Digital Democracy 14–21 February


The Pledge for Election Integrity– Alliance of Democracies

As political parties and candidates seeking office, we will not aid and abet those who seek to undermine democracy.

EU must guard against election meddling– Irish Times

The European elections to be held in May will see 350 million EU voters headed to the polls. But they may not be the only ones to have their say — foreign powers will also want to influence the outcome.

New steps to protect Europe from continued cyber threats- Microsoft

Soon millions of Europeans will head to the polls to cast their ballots in the European Parliament elections, as well as several key national elections. We believe it’s critical that organizations underpinning the democratic process have access to state-of-the-art cybersecurity protection as we’ve seen and continue to see efforts by nation-states and others to influence elections in democracies around the world including in Europe. Today we’re announcing the expansion of Microsoft AccountGuard to twelve new markets across Europe, providing comprehensive threat detection and notification to eligible organizations at no additional cost and customized help to secure their systems.

EU think-tanks strengthen their defences after Russian hacks- Financial Times

Microsoft says it has found evidence of attacks ahead of European elections

Microsoft says it has found another Russian operation targeting prominent think tanks- The Washington Post

For the second time in six months, Microsoft has identified a Russian government-affiliated operation targeting prominent think tanks that have been critical of Russia, the company said in a blog post Tuesday evening.

Microsoft: Fancy Bear targeted European think tanks- Axios

In a blog post Tuesday night, Microsoft announced hackers tried to breach accounts belonging to European think tanks late last year. While investigations are underway, Microsoft is “confident” many of the attempts came from the espionage group Fancy Bear, which the United States government has attributed to Russia.

A Cybersecurity Powerhouse Is Wide Open to Election Manipulation- BuzzFeed

How does a cybersecurity powerhouse guard its elections against online manipulation? Not as well as you’d think.

Can We Wait Any Longer For A Multinational Cyber Treaty?- Forbes

Each year, my company and I release a series of cybersecurity predictions for the upcoming year. One of our predictions for this year is that the United Nations (UN) will address the issue of state-sponsored cyberattacks by enacting a multinational cybersecurity treaty.

Cyber blitzkrieg replaces cyber Pearl Harbor– ZDNet

The first wartime cyber attack against electricity grids was in 1999, says one of Australia’s leading cyber strategists, but 20 years later we’re still not ready to face ‘multi-vector’ cyber attacks.

A Russian Neighbor Has Cybersecurity Lessons for the Rest of Us– Bloomberg

Estonia’s online militia offers advice to the U.S. and Europe on preparing for increasingly digital war.

How Ukraine became a test bed for cyberweaponry– POLITICO

As Russian hackers face down Western spies, the country has become a live-fire space for hackers.

The real cyber threat is your likes- The Security Times

All through December 2018, a hacker by the online handle “Orbit” teased and tantalized his followers, releasing a new heap of hacked emails, chatlogs and home addresses each day.

Once hailed as unhackable, blockchains are now getting hacked- MIT Technology Review

More and more security holes are appearing in cryptocurrency and smart contract platforms, and some are fundamental to the way they were built.

Chinese hackers increase attacks on telecoms companies- Financial Times

State-backed groups have escalated espionage activity amid trade tensions, says CrowdStrike

Australian political parties hit by cyber attack- Financial Times

‘Sophisticated state actor’ to blame for intrusion just months before election, PM says

Australia suspects China or Russia of cyber attack on lawmakers — Raw Story
A cyber attack on Australian lawmakers that breached the networks of major political parties was probably carried out by a foreign government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, but did not name any suspects.

Australian PM says parliament, political party hacks work of state actor- SC Magazine

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday that “a sophisticated state actor” was behind the hacks of parliament and the country’s political parties first reported February 8. “Our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity,” The Register cited Morrison as saying.

Cyber security firms show how to bring the rule of law online- Financial Times

Alliance against PC malware should be a model for addressing other consumer harms

Cyber espionage warning: The most advanced hacking groups are getting more ambitious- ZDNet

The top 20 most notorious cyber espionage operations have increased their activity by a third in recent years — and are looking to conduct more attacks, according to a security company.

Harris on election security: ‘Russia can’t hack a piece of paper’- TheHill

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on Tuesday issued a call for states to focus on election security and possibly adopt paper ballot measures, telling a crowd of New Hampshire voters that paper ballots remain the securest way to cast votes.

