Category Archives: Media Issues

Trump lost the election, but he won the online disinformation war

Social media platforms have allowed US conservatives to delegitimise the election and sow mistrust of democracy.

By Peter Geoghegan. Published 11-9-2020 by openDemocracy

Screenshot: WNCT

In late August, roughly five weeks before Americans went to the polls, a story appeared in The New York Times reporting new data about the reach of fringe US conservative outlets on Facebook. The numbers were staggering.

Posts by far-right news site Breitbart had been shared three times as often as posts from the official pages of every Democratic member of the US senate combined in the previous 30 days. Conservative firebrand Ben Shapiro had chalked up 56 million interactions, more than the main pages of ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post and NPR put together. Continue reading

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One Thing Very Certain After Election Day: ‘Coronavirus Spreading Like Wildfire’

The U.S. is “entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic… leading to increasing mortality,” warned Dr. Deborah Birx earlier this week.

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-4-2020

Political uncertainty remains as vote-counting continues after an Election Day which saw millions of voters head to the polls across the U.S., but one thing that’s for sure is that “coronavirus is spreading like wildfire” throughout the country.

According to Johns Hopkins data, the U.S. recorded 91,350 new Covid-19 infections on Tuesday. This marked the second-highest single-day figure to date, CNBC reported, while CNN noted that the five days with the highest number of coronavirus cases have all occurred since October 29. Continue reading

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Watchdog Fights Back as Facebook Attempts to Shut Down Research Exposing ‘Political Disinformation’ in Ad Practices

“Rather than combat the rampant disinformation and hate on its platform, Facebook has decided to go after the people who are helping voters understand who is trying to influence their votes.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-26-2020

In response to Facebook’s attempt to cancel a NYU research project that has been collecting data about the company’s ad-targeting practices, Common Cause has launched a petition imploring the social media giant to “shut down disinformation on their platform—instead of trying to shut down the advocates and academics who are trying to expose it.” (Photo: Legal Loop)

In response to Facebook’s attempt to shut down a New York University research project that has been collecting data about the social media corporation’s ad-targeting practices, progressive advocacy group Common Cause has launched a petition drive imploring the technology behemoth to “let the program continue and instead shut down the rampant disinformation on the platform.”

After researchers at the NYU Ad Observatory recruited more than 6,500 volunteers to collect data about the ads Facebook shows them by using a specially designed browser extension, the social media giant informed the university in a mid-October letter that the project violates the site’s rules against bulk data collection, according to reporting from The Hill late last week. Continue reading

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FCC Head and Internet’s Most Hated Man Ajit Pai Just Vowed to Kill First Amendment Rights Online

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has vowed to reinterpret Section 230 of the Communications Act on President Trump’s orders in a move that threatens to curb what’s left of Americans’ first amendment rights online.

By Raul Diego.  Published 10-16-2020 by MintPress News

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Citing “censorship outcry” from the three branches of government, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced yesterday via tweet the agency’s intention to move forward with regulation of social media by looking to modify Section 230 of the Communications Act, which protects the likes of Facebook and Twitter from the parts of the U.S. code that opens publishers to legal challenges over the content posted to their platforms, which inevitably puts content creators, themselves, in the cross hairs of the legal system without the benefit of their first amendment rights.  Continue reading

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In Effort to ‘Cultivate Hopelessness,’ Trump 2016 Campaign Used Facebook for Deterrence Operation Targeting Millions of Black Voters

The social media giant, said one critic, “is the newest frontier in a long history of suppression of the Black vote.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-28-2020

Photo by Ben Combee from Austin, TX, USA (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign sought to persuade 3.5 million Black voters in key battleground states to stay home on Election Day by targeting them with negative Facebook ads about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, according to a Monday report on Britain’s Channel 4 News.

