Endless Mayfly1 is an Iran-aligned network of inauthentic websites and online personas used to spread false and divisive information primarily targeting Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Israel. Using this network as an illustration, this report highlights the challenges of investigating and addressing disinformation from research and policy perspectives.
On November 5, 2018, Ali Al-Ahmed, a Washington-based expert in terrorism in the Gulf states and a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia, received a direct message on Twitter from “Mona A. Rahman” (@Mona_ARahman).
After engaging in some polite conversation in Arabic with Al-Ahmed, “Mona” shared what appeared to be an article from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center (see Figure 1). The article contained a purported quote from former Mossad director Tamir Pardo, alleging that former Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had been dismissed by Netanyahu for being a Russian agent. These allegations, if true, might reasonably be expected to strain relations between Russia and Israel.
Pope Francis has watched the Catholic Church’s reputation plunge under his watch as allegations of sexual assault pile up throughout the world, but he continues to act as a moral authority regardless. Francis is now spreading a popular leftist conspiracy theory that the “fake news” threatens to rip apart the fabric of our society.
Last week Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the Trudeau government is looking “very, very carefully” at forcing social media companies to censor “toxic communications” on their platforms.
Goodale’s cryptic comments are just the latest refrain from a government that has continually pushed for censorship on social media — where most Canadians spend the majority of their time online.
But what exactly the Liberals’ definition of “toxic communications” or “fake news” is still up in the air.
Fake news that’s not fake
Facebook has removed more than 130 accounts, pages and groups it says were part of a UK-based misinformation network.
The company said it was the first time it had taken down a UK-based group targeting messages at British citizens.
The same group set up pages posing both as far-right outlets and anti-fascist activists.
Facebook said it had shared its discovery with law enforcement and the government.
The group was able to gain followers by setting up innocent-looking pages and groups. It later renamed them, and started posting politically-motivated content.
Anti-Trump journalist David Corn took to Twitter on Tuesday to complain about “obscene” graffiti directed at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex (D-NY) at the Phoenix airport. Corn, who serves as the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for left-wing outlet Mother Jones, made it clear that he would not share a photo of the alleged obscene graffiti, which understandably ignited suspicions.
The former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement exploded on-air Sunday at self-described Democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez following her allegations that ICE agents are guilty of drugging children and “rape.”
Closer inspection of the uniforms worn by two self-proclaimed Venezuelan army defectors interviewed on CNN earlier this week has revealed that they are not who they say they are, and probably should not be given guns.
“As Venezuelan soldiers, we are making a request to the US to support us, in logistical terms, with communication, with weapons, so we can realize Venezuelan freedom,” one of the alleged defectors told CNN.
So where did The Economist get it wrong? Let’s start with how in its December attack on energy extraction in Canada (“Justin Trudeau’s climate plans are stuck in Alberta’s tar sands”), the magazine claimed Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is “demanding that the federal government speed up construction of a new pipeline to the west coast.” This was in reference to the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
The federal government is unveiling a “sweeping series” of new measures aimed at further shoring up Canada’s electoral system from foreign interference, and enhancing Canada’s readiness to defend the democratic process from cyber threats and disinformation.
A new app claiming to serve as a bulwark against “disinformation” by adding “trust rankings” to news websites has links to a PR firm that received nearly $15 million to push pro-Saudi spin in US media, Breitbart reports.
NewsGuard and its shady advisory board – consisting of truth-lovers such as Tom Ridge, the first-ever homeland security chief, and former CIA director Michael Hayden – came under scrutiny after Microsoft announced that the app would be built into its mobile browsers. A closer examination of the company’s publicly listed investors, however, has revealed new reasons to be suspicious of this self-declared crusader against propaganda. As Breitbart discovered, NewsGuard’s third-largest investor, Publicis Groupe, owns a PR firm that has repeatedly airbrushed Saudi Arabia.
We the media have “fact-checked” President Trump like we have fact-checked no other human being on the planet—and he’s certainly given us plenty to write about. That’s probably why it’s so easy to find lists enumerating and examining his mistakes, missteps and “lies.”
CNN was the only news outlet to capture footage of Trump-confidant Roger Stone’s arrest Friday morning, raising allegations that they were tipped off to the impending raid by the FBI or the grand jury handling the case.
Fake news network makes fake news!