The Viral Impact of Spreading Viral Fake News
June 30, 2020
“It is the natural tendency of the ignorant to believe what is not true. In order to overcome that tendency it is not sufficient to exhibit the true; it is also necessary to expose and denounce the false.” ― H.L. Mencken
When the Right Gets the News Wrong
(Mandel Ngan via Getty Images)
Data-driven evidence compiled from three separate research studies shows that Americans who relied on right-wing media sources like Fox News were misled about the seriousness of the coronavirus threat just as the disease was beginning its deadly spread. One study’s chief editor reported receiving “an incredible [amount of] solid data showing that consuming far-right media and social media content was strongly associated with low concern about the virus at the onset of the pandemic.”
In April a peer-reviewed study examining how Americans’ media diets affected their beliefs about the coronavirus found that people who got most of their information from mainstream print and broadcast outlets — which President Trump labels “fake news” — tended to have an accurate assessment of the severity of the pandemic and their risks of infection. But those who relied on conservative sources, like radio icon Rush Limbaugh, were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories or unfounded rumors, like taking Vitamin C would prevent infection, or that the CDC exaggerated the pandemic’s threat “to damage the Trump presidency.”
One journalist contends the studies taken together point to “a media ecosystem that amplifies misinformation, entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking concrete steps to protect themselves and others.” An ethics and transparency expert warns: “That’s the real evil of this type of programming. We believe it delayed and interfered with a prompt and adequate response to this coronavirus pandemic.”
His view is corroborated by the fact that infection and mortality rates are higher in places where, for example, Fox News pundit Sean Hannity reaches the largest audiences. Misinformation and mixed messaging has allowed coronavirus infections to surge in a number of states, and set the US on a markedly different pandemic trajectory than other wealthy nations.
- Fox and Facebook are friends when it comes to disinformation: Troll farms from North Macedonia and the Philippines pushed coronavirus disinformation on Facebook (NBC)
- Could a boycott kill Facebook? (BBC)
- Google removes misleading ads in voting-related searches (Reuters)
- Only now are the major tech companies/platforms/techopolies realizing just how rife their sites are with disinformation and the pressure first came from the press and now the pressure is coming from the revenue side (advertisers): YouTube bans several white supremacist channels (BBC) & Reddit bans r/The_Donald and r/ChapoTrapHouse as part of a major expansion of its rules (Verge)
- Social Media Drops the Hammer on Team Trump (Wired, $)
No Miner Offense
- Representatives with Zimbabwe’s Environmental Law Society have filed a court affidavit alleging that local workers face “systematic and widespread” abuse in Chinese mining operations. The filing was prompted by Sunday’s shooting of two Zimbabwean workers by a Chinese boss.
- According to police reports, Zhang Xuen shot an employee five times and wounded another at the mine he runs in central Zimbabwe’s Gweru province during a row with workers over outstanding pay. A video which allegedly captured the incident has circulated on social media, provoking public anger and calls from a local watchdog for a re-evaluation of Chinese mining operations in the country.