A massive data leak obtained by the U.K. outlet shows that four years ago Trump’s digital campaign team compiled files on 198 million American voters, which included information about their domestic and economic status obtained from market research companies. An algorithm then divided the voters into eight categories, called “audiences,” so they could be targeted with tailored ads on Facebook and other social media platforms. Continue reading

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‘These Are the Actions of a Fascist’: Press, Rights Advocates Warn of Dangerous Pattern as Trump Again Lauds Violence Against Journalists

“An American president does not praise violence against a reporter for doing his job. That is what an ugly, insecure two-bit dictator does.”

By Lisa Newcomb, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-23-2020

Ali Velshi was hit by a rubber bullet while covering the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis. Screenshot: MSNBC

Free speech advocates warned against President Donald Trump’s authoritarian rhetoric demonizing journalists following a speech at a rally in Pennsylvania on Tuesday in which the commander-in-chief celebrated violence against members of the press.

“Trump has been inciting hatred of reporters for years,” Mark Follman, national affairs editor for Mother Jones, tweeted. “As a result, American journalists have faced many violent threats… Trump veils it with mockery—but this behavior is no joke. It’s fascist, and it’s dangerous.” Continue reading

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Israel Launches Week-Long Bombing Campaign in Gaza Amid Ongoing War Crimes Investigation

Israeli leaders have characterized the latest bombardment as retaliatory, citing “incendiary balloons” and “riots” as justification.

By Kathryn Shihadah   Published 8-18-2020 by MintPress News

Israeli bombing of Gaza on 8-12-2020. Photo: Sucheta/Twitter

Last Monday night Israeli fighter jets executed airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip for the ninth night in a row in an act that may be another on Israel’s long list of possible war crimes.

Israeli leaders characterized the actions as retaliatory, naming Gazan “incendiary balloons” and “riots” as justification. Continue reading

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Watchdog Calls on Authorities to Drop ‘Absurd’ Charges Against Journalists Covering Black Lives Matter Protests

More than 600 attacks against members of the press covering the ongoing protests have been reported to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

By Lisa Newcomb, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-18-2020

BLM protest in California – June 2020. Photo: Jackie Speier/Twitter

The Committee to Protect Journalists on Monday called for authorities to drop charges against members of the news media who were arrested while covering Black Lives Matter protests across the United States.

“It is absurd that law enforcement officials around the country continue to pursue charges against journalists who were doing their jobs at the time they were arrested,” Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ program director, said in a statement. “It’s high time for authorities to drop this pursuit, which is frivolous and wasteful.” Continue reading

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‘An Outrage’: Trump-Appointed Head of Global News Agency Won’t Extend Visas for Foreign Journalists

“It is appalling that the VOA’s new boss could be so reckless about the safety of journalists,” said PEN America.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-10-2020

Photo: Voice of America (Public Domain)

Dozens of foreign journalists are expected to be sent back to their home countries from the U.S. following a decision on Thursday by the newly appointed head of the federal government’s global news agency to not renew their visas.

As Common Dreams reported, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) was taken over last month by Michael Pack, a close ally of Steve Bannon, former advisor to President Donald Trump. Continue reading

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Staffer Outrage, Sickout Spurred by NYT Publication of Sen. Cotton ‘Send in the Troops’ Op-Ed

“Running this puts @nytimes’ Black staff in danger.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-4-2020

The New York Times’s decision to publish Sen. Tom Cotton’s op-ed calling for U.S. military to quell the nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd has drawn sharp rebuke, including from the newspaper’s own writers. (Photo: Ajay Suresh/Wikimedia Commons/cc)

The New York Times‘s Wednesday publication of Sen. Tom Cotton’s op-ed calling for the U.S. military to respond to ongoing protests across the nation with an “overwhelming show of force” sparked outcry from the newspaper’s own staffers and a “sickout” protest Thursday.

Among the staff critics was 2020 Pulitzer Prizer winner Nikole Hannah-Jones. “I’ll probably get in trouble for this, but to not say something would be immoral,” she tweeted Wednesday. “As a black woman, as a journalist, as an American, I am deeply ashamed that we ran this.” Continue reading

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