OK, just kidding . But Axios does have an update on the conspiracy theory raging on Facebook:
Conspiracy theories about the origin of fires in Oregon are still spreading through private Facebook groups days after the social media giant announced it would remove the false claims, according to research from the German Marshall Fund of the United States shared exclusively with Axios.
Why it matters: Facebook’s efforts to control misinformation on its vast platform continue to lag behind the spread of rumors and conspiracy theories about life-and-death crises, and researchers are urging earlier and stronger action, especially as the election gets closer and the coronavirus continues to rage in the country.
And then Buzzfeed tells us:
Facebook ignored or was slow to act on evidence that fake accounts on its platform have been undermining elections and political affairs around the world, according to an explosive memo sent by a recently fired Facebook employee and obtained by BuzzFeed News.
The 6,600-word memo, written by former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang, is filled with concrete examples of heads of government and political parties in Azerbaijan and Honduras using fake accounts or misrepresenting themselves to sway public opinion. In countries including India, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador, she found evidence of coordinated campaigns of varying sizes to boost or hinder political candidates or outcomes, though she did not always conclude who was behind them.
“In the three years I’ve spent at Facebook, I’ve found multiple blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse our platform on vast scales to mislead their own citizenry, and caused international news on multiple occasions,” wrote Zhang, who declined to talk to BuzzFeed News. Her LinkedIn profile said she “worked as the data scientist for the Facebook Site Integrity fake engagement team” and dealt with “bots influencing elections and the like.”
Pro-Trump youth group enlists teens in secretive campaign likened to a ‘troll farm,’ prompting rebuke by Facebook and Twitter
“Teenagers, some of them minors, are being paid to pump out the messages at the direction of Turning Point Action, an affiliate of Turning Point USA, the prominent conservative youth organization based in Phoenix, according to four people with independent knowledge of the effort. Their descriptions were confirmed by detailed notes from relatives of one of the teenagers who recorded conversations with him about the efforts.
“The campaign draws on the spam-like behavior of bots and trolls, with the same or similar language posted repeatedly across social media. But it is carried out, at least in part, by humans paid to use their own accounts, though nowhere disclosing their relationship with Turning Point Action or the digital firm brought in to oversee the day-to-day activity. One user included a link to Turning Point USA’s website in his Twitter profile until The Washington Post began asking questions about the activity.
“In response to questions from The Post, Twitter on Tuesday suspended at least 20 accounts involved in the activity for ‘platform manipulation and spam.’ Facebook also removed a number of accounts as part of what the company said is an ongoing investigation.”
FTC Preparing Possible Antitrust Suit Against Facebook
“The Federal Trade Commission is gearing up to file a possible antitrust lawsuit against Facebook Inc. by year-end, according to people familiar with the matter, in a case that would challenge the company’s dominant position in social media.
“The case preparations come after the FTC has spent more than a year investigating concerns that Facebook has been using its powerful market position to stifle competition, part of a broader effort by U.S. antitrust authorities to examine the conduct of a handful of dominant tech companies.
“No final decision has been made on whether to sue Facebook, people familiar with the matter said, and the commission doesn’t always bring cases even when it is making preparations to do so, such as when it decided against filing an antitrust complaint against Google Inc. in 2013 after a lengthy investigation.”