News Briefs
11 December, 2019
Hour by hour: How disinformation swept the UK internet in the election’s final days

In the febrile final 72 hours of Britain’s snap Christmas election, a tide of disinformation began sweeping across the UK internet, with Conservative-leaning trolls and bots coming out in force. Here’s a timeline of what happened. Sunday December 8, 11am It started with a photograph. A mother’s picture of her sick son sleeping on the

27 November, 2019
Sale of .org domain draws protests

We’ve heard (and written) much in the past few years about the way that governments, through the doctrine of “cyber sovereignty,” are increasingly trying to exercise political power over internet content. But it’s important not to lose sight of another power grab: much of the internet is controlled by private interests that shape it to

Inside the China Cables: Video surveillance, confessions and ‘de-extremification’ in Xinjiang

  China is leaking. Details of how Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government runs its surveillance and detention policies in its north-west region, Xinjiang, have emerged via a cache of secret documents. The files were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and collectively published by a group of journalists from 15 media partners.

‘Lash curl’ TikTok video about China’s detention of Muslims goes viral

A TikTok video of a young Asian-American woman curling her lashes while discussing China’s ongoing persecution of its Muslim minority population has gone viral. The user, Feroza Aziz, 17, who says she is an Afghan-American political activist from New Jersey, made three videos to try to raise awareness about Xinjiang. In her videos, she explains

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