Kinzen's Weekly Wrap - December 17, 2021

We’ve made it to the last Weekly Wrap of the year and we’re looking ahead to 2022. Kinzen’s CEO Mark Little has pulled together insights from our research to draw out the likely flashpoints for disinformation and toxicity online in the coming year.  

From elections to conspiracy theory groups, geopolitical tensions to regulation, this is a very useful and detailed breakdown. He begins with some inspiration from recent Nobel Prize winner Maria Ressa. Check it out here.

For Your Headphones This Weekend

One of the voices worth listening to about the possible regulation of social platforms in the US is Jameel Jaffer. He’s the executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, which is famous for a lawsuit to prove that Donald Trump’s Twitter account was a public forum, and therefore the president (at the time) couldn’t block users he didn’t like. (Read more about that here.) In this week’s podcast on The Verge's Decoder with Nilay Patel, Jaffer talks about the challenge of regulating platforms in the US because of the First Amendment. Check it out here.

You’ll regularly find us including content about Wikipedia in this newsletter, since it’s one of the most fascinating experiments in human knowledge gathering ever. In a recent episode of Reimagining the Internet, Heather Ford provides insights to “the power struggles and community governance" happening on the frontlines at Wikipedia. Ford is an associate professor at the School of Communication at the University of Technology, Sydney and a keen researcher on Wikipedia. Check it out here.  

Recommended Articles: From the Kinzen Slack channels this week

Bloomberg. Misinformation Has Already Made Its Way to the Metaverse

This report kicks off with an anecdote from the metaverse where a bot, when asked about vaccines, starts spreading health misinformation. The challenge for content moderation in virtual reality has been a theme this week. A report from CNET documented struggles to combat harassment in the metaverse, and an MIT Technology Review article’s headline was "The metaverse has a groping problem already".

AP. How a Kennedy built an anti-vaccine juggernaut amid COVID-19

A lengthy profile of Robert F. Kennedy Jnr. and his organisation Children’s Health Defense, which has seen engagement skyrocket during the pandemic. The AP found that, “Filings with charity regulators show revenue more than doubled in 2020, to $6.8 million.”

The Washington Post. A QAnon con: How the viral Wayfair sex trafficking lie hurt real kids

This is a powerful look at the real world impact of the online QAnon conspiracy theories around Wayfair. If you don’t know about this story, or if you need to be convinced of the offline harms caused by online mobs, check it out.

Prospect Magazine. How to fix the internet

Ethan Zuckerman asks, what do we do with the broken systems of the current internet? He argues against large platforms or governments leading this change. In a declaration to individuals who want to see change and, more broadly, to civic society, he says, "Real technological change comes not just from fixing broken systems but imagining utterly different ones."

The New York Times. Now in Your Inbox: Political Misinformation

It doesn’t get anywhere near the same level of coverage as social platforms, but email is a tool in the spread of misinformation. This case study looks at US politics, but the same trend can be found in other parts of the world and around different topics. 

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