The coronavirus pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests and a looming election have brought long-simmering conflicts between tech platforms and President Trump to a boil, as Facebook, Twitter and other services are starting to take presidential misinformation seriously.
What's happening: Wary of becoming arbiters of political speech, tech's platforms have carved out a range of exceptions and immunities for Trump and other political leaders — but that accommodation is coming undone.
Facebook must do better to protect women in politics, who face a barrage of sexism, hate and harassment on the platform, members of the Democratic Women Caucus including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to the social network Thursday.
Context: Facebook, under heavy scrutiny for misinformation, privacy and antitrust concerns, recently kept a doctored video of Pelosi up, though fact checkers labeled it as "partly false." The platform came under fire for not removing a doctored video of Pelosi in 2019 as well.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.