All Misinformation stories

How Trump chose disinformation over his own cyber chief

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump, in announcing the latest in a line of post-election firings, embraced unsubstantiated claims of election hacking over one of his own top cybersecurity officials.

Why it matters: This is only the latest example of an ongoing attempt to purge officials deemed insufficiently loyal to the president. But the potential decapitation of cyber leadership at the Department of Homeland Security could also create expertise gaps during the presidential transition period, making the country less secure.

Senate's tech CEO interrogation shows parties are worlds apart

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats and Republicans both want to rein in perceived abuses by Silicon Valley, but a Tuesday Senate hearing to grill Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey showed the two parties operating in mirror universes.

Why it matters: The distance between the parties' diagnoses of the tech industry's trespasses makes it harder than ever to imagine how they might find common ground to pass the meaningful new tech legislation they both say they want.

Nov 17, 2020 - Technology

Facebook and Twitter CEOs to defend their firms at Senate hearing

Photo: Michael Reynolds/Pool via Getty Images

At a Senate hearing Tuesday morning, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter's Jack Dorsey will stress their companies' work to limit online misinformation and will endorse updating tech's prized liability shield as long as Congress doesn't blow it up.

Why it matters: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects online platforms from lawsuits over moderation calls and user-posted content, and many policymakers view amending or even eliminating the law as their best lever to change how companies govern online speech.

The election security nightmare that wasn't

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As the dust settles on the 2020 presidential election, it's becoming clear that the process proved sturdy, with no known attacks on voting infrastructure and no 2016-style vast foreign meddling campaigns to disrupt American democracy.

Yes, but: The ongoing disinformation campaign from President Trump and his allies, as they refuse to accept his loss, illustrates that the country does not need outside intrusions to undermine the integrity of our elections.

Nov 12, 2020 - Technology

Election reality fails to pop GOP's online filter bubble

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Trump administration's fight to question the election's outcome is providing a massive field test of the effectiveness of online echo chambers and filter bubbles.

The state of play: So far, the evidence from the Trump universe shows partisan delusion winning out over objective reality.

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

Right-leaning social network Parler tops free app charts

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Parler, which calls itself a "viewpoint-neutral" social network and is growing popular among conservatives who feel mainstream social platforms are censoring them, is now topping the free app download charts, according to both Apple and Sensor Tower.

Why it matters: With Twitter and other mainstream social media apps more strictly enforcing rules against election-related falsehoods, more permissive, often right-leaning platforms have seen a surge of interest.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Nov 6, 2020 - Technology

Election misinformation tests Big Tech platforms

Tweets from President Trump masked with warnings imposed by Twitter stating that they may be incorrect. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

This week's election count is already giving the large tech platforms a taste of their future content-moderation challenges.

The state of play: Each day is proving harder than the last for internet gatekeepers amid swirling conspiracy theories, misinformation from elected leaders and growing violent speech from pockets of the far right.

Nov 6, 2020 - Technology

Facebook confirms new steps to curb election misinformation

Photo illustration: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook is temporarily demoting posts containing election-related misinformation on its platforms and limiting the distribution of livestreams that may relate to the election, the company confirmed Thursday.

Why it matters: Facebook is turning on emergency measures like those used in countries where democracy is under threat as it looks to contain the spread of false claims and conspiracy theories about ballot counting.

Nov 5, 2020 - Technology

Facebook groups are turning into election disinformation vectors

Screenshot: German Marshall Fund

Public and private Facebook groups are becoming vectors of disinformation about ballot counting, as the results of the presidential race remain unclear and states finish tallying votes under individual state laws and timelines.

Driving the news: Facebook took down a public group called "Stop the Steal" that quickly amassed hundreds of thousands of members Thursday. Yet conspiracy theories and false claims continue to circulate widely in other groups, including private ones predating the election that have been repurposed as disinformation repositories.

Disinformation is a bell that can’t be unrung

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Although the winner of the 2020 presidential contest is still unknown, one thing is clear: disinformation is becoming an endemic feature of U.S. politics.

Why it matters: Every nation is an "imagined community," political scientist Benedict Anderson said, bonded together by shared understandings, values and historical narratives. Disinformation cleaves those commonalities, making a country more dysfunctional, more divided and altogether weaker.