WhatsApp launches cmpaign in India to spot fake messages

StopFake.org - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 06:26

A man reads WhatsApp advertisements on how to spot misinformation, published in prominent newspapers in New Delhi, India, July 10, 2018

ByAnjana Pasricha, for  VoANews

NEW DELHI — After hoax messages on WhatsApp fueled deadly mob violence in India, the Facebook-owned messaging platform published full-page advertisements in prominent English and Hindi language newspapers advising users on how to spot misinformation.

The advertisements are the first measure taken by the social media company to raise awareness about fake messages, following a warning by the Indian government that it needs to take immediate action to curb the spread of false information.

While India is not the only country to be battling the phenomenon of fake messaging on social media, it has taken a menacing turn here — in the past two months more than a dozen people have died in lynchings sparked by false posts spread on WhatsApp that the victims were child kidnappers.

Ironically, the digital media giant took recourse to traditional print media to disseminate its message. The advertisements, which began with the line “Together we can fight false information” give 10 tips on how to sift truth from rumors and will also be placed in regional language newspapers.

They call on users to check photos in messages carefully because photos and videos can be edited to mislead; check out stories that seem hard to believe; to “think twice before sharing a post that makes you angry and upset”; check out other news websites or apps to see if the story is being reported elsewhere. It also warned that fake news often goes viral and asked people not to believe a message just because it is shared many times.

WhatsApp published full page advertisements in The Times of India newspaper giving 10 tips on how to fight false information

Internet experts called the media blitz a good first step, but stressed the need for a much larger initiative to curb the spread of fake messages that authorities are struggling to tackle.

“There has to be a repetitive pattern. People have to be told again and again and again,” says Pratik Sinha who runs a fact checking website called Alt News and hopes that the social media giant will run a sustained campaign. “That kind of fear mongering that has gone on on WhatsApp, that is not going to go away by just putting out an advertisement one day a year. This needs a continuous form of education.”

Some pointed out that although newspapers are popular in India, many of the users of the messaging platform, specially in rural areas, were unlikely to be newspaper readers.

Satish Bhaykre, 21, who was beaten by a mob due to a fake WhatsApp text, poses inside his house on the outskirts of Nagpur, India, June 23, 2018

The fake posts that have spread on WhatsApp have ranged from sensationalist warnings of natural calamities, fake stories with political messaging to bogus medical advise. The false messages that warned parents about child abductors were sometimes accompanied by gruesome videos of child abuse.

Experts said the that the need to curb fake news has also assumed urgency ahead of India’s general elections scheduled for next year — WhatsApp has become the favored medium for political parties to target voters. With about 200 million users, India is its largest market for the messaging service.

ByAnjana Pasricha, for  VoANews

Categories: World News

Figure of the Week: 70 million

StopFake.org - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 00:24

By EU vs Disinfo

Since the US election in 2016, the social media giants have been stepping up their action against disinformation and fake accounts in their networks. Facebook has recognized the use of its platformfor information operations and the Mueller report showed the scale of Russia’s operation aimed at influencing public opinion on social media before the 2016 US Presidential elections.

Another study has shown that over 156,000 Russian-based Twitter accounts had massively tweeted about Brexit in the days leading up to the June 2016 referendum.

One response by the platforms has been to suspend suspicious accounts. According to an article by the Washington Post, Twitter suspended more than 70 million accounts in May and June, and the pace has continued in July. 

Del Harvey, the vice president for trust and safety at Twitter explains the shift in how the company defines its role in public debate. “One of the biggest shifts is in how we think about balancing free expression versus the potential for free expression to chill someone else’s speech,” Harvey said. “Free expression doesn’t really mean much if people don’t feel safe.”

 Read the whole article from the Washington Post here.

By EU vs Disinfo

Categories: World News

NATO’s Summit disinfo targets Latvia

StopFake.org - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 00:17

By Anna Ūdre, for CEPA

On 15 June, Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti published a fake news story, “President of Latvia: the U.S. will not protect Europe from Russia,” intended to undermine popular support for NATO before the Alliance’s summit in Brussels in July.

The article was published in Russian two days after Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis gave opening remarks at a discussion at the Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA) on the upcoming NATO summit. The article accurately recounts only some of Mr. Vejonis’s remarks – for example, he noted that “Europe has begun to realize that our protection can’t be relied solely on the United States, therefore we must do our utmost to guarantee our own security.” These remarks were correctly reported by the independent news agency LETA, other established media in Latvia, and the Chancery of the President of Latvia.

The version published by RIA Novosti was distorted, employing a frequently used technique: using some correct or mostly correct facts or statements, but a misleading title. The LIIA panel that Mr. Vejonis spoke at was titled “NATO in 2018: Constraints and Opportunities in Response to Existing and Emerging Challenges.” In the discussion, the Latvian president addressed the challenges the alliance is facing today – for example, “instability in the South, Syria, and North Africa, as well as in the East, where Russia is ‘flexing its military muscles.’” According to LETA, Vejonis also mentioned China’s increasing economic and military influence in the Far East, expressed his hopes for “a peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear deal,” and addressed such challenges as terrorism and migration. Said Vejonis, “Western unity is at stake,” making it necessary to strengthen both “hard” and “soft” security. “There are forces trying to split us, therefore it is important to stick to our common values. It is time to wake up, be more proactive and remain united.”