Search warrants in Russian hackers case reveal interaction between Stone, WikiLeaks- SC Media

Search warrants executed in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian hackers have unearthed interactions between recently indicted Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone and WikiLeaks, which leaked emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and other Democratic-related organizations and operatives, according to a Friday court filing.

Russian hackers are eight times faster than North Korean groups- MIT Technology Review

Russian hackers are way ahead of the next-fastest state-sponsored hackers, North Korea, who themselves are nearly twice as fast as Chinese groups, according to a new report by US cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike.

Russian Hackers Go From Foothold to Full-On Breach in 19 Minutes — The Wired
A new ranking of nation-state hacker speed puts Russia on top by a span of hours.

Russian cyberattackers are in and gone in less than 20 minutes- SC Magazine

Russian threat actors are almost eight-times faster at taking advantage of a compromised system compared to other nation-state actors, a tribute to their operational tradecraft, according to Crowdstrike’s 2019 Global Threat report.

The Russian Sleuth Who Outs Moscow’s Elite Hackers and Assassins- WIRED

Roman Dobrokhotov has been playing a dangerous game for a Russian reporter: identifying agents of the GRU military intelligence agency.

Search warrants in Russian hackers case reveal interaction between Stone, WikiLeaks- SC Magazine

Search warrants executed in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian hackers have unearthed interactions between recently indicted Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone and WikiLeaks, which leaked emails stolen from the DemocraticNational Committee (DNC) and other Democratic-related organizations and operatives, according to a Friday court filing.

Germany sees big rise in hacker attacks on infrastructure: paper — Raw Story
Germany has experienced a big increase in the number of hacker attacks on critical infrastructure such as power grids and water suppliers, the Welt am Sonntag weekly reported on Sunday.

LPG Gas Company Leaked Details, Aadhaar Numbers of 6.7 Million Indian Customers — The Hackers News
Why would someone bother to hack a so-called “ultra-secure encrypted database that is being protected behind 13 feet high and 5 feet thick walls,” when one can simply fetch a copy of the same data from other sources.

Defector/ex-U.S. spy charged with aiding Iranian cyberattack plan- SC Magazine

A U.S. counterintelligence agent specializing in Middle Eastern affairs, who defected to Iran in 2013, was indicted by a federal grand jury for conducting espionage on behalf of her adopted country.

False Flags in Cyberspace: Targeting Public Opinion and Political Will — The Cypher Brief
Bottom Line: In the digital age, determining the origins of cyberattacks is already difficult, but cyber actors can further muddy attribution by diverting blame for attacks to others.

Hacker Lexicon: What Is Credential Stuffing?- WIRED

What happens to all those emails and passwords that get leaked? They’re frequently used to try to break into users’ other accounts across the internet.

Is Russia building its own version of China’s Great Firewall?– Abacus

Russia’s new cyber law brings it closer to China’s so-called internet sovereignty

India Proposes Chinese-Style Internet Censorship- The New York Times

India’s government has proposed giving itself vast new powers to suppress internet content, igniting a heated battle with global technology giants and prompting comparisons to censorship in China.

The authoritarian assault on Internet freedom is on the move in Russia and India- The Washington Post

FOR EVERY step forward in the digital revolution comes a step back. Just last week, two retreats came in Russia and India. The potential value of the Internet, and its very freedom, is again shadowed by forces of authoritarianism and state control.

No end in sight to split internet say researchers- Financial Times

Stalling of adoption of new Internet Protocol will hamper network integration, report finds

India Is Cracking Down on Ecommerce and Free Speech- WIRED

Following China’s lead, India is restricting some sales by global ecommerce companies, and weakening protections around online free speech.

What Happens When Techno-Utopians Actually Run a Country- WIRED

Direct democracy! Universal basic income! … Fascism? The inside story of Italy’s Five Star Movement and the cyberguru who dreamed it up.

The Pentagon Needs to Woo AI Experts Away From Big Tech- WIRED

Opinion: Without more DOD investment, there just aren’t enough incentives to lure talent away from high-paying jobs with great benefits into a life of public service.

EMarketer reports digital ad spending to surpass traditional print and TV ads- The Washington Post

This year, the money spent on digital advertising in the United States will surpass that spent on traditional ads for the first time, according to forecasts by eMarketer, representing a landmark inversion of how advertisers budget their resources and highlighting the rise of digital media as platforms seek consumers’ attention.

