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Bending the Curve of Fake Pandemic News by Philip N. Howard

bending the curve of fake pandemic news by philip n. howard

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OXFORD – Would you believe that the coronavirus was developed by a government to weaken its foreign rivals? Or that “patriots” created it to foment a revolution against “big government” and the “deep state”? Sadly, far too many people who have encountered such disinformation online have shared it with their friends and family.








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The Lonesome Death of Hong Kong

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Nonetheless, we are learning more about who produces fake pandemic news, and how to stop its circulation. In addition to the health-care workers risking their own lives and the scientists working on treatments and a vaccine, another branch of the COVID-19 response also deserves recognition. Over the past few years, the world’s fact checkers have developed a capacity to spot and label lies circulating in the public sphere. Now, they have turned their attention to junk news about the COVID-19 crisis, helping social-media platforms move more quickly to dispel and …

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What the Tech? Spotting deepfakes

what the tech? spotting deepfakes

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As if spotting fake photos and videos on Facebook and Twitter wasn’t already hard, it’s only going to get more difficult, if not impossible, with advances in technology called “deepfakes.”Perhaps you saw a video from 2 years ago that went viral of former President Barack Obama using profanity to describe president Donald Trump.In truth, the voice of Obama was from comedian, movie star and producer Jordan Peele. The video was intended to demonstrate deep fake technology and encourage people watching to be skeptical of shocking videos of celebrities and other notable people saying or doing things out of the ordinary.”It’s not just that it sounds alike, it’s not just that you see the person’s face, it’s the mannerisms too. Everything is the same,” says Adam Chiara, a communications professor at The University of Hartford.Chiara has been studying deepfakes in recent years and says the possibilities of people using them to incite people or spread misinformation on social media is enormous.”It is scary,” he said from his home office Wednesday. “And that’s why I think we need to be prepared because it’s coming one way or the other. The only question is are we, as a society, …

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Elon Musk’s Deepfake Video of Singing Soviet Space Song Breaks the Internet

elon musk’s deepfake video of singing soviet space song breaks the internet

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It’s a big week for Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, as his team launched its first-ever crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS). 
And now, it looks like Musk has taken up singing in Russian as his new hobby. In an impressive, if not eery, use of technology, Musk has been turned into a Soviet pop star as a deepfake video of the tech billionaire singing a nostalgic Soviet space song has emerged on YouTube. 
And what a video it is!
SEE ALSO: 17 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SPACEX’S FIRST-EVER ASTRONAUT LAUNCH
Deepfake is far too realistic
If being the CEO of the company that sent the first-ever crewed mission on a commercial space flight wasn’t quite enough, Elon Musk is now the frontline singer for the iconic Soviet pop band “Zemlyane” – or “Earthlings”.
Or at least, that’s what it looks like. 
Russian internet users chose to commemorate Musk’s historical moment by releasing a cleverly-done deepfake video of him singing “Grass at Home.” Ironically, even though the song sings about space travel it nostalgically speaks about the fact that there’s nowhere like home, our Earth.
Given Musk’s great attempts to leave Earth by founding a space travel …

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What the Tech: Deep Fakes

what the tech: deep fakes

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As if spotting fake photos and videos on Facebook and Twitter weren’t already hard to spot. It’s only going to get more difficult, if not impossible with advances in technology called “deep fakes”.

Perhaps you saw a video from 2 years ago that went viral of former president Barrack Obama using profanity to describe president Donald Trump. In truth, the voice of Mr. Obama was from comedian, movie star and producer Jordan Peele. The video was intended to demonstrate deep fake technology and encourage people watching to be skeptical of shocking videos of celebrities and other notable people saying or doing things out of the ordinary.

“It’s not just that it sounds like, it’s not just that you see the person’s face, it’s the mannerisms too. Everything is the same,” says Adam Chiara, a communications professor at The University of Hartford. Chiara has been studying deep fakes in recent years and says the possibilities of people using them to incite people or spread misinformation on social media is enormous.

“It is scary,” he said from his home office Wednesday. “And that’s why I think we need to be prepared because it’s coming one …

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Flyer advertising for ‘professional anarchists’ is fake

flyer advertising for ‘professional anarchists’ is fake

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An image of a flyer claiming the Open Society Foundations, a philanthropic organization funded by billionaire George Soros, will pay people to protest was shared hundreds of times on Facebook and Instagram. The flyer is fake, according to the chairman of the local Democratic Party branch also mentioned in the image, and the foundation denied that it or Soros pays protesters.

“Get paid to be a…Professional Anarchist!” a photo of a flyer shared hundreds of times on Facebook and Instagram since late May 2020 says. 

“Contact your local Open Society Foundation branch,” it says, alongside a phone number and an email for the Thurston County Democrats.

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken on June 3, 2020

The posts are being shared against the backdrop of nationwide protests in the US after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed in Minnesota police custody.

