Manipulation

03 May 2020
The International Press Institute has found that in both democratic and autocratic states the public health crisis has given governments the excuse of preventing the spread of disinformation to exercise control over the media, whether by criminalising journalism or controlling the public narrative
In 2018, to prove how easily soldiers' real-world actions can be manipulated via social media, researchers at NATO's Strategic Communications Center of Excellence (StratCom) conducted a red-team exercise in which they "catfished" members of the armed forces. Using information collected from Facebook
01 Feb 2016
French website IVG.net, first Google result when typing IVG (Interuption Volontaire de Grossesse or abortion in french), has been exposed as being anti-abortion website spreading misinformation. Offering an official looking "Numero vert" (free to call phone number number), IVG.net attempts to
01 Nov 2018
A November 2018 report from Data & Society discusses "data craft", the methods manipulators use to create disinformation with falsified metadata, specifically platform activity signals, which can be read by machine learning algorithms, platforms, and humans. Manipulators use platform features in
15 Nov 2018
In November 2018, a report by the consultancy Privacy Company, on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Justice, found that Microsoft could be breaking European data collection rules because its Office software was collecting large amounts of personal data including email subject lines and snippets of
21 Dec 2018
In November 2018, the criminal hacker group 3ve found a new way of exploiting security weaknesses in the Border Gateway Protocol that allowed them to take control of IP addresses belonging to the US Air Force and other reputable organisations; the result was to net them $29 million in fraudulent
16 May 2019
Facebook has taken down 65 accounts, 161 pages, dozens of groups and four Instagram accounts, which were ran by Archimedes Group, an Israeli political consulting and lobbying firm that aimed at disrupting elections in various countries. Archimedes was mostly active in Sub-Saharan Africa but also
16 Jan 2019
In January 2019, Facebook announced it would extend some of the rules and transparency tools it developed for political advertising for upcoming spring elections in Nigeria, Ukraine, India, and the EU. In Nigeria, the site will bar electoral ads from advertisers outside the country where the
17 Jan 2019
In January 2019, Facebook' announced it had removed multiple pages, groups, and accounts coordinating inauthentic behaviour on Facebook and Instagram that were set up by two unrelated operations originating in Russia. One of these operated 364 pages and accounts was active in the Baltics, Central
27 Apr 2017
In a November 2017 report, Facebook's security group outlined the steps it would take to combat new forms of misuse of the platform, including attempts to deceive people and manipulate civic discourse at low cost or risk to the organisers. Among the drivers, the group cited the global reach Facebook
05 Nov 2018
The results of a year-long review issued by the UK Information Commissioner's Office in November 2018 uncovered a "disturbing disregard for voters' personal privacy" on the part of 30 organisations, including social media platforms, political parties, data brokers, and credit reference agencies
26 Dec 2018
Shortly after the 2016 US presidential election, LinkedIn founder and billionaire Reid Hoffman made a series of multi-million-dollar donations to dozens of left-leaning groups. Among them was American Engagement Technologies, in which Hoffman invested $750,000. In 2018, Hoffman wound up apologising
27 Dec 2018
In 2014, when the the far-right party of French politician Marine Le Pen needed cash, the loan of €9.4 million came from First Czech-Russian Bank, which was founded in the early 2000s as a joint venture between a Czech state bank and a Russian lender and went on to come under the personal ownership
26 Dec 2018
A startling amount of the internet is fake in one way or another, studies found in 2018. Less than 60% of web traffic is human; a 2013 study found that at least half of YouTube traffic was bots masquerading as people; in November 2018 the US Justice Department revealed that eight people were accused
18 Dec 2018
A December 2018 report prepared by the Oxford Internet Institute's Computational propaganda Research Project and the network analysis firm Graphika for the US Senate Intelligence Committee found that the campaign conducted by Russia's Internet Research Agency during the 2016 US presidential election
22 Nov 2018
In the run-up to the May 2019 European Parliament elections, Google announced it would launch a new set of transparency tools to combat voter manipulation. Before being allowed to buy advertising on Google platforms, campaigns will be required to verify their identity, and approved ads will be
21 Nov 2018
A 2018 study found that Twitter bots played a disproportionate role in spreading the false claim, made by US President Donald Trump shortly after winning the election but losing the popular vote in November 2016, that 3 million illegal immigrants had voted for Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton
03 Aug 2018
Cookies and other tracking mechanisms are enabling advertisers to manipulate consumers in new ways. For $29, The Spinner will provide a seemingly innocent link containing an embedded cookie that will allow the buyer to deliver targeted content to their chosen recipient. The service advertises
05 Nov 2018
Shortly before the November 2018 US midterm elections, the Center for Media and Democracy uncovered documents showing that the multi-billionaire Koch brothers have developed detailed personality profiles on 89 percent of the US population with the goal of using them to launch a private propaganda
23 Jul 2018
"Buzzer teams" - teams employed to amplify messages and create a buzz on social media - were used by all candidates in the 2017 Indonesian general elections. Coordinated via WhatsApp groups, many of the teams opened fake accounts to spread both positive and negative messages, as well as hate speech
12 May 2018
Facebook ads purchased in May 2016 by the Internet Research Agency, a notorious Russian troll farm, urged users to install the FaceMusic app. When installed, this Chrome extension gained wide access to the users' Facebook accounts and web browsing behaviour; in some cases it messaged all the user's
11 Oct 2018
In the run-up to the 2018 US mid-term elections, researchers found that the dissemination of fake news on Facebook was increasingly a domestic American phenomenon rather than, as in the 2016 presidential election, an effort driven by state-backed Russian operatives. Removing such accounts (Twitter)
01 Oct 2018
A little over a month before the US 2018 midterm elections, Twitter updated its rules to reduce manipulation of its platform. Among the changes, the company outlined the factors it would use to determine whether an account is fake and should be removed, provided an update on its automated detection
01 Nov 2018
Days before the US November 2018 midterm elections, ProPublica discovered that an organisation called Energy4US spent $20,000 to run ads on Facebook pushing conservatives to support the Trump administration's reversal of fuel emission standards. On closer scrutiny, Energy4US appeared to be a front
04 Sep 2018
For many Filipinos, Facebook is their only way online because subsidies have kept it free to use on mobile phones since its launch in the country in 2013, while the open web is expensive to access. The social media network is believed to have been an important engine behind the ascent to the
14 Jun 2018
In a systematic campaign over more than five years, Myanmar military used Facebook to covertly spread propaganda, mostly against the Rohynga, via accounts that appeared to be dedicated to pop stars and entertainment, turning the social media site into a tool for ethnic cleansing. Having garnered a
04 Apr 2017
In 2017, the Massachusetts attorney general's office reached an agreement under which Boston-based Copley Advertising agreed to eschew sending mobile ads to patients visiting Planned Parenthood and other health clinics. In 2015, Copley's geofencing technique used location information from
25 Jul 2014
Nearly 700,000 Facebook users were subjects of a research study where researchers changed randomly selected users' newsfeeds to be more positive or negative to study whether those users then displayed a more positive or negative affect in response. The experiment showed the power of Facebook's control over the News Feed and the algorithms that determine which of the possible pieces of content shows up at the top at any given moment.