Citizen expands its crime-tracking alert app to Baltimore — Tech Crunch
Depending on who you ask, Citizen is either a useful urban safety tool or a menacing glimpse into a self-surveilled police state, but either way, the app is coming to Baltimore.

Computers could write full — and wrong — news stories — researchers — Raw Story
A research group backed by Silicon Valley heavyweights on Thursday released a paper showing that technology that can generate realistic news stories from little more than a headline suggestion is poised to advance rapidly in the coming years.

OpenAI’s new multitalented AI writes, translates, and slanders — The Verge
A step forward in AI text-generation that also spells trouble

The AI Text Generator That’s Too Dangerous to Make Public- WIRED

Researchers at OpenAI decided that a system that scores well at understanding language could too easily be manipulated for malicious intent.

New AI fake text generator may be too dangerous to release, say creators- The Guardian

The Elon Musk-backed nonprofit company OpenAI declines to release research publicly for fear of misuse

The Internet Was Built on the Free Labor of Open Source Developers. Is That Sustainable? — Motherboard
A look at the complicated business of funding open source software development.

The Global Divide Over the 5G National Security Risk — The Cypher Brief
Fresh off the heels of the Munich security conference, a rift remains between the U.S. and its allies over their approach to 5G networks and managing the potential national security risks of allowing Chinese vendors to participate in the development of the technology.

China Will Likely Corner the 5G Market — and the US Has No Plan- WIRED

China is on track to deploy high-capacity fiber-optic cable across much of Eurasia, and lock out American companies. The US sorely needs a way to compete.

Invest in AI’s ethical future — Tech Crunch
I recently talked to a group of kids about AI. I asked them to come up with ideas for how AI could be used. I was struck by their genuine interest in creating AI solutions that would help people.

AI researchers debate the ethics of sharing potentially harmful programs — The Verge
A recent decision by research lab OpenAI to limit the release of a new algorithm has caused controversy in the AI community.

What an American artificial intelligence initiative really needs — Tech Crunch

At a high level, the American AI Initiativeseems to be headed in the right direction. We absolutely need a holistic approach that considers all the various areas that are critical to building innovative AI solutions.

The White House Announced A National Emergency Using The Notes App- BuzzFeed

“Trump is gonna declare World War 3 in a comment on HQ Trivia.”

Security News This Week: Database Leak Details China’s Oppressive Tracking of Muslims- WIRED

3-D printed rifles, Iran missile hacking, and more of the week’s top security news.

Big Brother Billionaires Get Rich as China Watches Everyone- Bloomberg

Before he became a billionaire, Dai Lin would ride his bike to work, pedaling through the streets of Tianjin to the headquarters of Tiandy Technologies Co., the camera maker he built with support from China’s government.

Stop saying, “We take your privacy and security seriously” — Tech Crunch
In my years covering cybersecurity, there’s one variation of the same lie that floats above the rest. “We take your privacy and security seriously.”

The Wired Guide to Your Personal Data (and Who Is Using It)- WIRED

Information about you, what you buy, where you go, even where you look is the oil that fuels the digital economy.

Your phone and TV are tracking you, and political campaigns are listening in- Los Angeles Times

It was a crowded primary field and Tony Evers, running for governor, was eager to win the support of officials gathered at a Wisconsin state Democratic Party meeting, so the candidate did all the usual things: He read the room, he shook hands, he networked. Then he put an electronic fence around everyone there.

Chinese company leaves Muslim-tracking facial recognition database exposed online– ZDNet

Researcher finds one of the databases used to track Uyghur Muslim population in Xinjiang.

Partisan Rift Threatens Federal Data-Privacy Efforts- WSJ

Silicon Valley and GOP lawmakers want a national standard that would override state regulations but are facing pushback from Democrats

Facial Recognition Software Regularly Misgenders Trans People — Motherboard
Human computer interfaces are almost never built with transgender people in mind, and continue to reinforce existing biases.

Microsoft Wants Rules for Facial Recognition — Just Not These- WIRED

Microsoft executives have urged lawmakers to set restrictions on the technology, but the company is opposing a Washington state bill that would do just that.

As Concerns Over Facial Recognition Grow, Members Of Congress Are Considering Their Next Move- BuzzFeed

“This is a perfect issue for our committee to look into,” California Rep. Jimmy Gomez told BuzzFeed News.

