New COVID conspiracy theories gain traction as old re-emerge | Top PR director at Chinese social media Weibo arrested | Australian conspiracy theorists and anti-lockdown groups share fake COVID apps
In 2021, three particular COVID-19 conspiracy narratives have become increasingly popular… The DFRLab found that prominent pro-Kremlin disinformation sites SouthFront and GlobalResearch, as well as users on Twitter and Facebook, have all contributed to these conspiracies. DRFLab
Chinese authorities have arrested a top public relations executive at Chinese social media giant Weibo Corp, local Chinese media reported widely on Tuesday. Mao Taotao, director of public relations at Weibo, is suspected of bribery and had "seriously harmed the interests of the company", according to an internal memo sent to staff and republished in local media. Reuters
A fake check-in app is being used by Covid-19 conspiracy theorists and anti-lockdown groups to dupe business owners and keep location data out of the hands of contact tracers in at least three states. Guardian Australia can reveal that conspiratorial websites and Telegram groups with at least 15,000 followers are sharing links that allow users to generate fake check-in confirmations on their phones. The Guardian
Australia’s lockdown protests are homegrown but with foreign inspiration
Analysis from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) suggests that groups behind the protest were homegrown but influenced by global players. Analyst Ariel Bogle and researcher Albert Zhang looked at 14 groups (known as “channels”) on the Telegram messaging platform, comprising 12 Australian and two global channels involved in organising the July 24 protests. Telegram is preferred by conspiracy theorists, extremists and people with fringe beliefs because of its lax moderation.
New COVID-19 conspiracy theories gain traction as old ones re-emerge
In 2021, three particular COVID-19 conspiracy narratives have become increasingly popular. The first alleges that COVID-19 vaccines are made of deadly chemicals and kill more people than they save. The second posits that there are already cures for COVID-19, making vaccination unnecessary. The third narrative, a rehash of an older conspiracy from 2020, argues that the vaccines are part of a global identification system. The DFRLab found that prominent pro-Kremlin disinformation sites SouthFront and GlobalResearch, as well as users on Twitter and Facebook, have all contributed to these conspiracies.
A new Plandemic-like misinformation video has earned tens of millions of Facebook engagements via streaming platforms
In a little more than three days, a viral video pushing misleading claims about coronavirus vaccines and masks has earned more than 90 million Facebook engagements from uploads to streaming platforms, receiving millions of views. The video is spreading despite YouTube and Facebook’s rules against coronavirus misinformation, and its reach is significantly higher than the numbers for earlier coronavirus conspiracy theory videos Plandemic and Planet Lockdown -- both of which should have been instructive cases for the platforms in how to handle such viral misinformation.
We Research Misinformation on Facebook. It Just Disabled Our Accounts.
The New York Times
@LauraEdelson2 Damon McCoy
We learned last week that Facebook had disabled our Facebook accounts and our access to data that we have been using to study how misinformation spreads on the company’s platform. We were informed of this in an automated email. In a statement, Facebook says we used “unauthorized means to access and collect data” and that it shut us out to comply with an order from the Federal Trade Commission to respect the privacy of its users.
Facebook shuts accounts in anti-vaccine influencer campaign
Facebook has removed hundreds of accounts linked to a mysterious advertising agency operating from Russia that sought to pay social media influencers to smear Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca. A network of 65 Facebook accounts and 243 Instagram accounts was traced back to Fazze, an advertising and marketing firm working on behalf of an unknown client.
How Facebook Failed to Stem Racist Abuse of England’s Soccer Players
The New York Times
For more than two years, soccer officials pushed the social network to limit the invective. As a new season begins, the hate continues.
Australian conspiracy theorists and anti-lockdown groups share fake Covid check-in apps
A fake check-in app is being used by Covid-19 conspiracy theorists and anti-lockdown groups to dupe business owners and keep location data out of the hands of contact tracers in at least three states. Guardian Australia can reveal that conspiratorial websites and Telegram groups with at least 15,000 followers are sharing links that allow users to generate fake check-in confirmations on their phones. The user simply enters their name and a check-in location, and the app instantly generates a check-in confirmation screen that is near-identical to those displayed on government-run apps in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
How IT offshoring came back to bite Transport for NSW
A controversial 2019 decision to offshore 30 percent of work in a major IT transformation has come back to bite Transport for NSW, with a pandemic-induced contractor shortage weighing on the completion of the project. As revealed by iTnews on Wednesday, TfNSW's business application hosting strategy (BAHS) program outsourced to IT services provider Wipro is facing delays after slow progress with the migration.
Govt told to scrap ANZSCO skills list used for tech visas
Technology companies may no longer have to shoehorn emerging roles into "severely outdated" descriptions in order to bring in workers from overseas, if a parliamentary committee's recommendations are implemented. The committee urged the federal government to ditch the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) list in order to better meet current skills needs.
A sovereign Australian government data framework
The federal government set an example for state and territory counterparts in early June when it announced that all relevant government data under the Digital Transformation Agency’s hosting certification framework will soon need to be stored only in either ‘certified assured’ or ‘certified strategic’ data centres. The government’s move follows concerns about the acute data challenges confronting the Australian public sector, including data sovereignty, supply-chain vulnerabilities and cybersecurity threats. The challenge once faced by Australian governments was completing their digital transformations; now, it’s about figuring out how to adequately protect government systems that are hosted in the cloud.
Top public relations director at Chinese social media giant Weibo arrested
Chinese authorities have arrested a top public relations executive at Chinese social media giant Weibo Corp, local Chinese media reported widely on Tuesday. Mao Taotao, director of public relations at Weibo, is suspected of bribery and had "seriously harmed the interests of the company", according to an internal memo sent to staff and republished in local media.
China Leaves Room to Release Canadian After Spy Conviction
A Chinese court jailed a Canadian tour organizer for 11 years for spying, while leaving room for his eventual deportation -- a ruling that appeared timed to pressure Ottawa in extradition proceedings against a top Huawei Technologies Co. executive.
Read our report 'The flipside of China’s central bank digital currency'
Senators target Apple’s App Store exclusivity in new bill
There’s a new bill introduced in the Senate Wednesday targeting the power dominant tech firms like Apple and Google have over the app store market. The bipartisan “Open App Markets Act,” introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Marsha Blackburn, and Amy Klobuchar would ban app stores from forcing developers to use the store’s payment systems. It would also bar companies from punishing developers that offer lower prices on a separate app store or through their own payment systems, along the lines of Apple’s public dispute with Epic Games. Notably, the bill would also make it unlawful for companies like Apple to use non-public data from their stores to build competing products against companies using their service.
U.S. prisons mull AI to analyze inmate phone calls
Thomson Reuters Foundation News
@dsherfinski Avi Asher-Schapiro
Authorities say AI-driven call monitoring can cut crime and suicides, but privacy groups warn the tech can amplify racial bias in the prison system.
Apple Drops iPhone Copyright Lawsuit Against Cyber Startup Corellium
Just as the two-year-long legal tussle between Apple and a cybersecurity startup Corellium looked set to go to trial, the pair have settled out of court.
NSA Awards Secret $10 Billion Contract to Amazon
The National Security Agency has awarded a secret cloud computing contract worth up to $10 billion to Amazon Web Services, Nextgov has learned. The contract is already being challenged. Tech giant Microsoft filed a bid protest on July 21 with the Government Accountability Office two weeks after being notified by the NSA that it had selected AWS for the contract. The contract’s code name is “WildandStormy,” according to protest filings, and it represents the second multibillion-dollar cloud contract the U.S. intelligence community—made up of 17 agencies, including the NSA—has awarded in the past year.
YouTube suspends Rand Paul for a week over a video disputing the effectiveness of masks.
The New York Times
YouTube on Tuesday removed a video by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky for the second time and suspended him from publishing for a week after he posted a video that disputed the effectiveness of wearing masks to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Inside the White House-Facebook Rift Over Vaccine Misinformation
The New York Times
Mr. Biden said Facebook was “killing people” — a comment that put the social network in the center of the public discussion about the virus. Mr. Biden’s comment, which he later walked back slightly, was the culmination of increasingly combative meetings with the company about the spread of misinformation. Interviews with administration officials, Facebook employees and other people with knowledge of the internal discussions revealed new details about who took part in the talks and the issues that fed the frustrations between the White House and the Silicon Valley titan. Talks between the White House and Facebook continue. But the rift has complicated an already tumultuous relationship just as Mr. Biden faces a setback on fighting the coronavirus.
The Limits of Cyberoffense
@ERosenbach @juliettekayyem Lara Mitra
The recent wave of high-profile cyberattacks by Russian organized crime groups has forced U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration to confront a difficult question: How should the United States respond to hacks not by hostile foreign governments but by criminal nonstate actors? These attacks and others like them are a sobering reminder that U.S. critical infrastructure is rife with vulnerabilities—and that criminals around the world are more than capable of exploiting them.
Why China’s crypto cowboys are fleeing to Texas
Rest of World
Ousted from the provinces where they’d spent years building a footprint, China’s fleeing Bitcoin miners are now looking for stability. They want plentiful, cheap electricity to power their tens of thousands of computers — but they also want the certainty that politics won’t interfere with their operations. Before they can begin displacing the global financial system with a decentralized, peer-to-peer system of exchange, their needs are suddenly much more prosaic: predictable regulation, stable relations with governments, and affordable power.
Next infrastructure challenge: Fixing rural cellphone service
The Washington Post
If the bipartisan infrastructure package that passed the Senate Tuesday becomes law, one of Alaska’s busiest fishing ports might finally get connected to the Internet through a fiber-optic cable, a breakthrough that would help fix the area’s spotty Web link. But the local telecom company says that wouldn’t address the region’s other big communications problem — a lack of cellphone towers that leaves many residents and first-responders with extremely poor mobile service.
