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Steps Toward Helping People Identify Disinformation When They Hear It.

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Distortion: Trump’s letter to Nancy Pelosi is him "fighting back" with a "powerful, scathing beat down," in which he "utterly destroys" the Speaker and House Democrats' "idiotic articles of impeachment." — Sean Hannity on Fox News

More Valid: Far from "utterly destroying" Democrats and impeachment, the letter reveals how unaccustomed Trump is to being held accountable — and just how angry it makes him. It’s a six-page manifesto of paranoia and half-baked conspiracy theories that lays bare how mentally unfit Trump is for office.

 

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So far, in the US, the vast and hugely popular Right Wing entertainment/news/propaganda media have been enormously successful at winning the hearts and minds of a large portion of the American People.

 

One country, Finland is developing ways to fight back.  Finland has a border with Russia and has long been subject to Russian disinformation.  Students in Finland's schools are taught how to identify fake news whether on smartphone, TV, radio or the internet.  They call this skill "Media Literacy".  The students are regularly given tests measuring their proficiency in identifying misleading propaganda.

 

Unlike Finland, we in the US have our own fake news media to deal with in addition to foreign meddling.  However the techniques for spotting disinformation are similar.

 

It is almost a certainty that once the Democratic candidate has been chosen, Russian disinformation will come roaring back, greatly increased from 2016.  As long as Republicans remain in power, it is unlikely disinformation detection courses can be taught in American schools.  But if Democrats prevail in both houses and the executive branch, it should be entirely feasible. 

 

https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2019/05/europe/finland-fake-news-intl/

Quote

 

Finland is winning the war on fake news. What it’s learned may be crucial to Western democracy

Another slide, featuring a diagram of a Twitter profile page, explained how to identify bots: look for stock photos, assess the volume of posts per day, check for inconsistent translations and a lack of personal information.

The lesson wrapped with a popular “deepfake” — highly realistic manipulated video or audio — of Barack Obama to highlight the challenges of the information war ahead.

The course is part of an anti-fake news initiative launched by Finland’s government in 2014 – two years before Russia meddled in the US elections – aimed at teaching residents, students, journalists and politicians how to counter false information designed to sow division.

The initiative is just one layer of a multi-pronged, cross-sector approach the country is taking to prepare citizens of all ages for the complex digital landscape of today – and tomorrow. The Nordic country, which shares an 832-mile border with Russia, is acutely aware of what’s at stake if it doesn’t.

Finland has faced down Kremlin-backed propaganda campaigns ever since it declared independence from Russia 101 years ago. But in 2014, after Moscow annexed Crimea and backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, it became obvious that the battlefield had shifted: information warfare was moving online.

 

Toivanen, the chief communications specialist for the prime minister’s office, said it is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of misinformation operations to have targeted the country in recent years, but most play on issues like immigration, the European Union, or whether Finland should become a full member of NATO (Russia is not a fan).

As the trolling ramped up in 2015, President Sauli Niinisto called on every Finn to take responsibility for the fight against false information. A year later, Finland brought in American experts to advise officials on how to recognize fake news, understand why it goes viral and develop strategies to fight it. The education system was also reformed to emphasize critical thinking.

Although it’s difficult to measure the results in real-time, the approach appears to be working, and now other countries are looking to Finland as an example of how to win the war on misinformation.

“It’s not just a government problem, the whole society has been targeted. We are doing our part, but it’s everyone’s task to protect the Finnish democracy,” Toivanen said, before adding: “The first line of defense is the kindergarten teacher.”

Sorting fact from fiction

At the French-Finnish School of Helsinki, a bilingual state-run K-12 institution, that ethos is taken seriously.

In Valentina Uitto’s social studies class, a group of 10th-graders were locked in debate over what the key issues will be in next week’s EU elections. Brexit, immigration, security and the economy were mentioned with a flurry of raised hands before the students were asked to choose a theme to analyze.

“They’ve gathered what they think they know about the EU election … now let’s see if they can sort fact from fiction,” Uitto said with a smirk.

The students broke off into groups, grabbing laptops and cell phones to investigate their chosen topics – the idea is to inspire them to become digital detectives, like a rebooted version of Sherlock Holmes for the post-Millennial generation.

Her class is the embodiment of Finland’s critical thinking curriculum, which was revised in 2016 to prioritize the skills students need to spot the sort of disinformation that has clouded recent election campaigns in the US and across Europe

  - snip -

 

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If the fake news media of the United States and foreign powers cannot be neutralized:

-   Polarization will rise to new levels.

-   The Nation may drift even further right.

-   The wealth gap will grow wider

-   The needs and best interests of ordinary people will go unmet

-   More people will be indoctrinated into the Cult of Ignorance.

-   Republican politicians will grow bolder and more corrupt.

-   Money over votes will increasingly influence elections and legislation.

