Petition: Ban Donald Trump From All Social Media Sites
Please Sign Here Lets Get This Petition Out To More Potential Supporters! Petition: Ban Donald Trump From All Social Media Sites
As of now we have over 195,920 thousand deaths from Coronavirus and Donald Trump had the gall to publicly announce that we should consider ingesting disinfectant.
Mr. Trump added: “And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs.”
“I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” he (Trump) told journalists at an event in the Oval Office.
Poison Control Center Getting Increased Calls About Disinfectants
Some people are misinterpreting comments made by President Trump during a White House news conference on Thursday as a potential cure or prevention for COVID-19, but that’s not the case.
Tammy Noble, a registered nurse, and spokeswoman for the Iowa Poison Control Center, says under no circumstances should anyone inject bleach or a disinfectant. “That could actually be very harmful by injecting that into your bloodstream,” Noble says. “We don’t even recommend using disinfectants or bleach products on human skin because they can be very dangerous, cause burns to the skin, and lots of irritation.”
Noble says the Sioux City-based hotline has taken -no- calls about this topic, but since the pandemic began, there has been an increase in calls about a variety of problems related to hand sanitizers, bleach and disinfectants. Noble says, “Callers are usually reporting exposures because they accidentally swallow it or sometimes the adults, while they’re cleaning, are inhaling the fumes from it, or they’re ending up with eye or skin exposures.”
If you’ll be using any of those types of chemicals, Noble says to read and follow the directions carefully and keep the area well ventilated by opening doors and windows. “If you do breathe in too much of the fumes, oftentimes people will feel irritation in their nose, their throat, their lungs,” Noble says. “Sometimes, people can have difficulty breathing or tightness in their chest.”
Never mix bleach with ammonia or other chemicals or products, including vinegar, as it can create a toxic gas. Noble also reminds Iowans to store chemicals up and away, out of reach of children. The Iowa Poison Control Center is open around the clock, every day at 1-800-222-1222.
Facebook Takes Down Trump Ads ‘For Violating Our Policy Against Organized Hate’
Facebook (FB) on Thursday said it had take action against ads run by President Trump’s re-election campaign for breaching its policies on hate.
The ads, which attacked what the Trump campaign described as “Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups,” featured an upside-down triangle.
The Anti-Defamation League said Thursday the triangle “is practically identical to that used by the Nazi regime to classify political prisoners in concentration camps.”
“We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate. Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol,” Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, told CNN Business.
The ads targeted the far left group Antifa, calling on Trump supporters to back the President’s calls to designate the group a terrorist organization.
Responding to criticism of the ad earlier Thursday, the Trump campaign claimed the red triangle was “a symbol widely used by Antifa.”
“We don’t allow symbols that represent hateful organizations or ideologies unless they’re put up with context or condemnation,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy. “Anywhere that symbol is used we would take the same action.”
Mr. Gleicher was speaking at a congressional hearing Thursday focused on foreign interference on social-media platforms.
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said, “The inverted red triangle is a symbol used by Antifa, so it was included in an ad about Antifa.”
The term antifa denotes a loose affiliation of far-left groups and individuals who say they believe in confronting those they consider racist, anti-Semitic or fascist, including by the use of violence as either an offensive or defensive measure. Germany’s Nazi regime used the inverted red triangle symbol in the 1930s and early 1940s to designate its political prisoners in concentration camps, much as it used the yellow star to designate Jews.
Facebook’s action Thursday follows recent discussions that flared among Facebook employees and civil-rights activists over a message Mr. Trump posted on the site calling recent protesters thugs and warning: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Facebook took no action on that post, while Twitter Inc. shielded the same message from public view and posted a label saying it glorified violence.
Facebook’s move Thursday comes a day after several American civil-rights groups, including the ADL and the NAACP, encouraged large advertisers to pull spending from the social network over what they say is the company’s failure to make its platform a less hostile place. The activists said despite years of private discussions among the groups and Facebook, there has been little change in the way the social-media giant enforces its own policies around hate speech and misinformation.
Facebook is a key platform the Trump campaign uses to reach supporters, raise money and engage potential voters. Since January, the campaign has spent $18 million on Facebook ads, in addition to the millions it spent on the platform in 2019.
