David Simon, creator of HBO's The Wire, Generation Kill, Treme, The Corner, and more, was reportedly banned from posting on Twitter after wishing death on several users in politically charged tweets. On Friday, following the death of famous celebrity chef, and Simon's close friend, Anthony Bourdain, the television writer shared a short tribute, along with news of his Twitter ban, on his personal website. "I have been banned from Twitter, and as I am at this moment indifferent to removing the tweets they insist are violative of their rules, it is unclear when I will return to that framework," Simon wrote. "So I'm hoping that if I post anything remotely meaningful about Tony, others will do me the favor of linking it beyond this digital cul de sac." SEE ALSO: Twitter's new troll filtering might actually prevent more abuse than any ban Though Simon's Twitter profile is still intact and online, he's reportedly unable to post new tweets.
For several days in March, British Prime Minister Theresa May was the focus of an all-out assault on Twitter, after she blamed the Kremlin for the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil. "The #Skripal Case: It Looks Like Theresa May Has Some Explaining to Do!" declared one of many broadsides from @ian56789, which called the attempted murder a "#falseflag" operation. To expert disinformation researchers, the troll appeared to be working on behalf of Vladimir Putin's regime, part of a longer-term pro-Kremlin campaign. The British government reported that the "Ian" account--whose avatar featured the chiseled face of British male model David Gandy--sent 100 posts a day during a 12-day period in April, reaching 23 million users. Atlantic Council analyst Ben Nimmo examined tens of thousands of tweets around #Skripal and concluded that Ian was likely part of a Kremlin troll operation, based on multiple characteristics seen across Ian's posts going back six years.
It's been quite an interesting journey for Factmata since we started in January and we're now about to launch a tool that puts factual context in the hands of the people. This will happen around the UK general election, and marks the completion of our Google Digital News Initiative (DNI) project. For 5 months, we've been working around the clock with a distributed team of NLP researchers, PhDs and scientists from around the world to build this, and now finishing off the final touches. As we prepare for launch, we wanted to tell the world about what's next and where we want to take Factmata in the future. Given our team's work in automated fact-checking in previous research, we are uniquely placed to build AI to solve the problem of online misinformation.
Disinformation is becoming increasingly widespread--and troubling. From Russian attempts to influence the 2016 elections to Facebook's most recent revelation of a coordinated disinformation campaign ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, we're seeing more and more instances of disinformation cropping up in our social media feeds. Earlier this year, we asked you to help shape our reporting on disinformation: What did you want to know about disinformation and how it works? Hundreds of you wrote back with questions about the issue: what it is, how to spot it, and effective ways to fight back. Mother Jones talked to five different experts to help answer your questions.
Even @jack got duped by them. Shortly after a Kremlin-run troll factory known as the Internet Research Agency was first exposed last October by Russian journalists, the Daily Beast reported that Twitter's CEO, Jack Dorsey, had twice retweeted an account that claimed to be an African-American woman but was in fact operated by the IRA in St. Petersburg, Russia. Dorsey retweeted content in March 2017 from @Crystal1Johnson that referenced #WomensHistoryMonth and said "Nobody is born a racist." But @Crystal1Johnson was also highly active in a heated social-media war over racial justice and police shootings that played out during the 2016 presidential campaign. Now, new research out of the University of Washington shows the troll that duped Dorsey was among 29 known Russian accounts infiltrating both left-leaning and right-leaning sides of a Twitter melee that included shooting-related keywords and the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter.