YouTube takes heat over conspiracies, and disturbing videos for kids

Revue
 
One of this newsletter's chief preoccupations is with how information spreads today. Each national ca
 

The Interface

November 6 · Issue #21 · View online
An evening newsletter about Facebook, social networks, and democracy.

One of this newsletter’s chief preoccupations is with how information spreads today. Each national calamity — and there have been distressingly many of them in 2017 — gives us a new opportunity to see what sloshes through our major tech platforms. And in too many cases, the platforms are utterly polluted.
After the senseless murder of 26 people in a Texas church on Sunday, a misinformation campaign spun up and deployed across Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, with stunning speed. The campaign, which attempted to erroneously link the shooter to the left-wing antifa movement, was chronicled in BuzzFeed today
A handful of false tweets, retweeted thousands of times, quickly began to surface in Google search results about the shooting. Fake-news websites, such as YourNewsWire.com, dutifully wrote up the lies, complete with a fake account of what transpired inside the church. The result? 
“The post has over 240,000 likes, shares, and comments on Facebook, and was shared more than 8,600 times on Twitter, according to social sharing tracking tool BuzzSumo.
Asked for comment, the tech companies offered the usual bromides about how much they invest in features designed to reduce the spread of hoaxes. They allowed that, in the future, they could do better. 
In the meantime, though, the worst actors in the media ecosystem keep finding their efforts signal-boosted to the top of the feed by indifferent algorithms. As we look toward next year’s midterm elections, and wonder whether foreign actors will once again be able to manipulate this machinery to their own ends, the answer to me seems to be transparently "yes.”
Now on to some links.

Democracy
Google's Mass-Shooting Misinformation Problem
Something is wrong on the internet
On YouTube Kids, Startling Videos Slip Past Filters
Kremlin Cash Behind Billionaire’s Twitter and Facebook Investments
Yuri Milner says he was not working for Russia to turn social media against U.S. democracy
Russian Twitter Support for Trump Began Right After He Started Campaign
In Reversal, Tech Companies Back Sex Trafficking Bill
The Year in Push Alerts: How breaking news became our lives.
Elsewhere
Facebook refunds advertisers for mobile video ads played out of view
Tristan Harris talks to Sam Lessin
Takes
The Tower of Babel: Five Challenges of the Modern Internet
And finally ...
"Information Travels Faster," by Death Cab for Cutie
Nothing funny happened in the world of social media today, so instead I am including a link to a song that today made me think of!
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? Conspiracy theories you’d like to see at the top of Google search results? casey@theverge.com
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Carefully curated by Casey Newton with Revue.
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