Monday, April 16, 2018

Taking Charge of Fake News and Propaganda

Last February 2018, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for allegedly meddling in the 2016 American presidential election among other counts. Acting Atty. General Rod Rosenstein said, "The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general."

Number 4 of the Indictment reads:

"Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and creating false U.S. personas, operated social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences. These groups and pages, which addressed divisive U.S. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by U.S. activists when, in fact, they were controlled by Defendants. Defendants also used the stolen identities of real U.S persons to post on ORGANIZATION-controlled social media accounts. Over time, these social media accounts became Defendants' means to reach significant numbers of Americans for purposes of interfering with the U.S. political system, including the presidential election of 2016."

It turns out the same thing probably happened in the Philippines. As reported by Rappler, the Philippines had been subjected to the same propaganda methods used in the United States to affect the political system there.  They are bombarded with countless fake news, fake social media accounts for political propaganda, supporting Philippine president Duterte. After news by Rappler about the Russian propaganda in the Philippines, Assange of Wikileaks tweeted comments to try and discredit Rappler. Rappler staff wondered why Assange would bother with the Philippines.

Reuters in an April 13, 2018 article, stated that "the Philippines had the largest amount of user data acquired by Cambridge Analytica, with 1.17 million accounts in the country affected, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) said last week."

The Philippines joins European Union privacy watchdogs to investigate into the harvesting of personal social media date for economic or political purposes.

Disinformation campaigns are perpetrated not only by Russians but also Iran, China, The Muslim Brotherhood, ISIL's Cyber Caliphate, Philippines, Turkey, and others. 

While the US government and others are trying to figure all of this out, each and every one of us needs to be vigilant.

1. We need to be aware that propaganda using social media is rampant. We needed to be educated about the problem, despite distractions around us.

2. Learn to verify the credibility of your media sources.  There are fake news sites that assume names similar to credible ones.  Here's a Wikipedia list of Fake News Sites.

Note that RT News is Russian and is biased toward Russia.

You can also check Media Bias/Fact Check - go to Search.

3. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions recommends:
- Consider the source: click away from the story to investigate the sites, its mission and contact info;
- Check the author: do a quick search of the author; are they credible; are they real?
- Check the date: reposting old news stories doesn't mean they're relevant to current events;
- Check your biases: consider if your own beliefs could affect your judgement;
- Read Beyond: read beyond: Headlines can be outrageous. What's the whole story?
- Supporting Sources?: click on those links to determine if info given supports the story;
- Is it a joke?: If it's too outlandish, it might be satire. Research the site and author to be sure.
- Ask the experts: ask a librarian, or consult a fact-checking site.

3. Secure your accounts. Change your passwords regularly and don't make them too easy. If you have unused social media accounts, close them so no one can hack into them.

4. Regarding Facebook. It has countless duplicate fake accounts.

Those with Facebook accounts should check to make sure there are no duplicate accounts using their names.  To do this, go to Facebook and search your own name. If there are duplicate names, they will show up.  Report them immediately to Facebook.  You do this by going to the Fake account and clicking on the three dots on the right hand side of the top portion with the cover photo. Click, Report profile as pretending to be you.

Be on the lookout if your friends have duplicate fake accounts using their names. Report.

Even if you are not certain, Report, because Facebook will know.

If any more thoughts come to me about this matter, I will add this list of what we can do to protect ourselves from external propaganda.

This is all for now,

Tags: #Russianinterference #CambridgeAnalytica #disinformation #Philippines #fakenews #propaganda #interference

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.

Read also

           Fake News in Wikipedia
           Mactan, 50 Years Ago and Now

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