A Yale doctor is using a video game to fight the opioid crisis
The Washington Post
As drug-related deaths have spiked across the United States in recent years, doctors seeking to curb that surge are getting an unlikely new tool: a video game. The game, titled “PlaySmart,” was developed by Lynn Fiellin and funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. A professor at the Yale School of Medicine and Yale Child Study Center, as well as the founder and director of the play2PREVENT video game development lab, Fiellin hopes that by using “PlaySmart,” she and her team will be able to collect more data related to adolescent opioid misuse and provide aid to both kids who play the game and the adults who work those youths.
The Hong Kong infowar in Malaysia
Focussing on the 2019-2020 anti-government protests in Hong Kong, this is the first media investigation in Malaysia to map how international online disinformation campaigns made its way to our shores and spread within local online communities..Mainstream Chinese language media in Malaysia were found to be among the main ‘importers’ of disinformation originating from China state media and other pro-CCP media in Hong Kong..By republishing the articles, local mainstream media did not just lend credibility to the disinformation within but amplified them to local audiences, who, in turn, shared the reports through Facebook pages viewed by their followers. Some of the biggest Facebook pages in our dataset have hundreds of thousands of followers, enabling a piece of disinformation to reach potentially millions of Malaysians within just a few hours.
Facebook's Oversight Board orders a post criticizing the Myanmar coup to be restored
Facebook's Oversight Board has instructed the social network to restore a post from a user that criticized the Chinese state. According to the board, Facebook mistakenly removed the post for violating its hate speech policy under the belief it targeted Chinese people.
BMW Has Fallen Behind in the Electric Vehicle Race. Can It Catch Up?
The New York Times
Unlike its global rivals, the German carmaker has not set a date to phase out gas-powered cars, and investors aren’t pleased. BMW says its next model will prove critics wrong.
The lost tablet and the secret documents
Nader Ibrahim @barabanch
Wagner is a Russian mercenary group whose operations have spanned the globe, from front-line fighting in Syria to guarding diamond mines in the Central African Republic. But it is notoriously secretive and, as such, difficult to scrutinise. Now, the BBC has gained exclusive access to an electronic tablet left behind on a battlefield in Libya by a Wagner fighter, giving an unprecedented insight into how these operatives work.
U.S. warned Brazil that Huawei would leave it 'high and dry' on 5G
@jeffmason1 Michael Martina
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised concerns about Huawei equipment in Brazil's 5G telecoms network during his visit to the country last week, a White House official said, but Brazil made no promises about whether it would use products from the Chinese company.
Gender and Women in Cyber
Digital Misogynoir and White Supremacy: What Black Feminist Theory Can Teach Us About Far Right Extremism
Misogynoir, a term created by Moya Bailey a Black feminist scholar and activist, explains the deep-rooted hate posed by sex and race that Black women experience... Misogynoir in digital media has life threatening repercussions for Black women and girls especially Black queer women and girls. One consequence is violent extremism.
Facebook is rebuilding its ads to know a lot less about you
Facebook’s massive business was built on its ability to track users across the internet. But now, thanks to looming regulation and other moves to restrict such data collection, that is changing. Hundreds of engineers are rebuilding how Facebook’s ads work to place more value on user privacy, according to Graham Mudd, a top ad executive at the company.
Find Out Which Groups Get Big Tech Funding
Tech Transparency Project
Google, Facebook, and Amazon have built massive influence operations, in part by funding an array of third-party groups. A new tool from TTP shows where the tech money is going.
Why is tech illustration stuck on repeat? Ask the overworked, underpaid illustrators.
You may not have heard of "Corporate Memphis," but you've almost certainly seen it. The illustration style can be found in the trendiest direct-to-consumer subway ads, within the app you use to split restaurant tabs or on the 404 page that attempts to counter your frustration with cutesiness. In fact, Corporate Memphis has become so synonymous with tech marketing that some illustrators simply know it as the "tech aesthetic." But Corporate Memphis has primarily stuck around because tech executives continue to overlook the value of illustration, according to several of the illustrators interviewed for this story.
Announcing U.S. Journalism School Digital Security Curriculum
Freedom of the Press Foundation
At Freedom of the Press Foundation, one way we support news organizations is through digital security education for reporters. We believe that, just as newsrooms are developing digital security competencies in real-time, student journalists should develop these skills as well. That’s why we’re thrilled to share the U.S. Journalism School Digital Security Curriculum, a resource to assist J-school instructors in bringing digital security know-how to their program.
ICPC Senior Analyst or Analyst - China
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) has a unique opportunity for exceptional and experienced China-focused senior analysts or analysts to join its centre. This role will focus on original research and analysis centred around the (growing) range of topics which our ICPC China team work on. Our China team produces some of the most impactful and well-read policy-relevant research in the world, with our experts often being called upon by politicians, governments, corporates and civil society actors to provide briefings and advice. Analysts usually have at least 5 years, often 7-10 years’ of work experience. Senior analysts usually have a minimum of 15 years relevant work experience and, in addition to research, they take on a leadership role in the centre and tend to be involved in staff and project management, fundraising and stakeholder engagement.