Facebook has taken down Trump campaign content previously. In May, it removed Trump campaign ads that referred to a census, saying they violated a company policy aimed at preventing disinformation and other interference with the nationwide 2020 census. The ads asked people to take the “Official 2020 Congressional District Census” and then directed users to a website for fundraising to support Mr. Trump’s re-election. They were unrelated to the official U.S. census, which launched online around that time.
Facebook, along with Twitter and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, have announced revised political-ad policies in recent months. Facebook on Wednesday began rolling out new transparency features and has previously introduced controls such as options allowing users to turn off political ads.
Trump Campaign Seeks Alternatives To Facebook And Twitter
Facebook’s decision to remove Trump campaign political ads and posts last week, following similar actions by Twitter and Snapchat, has the president’s re-election team scrambling for alternatives to the giants of social media.
Top campaign officials are considering alternatives, such as moving to a lesser-known social platform such as Parler, building their own platform or doubling down on efforts to move supporters to the campaign’s smartphone app.
But there is disagreement internally over what—if anything—to do next. No other platforms offer the reach of Facebook or Twitter, and with about five months until Election Day, time is running out. The situation has been described internally as “code red.”
People Are Going Blind And Dying From Drinking Hand Sanitizer: CDC
15 adults were hospitalized in New Mexico and Arizona for drinking methanol-laced sanitizer, and four died
Don’t drink hand sanitizer.
While using the alcohol-based gels and liquids has become an integral part of hand hygiene during the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a worrisome report showing some adults are suffering seizures, losing their vision and even dying from consuming hand sanitizer laced with methanol.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should only contain ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol), which are safe to use. But some products imported into the U.S. have been found to contain methanol -— despite claiming to have ethanol.
Now the FDA’s “do not touch” list of toxic hand sanitizer brands has spilled over to 75 products, including brands such as Blumen and Hello Kitty by Sanrio.
The CDC was notified on June 30 about cases of methanol poisoning in Arizona and New Mexico. After reviewing 62 calls to poison centers in those states between May 1 and June 30, it found 15 cases of methanol poisoning by ingestion in adults ages 21 to 65.
Thirteen of them were male, and all of them had a history of swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizer products. Four people died.
The CDC report doesn’t reveal why these individuals drank the hand sanitizer, but it notes that children will sometimes swallow the substance accidentally, or teens and adults with a history of alcohol abuse may drink it as an alcohol substitute.
But what it does describe are the consequences. Methanol poisoning can cause serious side effects and death if left untreated. Six of the 15 people admitted to the hospital suffered seizures, and they still had visual impairments when they were discharged.
The report details one case study, in particular: a 44-year-old man who was hospitalized for six days with acute methanol poisoning. His treatment was complicated by seizures, and he went home with near-total vision loss.
“Persons should never ingest alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoid use of specific imported products found to contain methanol, and continue to monitor FDA guidance.”
“This investigation highlights the serious adverse health events, including death, that can occur after ingesting alcohol-based hand sanitizer products containing methanol,” the CDC report states. “Safety messaging to avoid ingestion of any alcohol-based hand sanitizer product should continue.
Persons should never ingest alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoid use of specific imported products found to contain methanol, and continue to monitor FDA guidance.”
It also cautions that kids using hand sanitizer should be supervised, and that these products should be kept out of reach of children when not in use.
The CDC notes that this report just looked at two states, so cases of methanol poisoning from drinking hand sanitizer could be higher. “Health departments in all states should coordinate with poison centers to identify cases of methanol poisoning,” it writes.
This isn’t the first warning about hand sanitizer products doing more harm than good. Earlier in the pandemic, health officials and liquor brands like Everclear grain alcohol and Tito’s Handmade Vodka warned consumers not to use booze to concoct homemade hand sanitizer while such disinfectant products were hard to come by during the first wave of pandemic panic shopping.
The CDC has recommended using alcohol-based hand sanitizer products that contain at least 60% ethyl alcohol or 70% isopropyl alcohol in community settings during the pandemic to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
But as noted above, the FDA has also flagged 75 hand sanitizer products contaminated with toxic methanol. Check out the complete list of recalled sanitizer products here. If you have any in your home, stop using them, and dispose of them in hazardous waste containers. Do not flush them down the toilet or dump them down the drain.
