When we met in early March, Jonathan Albright was still shrugging off a sleepless weekend. It was a few weeks after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had killed 17 people, most of them teenagers, and promptly turned the internet into a cesspool of finger pointing and conspiracy slinging. Within days, ultraconservative YouTube stars like Alex Jones had rallied their supporters behind the bogus claim that the students who survived and took to the press to call for gun control were merely actors. How could this happen so quickly? When the country was hungry for answers about how people had been manipulated online, Jonathan Albright had plenty of information to feed them. With the midterm elections on the horizon, he's working to preempt the next great catastrophe.
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Experience from European elections suggests that investigative journalism and alerting the public in advance can help inoculate voters against disinformation campaigns. But the battle with fake news is likely to remain a cat-and-mouse game between its purveyors and the companies whose platforms they exploit. But it is also an analytical term that describes deliberate disinformation presented in the form of a conventional news report. The problem is not completely novel.
Citing unnamed FBI sources, it claimed Hillary Clinton will be indicted in for crimes related to her email scandal. For Trump supporters, that certainly seemed to be the case. They helped the baseless story generate over , shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. Meanwhile, roughly 6, miles away in a small town in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a young man watched as money began trickling into his Google AdSense account. Over the past year, the Macedonian town of Veles population 45, has experienced a digital gold rush as locals launched at least US politics websites.