Long awaited Mueller report delivers unequivocal condemnation of … social media

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Mueller time: Long awaited report delivers unequivocal condemnation of … social media

After two years’ investigation, and a previously released summary that only served as an aperitif, Robert Mueller’s full (ish) assessment of Russian election interference and possible collusion dropped Thursday.

It’s a metaphorical fire mixtape of political intrigue and scandal, but regardless of what it had to say for specific individuals, it definitely showed social media enabling misinformation campaigns in the United States.

Russia’s Internet Research Agency perpetrated most of general misinformation campaigns, seemingly seeking only to stoke discontent and animosity between political factions. The report revealed this activity started as early as 2014.

The agency’s Twitter strategy had two parts, with fake handles for individuals, and many more bots created to expand the footprint of misinformation. These personas got quoted by media outlets and shared by political leaders and pundits. On paper, it almost sounds like an influencer campaign. But with, you know, robots.

Over on Facebook, it operated groups and pages with hundreds of thousands of members or followers, reaching 100 million+ people.

Again, plenty of this was previously known – however, it’s important to remember, it’s still not really getting “fixed”. Honestly, we should probably abandon the idea it ever could be.

For example, while Facebook this week banned some far right organizations from using its platform, there’s not exactly a mechanism that could prevent new ones from supplanting them. Perhaps algorithms or AI based on things like the propensity to share misinformation, but algorithms linked the Notre Dame fire to 9/11, AI is biased, and Facebook has gotten a bit liberal with its fact-checking partners.

Also, Google would like us to consider if the fire was part of a Satanic ceremony.

Also, Google would like us to consider if the fire was part of a Satanic ceremony

Even Zuckerberg’s stated plans to make Facebook more direct message-oriented aren’t a solution: WhatsApp’s already harboring hate groups and is one of the key platforms used to spread misinformation in India.

Meanwhile, over at Twitter, well, Jack’s being Jack, which means he was in full deflection mode when interviewed during a TED event, while users’ more excoriating questions appeared in a livestream behind him.

Twitter also took down links to bootleg streaming sites this week, but left up death threats to a member of Congress. At least the latter was so law enforcement agencies could investigate.

OK, on to more fun stuff…

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