Or you can avoid the risk by avoiding sanitizer altogether — Both the WHO and the CDC agree that scrubbing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is a much more effective way to reduce the risk of infection. The CDC clearly states in its guidelines that “soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizer at removing certain kinds of germs.”
Facebook Removes Troll Farm Posing As African-American Support For Donald Trump
The social media giant has a policy against using fake accounts to influence public debate.
Facebook announced the removal of a number of fake accounts, pages and groups that posted about current events under false identities – including a Romania-based troll farm posing as conservative Americans and Black Trump supporters.
“The people behind this network used fake accounts – some of which had already been detected and disabled by our automated system – to pose as Americans,” Facebook said Thursday in its latest report on efforts to combat coordinated networks of trolls.
The troll farm also reposted legitimate news stories published on conservative news networks and on the Trump campaign’s official accounts, Facebook said.
The company gave three examples of account names from the network: “blackpeoplevotefortrump” and “awakeningworld16” on Instagram and “We Love Our President” on Facebook.
The social media giant has a policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior, or CIB, which it defines as “coordinated efforts to manipulate public debate” that rely on fake accounts. When foreign governments are involved, the company dubs it foreign or government interference (FGI).
In all, Facebook said it took down more than 1,000 Facebook or Instagram accounts, more than 600 Facebook pages and 69 Facebook groups in July in connection with nine networks of fake accounts.
And the nation where the trolls operate can be misleading. They can be outsourced by foreign entities and, due to the reach of social media, target locations around the world.
Another group flagged and removed was an international network that targeted English- and Chinese-speaking users from around the world and in Vietnam. It posted about protests in the U.S. and Hong Kong, U.S.-China relations, videos and images of animals, kids and nature, memes, and articles from the Epoch Times.
“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation linked this network to Truth Media, a digital media outlet,” Facebook said in its CIB report. “Truth Media is now banned from our platforms.”
The network involved more than 300 Facebook accounts, 181 pages, 44 groups, and 31 Instagram accounts – with a combined total of more than 2 million followers and a $216,000 advertising budget paid in currencies from the US, Canada, Vietnam and Hong Kong.
Another network was linked to a Canadian public relations firm called Estraterra and former Ecuadorian government employees. Facebook shut down more than 100 accounts and said it banned Estraterra as a result.
Facebook Removes Troll Farm Posing As African-American Support For Donald Trump
Facebook also removed hundreds of fake accounts linked to conservative media outlet The Epoch Times.
Facebook removed hundreds of accounts on Thursday from a foreign troll farm posing as African-Americans in support of Donald Trump and QAnon supporters. It also removed hundreds of fake accounts linked to conservative media outlet The Epoch Times that pushed pro-Trump conspiracy theories about coronavirus and protests in the U.S.
Facebook took down the accounts as part of its enforcement against coordinated inauthentic behavior, which is the use of fake accounts to inflate the reach of content or products on social media.
The foreign pro-Trump troll farm was based in Romania and pushed content on Instagram under names like “BlackPeopleVoteForTrump” and on Facebook under “We Love Our President.”
Troll farms — groups of people that work together to manipulate internet discourse with fake accounts — are often outsourced and purchased by foreign governments or businesses to push specific political talking points. Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, said the troll farm’s motivations were unclear, but they didn’t see “clear evidence of financial motivation” or “clear links to known commercial actors in this space.”
Facebook stressed that the takedowns were based on “behavior, not content,” like breaking rules against creating fake accounts to boost engagement on some pieces of content.
Researchers at the Atlantic Council found that many of the troll farm’s posts came from a persona called “David Adrian,” which used a stolen profile photo and claimed to be living in both Romania and Montana. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have since removed multiple accounts for the David Adrian persona.
A separate troll operation, tied to pro-Trump media organization Epoch Media Group, featured 303 Facebook accounts, 181 pages, 44 Facebook groups and 31 Instagram accounts, which were followed by more than 2 million people across both services.
Epoch Media Group is the parent company of the newspaper The Epoch Times. The accounts were tied to a digital media outlet called TruthMedia, which Facebook says it has banned from its services.
