Academics who researched misinformation on Facebook…are banned by Facebook

Facebook has banned the personal accounts of academics who researched ad transparency and the spread of misinformation on the social network. Facebook says the group violated its term of service by scraping user data without permission. But the academics say they are being silenced for exposing problems on Facebook’s platform.

The researchers were part of NYU Ad Observatory, a project created to examine the origin and spread of political ads on Facebook. As the group explained in a blog post in May, their aim is to uncover who pays for political ads and how they are being targeted. Such work has important implications for understanding the spread of disinformation on Facebook, as the company does not fact-check political ads.

Fact-checking doesn’t have to be some all-inclusive guidebook through the meanders of Facebook. One or a few essential points…clear even to collegiate AI is sufficient to demonstrate the intent to maintain honesty. Advances can and would be made by the growing number of geeks in this land who are concerned with misinformation. Associating profiteering from lies with technology defeats many of the premises of an “open internet” that most of us began with.

27 Years of medical misinformation from the ignoranus-in-chief

Donald Trump has spent decades spreading and sowing dangerous misinformation about disease outbreaks — from falsely suggesting AIDS can be transmitted through kissing to warning Americans not to get vaccinated and falsely suggesting vaccines can cause autism.

Long before advising Americans to ingest disinfectant to treat the coronavirus as President, Trump demonstrated a pattern of spreading unsupported medical claims that preyed on the public’s fears of getting sick, a CNN KFile review of the President’s statements on past epidemics and pandemics found.

Today as the nation’s chief executive overseeing his own public health crisis, Trump continues to comprehensively misinform the public about the coronavirus, offering remarks riddled with false, misleading or scientifically questionable claims.

No doubt many supporters of the Fake President know better when it comes to his ignorance, superstition and just plain stupidity. Their hypocrisy is grounded in a deep conviction that somehow he will enhance their income, class-based political power, and other delightful GOP traditions like racism..

Man infected with Ebola misinformation by casual contact with CNN & Fox News

(The Borowitz Report) — An Ohio man has become infected with misinformation about the Ebola virus through casual contact with cable news, the Centers for Disease Control has confirmed.

Tracy Klugian, thirty-one, briefly came into contact with alarmist Ebola hearsay during a visit to the Akron-Canton airport, where a CNN report about Ebola was showing on one of the televisions in the airport bar. “Mr. Klugian is believed to have been exposed to cable news for no more than ten minutes, but long enough to become infected,” a spokesman for the C.D.C. said. “Within an hour, he was showing signs of believing that an Ebola outbreak in the United States was inevitable and unstoppable.”

Once Klugian’s condition was apparent, the Ohio man was rushed to a public library and given a seventh-grade biology textbook, at which point he “started to stabilize,” the spokesman said.

But others exposed to the widening epidemic of Ebola misinformation may not be so lucky. “A man in Oklahoma was exposed to Elisabeth Hasselbeck on Fox for over three minutes,” the C.D.C. spokesman said gravely. “We hope we’re not too late.”

We’re only about three weeks from the mid-term election. Be prepared for the next wave of infection from Republican Candidates – for any office, local, state or national – demanding our borders be closed to prevent Africans entering the United States via Canada or Mexico while pretending to suffer from hayfever.

Thanks, Mike

Colbert vs. Kyl and politicians who think lying is excusable

“Not intended to be a factual statement.”

The now-infamous statement from Sen. Jon Kyl’s office was released after he said on the floor of the U.S. Senate that abortions represent “over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”

It turns out that the actual number is 3%, a mere rounding error of 87%. But it was presented to the American people and enshrined in the Senate Record as a means of arguing that Planned Parenthood should be entirely defunded in the current budget.

This has nothing to do with fiscal responsibility and everything to do with the disproportionate influence of social conservative activists.

Their most compelling argument is that the American people don’t support federal taxpayer money paying for abortions, which is true — and why federal funding of abortion has been banned since 1976.

But the facts are inconvenient, and so they are ignored. Instead, talking points taken from talk radio are repeated until they take on a life of their own and eventually get the validation of a U.S. senator.

The news wasn’t that Kyl made a mistake; it was his staff essentially acknowledging that in the current hyper-partisan environment, facts are a secondary concern, even on the floor of the U.S. Senate, even when they are paraded as statistics. The important thing is to scare the hell out of people so that they remember your political point and pass it on.

In this absurd spin cycle, there’s one dependable place to look for sanity: satire. And on cue came Stephen Colbert, who took Kyl’s statement as a challenge and dialed it up to 11.

Using the Twitter hashtag #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement, Colbert unleashed a steady stream of Jon Kyl mistruths with the requisite denial. Among my favorites:

• Jon Kyl developed his own line of hair care products just so he could test them on bunnies.
• Jon Kyl can unhinge his jaw like a python to swallow small rodents whole.
• Every Halloween Jon Kyl dresses up as a sexy Mitch Daniels.
• Jon Kyl sponsored S.410, which would ban happiness.
• Jon Kyl let a game-winning ground ball roll through his legs in Game 6 of the ’86 World Series.
• Jon Kyl once ate a badger he hit with his car.

This crap is properly called “lying”. That it is done for political gain and later followed by a rationale acceptable to politicians and fools – does not make it acceptable behavior. We all complain about the lack of ethics, the duplicity and deceit of Congress – but, this deliberate distortion of fact by the fiction of bigots is inexcusable. And anyone who does excuse it is as guilty as the salaried liar who invented the propaganda.

Fear, ignorance and ideology plague inoculation effort


The solution offered by pundits instead of physicians

Suspicion of government and public unease about vaccines has resulted in a flood of misconceptions about the U.S. swine flu program, experts say…

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Gregory Poland, a flu vaccine expert at the Mayo Clinic, told the newspapers. “Then you mix into that people’s concerns about conspiracy theories and government misbehavior and conflicts of interest and all of that, and the average layperson has a difficult time discerning what to do…”

Experts stressed that the vaccine was made the same way it is every year and that there is no reason to think it will pose any greater risk. Serious side effects involving the seasonal vaccines are extremely rare…

Although the new H1N1 virus generally causes mild illness, most people have no immunity against it, meaning far more people will probably become infected, sick, end up in the hospital and possibly die than during a usual flu season. Most disturbingly, children, young adults and pregnant women appear to be especially vulnerable…

At least 87 percent of a national sample of adults, which included health care workers, said they agreed or strongly agreed in a vaccination requirement for health care workers

The poll also found health care workers were more likely than other adults to say they planned to not receive the H1N1 flu vaccine because they believed the seasonal flu vaccine would protect them from it and believed they could easily get medication if they did get sick.

“That’s simply not correct. This finding indicates there needs to be more education among health care workers,” Davis said.

Anyone surprised to learn that someone in a healthcare job needs more education about their own job?

I expect the superstitious to be fearful. Same goes for the ignorant.

I reserve my contempt for those who know something about science, double-blind studies and peer-reviewed analysis. They prefer the ideology of hating government more than anything else, hating those who choose preventive medicine instead of relying on a private hoard of Tamiflu [yes, I know one of those]. So-called libertarians who prefer anarchy over good will.

They are as guilty of superstitious behavior as your neighborhood personal psychic.