We (researchers) have been stressing the integration of coordinated & organic activity in the spread of online disinformation for a few years now. Facebook’s internal report (on platform use going into Jan 6) highlights the need for policy to address this: buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanma…
"A policy of coordinated authentic harm needs a broader definition of coordination to handle network or movement level harms and the interplay between organic and inorganic growth.” Coordination can be explicit (you do this, I do that) or implicit (like a flock of birds).
A lot of online organizing involves a small amount of explicit coordination that structures a large amount of implicit coordination. Here’s a 2012 paper, describing how groups of volunteers organize (largely through implicit coordination) during disasters: faculty.washington.edu/kstarbi/CHI201…
The “organizing” after the 2020 election that led to the mass propagation of election delegitimization messages (a form of disinformation) took shape in much the same way that we’ve seen with other kinds of digital activism.

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More from @katestarbird

9 Apr
Re-posting this for the morning crowd. My former PhD student, Tom Wilson, published his dissertation documenting the online disinformation campaign targeting the White Helmets (a humanitarian response organization) in Syria.
In addition to their rescue/response activities, the White Helmets provided documentation of war crimes (including chemical weapons attacks) by Assad and his Russian allies. The campaign against them sought to confuse Western audiences & delegitimize evidence of war crimes.
Dr Wilson’s work carefully documented several of the online dimensions of that campaign — including the network structure of online influencers and grey propaganda websites that consistently spread anti-White Helmets propaganda.
Read 5 tweets
21 Mar
This article really captures my sentiments (as a former player) about the equity issues with the NCAA women’s bball tourney (compared to the men’s)... it’s just exhausting to still be dealing with these slights, both big and small, after all these years. washingtonpost.com/sports/2021/03…
One story. It’s 1992. I’m on a recruiting trip to a school with competitive academics and an up-and-coming women’s bball program. They also have a top men’s bball program, and the men’s coach (a bball luminary) meets w/ women’s bball recruits as part of the recruiting process...
He decides to use academics as the hook, explaining to me (a 16-year-old girl) that I needed to prioritize academics (and attend their top-20 school), because there would never be professional opportunities for women in my sport.
Read 9 tweets
6 Mar
The “defense” of girls sports against trans folks by the same people who 20 years ago were bashing Title IX because it was “taking opportunities away” from mediocre boys is transparently insincere. These folks don’t care about girls sports —only about scoring political points.
As a former athlete, I am 100% supportive of including trans girls in girls sports.
Story. I’m old and rickety now, but when I was a kid, I was an athlete. A pretty darn good one. And my dad was my biggest fan. He would drive me to bball practices halfway across the state of TN and yell “burn, Katie, burn” as I sprinted down the soccer field.
Read 10 tweets
27 Feb
Just read two long articles about successful disinformation campaigns against James Le Mesurier and the White Helmets (international, context: Syria) and @MichaelDTubbs (hyper local, Stockton, CA). Super depressing. I think I’m going to close my eyes and go back to bed.
@MichaelDTubbs Alright, I’m up and back to fighting against this BS. Our @2020Partnership report on Mis/Disinformation in the 2020 election is due out this coming week… and we’ve got some work to do putting the finishing touches on that.
@MichaelDTubbs @2020Partnership BBC article on James Le Mesurier and the White Helmets: bbc.com/news/stories-5…
Read 4 tweets
7 Feb
Gateway Pundit played a key role in the “election fraud” disinfo campaign — repeatedly taking real world events (eg mail issues, discarded ballots, voting anomalies), falsely framing them as DEM voter fraud, & spreading those frames widely thru a multi platform media strategy.
GWP was among the most influential Twitter accounts in spreading false narratives about election fraud. It spread more distinct narratives/incidents of election disinfo than any other account. The GWP website was among the most linked to in tweets pushing those false narratives.
Another interesting thing about GWP: they were often influential in the early moments of an emergent narrative... sometimes bringing in a completely new story, other times helping to set the frame for an existing piece of “evidence” to fit it within the voter fraud narrative.
Read 4 tweets
6 Feb
Around the time that Twitter suspended @realDonaldTrump, they also suspended ~100,000 or so other accounts. We (@uwcip PhD student Andrew Beers) overlaid those suspensions onto a network graph of “influencers” in voting/election Twitter discourse (black sections of this graph).
@realDonaldTrump @uwcip On the political “right”, there is a section of highly active, pro-Trump accounts that have high #s of both friends + followers (probably from Trump train / follow back activity in the past). In our graph (and others) Qanon accounts are embedded into that larger MAGA network.
@realDonaldTrump @uwcip Twitter suspensions took out a massive section of those influential MAGA/QAnon accounts. Now, these weren’t rank-and-file accounts (in our graph), they were influencers (highly RTed by others). This graph doesn’t provide insight into accounts that weren't as visible/influential.
Read 8 tweets

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