The accounts posted about “ongoing U.S. protests and conspiracy theories about who is behind them,” Gleicher said. Some accounts pushed health misinformation about COVID-19, which led to their ban from their services before this month’s takedown.
Stephen Gregory, publisher of The Epoch Times’ english-language editions, denied that the company was associated with TruthMedia.
“The Epoch Times and Epoch Media Group are not in any way linked or related with ‘Truth Media,’ nor do we have any involvement in any operation of ‘Truth Media,'” he said in an email.
The same network appears to have created a still-active White House petition to “start calling the novel coronavirus the CCP virus,” according to an investigation from Graphika, which tracks disinformation on social media.
Facebook has twice taken action against Epoch Times-related content, most recently for its use of AI-generated, deepfake-style profile pictures on fake accounts that pushed Epoch Times stories and talking points. Gleicher said that the news Epoch Media Group-related fake accounts primarily used stock photos and not AI-generated photos for profile pictures.
Facebook banned The Epoch Times from advertising on its platform last year after it purchased ads under account names like “Honest Paper” and “Pure Honest Journalism” to get around the social network’s ad review systems. At the time, The Epoch Times was the largest buyer of pro-Trump ads on Facebook outside of the Trump campaign.
An example of the new Epoch Media-related takedown provided by Facebook showed an account called “Truth14” pushing a meme about a baseball player who didn’t kneel during the national anthem, part of the accounts’ strategy to push pro-Trump culture war messaging.“This guy is going to need a lot of support because the mob is coming for him and his family,” the post reads. “‘MLB’ is ‘BLM’ spelled backwards.”
Facebook Removes Trump Post Over Coronavirus Misinformation Rules; Twitter Also Clamps Down
A Trump campaign spokesperson said the president was “stating a fact that children are less susceptible to the coronavirus”
Facebook and Twitter are both taking action after a video shared by President Trump they say contains misinformation about the coronavirus.
“This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation,” Facebook spokesperson Liz Bourgeois told Fox News in a statement.
In the removed video, the president told Fox & Friends that schools should remain open.
He added that children have “much stronger immune systems” and “just don’t have a problem.”
According to Facebook, this is the first time the social media platform has taken down a post from the president regarding misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic.
It was not immediately clear if all posts containing the video have been removed.
The move comes as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has faced increased scrutiny to crack down on misinformation since the 2016 election, with a long list of companies that have threatened to pull advertising on the platform.
The same clip was also shared by the Trump campaign’s Twitter account – @teamtrump – and retweeted by the president himself.
A Twitter spokesperson told Fox News the tweet is “in violation of the Twitter rules on COVID-19 misinformation” and that the Trump campaign will “be required to remove the Tweet before they can Tweet again.”
Trump campaign spokesperson Courtney Parella told Fox News that President Trump was “stating a fact that children are less susceptible to the coronavirus.”
“Another day, another display of Silicon Valley’s flagrant bias against this President, where the rules are only enforced in one direction,” she added. “Social media companies are not the arbiters of truth.”
Parella also claimed that the Twitter spokesperson who flagged campaign’s suspended account was Kamala Harris’ former press secretary.
A review of the latest available data by the Kasier Family Foundation found while there is already widespread community transmission in areas of the United States, there is “clearly a risk of further spread associated with reopening schools.”
“The risks of reopening need to be considered carefully in light of the recognized benefits of in-person education,” the foundation added.
The foundation noted there is “some evidence for an age gradient in infectiousness, with younger children less likely and older children more likely to transmit at levels similar to adults.”
The National Academies of Medicine reported that “compared with adults, children who contract COVID-19 are more likely to experience asymptomatic infection or mild upper respiratory symptoms”, and that over 90 percent of children testing positive will have no or mild symptoms.
Children under the age of 18 account for 7%, or more than 200,000, of reported COVID-19 cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also account for 1% of coronavirus-related hospitalizations and less than 1% of coronavirus-related deaths.
Facebook Removes Trump’s Post About Covid-19, Citing Misinformation Rules
President claimed seasonal flu more dangerous than coronavirus, which medical professionals say is false.