TVnet, one of the leading online news media in Latvia, which also publishes in Russian, accurately reported on the discussion. RIA Novosti cited what Tvnet had written, but distorted facts. This is a frequently used misinformation technique: the use of facts and statements that are reported from other sources, but that differ from the original or do not account for the latest editorial changes. There are three differences between RIA Novosti and Tvnet’s article: the title, one paragraph, and graphics. Tvnet’s article was titled, “Vejonis: Europe has begun to understand that its defense can not rely solely on the U.S.” But RIA Novosti reported the address under the title “President of Latvia: U.S. will not protect Europe from Russia.” Moreover, RIA Novosti added a paragraph citing American expert Ted Galen Carpenter from the Cato Institute, arguing that “Washington and NATO continue to turn Moscow against themselves.” Carpenter noted that “Norway recently asked to double the amount of American troops on their territory in order to place armed forces closer to the border with Russia.”

As found in a report published by the Centre For East European Policy Studies in Latvia, many pro-Russia media operate in Latvia and promote Kremlin-friendly messages that resonate with local Russian-speaking populations. Among such media is the newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta, news agencies RIA Novosti (including Russia Today, or RT), and ITAR TASS. TV channels available in the country include Russia Today, TVc, MIR TV, RTR, Pervy Kanal, and Golos Rossiji. These media outlets use narratives that stir pre-existing sentiments within the Russian population, such as the “Second World War victory cult” (Kremlin-cultivated propaganda that the Second World War ended with victory over fascism), and anti-Western sentiment. Research suggests that local media cannot effectively compete with financially stronger Russian TV channels.

The timing of the RIA Novosti article on the NATO conference indicates that the Kremlin is seeking to undermine the head of Latvia and the state’s allies before the NATO summit in Brussels. Russia’s state news agency is known for relying on a different set of experts than other media do, discrediting Latvian institutions and its transatlantic alliances, and pushing a pro-Kremlin narrative. It is likely that similar, distorted articles will follow as the summit unfolds.

By Anna Ūdre, for CEPA

Categories: World News

Russian UK Embassy flubs, misstates U.S. military posture in Ukraine

StopFake.org - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 00:13

UKRAINE — During tactical exercises on the Yavoriv landfill in the Lviv region

By Polygraph

Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom

“Americans always said they had no troops in Ukraine.”

Source: @RussianEmbassy, July 8, 2018

FALSE

The U.S. is transparent about military deployments in Ukraine

In a July 8 tweet, the Russian Embassy in London accused the United States of lying about its military presence in Ukraine.

The tweet read: “Americans always said they had no troops in Ukraine. And now this.” Underneath the comments was a photo of the lead paragraph of an article published in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, with the phrase “pull US troops out of Ukraine” underlined.

Americans always said they had no troops in Ukraine. And now this. pic.twitter.com/Ru7wwX31h6

— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) July 8, 2018

The Telegraph article, written by the paper’s Whitehall editor, Edward Malnick, and headlined “Nato fears Donald Trump may pull troops out of Europe if countries do not increase defence spending,” was published on July 7 ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s arrival in Brussels for this week’s NATO summit. The article’s lead paragraph reads: “Donald Trump could threaten to pull U.S. troops out of Ukraine and refuse to take part in joint Nato exercises if Britain and other European countries fail to commit to increased spending on defence.”

A version of the article was also posted on the Telegraph’s website.

“American (and Canadian, Polish, and Lithuanian) military personnel have been in Ukraine for years supporting training efforts with the Ukrainian armed forces. No U.S. combat troops are – or ever have been – stationed in Ukraine,” U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker told Polygraph.info.

The United States announced in March 2015 that American military personnel would be deployed in Ukraine by the end of April of that year.

Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told Polygraph.info that the U.S. Defense Department will use its authorities under the Global Security Contingency Fund as part of a joint DoD-State Department initiative to strengthen Ukraine’s internal defense capabilities.

​ “We plan on sending about 290 U.S. service members, specifically paratroopers from the [Army’s] mighty 173rd ‘Sky Soldiers’ Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy,” Warren said. He noted that the U.S. personnel would train six Ukraine National Guard companies with a focus on internal security and territorial defense.

The U.S. military personnel in Ukraine are part of the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine (JMTG-U) based at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center. The JMTG-U has a public website and maintains a social media presence. According to its latest update, the training center is currently manned by the New York National Guard’s 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Fly with us, fight with us. Soldiers of the 2-80th Air Assault Brigade conducted transportation and air support operations in conjunction with a company-level field training exercise.

For the actual 360 experience, click on this link : https://t.co/Px3yfj4XoP pic.twitter.com/yGCu9EipaD

— JMTG-U (@JMTG_Ukraine) June 12, 2018

​Independent sources confirm the numbers provided by the Pentagon. According to Bloomberg, last August there were approximately 250 U.S. military instructors of Oklahoma National Guard in Ukraine.

By Polygraph

Categories: World News