- A spokesperson at the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe described the shooting as an isolated incident, and said “Any possible illegal acts and persons who violate the law should not be shielded.” Zhang has been charged with attempted murder. (CNN)
- Additional songs: “I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold” – Neil Young – Heart of Gold and Where’d You Go – Fort Minor
Additional World News
- Qasem Soleimani: Iran seeks Trump’s arrest over killing of general (BBC)
- Iranian Missile Facility Blows Up, and Conspiracy Theories Abound in Tehran (NYT, $)
- Pakistan Stock Exchange: Multiple people dead after gunmen storm PSX in Karachi (CNN)
- US visitors set to remain banned from entering EU (Guardian)
- India has banned TikTok, WeChat, and other China-based apps (Verge)
- China passes controversial Hong Kong national security law (Guardian)
- Some Of China’s Freed Labor Activists Start New Lives, But State Pressure Lurks (NPR)
- U.S.-China Feud Gets Nasty With Red Tape as Stealth Weapon (Bloomberg, $)
- This is not a meme nor is this meant to cause unnecessary fear, but do brace yourself: WHO Chief On COVID-19 Pandemic: ‘The Worst Is Yet To Come’ (NPR)
- The coronavirus ‘long-haulers’ show how little we still know (Guardian)
- Should I go to the dentist during coronavirus? (WaPo, $)
- Famous New York Public Library Lions Mask Up To Set An Example (NPR)
- Arizona orders bars and gyms to close, joining other states in reversing reopening (Guardian)
- COVID-19 Drug Remdesivir Priced At More Than $3,100 Per Patient (NPR)
- Key Vocab For COVID-19: From Asymptomatic To Zoonotic (NPR)
- New swine flu with pandemic potential identified by China researchers (Guardian)
- Trying to find the finishing touches for your family dinner or socially distant picnic? Winc delivers affordable wines right to your door. Curated by over 5 million customer ratings, Winc provides an exceptional variety of high quality wines, for any budget. Just take their 6 question palette quiz to get wine paired to your taste preferences. Stick with the ones they select for you or choose your own.
- If you don’t like a bottle they send you, they’ll replace it with one you’ll love – no questions asked. You can then rate your wines so Winc continues to improve at recommending bottles for you to enjoy.
- Even if you’re vegan, keto, or just prefer low-sugar wines, Winc has options for you. The best part? Order now and receive 40% off + free shipping. That’s 4 bottles for just $39 delivered right to your door!
SCOTUS Surprises Once More
- Once again, Chief Justice John Roberts was the swing vote in a divided 5-4 Supreme Court decision. This vote dealt a major defeat to abortion opponents, who had hoped the addition of two new Trump-appointed justices would further constrain abortion rights. Instead, the court relied on precedent to strike down a Louisiana law that was virtually identical to a Texas law it invalidated just four years ago.
- In 2016, Roberts was in the minority that dissented from the majority decision to overturn a Texas law that required doctors performing clinic abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. In joining with liberal justices on Monday, Roberts argued his reasoning today was the same as in 2016: the doctrine of stare decisis, which says the court should usually stand by its precedents.
- It “instructs us to treat like cases alike,” he wrote, and “the Louisiana law burdens women seeking previability abortions to the same extent as the Texas law” did four years ago. Said differently, although Roberts was on the opposite side in 2016, the law was now settled, and because the Texas law had been overturned, an identical Louisiana law should be as well. Roberts’ opinion is likely to stall attempts at overruling the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v Wade abortion decision, and subsequent decisions that have in some way reaffirmed Roe dozens more times.
- Monday’s ruling was definitely cause for elation among women’s rights advocates. But as the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights said: “We are taking the Supreme Court one victory at a time. We are under no illusions that the fight is over with this case.” (NPR)
- The outcome of the Louisiana abortion case was a victory for the rule of law (WaPo, $)
- Supreme Court makes it easier for president to fire consumer watchdog head (WaPo, $)
- US Supreme Court declines to take up federal inmates’ execution appeal (BBC)
- Judge Rejects U.S. Effort to Hold Palestinian Man After Prison Term (NYT, $)
- This is a fascinating read about the intersection of the SCOTUS, Politics, and journalism: Bob Woodward story on Kavanaugh’s veracity ‘pulled’ during Senate hearings (Guardian)
A Civil-Military Crisis: Does The President Trust Putin or the Pentagon
- Last Friday, the New York Times reported that US intelligence officials determined months ago that a Russian military intelligence unit had secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing US troops in Afghanistan, even as peace talks were ongoing to end the long-running war.
- The Times said the Trump administration “has been deliberating for months about what to do about [the] stunning intelligence assessment.” It also cited unnamed officials who said President Trump was briefed on the issue in March. Both the White House and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe denied the president had been briefed on the matter, but neither refuted that Russia had offered bounties in exchange for attacks on American forces.
