Category Archives: Media Issues

What will 2022 bring in the way of misinformation on social media? 3 experts weigh in

A cutout display at a protest highlighted the connection between social media and the real-world effects of misinformation.
Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

Anjana Susarla, Michigan State University; Dam Hee Kim, University of Arizona, and Ethan Zuckerman, UMass Amherst

At the end of 2020, it seemed hard to imagine a worse year for misinformation on social media, given the intensity of the presidential election and the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic. But 2021 proved up to the task, starting with the Jan. 6 insurrection and continuing with copious amounts of falsehoods and distortions about COVID-19 vaccines.

To get a sense of what 2022 could hold, we asked three researchers about the evolution of misinformation on social media. Continue reading

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Rights Groups Accuse Tech Giants of Throttling Content on Abortion Pills

“More Americans are going to need accurate information on abortion,” said one communications director. “But these platforms have algorithms that surface the opposition and misinformation and misleading content.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 12-27-2021 by Common Dreams

As anti-choice lawmakers ramp up attacks on reproductive freedom across the United States, new reporting on Monday raised alarm about Big Tech companies limiting access to scientifically accurate content from abortion rights organizations while allowing the spread of misinformation.

Representatives from multiple pro-choice groups told The Hill‘s Rebecca Klar about their struggles trying to circulate credible information on accessing medication abortion—which typically involves two medicines, mifepristone and misoprostol—through platforms including Facebook and Google-owned YouTube. Continue reading

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2021 Saw Record ‘Surge’ of 488 Journalists Detained Worldwide, Report Reveals

“The extremely high number of journalists in arbitrary detention is the work of three dictatorial regimes.”

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 12-16-2021 by Common Dreams

The president of IJAVN Pham Chi Dung (right), its vice president Nguyen Tuong Thuy (left), and its editor Le Huu Minh Tuan (center, back) are seen during their trial in Ho Chi Minh City’s people’s court in Vietnam. (Photo: Luat Khoa/RSF)

Reporters Without Borders announced Thursday that this year has featured a 20% surge in the number of journalists arbitrarily detained worldwide, documenting at least 488 cases, the highest figure since the global press freedom group began its annual roundup in 1995.

There are also at least 65 journalists being held hostage around the world, according to the group, also known by its French name, Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF). Continue reading

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Incarceration of Journalists Hits All-Time High Amid ‘Growing Intolerance of Independent Reporting’

“This is the sixth year in a row that CPJ has documented record numbers of journalists imprisoned around the world.”

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 12-9-2021 by Common Dreams

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an imprisoned journalist, a native of Philadelphia, and author of ten books penned in prison. He’s been in prison for 39 years. Photo: Joe Piette/flickr/CC

Nearly 300 journalists are currently languishing behind bars around the globe—an all-time high in recorded history—according to a new report published Thursday by the Committee to Protect Journalists, which described 2021 as “an especially bleak year for defenders of press freedom.”

The U.S.-based nonprofit’s annual prison census found that 293 reporters were incarcerated worldwide as of December 1, up from the previous record-high of 280 last year. Continue reading

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In First, US Labeled ‘Backsliding’ Democracy as Global Authoritarianism Grows

A new report calls the rejection of the 2020 election results by many in the Republican Party as an “historic turning point” for the United States.

By Julia Conley. Published 11-22-2021 by Common Dreams

The Capitol riot. Photo: Blink O’fanaye/flickr/CC

For the first time in its four years of compiling annual data on the state of democracy around the world, an international think tank added the United States to its list of “backsliding” democracies in the report it released Monday, pointing to factors including politicians’ continued false claims that the 2020 presidential election results were illegitimate as one of the key elements weakening the country’s democratic system.

