Friday, May 24, 2019

European Elections Began Yesterday, End Sunday


They do NOT like being called Nazis

This morning Theresa May announced she will be resigning as Prime Minister on June 7th. She wasn't given any real choice-- just resign or be ousted. Meanwhile, there are 28 counties in the EU-- with around 350 million qualified voters for elections that began yesterday... in the U.K. and Holland. Voting ends Sunday. 751 seats in the European parliament are at stake-- and, of course, the direction of the EU itself. Trump/Putin-influenced neo-fascist groups across Europe are expected to make gains at the expense of mainstream parties, probably winning about a third of the seats. Example: in the U.K., Nigel Farage's far right party is expected to come in first-- largely at the expense of the Conservative Party, with is polling in 4th place, after the Brexit Party, Labour and the Lib-Dems. For the first time, parties that are critical and even opposed to the EU itself are going to have a real say in how it's run.

Are the Russians up to no good again? What do you think?

Avaaz founded over a decade ago (by, among others MoveOn Executive Director Eli Pariser and former Virginia congressman Tom Perriello), is a U.S.-based nonprofit that promotes global activism on climate change, human rights, corruption, poverty, conflict and election integrity. Avaaz's advocacy work to identify major networks of disinformation and get Facebook (and other social media platforms) to actually take these down has been surprisingly successful. They have identified networks that were intentionally using dangerous disinformation around the European elections and effectively got Facebook to take them down-- 77 pages and groups, 230 profiles removed or under investigation, 154 posts/links removed-- takedowns that already had over 5.9 million followers and over 13.3 million interactions in the last 3 months! And they were gearing up to take their disinformation to new heights before the European elections. Now they're down but it's only the tip of the ice berg-- a major tip and it was on the front page of The Guardian this week: Far-right Facebook groups 'spreading hate to millions in Europe'.
A web of far-right Facebook accounts spreading fake news and hate speech to millions of people across Europe has been uncovered by the campaign group Avaaz.

Facebook, which is struggling to clean up the platform and salvage its reputation, has already taken down accounts with about 6 million followers before voting in the European elections begins on Thursday. It was still investigating hundreds of other accounts with an additional 26 million followers, Avaaz said.

In total, the group reported more than 500 suspect groups and Facebook pages operating across France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Poland and Spain. Most were either spreading fake news or using false pages and profiles to artificially boost the content of parties or sites they supported, in violation of Facebook’s rules.

The networks were far more popular than the official pages of far-right and anti-EU populist groups in those countries. The pages taken down by Facebook so far had been viewed half a billion times, Avaaz estimated.

“The pages [uncovered by Avaaz] have high levels of interactions. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have if there are no interactions,” said Christoph Schott, the groups’s campaign director. “They have over 500 million views just on the pages taken down, that’s more than the number of voters in the EU.”

However, while some had been taken down, including a large network in Spain also uncovered by Avaaz, many had not.

Activity ranged from French accounts sharing white supremacist content, to posts in Germany supporting Holocaust denial, and false pages promoting the Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD) party.

In Italy, tactics included setting up general interest pages for beauty, football, health or other interests, then after followers signed up, transforming them into political tools.

The researchers traced how a page, ostensibly set up for an association of agricultural breeders, slowly morphed into one supporting the far-right League, sharing a video that purported to show migrants smashing up a police car. It is actually a scene from a film and has been repeatedly debunked.

The pages were not just targeted at upcoming elections, Schott said, but aimed to change politics by giving a false impression of grassroots support for their content.

“We feel [these networks] have a significant impact, they run disinformation campaigns that go on for years, for example, making a specific issue seem more important.”

The investigation was carried out by independent investigators and journalists hired by Avaaz after an online funding drive. More than 47,000 people donated small sums, making the project financially independent.

Facebook had followed up on the investigation, but at no point did the Avaaz team work with the social media firm, it said. Instead, it handed over its findings for Facebook to verify and take action, and investigations were still under way.

“We think Facebook did a good job so far of acting, but should have done a better job of detecting these pages,” Schott said. “They should do this themselves. We are around 30 people, they have over 30,000 in their safety and security team.”
And, yeah, there's a Facebook problem here too. Yesterday, Facebook released a report that claims that they "banned 2.19 billion fake accounts in the first quarter of 2019, up from 1.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018." Facebook VP of Integrity, Guy Rosen: "The amount of accounts we took action on increased due to automated attacks by bad actors [плохие актеры] who attempt to create large volumes of accounts at one time."

Facebook estimates that 5% of its 2.4 billion monthly active users are fake accounts.

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At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"For the first time, parties that are critical and even opposed to the EU itself are going to have a real say in how it's run."

Sounds like some Republicans emigrated to Europe to screw things up over there, doesn't it?

At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds like humans in Europe and the Americas are the dumbest sumbitches that ever "walked" the earth.

putin couldn't influence people who were not so fucking stupid.

perhaps our not having been subject to natural selection for about 2 centuries finally caught up with us... and we're going to breed ourselves back to primordial slime... between the ears at least.

At 6:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

will the next PM of UK bury his face in trump's lap (searching for the poisonous toadstool) like May did?

can't wait to find out.


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