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 - Economy & Business
Tech platforms struggle to police deepfakes

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

Jan 10, 2020 - Technology
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 - Economy & Business
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 - Politics & Policy
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

Parties trade election influence accusations at Big Tech hearing

Photo: Michael Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

A Senate hearing Wednesday with Big Tech CEOs became the backdrop for Democrats and Republicans to swap accusations of inappropriate electioneering.

Why it matters: Once staid tech policy debates are quickly becoming a major focal point of American culture and political wars, as both parties fret about the impact of massive social networks being the new public square.

How overhyping became an election meddling tool

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

As online platforms and intelligence officials get more sophisticated about detecting and stamping out election meddling campaigns, bad actors are increasingly seeing the appeal of instead exaggerating their own interference capabilities to shake Americans' confidence in democracy.

Why it matters: It doesn't take a sophisticated operation to sow seeds of doubt in an already fractious and factionalized U.S. Russia proved that in 2016, and fresh schemes aimed at the 2020 election may already be proving it anew.

Oct 27, 2020 - Technology

Facebook warns of "perception hacks" undermining trust in democracy

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Facebook warned Tuesday that bad actors are increasingly taking to social media to create the false perception that they’ve pulled off major hacks of electoral systems or have otherwise seriously disrupted elections.

Why it matters: "Perception hacking," as Facebook calls it, can have dire consequences on people's faith in democracy, sowing distrust, division and confusion among the voters it targets.

Oct 27, 2020 - Economy & Business

Artists target Facebook in complaint to policymakers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Artist Rights Alliance, a non-profit advocating for music creators, has sent a letter to the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission and the state Attorneys General of Vermont and California, calling for an investigation into Facebook for refusing to take action on a fraudulent concert on its platform.

Details: The letter, obtained by Axios, asks policymakers to investigate Facebook for "participating in a scheme to defraud cellist Zoe Keating, an unknown number of her fans, and undoubtedly thousands of other working artists."

Oct 27, 2020 - Technology

Facebook says new pre-election political ad rules apply to boosted posts

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook clarified Monday to Axios that its pre-Election Day ban on new political ads, going into effect Tuesday at midnight, applies to any political content with ad spend behind it — including boosted posts as well as ads created in Facebook's ad manager system.

Catch up quick: A boosted post is a regular Facebook post whose owner has paid Facebook to distribute it more widely. This approach is often used by smaller advertisers with less to spend.

The hazy line between politics and influence campaigns

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The recent firestorm over the New York Post’s publication of stories relying on data from a hard drive allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden shows the increasingly hazy line between domestic political “dirty tricks” and a foreign-sponsored disinformation operation.

Why it matters: This haziness could give determined actors cover to conduct influence operations aimed at undermining U.S. democracy through channels that just look like old-fashioned hard-nosed politics.

Facebook suspends account of alleged Russian agent with ties to Giuliani

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook has suspended the account of Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach, an associate of Rudy Giuliani accused by the U.S. of being "an active Russian agent for over a decade," for election interference activity.

Why it matters: The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Derkach in September for "alleged efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election," including by releasing edited audio tapes and other unsubstantiated claims to denigrate Joe Biden and other officials.

Oct 15, 2020 - Technology

YouTube cracks down on QAnon, citing real-world violence

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

YouTube announced Thursday that it is expanding its hate and harassment policies to prohibit content that targets an individual or group with conspiracy theories, like QAnon, that have been used to justify real-world violence.

Why it matters: It is the latest tech giant to crack down on QAnon content, which has seen record online interest in 2020.

Facebook, Twitter clamp down on New York Post's Hunter Biden story

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday took steps to limit the circulation of a New York Post story about Hunter Biden, deploying throttles that have been built in an effort to avoid repeating mistakes of 2016.

Why it matters: In the run-up to November's election, online platforms have designed circuit breakers to limit the spread of hacked emails and foreign meddling. In 2016, such material helped shape the political fight, and social media took much of the blame.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Oct 9, 2020 - Technology

Peloton is figuring out how to moderate extremist content

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Peloton, the networked fitness-bike seller, has found itself in the position of having to scour its forums and leaderboards to remove hateful speech.

The bottom line: It highlights how toxic the social media environment is in 2020. If it's online and social, it's probably going to require moderation.

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