The Global State of Democracy report, released by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), called former President Donald Trump’s public questioning of the election results in November 2020 “a historic turning point” both for U.S. democracy and the world, pointing to a knock-on effect in several countries. Continue reading

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Ahead of Historic House Hearing, Fresh Big Oil Misinformation Campaign Exposed

“It’s always helpful to remember that big fossil fuel companies (besides being overwhelmingly responsible for carbon pollution) are also skeevy disinformation hucksters.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-27-2021

Action on Jan 11, 2017 right before the start of ExxonMobil’s Rex Tillerson confirmation hearings. Photo: 350.org/Twitter/CC

An investigation by HEATED and Earther revealed Wednesday that fossil fuel industry advertising in some of the most popular U.S. political newsletters “has exploded” as Democrats in Congress prepare to grill leaders of oil majors and trade groups about their contributions to climate disinformation.

Journalists Emily Atkin and Molly Taft examined ads in Punchbowl News’ daily political email newsletter as well as two climate-related newsletters, “Axios Generate” and Politico‘s “Morning Energy,” leading up the U.S. House of Representatives hearing scheduled for Thursday. Continue reading

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Will Facebook respect international rights or the whims of angry rulers?

A muddle of decisions indicates that Facebook and its ‘Supreme Court’ are making little progress towards a consistent policy on human rights

By Linda Bonyo   Published 10-18-2021 by openDemocracy

Photo: Louis Jadwong/Twitter

Facebook’s ‘Trump ban’ received breathless coverage earlier this year, when the Facebook Oversight Board (FOB) – the supposedly independent entity established by the tech giant to adjudicate its content decisions – ‘ruled’ that the former president’s ban from the social media site should be upheld.

Experts from WIRED’s Gilad Edelman to scholar Kate Klonick have used the Trump decision to argue that the FOB is working.

But buried amidst that coverage – and that surrounding Facebook’s botched handling of COVID disinformation – are a muddle of decisions indicating that Facebook and its Oversight Board are making little progress towards a consistent policy on human rights. In fact, they may be headed towards a showdown. Continue reading

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Nobel Peace Prize for journalists serves as reminder that freedom of the press is under threat from strongmen and social media

When the reporter becomes the story.
AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

 

Kathy Kiely, University of Missouri-Columbia

Thirty-two years ago next month, I was in Germany reporting on the fall of the Berlin Wall, an event then heralded as a triumph of Western democratic liberalism and even “the end of history.”

But democracy isn’t doing so well across the globe now. Nothing underscores how far we have come from that moment of irrational exuberance than the powerful warning the Nobel Prize Committee felt compelled to issue on Oct. 8, 2021 in awarding its coveted Peace Prize to two reporters. Continue reading

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‘Dismaying’: Human Rights Groups Blast Biden Plan to OK Millions in Military Aid for Egypt

A coalition of 18 organizations called the administration’s decision “a terrible blow to its stated commitment to human rights and to the rule of law.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-14-2021

Members of the women-led peace group CodePink, including co-founder Medea Benjamin (center), protest against Egyptian human rights abuses in this undated photo. Photo: CodePink

Left-leaning Democratic lawmakers joined human rights groups Tuesday in decrying the Biden administration’s reported decision to withhold a small portion of the $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Egypt over human rights crimes perpetrated by the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity—the administration’s decision had not yet been announced—told multiple media outlets Tuesday that of the $300 million in military aid to Egypt that is subject to human rights conditions, $170 million will be initially authorized. Continue reading

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How social media – aided by bots – amplifies Islamophobia online

Islamophobia has changed in the 20 years since Sept. 11. Now, much of it plays out on social media.
Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Saif Shahin, American University

In August 2021, a Facebook ad campaign criticizing Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the United States’ first Muslim congresswomen, came under intense scrutiny. Critics charged that the ads linked the congresswomen with terrorism, and some faith leaders condemned the campaign as “Islamophobic” – that is, spreading fear of Islam and hatred against Muslims.

This was hardly the first time the pair faced Islamophobic or racist abuse, especially on the internet. As a communications professor who studies the politics of race and identity online, I have seen that Omar is often a target of white nationalist attacks on Twitter. Continue reading

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