MisDisMal-Information #6 – This Week In Information Disorder Letter

This newsletter is published at techpolicy.substack.com

Of George Floyd Protests, Saving Men from Extinction, Banning PaatalLok and the Twitter Trump Tussle.

What is this?This newsletter aims to track information disorder largely from an Indian perspective. It will also look at some global campaigns and research
What this is not?A fact-check newsletter. There are organisations like Altnews, Boomlive etc who already do some great work. It may feature some of their fact-checks periodically

Welcome to Edition #6 of MisDisMal-Information.

Thou shall not distort… faces?

The Mumbai Police issued prohibitory orders stating you can’t distort faces. No, that isn’t a typo, it says ‘faces’.

Look at 4(i). In all seriousness, that probably was a typo though. 4(iv) goes on to take issue with ‘inciting mistrust towards government functionaries’. BJP Mumbai President challenged the order. The Public Relations Officer for the Mumbai Police did clarify that the order was aimed at curbing misinformation and not government criticism. If only it was this easy to curb misinformation. The Free Press Journal reports that the Mumbai Police is also keeping an eye on social media for lockdown 5.0 rumours.

George Floyd

I am sure you know that there are a number of protests erupting around the United States in the aftermath of police brutality leading to the death of George Floyd. Such chaotic times are also the perfect storm of Information Disorder. Jane Lytvynenko is running a thread tracking disinformation, hoaxes and malinformation. At the time of writing this, it was up to 48 already. And as incredible this thread is, there is no way it can keep up with everything. There’s also a page on Buzzfeed tracking this.

From false stories of missing people, to white nationalist links, buildings burning down, underrated members of the National Guard this thread is indicative of how unverified information grows wings at such times.

NBCNews ran a story about a fake account posing to be Antifa that called for violence. The account has since been suspended by Twitter and I wasn’t able to verify how broadly the post was shared/viewed. It also covers a hoax ‘dcblackout’ trend on Twitter which was meant to sow confusion. And there’s a section which delves into the Twitter’s trending section which some believe has outlived its utility and is now only a place where various campaigns compete and attempt to manipulate the platform. There is some merit in this concern, it is not uncommon to see tweets treating a ‘trending’ status as an end in itself. And I can tell you from experience, most of them are not pretty.

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