28 Nov 2017
Facebook and Twitter have advised Damian Collins, the chair of the UK Parliament's digital, culture, media, and sport committee, that the companies will hand over some information relating to the rearch of Russia-backed posts during the EU referendum. Facebook has already given the US Senate similar
15 Jun 2017
In 2017, Amazon was granted a patent has been granted a patent, first filed in 2012, on a mechanism that allows retailers to intercept network requests such as URLs and search terms on in-store wifi and either block shoppers from conducting online price comparisons or offer them discount coupons or
14 Nov 2017
A 2017 Freedom House survey of 65 countries found that 30 of them were using armies of "opinion-shapers" to manipulate elections, advance anti-democratic agendas, and repress their citizens. Although most of these countries direct these efforts to manipulate opinion domestically, the report finds
In the remote western city Xinjiang, the Chinese government is using new technology and humans to monitor every aspect of citizens' lives. China, which has gradually increased restrictions in the region over the last ten years in response to unrest and violent attacks, blames the need for these
20 May 2015
Over the course of a few seconds in April 2013, a false tweet from a hacked account owned by the Associated Press is thought to have caused the Dow-Jones Industrial Average to drop 143.5 points and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index to lose more than $136 in value. The tweet was retweeted 4,000 times
22 May 2015
In 2015, the Carrefour supermarket in Lille installed a system of LED lights designed by Philips that send special offers and location data to customers' smartphones. Using the system, customers who install an app can use their smartphone camera to detect all the promotions around them or search for
11 Mar 2016
In 2016 Jonathan Evans, the former head of Britain's MI5 warned that private firms are analysing "open source" - that is, publicly posted - information to create profiles that are just as intrusive as anything Britain's intelligence agencies deploy and that the gap is closing between open
09 Apr 2017
In a 2017 study of patterns of postings on Chinese social media, three Harvard researchers disagreed with the widespread claim that the government's strategy is to post "50c party" posts that argue for the government's side in policy and political debates. Instead, the researchers estimated that the
30 Jan 2016
By 2016, a logical direction for data-driven personalisation efforts to go was toward the "Internet of Emotions": equipping devices with facial, vocal, and biometric sensors that use affective computing to analyse and influence the feelings of device owners. Of particular concern is the potential
14 Nov 2016
At the Sixth Annual Conference on Social Media Within the Defence and Military Sector, held in London in 2016, senior military and intelligence officials made it clear that governments increasingly view social media as a tool for the Armed Forces and a "new front in warfare". Social media are also
10 Sep 2015
In 2015, US director of national intelligence James Clapper, backed by National Security Agency director Admiral Michael Rogers, warned Congress that the next phase of escalating online data theft is likely to involve manipulating digital information. Clapper and Rogers viewed this type of attack as
25 May 2016
In 2015, Boston advertising executive John Flynn, CEO of Copley Advertising, began developing a system that uses standard online advertising and tracking techniques, coupled with geofencing, to send advertisements to women's smartphones when they are sitting inside Planned Parenthood clinics and
20 May 2016
Uber has closely studied how dynamic pricing functions and when it's acceptable to users. One discovery is that round numbers signal haste and sloppiness where riders appear to believe that more precise numbers (for example, 2.1 instead of 2) have been carefully worked out by an algorithm. The
15 Apr 2016
Between 2010 and 2016, access control spyware implementing a remote "kill switch" was installed increasingly often in rent-to-buy laptops and cars financed by subprime loans. In a 2012 case the Federal Trade Commission settled with seven computer rental companies over their use of DesignerWare's
01 May 2017
Facebook has come under fire after leaked documents revealed the social media site has been targeting potentially vulnerable children. The allegations suggest the company is gathering information on young people who “need a confidence boost” to facilitate predatory advertising practices
02 Apr 2017
In 2017, Uber began a programme experimenting with using psychology and social science insights to influence when, where, and how long its drivers work. Among other techniques, Uber auto-loaded the next fare to encourage the driver equivalent of binge TV-watching; reminded drivers when they're close