(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 05, 2020 the logo of US social network Facebook and mobile messaging service WhatsApp are seen on the screens of a smartphone and a tablet in Toulouse, southwestern France. - US federal and state antitrust enforcers filed suit against Facebook on December 9, 2020 claiming the social media giant abused its dominant position with its acquisitions of messaging services Instagram and WhatsApp. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP) (AFP file)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 05, 2020 the logo of US social network Facebook and mobile messaging service WhatsApp are seen on the screens of a smartphone and a tablet in Toulouse, southwestern France. - US federal and state antitrust enforcers filed suit against Facebook on December 9, 2020 claiming the social media giant abused its dominant position with its acquisitions of messaging services Instagram and WhatsApp. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP) (AFP file)

Social media manipulation a growing threat to democracies: Oxford study

Governments, public relations firms and political parties are producing misinformation on an industrial scale, the report says.
By Prasun Sonwalkar , edited by Vinod Janardhanan
PUBLISHED ON JAN 13, 2021 07:28 PM IST

Social media manipulation of public opinion is a growing threat to democracies around the world, according to the 2020 media manipulation survey from a University of Oxford institute, which found evidence in each of the 81 countries surveyed, including India.

The number of countries with evidence of organised social media manipulation campaigns was up 15% in one year, from 70 countries in 2019, the report by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) released on Wednesday said.

Governments, public relations firms and political parties are producing misinformation on an industrial scale, the report says, adding that disinformation has become a common strategy, with more than 93% of the countries (76 out of 81) seeing disinformation deployed as part of political communication.

Philip Howard, director of the institute and the report’s co-author said: “Our report shows misinformation has become more professionalised and is now produced on an industrial scale. Now, more than ever, the public needs to be able to rely on trustworthy information about government policy and activity”.

“Social media companies need to raise their game by increasing their efforts to flag misinformation and close fake accounts without the need for government intervention, so the public has access to high-quality information,” he added.

The OII team warns the level of social media manipulation has soared, with governments and political parties spending millions on private sector ‘cyber troops’, who drown out other voices on social media. Citizen influencers are used to spread manipulated messages; these include volunteers, youth groups and civil society organisations, who support their ideologies, it adds.

Key findings include: Private ‘strategic communications’ firms are playing an increasing role in spreading computational propaganda, with researchers identifying state actors working with such firms in 48 countries; almost $60 million has been spent on firms who use bots and other amplification strategies to create the impression of trending political messaging.

The report adds that social media has become a major battleground, with firms such as Facebook and Twitter taking steps to combat ‘cyber troops’, with some $10 million spent on social media political advertisements. The platforms removed more than 317,000 accounts and pages from ‘cyber troops’ actors between January 2019 and November 2020.

The 2020 report draws upon a four-step methodology to identify evidence of globally organised manipulation campaigns, including content analysis of news articles on cyber troop activity, secondary literature review of public archives and scientific reports, generating country-specific case studies and expert consultations.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Police uses a water canon during a protest against restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease in Amsterdam, Netherlands on January 24, 2021. (REUTERS)
Police uses a water canon during a protest against restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease in Amsterdam, Netherlands on January 24, 2021. (REUTERS)

Dutch police clash with anti-lockdown protesters in 2 cities

AP, The Hague, Netherlands
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 04:18 AM IST
Police in the capital of Amsterdam also used a water cannon to disperse an outlawed anti-lockdown demonstration on a major square ringed by museums. Video showed police spraying people grouped against a wall of the Van Gogh Museum.
Close
FILE - In this Oct. 27, 2020 file photo, Israel's Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi speaks during a join news conference with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias,and Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides after a meeting between the foreign Ministers of Greece , Israel and Cyprus in Athens. Ashkenazi says on Wednesday, Dec. 30, he is leaving the Blue and White party and taking a “break” from politics, marking the further disintegration of the centrist party that came close to unseating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in three hard-fought elections. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)(AP)
FILE - In this Oct. 27, 2020 file photo, Israel's Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi speaks during a join news conference with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias,and Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides after a meeting between the foreign Ministers of Greece , Israel and Cyprus in Athens. Ashkenazi says on Wednesday, Dec. 30, he is leaving the Blue and White party and taking a “break” from politics, marking the further disintegration of the centrist party that came close to unseating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in three hard-fought elections. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)(AP)

Israel opens embassy in UAE, expanding new relations

AP, Jerusalem
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 12:46 AM IST
The foreign ministry said the embassy would be in a temporary office while a permanent location is prepared. Eitan Na’eh, a veteran Israeli diplomat, will serve as the head of mission.
Close
President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, left, depart after attending mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church on Jan 24, 2021, in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington. (AP)
President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, left, depart after attending mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church on Jan 24, 2021, in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington. (AP)

Joe Biden attends Mass at DC church where he worshipped as Vice Prez

AP, Washington
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 12:23 AM IST
Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, picked Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood, a few miles from the White House.
Close
Fauci also told CBS' “Face the Nation” that he supports a national commission to understand some of the problems in coordinating a COVID-19 response on the state and local level because states shouldn't just be told, “You're on your own.”(Reuters)
Fauci also told CBS' “Face the Nation” that he supports a national commission to understand some of the problems in coordinating a COVID-19 response on the state and local level because states shouldn't just be told, “You're on your own.”(Reuters)