Facebook Inc. said it took down a post by President Trump on Tuesday because it contained misinformation about the dangers of the coronavirus.
The social-media giant said its decision is based on its policy against users spreading information that is deemed both wrong and harmful. Facebook said it makes determinations based on guidance from public-health authorities including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
“We remove incorrect information about the severity of Covid-19, and have now removed this post,” said Facebook spokesman Andy Stone.
With its decision, the social network has moved to censor the president just weeks before Election Day. While Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has said the company doesn’t wish to police political speech, Facebook has previously removed posts containing what it defines as coronavirus-related falsehoods.
In March, Facebook removed content from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro promoting the drug hydroxychloroquine as effective at treating the virus in all cases. U.S. regulators later warned against such use of the antimalarial, which was widely touted by Mr. Trump, citing a lack of evidence for its effectiveness.
Mr. Trump’s statement Tuesday that the seasonal flu is more dangerous for most than the coronavirus is widely considered false by medical professionals. Not only has the disease already killed more than 210,000 Americans, but the death rate per person infected has been far higher than historical rates for the seasonal flu, according to infectious disease experts.
Twitter Inc. also took action on Tuesday in response to the president’s claim on its own platform. Instead of removing the post, the company appended a notice that his tweet violated its rules on spreading harmful information related to the virus but that “it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
Facebook Takes Down Network Tied To Conservative Group, Citing Fake Accounts
Accounts were run by marketing firm working on behalf of Turning Point USA and another client.
Facebook Inc. said it removed a network of accounts with links to a U.S. conservative political youth group for posing as fake users to praise President Trump and criticize his Democratic rival, Joe Biden.
The social-media giant’s move is among a number of steps it has taken in recent weeks to curb misinformation on the platform and one of its most high-profile actions against a domestic political operator. It reflects growing concern, with Americans already casting ballots in the coming election, about the potential reach of political disinformation that emanates from domestic sources, rather than foreign ones.
The company said Thursday it had removed 200 Facebook accounts, 55 Facebook pages and 76 Instagram accounts that were run by Rally Forge, a U.S. marketing firm, for violating rules against “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” Rally Forge, which Facebook said is now banned permanently, was working on behalf of two clients, including Turning Point USA, a Phoenix-based conservative youth organization.
Turning Point USA was founded by Charlie Kirk, a prominent conservative activist and staunch Trump supporter who spoke at the Republican National Convention in August.
The social-media campaign, which dated back to 2018 and saw resurgent activity in June of this year, included using fake accounts that posed as politically conservative people in the U.S. to comment on content shared by others, Facebook said. In 2018 the operation also included posing as left-leaning individuals, the company said.
About 373,000 accounts followed one or more of the Facebook pages and 22,000 followed one or more of the Instagram accounts, and Rally Forge spent $973,000 on Facebook and Instagram ads connected to both authentic and inauthentic accounts that were removed, Facebook said.
The topics of focus included the presidential race, the 2018 midterm elections and the coronavirus. Facebook identified the operation as posting frequent recent comments on pages run by major media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and Fox News.
Facebook said the campaign deployed thinly veiled personas in which the account names used were slight variations of the real names of individuals operating them.
Turning Point USA said the activity at issue was a project for Turning Point Action, an affiliated organization that has greater freedoms concerning political advocacy and lobbying.
“Turning Point Action works hard to operate within social platforms’ [terms of service] on all of its projects and communications and we hope to work closely with FB to rectify any misunderstanding,” the group said in a statement Thursday.
Rally Forge didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Facebook took action following a Washington Post article last month reporting that Turning Point Action was paying teenagers to post spam-like content on social media in a manner that some experts likened to a domestic troll farm.
“The activity Facebook disclosed today was by Americans targeted at Americans,” said Alex Stamos, director of Stanford University’s Internet Observatory. “It seems clear that for a certain set of professional political operator, manipulating social media has become a standard product offering.”
The company took down 46 accounts in August that were operated by a U.S. communications firm Facebook said was engaged in coordinated inauthentic activity targeting Venezuela, Mexico and Bolivia.