NATO Group Catfished Soldiers to Prove a Point About Privacy- WIRED

With $60 and a few fake Facebook accounts, researchers were able to identify service members in a military exercise, track their movement, and even persuade them to disobey orders.

Gov. Newsom proposes ‘data dividend’ for Calif. consumers- SC Magazine

California May have some of the strictest data privacy and security laws on the books, but Gov. Gavin Newsom has floated a “new data dividend” that would compel Google, Facebook and the like to pay consumers in the state who choose to share their data.

Germany Is Wary of a Digital World (but Loves Its E-Toothbrushes)- The New York Times

Melissa Eddy, a Berlin reporter, explains how privacy laws have led to blurred Google Street View pictures, and why WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook are popular almost despite themselves.

OK, Google? Probably not! EU settles on wording for copyright reform legislation- The Register

The EU has finally settled on the wording of its Digital Single Market copyright reform package, a three-years-in-the-making effort, greeting the agreement with a sizzling rebuke of the “misinformation campaigns” around the measures.

Fighting disinformation across our products– Blog.Google

Providing useful and trusted information at the scale that the Internet has reached is enormously complex and an important responsibility. Adding to that complexity, over the last several years we’ve seen organized campaigns use online platforms to deliberately spread false or misleading information.

Google Play announces 2019 malicious app crackdown- SC Magazine

Google Play announced it will continue its crackdown on malicious apps into 2019 by focusing more on user privacy, developer integrity and harmful app contents and behavior.

Google backtracks on Chrome modifications that would have crippled ad blockers– ZDNet

Google changes stance on upcoming Chrome Manifest V3 changes as benchmark shows they lied about performance hit.

Google is reportedly hiding behind shell companies to scoop up tax breaks and land — The Verge
Should local communities have the right to know before a big tech company moves in? Should they be able to protest before city planners offer those companies millions or even billions of dollars in incentives?

Google says it’s not trying to stop ad blocking on Chrome — The Verge
Google has faced increasing criticism over some proposed Chrome changes that developers claim could prevent popular ad blockers from working properly.

Google claims built-in Nest mic was ‘never intended to be a secret’ — The Verge
Google has admitted it made an error when it didn’t disclose that its Nest Secure home security system included an on-device microphone.

New Zealand plans new tax for giants like Google, Facebook– AP

New Zealand’s government plans a new tax targeting online giants like Google and Facebook that earn plenty of money in the country but pay little tax.

Apple and Google: Don’t be a party to Saudi repression of women– The Washington Post

WANT TO restrict a woman’s travel in and out of your country? In SaudiArabia, there’s an app for that.

‘Do the right thing’: ads on Facebook and Google seek big tech whistleblowers- The Guardian

Initiative by not-for-profit Fight for the Future offers employees of Silicon Valley firms a way to organize and leak information

UK MPs slam Facebook for data abuse, call for social media regulator- Financial Times

Tech group should be investigated for ‘intentionally’ violating privacy laws, say British lawmakers

Parliamentary report set to savage ‘duplicitous’ Facebook- The Guardian

Facebook cannot be trusted to regulate itself and must be subject to sweeping new legislation, a parliamentary report will announce on Monday. It will also call on the government to launch an independent investigation into foreign interference in British elections since 2014. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee will publish what is expected to be a landmark report into fake news and disinformation at midnight on Sunday night.

Facebook broke law, must be regulated to protect democracy, politicians say– CNET

A Parliament report on fake news condemns Mark Zuckerberg’s “contempt” toward the UK and other countries around the world.

Facebook needs independent ethical oversight: UK lawmakers- Reuters

Facebook and other big tech companies should be subject to a compulsory code of ethics to tackle the spread of fake news, the abuse of users’ data and the bullying of smaller firms, British lawmakers said on Monday.

A digital gangster destroying democracy: the damning verdict on Facebook- The Guardian

Parliament’s report into fake news raises many questions, but will the government act?

A UK parliamentary committee has accused Facebook of being “digital gangsters”– MIT Technology Review

A new, independent regulator should oversee tech companies and ensure they abide by a compulsory ethics code, a UK parliamentary committee has concluded.

Facebook labelled ‘digital gangsters’ by report on fake news- The Guardian

Company broke privacy and competition law and should be regulated urgently, say MPs

Facebook ‘digital gangsters’ violated privacy laws: MPs — Raw Story
A scathing British parliamentary report on Monday branded Facebook “digital gangsters” that knowingly violated data privacy and competition laws.