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I think it's important to note that the goal of Russian disinformation is to destabilize the USA, not support the Republican party.  They want to create dissension, chaos, hate, and distrust.  The current President was the best option for them to accomplish that in 2016 (and will be in 2020 as well).   But, not all their disinformation takes the form of support for Republicans.  They attempt to antagonize both sides to turn us against ourselves .  They seek to divide us and pit us against each other.  They'll use any crack they can find (race, class, religion, politics, sex, etc.).  Their enemy isn't only the Democratic party; it's an America that works together to get things done. 

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6 hours ago, Renegade said:

I think it's important to note that the goal of Russian disinformation is to destabilize the USA, not support the Republican party.  They want to create dissension, chaos, hate, and distrust.  The current President was the best option for them to accomplish that in 2016 (and will be in 2020 as well).   But, not all their disinformation takes the form of support for Republicans.  They attempt to antagonize both sides to turn us against ourselves .  They seek to divide us and pit us against each other.  They'll use any crack they can find (race, class, religion, politics, sex, etc.).  Their enemy isn't only the Democratic party; it's an America that works together to get things done. 

 

Good point.  If supporting Democrats served their divisive purposes, the Russians would do so.  Their only real objective is to weaken the US.  Unlike Finland, which has only to deal with Russian propaganda, the US has been subject to disinformation,  both foreign and domestic.  And we may be more polarized than any time since the Civil War

 

Finland has developed techniques that help empower their citizens to recognize disinformation when they hear it.  These techniques are taught to schoolchildren and adults.  The US could greatly benefit by adopting what the Finns have learned. 

 

In the US, so far, the main defense against disinformation has been the truth, counter spin or contradictory disinformation.  And the result has been to tragically divide us, ever further.  Teaching people how to spot false information when they hear it, could go a long way to neutralize the purveyors of fiction, presented as fact.  And if enough of the population became proficient at telling lies from the truth, it would allow a healing process to begin.

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18 hours ago, Renegade said:

I think it's important to note that the goal of Russian disinformation is to destabilize the USA, not support the Republican party.  They want to create dissension, chaos, hate, and distrust.  The current President was the best option for them to accomplish that in 2016 (and will be in 2020 as well).   But, not all their disinformation takes the form of support for Republicans.  They attempt to antagonize both sides to turn us against ourselves .  They seek to divide us and pit us against each other.  They'll use any crack they can find (race, class, religion, politics, sex, etc.).  Their enemy isn't only the Democratic party; it's an America that works together to get things done. 

I agree, although they are clued into the propaganda utilized by the Republican Party.

A great friend of mine who I deeply respect where I work, because he is selfless, non bigoted, and can take a difficult problem and work it through better than most, who is also a Republican

will say, well, both sides Democrats and Republicans spread disinformation. And I, me, said, yes, you are correct to a point. You see I am an Independent. Sure, I'm progressive, but I would agree there is truly disinformation spread from both sides, I said, the Republicans are more obviously full of nonsense. The Democrats, they misuse statistics all the time. That's why I decided long time ago to be, an independent never willing to join either side.

 

You see, the stats are misguided, and one could say something about some big number, and it would seem as though it was important when in reality it really was not.

 

So they are rich, what does it matter. Fact is, it don't. What actually matters is how they achieved what they got. Apples to oranges, the macro compared to the micro.

Size does matter, so does achievement and the common good. The government is too big they say, but if you expand the government by privatizing what the government is required to do

and it cost the people more, that's not cool.

 

The Russian disinformation, this is what Oligarchs do. Regarding the Russians, and specifically Vladimir Putin, this much should be demonstratively obvious. If you took a look at the Russian economic state, Putin's push to make homosexuals outlawed, his banter regarding any democratic thought in any of the Baltic States, his fear of NATO, as well as his objective regarding the crux of US policy in the ME, well, if you know he is ex KGB, you know - just like any far right-wing ideology that could never bend, he knows how to propagandize, he understands the playbook of the Fox News, which of course he counters with a more progressive style RT news available on cable in the US.

 

And talk about disinformation, NewsMax and a whole host of news outlets on the internet, all genuinely funded by people in the US. 

But hey man, I'm not into conspiracy bull. 

We are divided in the US for no damn good reason. Most want the same thing, most are just trying to eke out a living, survive for a better day. They are worn out and permanently feeling as though their very lives are negligible - It's not like they are not brave, some of these folks served in battle, worked their ass off when they returned home, and yet still, this lethargy pervades.

It's almost as if you gave everything, only to come home to this impossible divide that could never reconcile.

People are dying. Young people are taking their own lives. You just want some progress, you wake up and say, hell yes, I will give everything, my all, but you just can't.

You have been bamboozled. Your black, your white, Your Native American, Your Asian, Your Jewish, Your a women, Your a child.

 

It sickens us. We are better than that. They will repeat the same thing, they will turn it on its head and say the same thing. 

 

Where is the truth. Where are the facts. Who will stand up?

 

 

 

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