Because Facebook has become good at spotting profile photos that are reused from the internet, this group instead chose images generated using artificial intelligence to try to evade detection, said Mr. Stamos, Facebook’s former chief security officer. This kind of tactic is becoming standard in such operations and was also used by a Russian-linked campaign that Facebook disrupted last month, he said.
“It used to require no technical skills at all to run a troll farm,” Mr. Stamos said, but now they are becoming more critical for such efforts to succeed.
Rally Forge also appeared to be spreading inauthentic comments about trophy- or sport hunting on behalf of its other client, Inclusive Conservation Group, an environmental organization, Facebook said. While Rally Forge’s work focused primarily on U.S. audiences, some content was aimed at Kenya and Botswana.
Inclusive Conservation Group didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Facebook banned Rally Forge because the tech giant found clear evidence that the group’s behavior violated its platforms’ terms of service, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said on a press call Thursday.
Though Turning Point USA held some on-platform links to the inauthentic campaign, Mr. Gleicher indicated Facebook didn’t have sufficient evidence to penalize the conservative group as well, though he said the investigation was continuing.
“One of the things we have learned is that we have to take action based on evidence we see on our platform,” Mr. Gleicher said. “Here we see clear evidence that Rally Forge is engaged on this, and we’ve taken action on that behavior.”
Facebook To Ban QAnon Groups And Pages
Social-media company says policy change reflects greater understanding of QAnon messaging; individual users can still post about movement.
Facebook Inc. said it would step up its crackdown on QAnon, removing more groups and pages devoted to the fast-growing conspiracy-theory movement that has thrived on social media.
The move builds on Facebook’s efforts announced in August to remove QAnon pages and groups that included discussions of potential violence. The company will now ban any pages or groups dedicated to QAnon across Facebook, as well as Instagram accounts focused on QAnon content. The new policy doesn’t ban individuals from posting about the movement.
The company said the new policy was based in part on an increased understanding of how QAnon messaging is evolving. “We aim to combat this more effectively with this update that strengthens and expands our enforcement against the conspiracy theory movement,” the company said. Facebook also said it expects renewed attempts to evade detection and that it could update its content policies as needed.
The QAnon conspiracy theory centers on the idea that a powerful group of child traffickers control the world and are undermining President Trump with the help of other elites and mainstream news outlets.
Last year a Federal Bureau of Investigation field office warned that QAnon and other conspiracies could spark violence in the U.S., and QAnon adherents have discussed future plans to round up or kill members of the supposedly evil cabal.
President Trump in August welcomed the support of QAnon followers and said while he knew little about the movement, he suggested those who subscribe to it are “people who love our country.”
Social-media companies have received mixed reactions to their policies around rule violators, with some arguing that the companies are stifling free speech and others wanting them to take a tougher stance.
LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft Corp., has recently taken steps to remove QAnon posts with misleading information in response to more supporters going public on the career-networking platform. Twitter Inc. has also pledged to increase enforcement against QAnon conspiracy followers.
Policing QAnon content is just one of the broad content-moderation issues that the world’s largest social-media companies are facing. Platforms have been grappling with the spread of misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic as well as groups connected to the boogaloo movement. Its adherents views’ are wide-ranging, with a focus on overturning authority, according to researchers who track extremist organizations.
Facebook and Twitter both moved Tuesday to place limits on posts by President Trump in which he claimed the coronavirus isn’t as deadly as the common flu. The statement is widely considered false by medical professionals. Facebook removed Mr. Trump’s comment, while Twitter appended a notice to his tweet explaining that it violated its rules on spreading harmful information related to the virus. Twitter said it didn’t remove the tweet because it “may be in the public’s interest” to remain accessible.
A report last month from research firm Graphika Inc. draws a connection between QAnon’s online activities and those who strive to play down the importance of health matters such as vaccinations.
“The QAnon worldview has acted as a catalyst for the convergence of online networked conspiracy communities, anti-[vaccination] and anti-tech alike,” Graphika said in its report. “In our Covid-19 maps, the core QAnon community and the Trump support group were both deeply interconnected on a network level and mutually amplifying each other’s content and narratives.”
Want To Fight Online Voting Misinformation? A New Study Makes A Case For Targeting Trump Tweets
Research suggests disinformation starts at the top.