The Fake Newsletter: Did Facebook Help Kill Vine?- BuzzFeed

UK committee report calls the company “digital gangsters.”

Facebook ‘intentionally and knowingly’ violated U.K. privacy and competition rules, British lawmakers say- The Washington Post

British lawmakers on Sunday accused Facebook of having “intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws” in the country, and they called for investigations into the social media giant’s business practices.

Facebook needs regulation to combat fake news, say MPs- The Guardian

Damian Collins warns of ‘deepfake films’ showing doctored footage of politicians

The UK’s blistering Facebook report has a good recommendation — for the UK — The Verge
The United Kingdom Parliament is still mad at Facebook. How much does it matter?

Facebook can no longer govern itself, UK lawmakers say — The Verge
Facebook should no longer be allowed to govern itself and it’s time for the government to step in as the cop on the beat, according to a new parliamentary report released tonight by the United Kingdom. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee of the UK Parliament has publi

UK parliament calls for antitrust, data abuse probe of Facebook — Tech Crunch
A final report by a British parliamentary committee which spent months last year investigating online political disinformation makes very uncomfortable reading for Facebook

UK committee hammers Facebook on privacy failures- SC Magazine

A U.K. parliament report condemning a multitude of actions by Facebook called for closer regulation of the social media giant stating the company often ignored its own privacy policy and its executives were less than forthcoming when testifying before a parliament committee.

Zuckerberg to meet UK minister after damning ‘digital gangsters’ report — The Verge
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will finally meet with a representative of the UK government after a UK parliamentary report this week excoriated the social media site for behaving like “digital gangsters.”

Facebook political data probe: £2.5m. Powers for the ICO: Priceless- The Register

UK watchdog denies project distracted from day-to-day enforcement

The U.S. government and Facebook are negotiating a record, multibillion-dollar fine for the company’s privacy lapses– The Washington Post

The Federal Trade Commission and Facebook are negotiating over a multi-billion dollar fine that would settle the agency’s investigation into the social media giant’s privacy practices, according to two people familiar with the probe.

Facebook Fine Could Total Billions if F.T.C. Talks Lead to a Deal- The New York Times

Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission are discussing a settlement over privacy violations that could amount to a record, multibillion-dollar fine, according to three people with knowledge of the talks.

Facebook in talks with US watchdog to settle privacy investigation- Financial Times

FTC could levy multibillion-dollar fine if it decides social network broke data consent order

Facebook is set to pay a multibillion-dollar fine to settle a US privacy probe- MIT Technology Review

The fine is likely to be the largest the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ever imposed on a technology company.

Can Washington keep watch over Silicon Valley? The FTC’s Facebook probe is a high-stakes test.- The Washington Post

The Federal Trade Commission is under pressure to issue a steep fine and other sharp penalties against Facebook to prove that it’s able to keep Silicon Valley in check, privacy advocates and congressional lawmakers say.

Facebook may face a record-setting multi-billion-dollar fine from the FTC — Tech Crunch
The Washington Post is reporting that Facebook’s row with the FTC could result in fines an order of magnitude larger than any levied against a tech company by the regulatory body before.

Facebook could reportedly face multibillion-dollar FTC fine over privacy violations — The Verge
Facebook and officials at the Federal Trade Commission are in discussions right now negotiating a multibillion-dollar fine to settle the agency’s investigation into the company’s past privacy practices, according to The Washington Post.

Facebook moderators complain over ‘Big Brother’ rules at Accenture facility in Austin- Business Insider

Some of Facebook’s content moderators are in revolt over ‘Big Brother’-style rules.

US lawmakers seek Zuckerberg briefing over Facebook privacy concerns- Financial Times

Members of Congress have written to Mark Zuckerberg demanding an explanation over allegations that Facebook leaked some of its users’ private health information.

FTC complaint accuses Facebook of revealing sensitive health data in groups — The Verge
A complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission is accusing Facebook of failing to protect sensitive health data in its groups.

Lawmakers want to question Facebook about the privacy of groups — The Verge
Lawmakers are looking to question Facebook about its privacy practices after allegations that the service revealed sensitive health information in groups.

Highlights & transcript from Zuckerberg’s 20K-word ethics talk- TechCrunch

Mark Zuckerberg says it might be right for Facebook to let people pay to not see ads, but that it would feel wrong to charge users for extra privacy controls. That’s just one of the fascinating philosophical views the CEO shared during the first of his public talks he’s promised as part of his 2019 personal challenge.

