How Disinformation Destroyed Democracy. bit.ly/DisinfoSXSW SXSW Online 2021.
How Disinformation Destroyed Democracy. bit.ly/DisinfoSXSW SXSW Online 2021.

Community voting for the 2021 SXSW conference ends this Friday! Here’s the panel Shireen Mitchell, Safiya Umoja Noble, Ph.D. and I are proposing. You can vote for the panel at https://bit.ly/DisinfoSXSW. Please help get the word out! There’s information about how to vote and other ways to support this panel at the end of this post.

How Disinformation Destroyed Democracy

Building on their successes in 2016, foreign and domestic actors ramped up disinformation and digital voter suppression for the 2020 election. All too often tech platforms took no meaningful action to stop disinformation. As the election grew closer, grassroots groups fought back. As well as successfully pressuring tech platform companies to act, grassroots organizing — including disinformation monitoring and response projects — proved a valuable complement to other efforts. …


5 Ways to Fight Disinformation, with a circle around “Think before you engage or share”
5 Ways to Fight Disinformation, with a circle around “Think before you engage or share”

As we move on to the next stage of “Election Season”, it’s more important than ever to guard against disinformation. False information can prevent people from voting, cast doubt on the credibility of the election process, and potentially even be used as the basis for a coup attempt.

So it’s up to all of us to fight back against disinformation.

Shireen Mitchell’s All of us have been targeted by disinformation

As Shireen Mitchell says, if you have an immediate reaction to share a link without verifying or fact-checking, you need to pause and look at things differently. One of the goals of disinformation is to get you to react emotionally. …


Part 2 of 5 Ways to Fight Disinformation this Election Season

5 Ways to Fight Disinformation, with a circle around “Educate yourself — and your friends and family”
5 Ways to Fight Disinformation, with a circle around “Educate yourself — and your friends and family”

As we move on to the next stage of “Election Season”, it’s more important than ever to guard against disinformation. False information can prevent people from voting, cast doubt on the credibility of the election process, and potentially even be used as the basis for a coup attempt.

So it’s up to all of us to fight back against disinformation.

This short video from PEN America, Shireen Mitchell’s All of us have been targeted by disinformation, and Jen Soriano’s Disinformation is like a virus, are all great two-minute introductions to what you can do about disinformation. …


5 Ways to Fight Disinformation, with a circle around “Share accurate information about the election”
5 Ways to Fight Disinformation, with a circle around “Share accurate information about the election”

As we move on to the next stage of “Election Season”, it’s more important than ever to guard against disinformation. False information can prevent people from voting, cast doubt on the credibility of the election process, and potentially even be used as the basis for a coup attempt.

So it’s up to all of us to fight back against disinformation.

Waiting for Results Bingo: Be patient, challenge negative thoughts, practice breathing excercises, and more
Waiting for Results Bingo: Be patient, challenge negative thoughts, practice breathing excercises, and more

The Brennan Center’s Roadmap to the Official Count in an Unprecedented Election is a detailed look at the next steps in “Election Season”. Now that polls have closed, disinformation is focusing on attempts to shut down counting early. …


5 Ways to Fight Disinformation, with a circle around “Report disinformation when you see it”
5 Ways to Fight Disinformation, with a circle around “Report disinformation when you see it”

One of the biggest challenges about disinformation is that it often flies below the radar — making it hard to respond. So when you see disinformation, report it! Here’s a few ways:

ReportDisinfo.org is an easy-to-use site to report disinformation, run by Common Cause Election Fund. You can include a link to the web page, or upload an image.

Stop Digital Voter Suppression is the place to report digital voter suppression. Also consider reporting voting-related disinformation to your state and local election officials.