As the 2020 presidential election approaches, social networks have promised to minimize false rumors about voter fraud or “rigged” mail-in ballots, a mostly imaginary threat that discourages voting and casts doubt on the democratic process. But new research has suggested that these rumors aren’t born in the dark corners of Facebook or Twitter — and that fighting them effectively might involve going after one of social media’s most powerful users.
Last week, Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center put forward an illuminating analysis of voting misinformation. A working paper posits that social media isn’t driving most disinformation around mail-in voting. Instead, Twitter and Facebook amplify content from “political and media elites.” That includes traditional news outlets, particularly wire services like the Associated Press, but also Trump’s tweets — which the paper cites as a key disinformation source.
The center published the methodology and explanation on its site, and co-author Yochai Benkler also wrote a clear, more succinct breakdown of it at Columbia Journalism Review. The authors measured the volume of tweets, Facebook posts, and “open web” stories mentioning mail-in voting or absentee ballots alongside terms like fraud and election rigging. Then, they looked at the top-performing posts and their sources.
The authors overwhelmingly found that spikes in social media activity echoed politicians or news outlets discussing voter fraud. Some spikes involved actual (rare) cases of suspected or attempted fraud. But “the most common by far,” Benkler writes, “was a statement Donald Trump made in one of his three main channels: Twitter, press briefings, and television interviews.”
In other words, during periods where lots of people were tweeting or posting on Facebook about the unfounded threat of mass mail-in voting fraud, they were most often repeating or recirculating claims from the president himself. The authors themselves aren’t directly calling to pull Trump’s content from Twitter, and as noted above, that’s not the only way he communicates. But they offer lots of evidence that his tweets — and the resulting press coverage — provide major fuel for misinformation.
One of the highest peaks on all three platforms came in late May — just after Trump tweeted that there is “zero” chance mail-in ballots will be “anything less than substantially fraudulent.”
Another appeared at the end of August, when Trump warned that 2020 would be “the most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history.” (It should go without saying that there’s no evidence for either claim.) The biggest Twitter-specific spike arrived amid a flurry of Trump tweets, press briefings, and Fox News segments in April.
“We have been unable to identify a single episode” of major election fraud posting that was “meaningfully driven by an online disinformation campaign” without an “obvious elite-driven triggering event,” the authors write. And often, those triggering events were clear disinformation — baseless claims that mail-in voting was dangerous.
As the authors note, voter fraud story patterns don’t necessarily generalize across other topics. QAnon-specific conspiracies, for instance, were clearly generated online and only later condoned by politicians like Trump. Some coronavirus misinformation has come from non-mainstream conspiracy videos like Plandemic, although Trump played a key role in promoting experimental hydroxychloroquine treatments as a “miracle” cure, as well as purveying more general COVID-19 misinformation.
The study is a working paper, not a peer-reviewed publication — although Stanford Internet Observatory researcher Alex Stamos tweeted that it “looks consistent” with other work on election disinformation. It also doesn’t necessarily exonerate social media as a concept. Twitter’s design, for instance, encourages the kind of blunt, off-the-cuff statements that Trump has turned into misinformation super-spreader events.
He could still use press conferences and interviews to set the tone of debate, but without Twitter, he wouldn’t have access to a powerful amplification system that encourages his worst impulses.
Similarly, the authors acknowledge that hyperbolic, misleading online news can spread widely across social networks. “Looking at the stories that were linked to by the largest number of Facebook groups over the course of April 2020 certainly supports the proposition that social media clickbait is alive and well on the platform,” the study says.
But they argue that these “clickbait” outlets are echoing stories set by more powerful politicians and news outlets — not driving American politics with “crazy stories invented by alt-right trolls, Macedonian teenagers, or any other nethercyberworld dwellers.” Far from being filled with specific “fake news” stories, Trump’s tweets (and the equivalent messages he posts on Facebook) often don’t even mention specific incidents of fraud, real or imagined.
Even with its caveats, the work indicates that it’s valuable to look beyond the threats of social media trolling campaigns and recommendation algorithms — if only because that offers more concrete solutions than demanding nebulous and potentially impossible crackdowns on all false information.