‘He’s learned nothing’: Zuckerberg floats crowdsourcing Facebook fact-checks- The Guardian

As site grapples with flood of fake news, former Snopes editor says CEO’s crowdsourcing comments he has ‘learned nothing’

Facebook cases point to data’s key role as an asset- Financial Times

Privacy, competition and antitrust are big categories of concern

Germany: the struggle for digital sovereignty– OSW

The Federal Cartel Office (FCO) on 7 February ordered the social networking portal Facebook to change its practices of obtaining user data from external sources (websites and applications other than Facebook).

Facebook blocks Russia’s major propaganda project targeting U.S. — news world– UNIAN

Facebook has blocked one of the major Russian propaganda projects, “In The Now,” affiliated with Russia Today TV channel.

Russia’s RT fumes after Facebook blocks ‘wildly popular’ page — Raw Story
Facebook has blocked a popular page run by Russian state TV channel RT, the channel’s editor said Monday, criticising the move as an attack on media rights.

Facebook targeted in federal investigation of Cambridge Analytica- The Washington Post

Facebook’s actions and public statements are facing inquiries from several federal agencies regarding the mishandling of millions of users’ personal data.

Former Cambridge Analytica exec cooperating with Mueller probe- SC Magazine

A former Cambridge Analytica executive is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. A spokesperson for the data analytics firm’s former business development director, Brittany Kaiser, said she was subpoenaed by Mueller, according to a report in the Guardian, and was also assisting in ongoing Congressional investigations.

Removing Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior From Moldova– Facebook Newsroom

Earlier this week, we removed 168 Facebook accounts, 28 Pages and eight Instagram accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior targeting people in Moldova. This activity originated in Moldova, and used a combination of fake accounts and some authentic accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing. Given the upcoming elections in Moldova, we wanted to let people know about the action we’ve taken and the facts as we know them today.

Facebook security keeps a detailed ‘lookout’ list of threats, including users and ex-employees, and can track their location- CNBC

Facebook maintains a list of individuals that its security guards must “be on lookout” for that is comprised of users who’ve made threatening statements against the company on its social network as well as numerous former employees.

Mueller questions Cambridge Analytica director Brittany Kaiser- The Guardian

Second former employee of controversial data firm to be questioned by special counsel’s inquiry into Russia collusion

Patients, health data experts accuse Facebook of exposing personal health information– TheHill

A group of patients and health data experts is accusing Facebook of misleading users about how their personal health information can be manipulated and exposed without patients’ explicit permission.

Facebook monitors and tracks the locations of users it deems a threat — The Verge
Facebook monitors and tracks the locations of its users when the company’s security team finds that they are making credible threats on its social network, according to a report from CNBC today.

Twitter toughens up campaign rules for EU elections- Financial Times

Political groups campaigning on Twitter in upcoming EU elections will be forced to register with the social media platform as part of tougher advertising rules designed to protect European elections from foreign interference.

Twitter’s focus is on a healthy public conversation.- Twitter

We will continue to strengthen Twitter against attempted manipulation, including malicious automated accounts and spam, as well as other activities that violate our Terms of Service.

Twitter has been storing your ‘deleted’ DMs for years — The Verge
Twitter lets users delete direct messages from their own side of the conversation (the recipient will still get to keep a copy, unless they also choose to delete it).

Here are three features Twitter could add to earn some trust — The Verge
I love Twitter, so it’s a real shame that it’s owned by the Twitter corporation. In many ways Twitter is already a human artifact worthy of history books, but as a software product in 2019, it stinks.

Even years later, Twitter doesn’t delete your direct messages — Tech Crunch
When does “delete” really mean delete? Not always or even at all if you’re Twitter.

Twitter considering a tweet ‘clarifying’ function — Tech Crunch
Clarification hasn’t always been Twitter’s strong suit. Fittingly, there’s a bit of confusion around the long standing succession that the service could add an “edit” button in order to save users from silly typos and, well, much much worse.

Twitter names first international markets to get checks on political advertisers — Tech Crunch
Twitter has announced it’s expanding checks on political advertisers outside the U.S. to also cover Australia, India and all the member states of the European Union.

Twitter Suspended A DC Think Tank For Violating Its Rules Against Fake Accounts- BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed News previously revealed the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology was using fake accounts to promote its work. Now it’s under scrutiny again.

