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Summary

  • Curated by the Global Engagement Center, the “Silicon Valley and Technology Report” highlights efforts in the technology industry with a nexus to countering disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda. We welcome your feedback, events, and items of interest – contact us!

Stanford Internet Observatory Launches Attribution.news With First Draft

On April 20, the Stanford Internet Observatory and First Draft launched attribution.news, a joint initiative to provide journalists with tools to effectively cover the origins of both cyber incidents and information operations. In the cybersecurity realm, attribution provides an answer to the critical question: who was behind the operation? This question applies to both cyberattacks in which adversaries target networks and computers, and to influence operations, where adversaries target people’s minds and emotions. Identifying who is behind an attack is complex not only from a technical perspective, as researchers analyze what occurred and how, but also at times on a political level, as governments find themselves weighing the costs and benefits of publicly naming the culpable adversary. Journalists play a critical role in helping readers understand the facts of an operation.

More info here: https://cyber.fsi.stanford.edu/io/content/sio-launches-attribution-news

Graphika: Long-Running Iranian Influence Operation Returns to Social Media with Anti-US and Pro-China Messaging

An Iranian influence actor that is known for its persistence has responded to the coronavirus pandemic by shifting its messaging to blame the United States and praise the role of China. This actor, often referred to by the name of one of its best-known personas as “IUVM” – short for the “International Union of Virtual Media” – is a prolific operator that is centered on websites rather than social media.

Microsoft: Protecting Democracy, Especially in a Time of Crisis

We are announcing several steps our Defending Democracy program is taking to help our democratic processes become more resilient in light of all these threats. First, starting today, we’re expanding our Defending Democracy Program to include a new service, Election Security Advisors, which will give political campaigns and election officials hands-on help securing their systems and recovering from cyberattacks. Second, we are expanding our AccountGuard threat notification service to cover the offices of U.S. election officials and the U.S. Congress as many are working remotely. Third, we are extending Microsoft 365 for Campaigns to state-level campaigns and parties. And, finally, we are publishing our public policy recommendations for securing elections, including ways to secure them while confronting the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Facebook Blog: Keeping People Safe and Informed About the Coronavirus

Facebook is supporting the global public health community’s work to keep people safe and informed during the coronavirus public health crisis. We’re also working to address the long-term impacts by supporting industries in need and making it easier for people to find and offer help in their communities.

1. Ensuring everyone has access to accurate information and removing harmful content
2. Supporting health and economic relief efforts
3. Keeping people connected

Washington Post: Meet the Minds Behind the Bizarre, Truth-Bombing Steak-umm Twitter Account

It’s only natural to seek light in such dark days. Less natural is that illumination might be found in the social media feed of a frozen-meat company. Yet many have turned to the Steak-umm Twitter feed as a guiding voice during this pandemic as it tackles issues like misinformation, partisan divides and the importance of science.

A recent such tweet, for example, reads: “during this pandemic it’s vital to stay wary of charlatans peddling ‘miracle cures’ that are ‘all natural,’ such as colloidal silver or herbal remedies. many people are afraid and extra susceptible to scams. please counter falsities if you see them with both data and compassion.”

AP: Tech Companies Step Up Fight Against Bad Coronavirus Info (4/15)

Potentially dangerous coronavirus misinformation has spread from continent to continent like the pandemic itself, forcing the world’s largest tech companies to take unprecedented action to protect public health.

Facebook, Google and others have begun using algorithms, new rules and factual warnings to knock down harmful coronavirus conspiracy theories, questionable ads and unproven remedies that regularly crop up on their services — and which could jeopardize lives.

AP: Facebook to Warn Users Who ‘Liked’ Coronavirus Hoaxes

Facebook will soon let you know if you shared or interacted with dangerous coronavirus misinformation on the site, the latest in a string of aggressive efforts the social media giant is taking to contain an outbreak of viral falsehoods.

The new notice will be sent to users who have clicked on, reacted to, or commented on posts featuring harmful or false claims about COVID-19 after they have been removed by moderators. The alert, which will start appearing on Facebook in the coming weeks, will direct users to a site where the World Health Organization lists and debunks virus myths and rumors.

Facebook, Google and Twitter are introducing stricter rules, altered algorithms and thousands of fact checks to stop the spread of bad misinformation online about the virus.

Harvard Kennedy School: Using Misinformation as a Political Weapon: COVID-19 and Bolsonaro in Brazil

With over 30,000 confirmed cases -as of April 16th- Brazil is currently the country most affected by COVID-19 in Latin America, and ranked 12th worldwide. Despite all evidence, a strong rhetoric undermining risks associated to COVID-19 has been endorsed at the highest levels of the Brazilian government, making President Jair Bolsonaro the leader of the “coronavirus-denial movement”. To support this strategy, different forms of misinformation and disinformation have been leveraged to lead a dangerous crusade against scientific and evidence-based recommendations.

The spread of misinformation and disinformation, including its use by the current government, has been under investigation in Brazil since 2019 by a dedicated Parliamentary Commission (Comissão Parlamentar Mista de Inquérito – CPMI) created by the National Congress. According to several testimonies collected within the scope of the investigation, it was identified that a structure linked to the office of the Presidency, nicknamed the “Office of Hatred”, coordinates the spread of disinformation, including defamatory messages against opponents of the President, such as prominent figures from the government.

More info here: https://misinforeview.hks.harvard.edu/article/using-misinformation-as-a-political-weapon-covid-19-and-bolsonaro-in-brazil/ 

Upcoming Events of Interest

  • April 23-26, Online International Symposium on Online Journalism
  • June 24-27, Online, Global Fact 7
  • July 16-17, Minneapolis, US, SRCCON
  • Sep 21-25, Geneva, Switzerland, AI for Good Summit

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future