Facebook and Twitter periodically tout the removal of foreign “coordinated inauthentic behavior” networks, and in the lead-up to the presidential election, Facebook announced that it would temporarily stop accepting political ads on its network. But while these broad-reaching efforts may end up being helpful, the Harvard study implies that pulling a few specific levers might be more immediately effective.
If this research is accurate, a primary lever would be limiting the president’s ability to spread misinformation. “Donald Trump occupies a unique position in driving the media agenda,” the authors contend, and his appearances on new and old media alike have “fundamentally shaped the debate over mail-in voting.”
Twitter has taken steps toward fighting this, restricting the ability to like or retweet some of Trump’s misleading claims. Facebook’s response has been much weaker, simply adding a generic link to its Voting Information Center. But this research makes an indirect case for treating Trump as a deliberate serial purveyor of disinformation — an offense that would get many lower-profile accounts banned.
Other solutions are outside the scope of social media. The authors write, for instance, that smaller newspapers and TV stations rely on syndicated newswire services, and that Americans tend to trust these sources more than national news outlets. The AP and similar publications are centralized institutions controlled by traditional journalists. And the authors were less than impressed by the way they framed mail-in voting stories, criticizing syndicated outlets for creating a sense of false balance or a “political horse race” instead of pointing out false claims.
This isn’t a new criticism, nor one that’s restricted to voting. This spring, some TV networks stopped airing Trump’s rambling and misinformation-filled briefings on the coronavirus pandemic. But Harvard’s research methodically examines just how influential the president’s messaging is online.
Even if Trump loses the election in November, there’s a valuable lesson here for news outlets and social media sites. If a public figure establishes a clear pattern of bad behavior, refusing to let them spread false statements might be just as effective as looking for underhanded disinformation campaigns. On social media, the worst trolls aren’t legions of conspiracy theorists or Russian operatives hiding in the dark corners of the web — they’re politicians standing in plain sight.
Moderation at scale is incredibly technologically difficult. But this study suggests platforms could also just straightforwardly ban (or otherwise limit) powerful super-spreaders, especially if traditional media outlets also reevaluate what they’re amplifying. If more research backs up this idea, then the most immediate disinformation fix isn’t urging platforms to develop sophisticated moderation structures. It’s pushing them to apply simple rules to powerful people.
Twitter Deletes Trump Health Adviser’s Claim Masks Don’t Work
Twitter Inc. blocked a tweet from a contrarian medical adviser to President Donald Trump which stated that wearing masks doesn’t help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“Masks work? NO,” Scott Atlas said in a tweet removed as of Sunday by the social media site. The post, which linked to an article in the American Institute for Economic Research that argued against the effectiveness of masks, was in violation of the company’s rules against sharing false and harmful information, Twitter told CNN.
Trump regularly downplayed the effectiveness of masks until contracting the virus himself. Public health experts, including Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have said wearing them helps slow the spread of the virus, which has killed nearly 220,000 Americans.
Atlas is a neuroradiologist with no epidemiology background affiliated with Stanford University’s conservative Hoover Institution. He’s repeatedly argued that lockdowns are excessive, pushed for reopening the economy, and said it’s preferable to expose young healthy people to the virus so they develop immunity.
Task Force Member
Atlas was brought onto the White House coronavirus task force in August and has become a Trump favorite after appearances on Fox News and other conservative outlets where he downplayed the risk of the virus to anyone but the old and frail.
Other task force members, including Fauci and Deborah Birx, were mainstays of Trump’s press conferences early in the pandemic, but have faded from view at the White House.
Trump last held a formal press conference with them in April, and July 30 was the last time Trump held an event of any kind with Fauci and Birx.
Atlas in September criticized Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for saying that 90% of Americans are still vulnerable to the virus. Fauci fired back on Redfield’s behalf and has said Atlas “tends to cherry pick data.”
Redfield has also criticized Atlas, saying “everything he says is false,” according to a report by NBC in September, which said it overheard Redfield make the comment while on a commercial flight.
Atlas is frequently seen without a mask at the White House. In general, the Covid-19 outbreak there, which infected Trump, the first lady, their teenaged son, several aides, and others, has done little to change mask-wearing habits in Trump’s orbit.
Enough is enough!!!!!!