Twitter Just Removed A Tweet From An Account Linked To Iran’s Supreme Leader, Raising Enforcement Questions- BuzzFeed

Twitter has previously used a newsworthiness standard to defend its refusal to apply abuse and harassment rules to President Donald Trump’s account.

Researchers blame YouTube for the rise in Flat Earthers- Engadget

Viewers are falling down conspiracy theory rabbit holes.

How YouTube helps flat-earthers organize — The Verge
It’s been a big month for conspiracy theories. Last week, Rep. Adam Schiff sent a strongly worded letter to Google and Facebook about the way their platforms recommend anti-vaccination content to parents, potentially putting healthy populations at risk.

YouTube Unleashed a Conspiracy Theory Boom. Can It Be Contained?- The New York Times

Last month, the YouTube star Shane Dawson uploaded his new project: a 104-minute documentary, “Conspiracy Theories With Shane Dawson.”

YouTube revamps its strike system to include a one-time warning, consistent penalties — Tech Crunch
YouTube today announced a significant change to its strike system — the penalty system used when YouTube’s reviewers identify a video has violated the site’s Community Guidelines.

YouTube updates channel strike system with one-time warning and more consistent punishments — The Verge
YouTube is overhauling its community guidelines with a new system for warning channels that break the rules. The new system is meant to be clearer and more consistent. It’s also the first time in nearly a decade that YouTube has updated the strike rules.

YouTube still can’t stop child predators in its comments — The Verge
YouTube is facing a new wave of criticism over the alarming number of predatory comments and videos targeting young children.

YouTube terminates more than 400 channels following child exploitation controversy — The Verge
YouTube has terminated more than 400 channels and deleted tens of millions of comments in response to concerns from creators, users, and advertisers over videos being used to exploit children.

Trolls Are Reuploading YouTube Kids Shows With A Clip That Encourages Self-Harm- BuzzFeed

Parents are finding and flagging popular kids content with a clip edited in of another YouTuber joking about telling children how to cut themselves.

Pinterest has a perfect response to harmful misinformation — The Verge
It just blocks the bad guys from search results

How a few shady social media posts fed a viral firestorm over Covington Catholic (and why it will happen again)– USA Today

Catholic school students in Trump hats. A Native American elder beating a drum. Black Hebrew Israelites hurling bigotry.

How to catch a catfisher- The Guardian

When Max Benwell found out someone was using his photos to approach women online, he decided to track down the trickster — setting up a fake Instagram account and changing his gender on Tinder along the way

Here’s how a ring of romance scammers tricked victims into falling in love — The Verge
A report from cybersecurity company Agari claims to expose one corner of the multimillion-dollar romance scam industry: a Nigerian fraud ring it dubs Scarlet Widow.

French Sexist Cyberbully Journalists Exposed After a Decade of Disgusting Misogyny — The Daily Beast
In this country often painted as a churlish holdout against political correctness, there is something about the recently exposed online “Ligue du LOL” that is particularly insidious and particularly French.

Your Boring, Everyday Life Belongs on Social Media- WIRED

Dull tours of supermarkets and mundane candid shots soothe us with warmth and relatability on YouTube and Instagram — and push back against the envy industry.

When Algorithms Think You Want to Die- WIRED

Opinion: Social media platforms not only host troubling images of suicide and self-harm, they end up recommending it to the people most vulnerable to it.

Schiff Sends Letter to Google, Facebook Regarding Anti-Vaccine Misinformation-

Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), sent a letter to Sundar Pichai and Mark Zuckerberg, the Chief Executive Officers of Google and Facebook, respectively, to express concern that the company’s platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, are surfacing and recommending information that discourages parents from vaccinating their children, contributing to declining vaccination rates which could reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases.

Revealed: Facebook enables ads to target users interested in ‘vaccine controversies’- The Guardian

Social media platforms under pressure by US congressman to crack down on anti-vaccine propaganda, citing Guardian investigations

The Complexity of Simply Searching For Medical Advice — WIRED

How the anti-vaccine movement used an information void to inject itself into the top results.

Pinterest Blocks Vaccination Searches- WSJ

Social-media company stops showing results on the topic as it looks to censor unsubstantiated health claims

Pinterest blocks vaccine-related searches in bid to fight anti-vaxx propaganda- The Guardian

As pressure mounts on Facebook to explain its role in promoting anti-vaccine misinformation, Pinterest tries different approach

Anti-Vaxxer Larry Cook Has Weaponized Facebook Ads in War Against Science — The Daily Beast
With more than 50 people infected by a measles outbreak in Washington state, health officials there are working to convince parents to get their children vaccinated.