Social network sites all provide ways to report disinformation. The World Health Organization has a page with links for how to report on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, TikTok and other sites. The more people who report a post, the more likely it is that companies will fact-check it and potentially take it down. …


Part 5of 5 Ways You can Fight Disinformation this Election Season

5 Ways to Fight Disinformation, with a circle around “Join a grassroots disinfo-fighting campaign”
5 Ways to Fight Disinformation, with a circle around “Join a grassroots disinfo-fighting campaign”

As we move on to the next stage of “Election Season”, it’s more important than ever to guard against disinformation. False information can prevent people from voting, cast doubt on the credibility of the election process, and potentially even be used as the basis for a coup attempt.

So it’s up to all of us to fight back against disinformation.

As Kate Starbird and her research team at University of Washington pointed out a few years ago, producing disinformation is a collaborative process. And so is fighting back!

Fortunately, there are more and more grassroots projects where people work together as a team to monitor and respond to disinformation. Here’s a…


5 Ways to Fight Disinformation, including “Think before you engage or share”, “Educate yourself”. See below for the full list
5 Ways to Fight Disinformation, including “Think before you engage or share”, “Educate yourself”. See below for the full list

As we move on to the next stage of “Election Season”, it’s more important than ever to guard against disinformation. False information can prevent people from voting, cast doubt on the credibility of the election process, and potentially even be used as the basis for a coup attempt.

So it’s up to all of us to fight back against disinformation.

Here’s five things you can do.

  1. THINK before you engage or share
  2. EDUCATE yourself — and your friends and family
  3. SHARE accurate information about the election
  4. REPORT disinformation when you see it
  5. JOIN a grassroots disinfo-fighting campaign

Each of the links goes to a post with more details. Or if you prefer, read on and get all the details here! …


Twitter Block Party: Monday October 26 4-5 PM ET. Week of Action Against Disinformation Kickoff. DisruptDisinfo. MediaJustice
Twitter Block Party: Monday October 26 4-5 PM ET. Week of Action Against Disinformation Kickoff. DisruptDisinfo. MediaJustice

MediaJustice and the Disinfo Defense League are kicking off their Week of Action Against Disinformation with the #DisruptDisinfo Twitter Block Party Monday October 26 at 1 PM Pacific, 4PM Eastern. It’s a great chance to learn how to respond when people share disinformation — and how to avoid sharing disinformation yourself.

Whether or not you’re on Twitter, you can follow along here.

The Disinfo Defense League is a group of non-partisan non-profits and researchers, and they’ve got a lot of other great events planned as part of the week of action. A few highlights:


The Zoom logo, with a black padlock
The Zoom logo, with a black padlock

Summary: In the early 2000s, Microsoft faced challenges similar to the ones Zoom’s looking at today, and successfully turned things around. Some of the key lessons from Microsoft’s experiences include

  • Think broadly about “trust”
  • Make trust the product teams’ responsibility
  • Fix your privacy practices and policies
  • Do threat modeling
  • Use the tools — and develop new ones
  • Learn from your experiences
  • It’s a social problem, not just “technical”
  • It may take a while to address — but there’s a big potential upside

The Twitter thread includes a longer summary and some discussion.

A tough time for Zoom

After a great start to the year, with usage soaring as people around the world stay home, the last few weeks have been a really tough time for Zoom. The company has always focused on convenience and usability. Now, they’re dealing with the consequences of not having paid much attention to security and…


The Zoom logo with a padlock over it
The Zoom logo with a padlock over it

Last updated: August 30. Originally published April 2.

Zoombombing remains a problem; see Prof. Anima Anandkumar’s thread about her KDD keynote from late August. If you’re using Zoom, the Global Forum for Media Development’s “Zoom-bombing” prevention & resources guide has some solid recommendations, and so does How to Keep Uninvited Guests Out of Your Zoom Event on Zoom’s blog. Zoom continues to fix security problems, so please make sure you have the latest software — but be careful of malware.

With online organizing as the only short-term option, Zoom has become increasingly popular for activism groups. There’s a lot to like about Zoom: it’s easy to use, it provides phone access as well as video, their free plan allows unlimited meetings, you can use it without an account or sign in and use a pseudonym, it’s got useful functionality like breakout rooms. …

About

Jon Pincus

strategist, software engineer, entrepreneur, activist ...

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