Correct information is a matter of life and death

From InfoCheckers


A long time ago I apparently became "member" of Avaaz by joining one of their on-line petitions. I think it was something for preserving the environment. Last week I received an email in which Avaaz warned about disinformation ahead of the European elections:

In it they stated (with their links included):

"But it's Russia that leads the pack [weaponizing disinformation]-- their huge 'troll farms' employ legions' of people to set up millions of fake accounts to spread disinformation."

However it's unmeasurable -or depending on which measure you take- which country leads the pack. Obviously the USA competes with Russia for the first place in the Western media!

That sentence contained two links:

- One to CIA-controlled radio free Europe radio liberty which describes how "THOUSANDS" of fake professional accounts are 'perpetuating a pro-Kremlin dialogue online'. Distributed on among others, Twitter and Facebook.

- the other to a commentary of millions of fake Twitter accounts most of them little active according to the Twitter Vice president. No disagreement with the first link.

This multi-facetted false claim in one single sentence by Avaaz (thousands is not millions and pro-Kremlin dialogues are not all necessarily disinformation so that it may be NOT Russia that leads the pack) is a good example of how fake news is generated and used for political aims. Strikingly it's done in a sentence accusing others of such disinformation!

By the way, it's not the only wrong claim in their petition, for example their claim about 65+ spreading most disinformation is an inaccurate referral to a single study about particular disinfo on Facebook and which coincidentally stressed that fake news is NOT transmitted much on Facebook. And its findings, as the lead author also explained, may not be valid now as the personalized Facebook Newsfeed may have been responsible: the Newsfeed has been changed since then. That information is apparently unwelcome and therefore omitted...

Here the stated political aim was to counter the far right in last week's EU elections.

Earlier Avaaz has campaigned for "no fly" zones in Libya and Syria. As you may remember, in Libya such no fly zones were imposed and subsequently abused to wage war on the Libyan government - with very deadly and destructive results for thousands of people.

The outcry for a no fly zone was based on unconfirmed reports that Ghadaffi was shooting at and bombing unarmed civilians. I remember how upset I was when this was announced on the BBC. But now I realise that this may have been just one more time we were manipulated into supporting or even demanding a "humanitarian" war. And it's very well possible that the many Yes-clicks to Avaaz no-fly zone campaign contributed to that (I remember that I considered clicking but I don't remember if I clicked!).

See also the analysis including Avaaz' reply concerning the No Fly zone petitions here:

I will write Avaaz about their most recent blooper(?) and if they answer then I'll add it here.



54 months ago
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Little correction: probably influenced by the misuse of the word "disinformation" by Avaaz' I did the same. Now corrected by striking through "such". In fact disinformation means deliberately false information, and that is likely not the case with Russian trolls in general nor with Avaaz!


54 months ago
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Update: on 30 May I received an automatic reply including " If you need a response, we'll do our best to get back to you within a week. Sorry we can't be faster! "

However, I received no response.
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