Pressure mounts on Facebook and Google to stop anti-vax conspiracy theories — The Verge
As a measles outbreak continues to spread in Washington state, Facebook is “exploring additional measures” to fight false anti-vaccine content on the platform, Bloomberg reports.

How the fight over vaccines is fueled by web forums — The Verge
In June 2017, Mark Zuckerberg rewrote Facebook’s mission statement to better reflect its current priorities. In the future, he said, Facebook would have a strong focus on groups.

Here’s How One Of Facebook’s Biggest Anti-Vax Communities Built Its Massive Network- BuzzFeed

There currently do not seem to be any policies or regulations against promoting anti-vaccination content via Facebook ads.

YouTube Continues To Promote Anti-Vax Videos As Facebook Prepares To Fight Medical Misinformation- BuzzFeed

While Facebook vows to stop recommending anti-vaccination content to users, YouTube is still promoting videos like “You’ll Be Glad You Watched This Before Vaccinating Your Child!”

Stop the online conspiracy theorists before they break democracy- The Guardian

Cannibals, aliens and clandestine lizard overlords: thanks to algorithms, such ideas threaten the future of Europe

Russian Embassy Misleads on BBC Producer’s Claim About Douma Hospital Video- Polygraph

On February 14, the official Twitter account of the Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom claimed that a BBC producer admitted that video recorded from a hospital after a suspected sarin attack in the Syrian town of Douma last April was “staged.” The embassy’s tweet included a screenshot showing several tweets by the producer, Riam Dalati, in which he supposedly made the claim. Shortly thereafter, Dalati’s Twitter account was set to protected status, making it impossible for anyone without permission to view his timeline.

Russian disinformation is attacking our democracy and making us sick- The Star

As the scope and impact of Russian disinformation targeting Canada become clearer, new research suggests it is not only a growing national security issue but one that can actually threaten our public health. As our information environment continues to be poisoned by Kremlin bots and trolls, it turns out that they’re also making us sick, literally.

Russia is backing a viral video company geared at American youth– CNN

Three online video channels designed to appeal to millennials have collected tens of millions of views on Facebook since September. But the pages pushing the videos do not disclose that they are backed by the Russian government.

Russia and Mexico: A mysterious delegation raises questions about the Kremlin’s interests.– Slate

A suspicious delegation suggests links between Putin and the new Mexican government.

Disinfo Analysis: Moscow’s Balkan Defeat– Polygraph

Russian Subversion Campaigns Fail to Stop North Macedonia’s NATO Accession

#ElectionWatch: Insta-Deception Targets Ukraine– DFRLab

24 Instagram pages masqueraded as news aggregators in central and western Ukraine

#DigitalResilience: Where Is Armen Gasparyan’s Audience?– DFRLab

Sputnik’s political show on YouTube and Facebook engagement falls short

‘Sustained and ongoing’ disinformation assault targets Dem presidential candidates- POLITICO

A coordinated barrage of social media attacks suggests the involvement of foreign state actors.

Kremlin’s Disinformation Machine Recycles Soviet Narratives — Disinfoportal
Strong emotions are a much better driver of propaganda messages than calm reasoning and argumentation. Some words carry such a strong emotional value within themselves already that a single word, if used in the right place, can deliver the desired message almost by itself.

Why we need to understand misinformation through visuals– First Draft

Technologists are focused on text-based misinformation, but visual misinformation is often more popular

Germany Is Wary of a Digital World (but Loves Its E-Toothbrushes)- The New York Times

Melissa Eddy, a Berlin reporter, explains how privacy laws have led to blurred Google Street View pictures, and why WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook are popular almost despite themselves.

Deepfakes Will Challenge Public Trust In What’s Real. Here’s How To Defuse Them.- Defusing Desinfo

The panic around the threat of ‘deepfakes’ began in earnest in 2018.

False Flags– Foreign Affairs

The Myth of the Nationalist Resurgence

The Imperfect Truth About Finding Facts in a World of Fakes — The Wired — security
It used to make sense to believe something until it was debunked; now, it makes sense to assume certain claims are fake — unless they are verified.

Thanks to technical assistance by Priit Talv