Disinformation Update

Highlighting the latest disinformation as reported by the BBC, international media, experts, and advances in technology.

United States

The far-right web forum 8chan has gone offline after internet service provider Cloudflare said it would stop providing added security for the message boards in the wake of the El Paso mass shooting. Following the attacks in Christchurch and Poway, this is the third time this year that a gunman has uploaded a "manifesto" on 8chan before carrying out a mass shooting. BBC Monitoring Disinformation Team's Alistair Coleman has written about 8chan and the far-right content posted under its /pol/ board.

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Russia

Meanwhile, Olga Robinson from the Disinformation Team looked at an online campaign that is using face-recognition technology to track down police officers involved in the dispersal of protesters. It has prompted a wider debate about the ethics and legality of attempts to publicly identify police officers.

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Youtube

The video-sharing platform defended its recommendation algorithms in an interview with the BBC technology reporter Chris Fox last month amid criticism that they directed users to extreme videos and conspiracy theories. An extended version of the interview with YouTube UK managing director Ben McOwen Wilson was aired on the BBC Trending podcast last weekend.

Global

Facebook has removed multiple "fake" accounts, groups and pages from the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Ukraine, Thailand and Honduras within a week. The social media giantsaid the accounts were removed for engaging in "coordinated inauthentic behaviour"  to mislead users about their identities or aims, rather than their content.

The Disinformation Team's Shayan Sardarizadeh examined some of the Russian-linked accounts critical of the Ukrainian government and a network in Thailand that created "fictitious personas" to share "divisive" content on Thai politics, Hong Kong and US-China ties.

The accounts from the UAE and Egypt had links to two marketing firms; those in Saudi Arabia were associated with the government. However, BBC Monitoring Middle East Team'sAhmed Nour has written about many more popular Facebook groups and pages disseminating state propaganda in Egypt and Libya that remain active.

China

A new draft regulation introduced by China's top internet regulator says that social media users who "spread rumours" will soon be placed on an official blacklist, and could be banned from posting online for up to three years. Although the news was met with a positive response on social media, BBC Monitoring's China specialist Kerry Allen suggests the online support might have been government-orchestrated.

UK

Full Fact, a London-based journalism charity that joined Facebook's third-party fact-checking programme in January, has published a report on its assessment of how the collaboration is working, along with 10 recommendations on how to improve the project. Full Fact called on Facebook to add Instagram content to the programme and share more data with its 54 fact-checking partners. It also raised concern about the effectiveness of the tech giant’s use of machine-learning to detect disinformation.

The content was distributed by BBC Monitoring.