One post claimed, “I called. It’s a real number.” 

However, when AFP phoned the number on June 3, 2020 a Verizon recording said it has been “changed, disconnected or is no longer in service.”

Victor Minjares, chairman of the Thurston County Democrats, a local branch of the Democratic Party in the US state of Washington, denied that the flyer was …

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Competitive Intelligence Startup Watchful Raises $3 Million from Vertex Ventures

competitive intelligence startup watchful raises $3 million from vertex ventures

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Watchful Technologies Ltd. announced on Wednesday that it has raised $3 million in a seed round led by Israel venture capital fund Vertex Ventures, alongside several Israeli angel investors.

 Watchful develops technological solutions for competitive intelligence. The founder of the company is Itay Kahana, who was also a co-founder of Any.do. Watchful has 25 employees, 14 of them in Israel, three in Ukraine, and seven in the Philippines.

 
Watchful’s management team. Photo: PR “I take the application and run it in multiple different ways and with varied sources of data. As soon as I have full visibility of the app, I offer my capabilities to say what the app includes, from different collaborations to changes in the terms of use agreement,” Kahana told Calcalist. “In many applications, we revealed small and hidden issues that can sometimes be very significant.”

 “The intelligence solutions currently in the market track external variables like traffic, downloads and users,” said Yanai Oron, General Partner at Vertex Ventures. “Watchful takes a different and unique approach in that it provides insights into what is happening inside the app and enables companies to truly understand what their competitors are developing, checking, and planning.”

 
Watchful’s platform provides a solution that is …

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How to avoid disinformation and misinformation on Facebook and Twitter

how to avoid disinformation and misinformation on facebook and twitter

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

George Floyd is not really dead. Billionaire philanthropist George Soros is supplying bricks to protesters.

Hoaxes, conspiracy theories and other falsehoods like these are surging on Facebook and Twitter following Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis.
Bad actors exploit large-scale events dominating the national conversation to sow chaos and fear and deepen distrust and division, disinformation experts say. In this case, they’ve seized on America’s rawest political division—race—and the growing furor over police brutality to hijack protests across the country.
“We are seeing a rapidly evolving situation, sustained attention and most of all just deep existing divisions that make it a perfect confluence of events for disinformation from a range of actors who are known to spread it,” says Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.
And these campaigns could intensify following President Donald Trump’s threat late Monday to deploy the military to stop “acts of domestic terror.”
“No doubt tonight there will be out-of-context images of the military. There will be rumors about military presence that maybe isn’t happening. It’s very easy for people to do. They just google images of the military near a protest and circulate …

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De Blasio struggles to defend social distancing, coronavirus rules

de blasio struggles to defend social distancing, coronavirus rules

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Mayor Bill de Blasio struggled to explain Tuesday why large religious gatherings remain banned and businesses deemed nonessential are still closed under coronavirus-related orders as thousands pack city streets to protest the death of George Floyd.
“When you see a nation — an entire nation — grappling with an extraordinary crisis that’s deep-seated in 400 years of American racism,” a peevish de Blasio told a reporter during an hour-long press conference. “Sorry, that is not the same question as the understandably aggrieved store owner or the devout religious person who wants to go back to religious services.”
“It’s about the deep, deep American crisis,” Hizzoner added. “I have eyes to see. We’re not going to treat it like it’s any other day, we’re not going to treat it like ‘why are people outside the bar.’
It was one in a slew of contentious exchanges between a visibly exhausted de Blasio and the City Hall press corps, following the Big Apple’s fifth night unrest in the aftermath of Floyd’s death.
Hizzoner also attempted to explain the differing treatment by pointing to scientific research that shows there is less risk to contracting the disease from activities outside than …

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Misinformation About George Floyd Protests Surges on Social Media

misinformation about george floyd protests surges on social media

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[Follow our live updates of the George Floyd protests nationwide.]On Twitter and Facebook, hundreds of posts are circulating saying that George Floyd is not actually dead.Conspiracy theorists are baselessly arguing that George Soros, the billionaire investor and Democratic donor, is funding the spreading protests against police brutality.And conservative commentators are asserting with little evidence that antifa, the far-left antifascism activist movement, coordinated the riots and looting that sprang from the protests.Untruths, conspiracy theories and other false information are running rampant online as the furor over Mr. Floyd, an African-American man who was killed last week in police custody in Minneapolis, has built. The misinformation has surged as the protests have dominated conversation, far outpacing the volume of online posts and media mentions about last year’s protests in Hong Kong and Yellow Vest movement in France, according to the media insights company Zignal Labs.At its peak on Friday, Mr. Floyd and the protests around his death were mentioned 8.8 million times, said Zignal Labs, which analyzed global television broadcasts and social media. In contrast, news of the Hong Kong protests reached 1.5 million mentions a day and the Yellow Vest movement 941,000.“The combination of evolving events, sustained …

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