- On Sunday, Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyo) joined calls from across the aisle for the White House to tell Congress who in the administration knew of the intelligence and when. She tweeted: “What has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable?” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer echoed similar sentiments, and called for Congress to be briefed on the issue.
- Daily Pnut: The president has bungled the pandemic and protests. If this report is true, and nothing has been done about this, then this is a national security disaster. Allowing a foreign adversary to pay terrorists to target and kill American service members. Under normal circumstances this one incident should sink a presidency. How can a Commander in Chief think they would have any respect and trust of their military staff if they did nothing to counteract such overt and aggressive actions by a foreign military power against their own military? We have a very real civil-military crisis that has been growing over the past few months: the pardoning of Eddie Gallagher, Navy’s decision to relieve the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the use of military troops against peaceful protestors, and now this—the inability of the President to protect the military and the country.
- ‘Russian bounties’ intelligence was in Trump written daily briefing – reports (Guardian)
- Were Trump’s aides too afraid to tell him about the Russian bounties? (WaPo, $)
- Kayleigh McEnany defends a flailing Trump: He has no clue! (WaPo, $)
- New revelations stir old questions about Trump and Russia (CNN)
Additional USA News
- Democrats to unveil bold new climate plan to phase out emissions by 2050 (Guardian)
- Why the $6 Billion N.Y.P.D. Is Now a Target of ‘Defund the Police’ (NYT, $) & New York may cut $1B from the NYPD. The defund movement calls it a ‘betrayal.’ (Politico)
- The most dangerous killers are those that are suppose to be protectors: Golden State Killer: former police officer pleads guilty to string of murders – Joseph James DeAngelo admits to 13 murders, 13 kidnapping-related charges and dozens of sexual assaults (Guardian)
- Father does not always know best it appears: ‘Please for the love of God do not vote for my dad’: Republican’s daughter voices opposition (Guardian)
- Amazon warehouse workers say they’re risking coronavirus exposure to fulfill your Amazon Prime orders (Vox)
- Seattle: one teen killed and another injured in shooting in police-free zone (Guardian), Daily Pnut recommended weeks ago in our Sunday edition (that donors and people who refer readers receive) that CHOP/CHAZ needed to be resolved fast. Here’s a quote from that edition on 6/21: “It’s impossible for CHOP to exist permanently. The longer CHOP exists, the more likely disorder will continue and increase CHOP organizers’ perceived ownership of the area. And the longer CHOP exists the more it will likely attract unlawful elements. Seattle city leaders need to peacefully, quickly, and thoughtfully address the situation. Having people killed or hurt without authorities addressing the situation is untenable. People who live or own businesses need to feel safe in the area.”
A Remote Chance of Success. Remote Work and a History of Failures
- Since COVID-19 has forced many office workers to work from home for the last three months, corporate America has concluded working from home is working out. But cautionary examples abound.
- Several years ago, Richard Laermer let the employees of RLM Public Relations work from home on Fridays, but he soon learned this small step toward telecommuting was actually disastrous. People weren’t around when he needed them. Projects languished. “Every weekend became a three-day holiday,” Laermer said. “I found that people work so much better when they’re all in the same physical space.”
- IBM came to the same conclusion. In 2000, 40 percent of its 386,000 employees in 173 countries worked remotely. But when revenue was slumping in 2017, management called thousands of them back to the office. Today, as Facebook, Shopify, Zillow, Twitter and many other companies are developing plans to let employees work remotely forever, Laermer and IBM are reminders that the history of telecommuting has been strewn with failure.
- Companies large and small have been trying for years to make working from home work. Telecommuting was a technology-driven innovation that seemed to offer benefits to both executives and employees. But remote employees often felt marginalized, which made them less loyal. Creativity, innovation and serendipity suffered.
- Eventually, many of the ventures were downsized or abandoned altogether. Over the past decade, companies which have pulled back from telecommuting include Aetna, Best Buy, Bank of America, Yahoo, AT&T and Reddit. (NYT)
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU