand is, how is it actually going to be operationalized?" says Claire Wardle, the U.S. director of anti-misinformation nonprofit First Draft. "Anti-vaxxers have historically always figured out where the policy guidelines are and figure out a way around them."

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