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News Briefs
22 November, 2019
In many parts of the world, internet freedom is in decline

A new report says online election interference and increased government surveillance on social media is worsening the state of digital rights across the world. According to this year’s Freedom on the Net report, published by the U.S. based technology watchdog and think tank Freedom House, global internet freedoms declined for the ninth consecutive year, with

13 November, 2019
Deepfake videos of Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn emerge – with a stark message

Two fake videos of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his opponent Jeremy Corbyn doing the seemingly impossible — supporting each other — have been posted online ahead of the snap UK elections in December. The videos, called deepfakes, were released by Future Advocacy, a think tank that endorses responsible policies around the use of

Surveillance is a form of information warfare, says Shoshana Zuboff

At Coda, we try to “connect the dots” between the issues we cover, but our two channels — disinformation and authoritarian tech — have always seemed distinct. When we think of disinformation and information warfare, we usually think of government-sponsored deception; but Shoshana Zuboff, author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, describes it differently. “Information

12 November, 2019
Owners of a Russian YouTube channel for children face prison for featuring an interview with a gay man

The owners of a Russian YouTube channel for children are facing up to 20 years in prison on felony charges for “sexual violence against minors” after they published a video interview with a gay man. The YouTube channel, Real Talk, which takes its inspiration from HiHo Kids, outraged State Duma Deputy Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy who

5 November, 2019
How the tobacco industry and academics rewrite the science of addiction

In a videotaped deposition on behalf of the tobacco industry in 2014, Professor John Geer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University, was confident in citing public opinion about smoking. “I have studied a lot of polls, and I’m confident of my opinion of the public being broadly aware of the dangers of smoking by the

1 November, 2019
The Russian disinformation machine turns its attention to Africa

Facebook announced it took down dozens of pages shown to be spreading Russian-backed disinformation in Africa after the company was tipped off by a group of Stanford researchers.   The pages were aimed at audiences in eight countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Madagascar, Sudan and Libya. The pages’ scope was significant:

31 October, 2019
Twitter’s decision to stop running political ads divides opinions about the impact to free speech

Twitter’s decision to stop running political ads has divided opinions among disinformation experts, politicians and journalists about how the move will impact free speech. The social media site with 139 million daily users will no longer allow political advertising on the platform, with CEO Jack Dorsey writing that “political messages reach should be earned, not

23 October, 2019
UK investigation reveals Russian hackers impersonated Iranian hackers

What makes cyberwarfare so unlike traditional war is that it’s sometimes much harder to know — much less prove — who attacked you. This creates a situation of relative impunity, where the ingenuity and impact of cyberattacks grows ever greater, but deterrence is always a step behind. Of course, there are certain ways you can

18 October, 2019
Breaking up Facebook is getting traction in politics

A few years ago, it might have seemed unlikely that a disagreement about content moderation would be a memorable moment in the U.S. presidential debate. But amidst the techlash and a Twitter-happy American president, that’s exactly what happened earlier this week. It was kind of an awkward moment in Westerville, Ohio, though, where Senator Kamala

16 October, 2019
China’s digital Little Red Book could access all your data

In China, disinformation and authoritarian tech have created a digital hydra in the form of an app called Study the Great Nation. The app is a propaganda tool that encourages users to play games and keep updated on President Xi Jinping’s ideology. It’s been dubbed the digital version of Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book. But

9 October, 2019
Russian cyber criminals offer fake news campaigns to companies worldwide

A new report underlines how we have to be vigilant about what we find on the internet as not only political misinformation runs rampant, but so does corporate disinformation. As governments across the world battle massive disinformation campaigns on social media and elsewhere, cyber criminals seem to have discovered that there’s quite a lot of

3 October, 2019
As the impeachment inquiry gathers pace in the US, experts say Russia seeks advantage

Over a week after the speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the start of the impeachment inquiry related to President Donald Trump’s efforts to press Ukraine to investigate a leading political rival, the fast escalating investigation has given Russian broadcasters a fresh line of attack. With the war in Donbas in its fifth year,

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