Fauci says coronavirus vaccine goal would cover 67 million Americans

AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 12:05 AM IST
The government's top infectious diseases expert, said the president's goal refers to 100 million shots, not people. Current vaccines require two shots.
Close
Britain’s vaccination campaign is a rare success in a country with Europe’s worst confirmed coronavirus outbreak.(Reuters Photo. Representative image)
Britain’s vaccination campaign is a rare success in a country with Europe’s worst confirmed coronavirus outbreak.(Reuters Photo. Representative image)

UK vaccination drive expands as Covid-19 toll nears 100,000

AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 11:23 PM IST
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday that three-quarters of the U.K.’s over-80s have received a vaccine shot. He said three-quarters of nursing home residents have also had their first jab.
Close
On the ninth day of the country's vaccination programme, 31,466 healthcare workers were inoculated till 7.30pm.
On the ninth day of the country's vaccination programme, 31,466 healthcare workers were inoculated till 7.30pm.

Covid vaccine tracker: How many are inoculated in India and the world

Written by Prashasti Singh, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2021 11:25 PM IST
India has immunised over 16 lakh people since the nationwide vaccination drive began on January 16.
Close
Dr. Abdel Menoim Selim, is shown on a live screen receiving the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine, ahead of a press conference, at the Abu Khalifa Hospital in Ismailia, 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Cairo, Egypt,(AP)
Dr. Abdel Menoim Selim, is shown on a live screen receiving the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine, ahead of a press conference, at the Abu Khalifa Hospital in Ismailia, 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Cairo, Egypt,(AP)

Egypt says it has launched vaccination against coronavirus

AP, Cairo
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 11:14 PM IST
  • Health Minister Hala Zayed told a televised news conference that they would prioritize vaccinating healthcare workers in 40 hospitals that are designated to isolate and treat Covid-19 patients across the country.
Close
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi gestures as he speaks during an interview with Reuters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) office in Islamabad, Pakistan.(REUTERS)
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi gestures as he speaks during an interview with Reuters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) office in Islamabad, Pakistan.(REUTERS)

Qureshi says Pakistan ready to work with new US administration

PTI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 11:10 PM IST
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has already expressed his desire to work with the new American administration to deepen bilateral ties.
Close
“EU and member states’ foreign and security policy will systematically consider climate and environmental factors and risks,” the bloc’s foreign ministers will promise, according to the draft of their statement.(Reuters)
“EU and member states’ foreign and security policy will systematically consider climate and environmental factors and risks,” the bloc’s foreign ministers will promise, according to the draft of their statement.(Reuters)

EU will vow to work against fossil-fuel investments globally

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 10:46 PM IST
The EU’s executive arm is drafting a law, to be unveiled by June, that would start penalizing imports of certain goods from countries with weak pollution rules, thereby helping to protect the competitiveness of local producers abiding by stricter standards.
Close
Aerial view at the plant of planemaker Airbus in Hamburg-Finkenwerder, Germany August 1, 2018. (File Photo / REUTERS)
Aerial view at the plant of planemaker Airbus in Hamburg-Finkenwerder, Germany August 1, 2018. (File Photo / REUTERS)

About 500 Airbus staff under quarantine after Hamburg Covid-19 outbreak

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 10:37 PM IST
The company said the staff had been asked to stay at home as a precautionary measure and it was examining whether the measures would impact production at the site.
Close
Dr Rochelle Walensky removes her mask to speak as Biden announces nominees and appointees to serve on his health and coronavirus response teams.(File Photo / REUTERS)
Dr Rochelle Walensky removes her mask to speak as Biden announces nominees and appointees to serve on his health and coronavirus response teams.(File Photo / REUTERS)

US to boost surveillance of Covid-19 virus variant: CDC chief Rochelle Walensky

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 10:31 PM IST
The agency is working with others, including the Defense Department and the Food and Drug Administration, to monitor the variants, Walensky said.
Close
The US caseload remains by far the world's highest in absolute terms.(AP)
The US caseload remains by far the world's highest in absolute terms.(AP)

US passes 25 million Covid-19 cases: Johns Hopkins University

AFP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 10:22 PM IST
After the first Covid-19 case was reported in the US in January 2020 it took until late April for the figure to pass one million. The overall number of cases has followed an almost exponential curve upwards since then.
Close
President Donald Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, during the Abraham Accords signing ceremony.(AP)
President Donald Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, during the Abraham Accords signing ceremony.(AP)

UAE cabinet approves setting up embassy in Israel's Tel Aviv

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 10:01 PM IST
The UAE and Israel agreed to normalise relations in August, a deal forged largely over shared fears of Iran.
Close
A participant holds a placard reading "One for all, all for one" during a rally in support of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.(REUTERS)
A participant holds a placard reading "One for all, all for one" during a rally in support of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.(REUTERS)

EU should punish Putin for Navalny arrest by cutting money flows: German leader

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 09:46 PM IST
Police detained more than 3,000 people and used force to break up rallies across Russia on Saturday in support of Navalny.
Close
Donald Trump listens as Dr Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks about the coronavirus.(AP)
Donald Trump listens as Dr Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks about the coronavirus.(AP)

‘Parallel set of data’: Dr Birx says Trump presented graphs that she never made

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Kunal Gaurav
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2021 09:27 PM IST
Dr Deborah Birx admitted that she could have been more outspoken publicly, adding that she didn’t know “all the consequences of all of these issues.”
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP