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Sports

What Went Viral This Week

Here at Daily Distortions, we try to debunk false and misleading information that has gone viral. We also want to give you a sense of how popular that misinformation is, in the overall context of what is being discussed on social media. Each Friday, we feature a list of the 10 most-engaged stories of the week in the United States, as ranked by NewsWhip, a firm that compiles social media performance data. (NewsWhip tracks the number of reactions, shares and comments each story receives on Facebook, along with shares on Pinterest and by a group of influential users on Twitter.) This week’s data runs from 9:01 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 23, until 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 30.On TV and in newspapers, wall-to-wall coverage of next week’s election may be dominating. But on social media this week, stor...

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Business

Dan Bongino Has No Idea Why Facebook Loves Him

Granted, Mr. Bongino’s shtick is not exactly new. His brand of right-wing pugilism is similar to what talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin have been doing for decades. He is good at turning daily culture-war skirmishes into hyperpartisan outrage-bait, with a cast of recurring left-wing villains and right-wing heroes who inevitably show up to dunk on them. (Typical headline: “CNN’s Fredo SCHOOLED On His Brother’s Coronavirus Policies.”) And he is skilled at a certain type of industrial-scale content production that is valuable on today’s internet, flooding social media with a torrent of original posts, remixed memes and videos and found footage.“We’ll take some interesting clip of maybe the president or Kayleigh McEnany, and we’ll intermingle it with clips of my show, and i...

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Sports

The Year in Misinformation, So Far

This has been, by any measure, a bad year for consensus reality.First, there was President Trump’s impeachment — a divisive and emotionally charged proceeding that unleashed a torrent of lies, exaggerations and viral innuendo.Then came the Covid-19 pandemic — an even bigger opportunity for cranks, conspiracy theorists and wishful thinkers to divide us along epistemic lines, into those who believed the experts and those who preferred to “do their own research.”The Black Lives Matter protests this summer were a feeding frenzy for those looking to distort and reframe the narrative about police violence and racial justice.And while election years are always busy times for fact-checkers, Mr. Trump’s fusillade of falsehoods about voter fraud, Spygate and Hunter Biden’s emails this year has re...

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Business

How The Epoch Times Created a Giant Influence Machine

In a statement, The Epoch Times said it had “no business relationship” with America Daily.Many of the Facebook pages operated by The Epoch Times and its affiliates followed a similar trajectory. They began by posting viral videos and uplifting news articles aggregated from other sites. They grew quickly, sometimes adding hundreds of thousands of followers a week. Then, they were used to steer people to buy Epoch Times subscriptions and promote more partisan content.Several of the pages gained significant followings “seemingly overnight,” said Renee DiResta, a disinformation researcher with the Stanford Internet Observatory. Many posts were shared thousands of times but received almost no comments — a ratio, Ms. DiResta said, that is typical of pages that have been boosted by “click farm...

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Technology

What Went Viral This Week

Here at Daily Distortions, we try to debunk false and misleading information that has gone viral. We also want to give you a sense of how popular that misinformation is, in the overall context of what is being discussed on social media. Each Friday, we will feature a list of the 10 most-engaged stories of the week in the United States, as ranked by NewsWhip, a firm that compiles social media performance data. (NewsWhip tracks the number of reactions, shares and comments each story receives on Facebook, along with shares on Pinterest and by a group of influential users on Twitter.) This week’s data runs from 9:01 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 6, until 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 23.This week, as the presidential election approached, the most viral news on social media was, surprisingly, not directly r...

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Sports

How ‘Spygate’ Attacks Fizzled

For years, it was the subject of countless Fox News segments, talk radio rants, and viral right-wing tweets and Facebook posts. It spawned Congressional hearings, Justice Department investigations, and investigations of those investigations. President Trump called it “the biggest political crime in the history of our country,” and suggested that its perpetrators deserved 50-year prison sentences.Now, weeks before the election, “Spygate” — a labyrinthine conspiracy theory involving unproven allegations about a clandestine Democratic plot to spy on Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign — appears to be losing steam.The theory still commands plenty of attention inside the right-wing media sphere. But Mr. Trump’s quest to turn Spygate into a major mainstream issue in this year’s campaign may be coming u...

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Sports

What Went Viral This Week

Here at Daily Distortions, we try to debunk false and misleading information that has gone viral. We also want to give you a sense of how popular that misinformation is, in the overall context of what is being discussed on social media. Each Friday, we will feature a list of the 10 most-engaged stories of the week in the United States, as ranked by NewsWhip, a firm that compiles social media performance data. (NewsWhip tracks the number of reactions, shares and comments each story receives on Facebook, along with shares on Pinterest and by a group of influential users on Twitter. This week’s data runs from 9:01 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 9, until 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 16.The most viral article on social media this week was one that social media companies tried to stop from going viral.Facebo...

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Sports

YouTube Cracks Down on QAnon Conspiracy Theory, Citing Offline Violence

The company says these changes have decreased by more than 70 percent the number of views that borderline content gets from recommendations, although that figure cannot be independently verified. YouTube also says that among a set of pro-QAnon channels, the number of views coming from recommendations dropped more than 80 percent after the 2019 policy change.Social media platforms have been under scrutiny for their policy decisions in recent weeks, as Democrats accuse them of doing too little to stop the spread of right-wing misinformation, and Republicans, including Mr. Trump, paint them as censorious menaces to free speech.YouTube, which is owned by Google, has thus far stayed mostly out of the political fray despite the platform’s enormous popularity — users watch more than a billion ...

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Technology

How The Babylon Bee, a Right-Wing Satire Site, Capitalizes on Confusion

I’m wondering the extent to which being a satire site — which makes them exempt from Facebook’s fact-checking program — has allowed them to traffic in misinformation under the guise of comedy. Do you think that’s a deliberate strategy?Well, that’s a great question, because it’s been a big source of controversy for them. They’ve had a few articles that were fact-checked by Snopes and rated “false.” Which The Bee’s writers and editors claim prompted Facebook to threaten them with being demonetized (Facebook denies this). The Bee’s founder, Adam Ford, has claimed that Snopes fact-checked them in ways that were “egregious,” with standards that wouldn’t be applied to, for example, The Onion.The Bee feels that they’re being targeted unfairly. But Snopes has poked at the fact that their pieces...

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Technology

Facebook and Twitter Dodge a 2016 Repeat, and Ignite a 2020 Firestorm

Since 2016, when Russian hackers and WikiLeaks injected stolen emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign into the closing weeks of the presidential race, politicians and pundits have called on tech companies to do more to fight the threat of foreign interference.On Wednesday, less than a month from another election, we saw what “doing more” looks like.Early Wednesday morning, the New York Post published a splashy front-page article about supposedly incriminating photos and emails found on a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, the son of Joseph R. Biden Jr. To many Democrats, the unsubstantiated article — which included a bizarre set of details involving a Delaware computer repair shop, the F.B.I. and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer — smelled suspiciously like the result of a...

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