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

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Jun 9, 2021 - Technology

Scientific journal articles vulnerable to bots

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Scientific journals are easy targets of automated software that post links to social media, often with misinformation, according to a study published by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: Automated disinformation campaigns that harness legitimate scientific research could further erode the public's understanding and trust in science, particularly around COVID-19.

Jun 7, 2021 - World

Nigeria's government threatens to prosecute people for tweeting

Buhari. Photo: Audu Marte/AFP via Getty Images

Nigeria’s government is doubling down on its decision to ban Twitter indefinitely, with regulators Monday ordering broadcasters to stop using Twitter even to gather news, and the foreign minister summoning Western ambassadors whose countries criticized the ban.

Why it matters: Twitter has been a powerful tool for younger Nigerians to mobilize, including during the massive #EndSARS protests last year against police brutality. The ban could have economic repercussions for Africa's most populous country, which has a burgeoning tech sector, and it sends an ominous signal about the country’s democracy.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
May 19, 2021 - Technology

The disinformation threat from text-generating AI

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A new report lays out the ways that cutting-edge text-generating AI models could be used to aid disinformation campaigns.

Why it matters: In the wrong hands text-generating systems could be used to scale up state-sponsored disinformation efforts — and humans would struggle to know when they're being lied to.

May 17, 2021 - Technology

Parler returns to the Apple App Store

The Parler logo is seen on an Apple iPhone. Photo: Getty Images

Parler, the controversial social media app popular among conservatives, is back on the Apple App Store after being booted for its content moderation policies.

Context: Parler was kicked off the App Store after Apple deemed its content moderation policies inadequate in the wake of the January 6 Capitol riot.

Hispanic Democrats target House Republicans over Jan. 6 votes in new ads

The political action committee of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is releasing bilingual ads that target four House Republicans over their support for former President Trump and their votes to challenge the election results, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The four Republicans represent districts with large Latino populations in Florida, Texas, New Mexico and California. They each won their seats by narrow margins last year.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Apr 29, 2021 - Technology

Exclusive: Coalition calls on Biden to form disinformation task force

President Biden during a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A coalition of groups is calling on President Biden to create a task force that can explore ways to crack down on deliberate disinformation campaigns in ways that don't unduly limit free expression.

Why it matters: The spread of false information around elections, health, climate and other pivotal issues has had a huge impact on American institutions, but civil liberties groups say it is critical to find solutions that maintain free speech protections.

Apr 13, 2021 - Technology

The global business of professional trolling

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Professional political trolling is still a thriving underground industry around the world, despite crackdowns from the biggest tech firms.

Why it matters: Coordinated online disinformation efforts offer governments and political actors a fast, cheap way to get under rivals' skin. They also offer a paycheck to people who are eager for work, typically in developing countries.

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.

More Misinformation stories