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Online Scammers Have a New Offer For You: Vaccine Cards

SAN FRANCISCO — On Etsy, eBay, Facebook and Twitter, little rectangular slips of paper started showing up for sale in late January. Printed on card stock, they measured three-by-four inches and featured crisp black lettering. Sellers listed them for $20 to $60 each, with a discount on bundles of three or more. Laminated ones cost extra.All were forgeries or falsified copies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination cards, which are given to people who have been inoculated against Covid-19 in the United States.“We found hundreds of online stores selling the cards, potentially thousands were sold,” said Saoud Khalifah, …

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How The Death of Taylor Force in Israel Echoes Through the Fight Over Online Speech

WASHINGTON — Stuart Force says he found solace on Facebook after his son was stabbed to death in Israel by a member of the militant group Hamas in 2016. He turned to the site to read hundreds of messages offering condolences on his son’s page.But only a few months later, Mr. Force had decided that Facebook was partly to blame for the death, because the algorithms that power the social network helped spread Hamas’s content. He joined relatives of other terror victims in suing the company, arguing that its algorithms aided the crimes by regularly amplifying posts that encouraged …

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For Political Cartoonists, the Irony Was That Facebook Didn’t Recognize Irony

SAN FRANCISCO — Since 2013, Matt Bors has made a living as a left-leaning cartoonist on the internet. His site, The Nib, runs cartoons from him and other contributors that regularly skewer right-wing movements and conservatives with political commentary steeped in irony.One cartoon in December took aim at the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Mr. Bors titled it “Boys Will Be Boys” and depicted a recruitment where new Proud Boys were trained to be “stabby guys” and to “yell slurs at teenagers” while playing video games.Days later, Facebook sent Mr. Bors a message …

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Epoch Media Casts Wider Net to Spread Its Message Online

Right on Times does not disclose any partnership with Epoch, nor do the two websites share a unique digital identifier. But when it launched in October, its articles were posted on social media by Epoch employees. Right on Times also had a prominent ad campaign on Epoch properties, and it included many articles from Epoch properties on its service. Those actions led disinformation researchers, including those at the Global Disinformation Index, to conclude there was coordination.Epoch Times said that Right on Times was one of its advertisers, and that Youmaker was an “independent business partner.” Sagebook, the company said, …

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Tech’s Legal Shield Appears Likely to Survive as Congress Focuses on Details

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald J. Trump called multiple times for repealing the law that shields tech companies from legal responsibility over what people post. President Biden, as a candidate, said the law should be “revoked.”But the lawmakers aiming to weaken the law have started to agree on a different approach. They are increasingly focused on eliminating protections for specific kinds of content rather than making wholesale changes to the law or eliminating it entirely.That has still left them a question with potentially wide-ranging outcomes: What, exactly, should lawmakers cut?One bill introduced last month would strip the protections …

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Facebook Blocks News in Australia, Diverging With Google on Proposed Law

SAN FRANCISCO — For months, Facebook and Google have been locked in a stare-down with news publishers and lawmakers in Australia.At the heart of the fight is whether the tech giants should pay news organizations for the news articles that are shared on their networks. Under a proposed law from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, both Google and Facebook would be required to negotiate with media publishers and compensate them for the content that appears on their sites.Facebook and Google have fought hard to prevent the Australian law — which is expected to pass this week or next — from …

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Big Tech’s Next Big Problem Could Come From People Like ‘Mr. Sweepy’

The private suits follow the government ones for a simple reason: Regulators have distinct advantages when it comes to obtaining evidence. Federal and state investigators can collect internal documents and interview executives before filing a suit. As a result, their complaints are filled with insider knowledge about the companies. Private individuals can seek that kind of evidence only after they file lawsuits.If the government cases succeed against Google or Facebook at trial, the win is likely to bolster the case for private lawsuits, experts said. Lawyers could point to those victories as evidence the company broke the law and …

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Facebook Dials Down the Politics for Users

Data released by Facebook last fall showed that during one week in October, seven of the 10 most-engaged pages were primarily political, including those of President Donald J. Trump, Fox News, Breitbart and Occupy Democrats.Three years ago, Facebook said it would pull back on the amount of content posted to the site by news publishers and brands, an overhaul that it said put more focus on interaction among friends and family. At the time, Mr. Zuckerberg said he wanted to make sure Facebook’s products were “not just fun, but good for people.” He also said the company would take …

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Are Private Messaging Apps the Next Misinformation Hot Spot?

So what’s your take? Are you concerned?KEVIN Honestly, not really?It’s obviously not great for public safety that neo-Nazis, far-right militias and other dangerous groups are finding ways to communicate and organize, and that those ways increasingly involve end-to-end encryption. We’ve seen this happen for years, going all the way back to ISIS, and it definitely makes things harder for law enforcement agencies and counterterrorism officials.At the same time, there’s a real benefit to getting these extremists off mainstream platforms, where they can find new sympathizers and take advantage of the broadcast mechanics of …

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How the Biden Administration Can Help Solve Our Reality Crisis

It sounds a little dystopian, I’ll grant. But let’s hear them out.Right now, these experts said, the federal government’s response to disinformation and domestic extremism is haphazard and spread across multiple agencies, and there’s a lot of unnecessary overlap.Renée DiResta, a disinformation researcher at Stanford’s Internet Observatory, gave the example of two seemingly unrelated problems: misinformation about Covid-19 and misinformation about election fraud.Often, she said, the same people and groups are responsible for spreading both types. So instead of two parallel processes — one at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aimed …

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