Fake News: Google and the Cost of ‘Data Voids’ During a Pandemic

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Was a Nazi slogan brandished at a Reopen Illinois rally? The answer depends on what you search, and when you search for it.

ACROSS THE NATION, protesters have taken to the street, demanding that governors “reopen” state economies. From North Carolina to Maryland, Pennsylvania to Illinois, Americans want the opportunity to work, and some feel that state restrictions have encroached on their civil liberties.

While the basic right to work is not something that would usually seem polarizing, many epidemiologists, infectious disease experts, and politicians argue that opening the economy too early is a public-health risk. As rallies spread from state to state, they have come to embody the deep political rifts seemingly entrenched in American society. Amidst the crowds fly “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, and many who refuse to wear masks proudly wear MAGA hats.

Shelterinplace protest in Chicago Illinois

The Southern Poverty Law Center has warned that the rallies are providing a platform for extremist groups, while others note the important role that whiteness plays in driving these protests altogether. Given the propensity for these groups to conflate economic concerns with white supremacist slogans, gatherings have looked eerily similar to the crowds that formed in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

On May 1, these concerns coalesced around a picture taken by a nurse at the “Re-Open Illinois” protest. While attending the rally, the person posted a picture of a woman holding a sign with the German phrase “Arbeit macht frei.” While it literally translates to “Work sets you free” in English, the phrase also holds symbolic significance. It was a slogan of the Nazi party and appeared on the entrance of Auschwitz and other concentration camps.WIRED OPINIONABOUT

Francesca Tripodi is an assistant professor at James Madison University. Her book exploring how ideological biases are coded into key words is currently under contract with Yale University Press.

As of May 4 this post has been retweeted over 16,000 times and liked by more than 52,000 users. It sparked #IllinoisNazi to start trending on Twitter on May 2. In the feed, many began to question if the photo was “real.” Given my previous research on how users seek out truth and validate news, I went into a Google incognito window and typed the phrase “arbeit macht frei protest sign illinois.” In the wake of the new story unfolding, information about the situation was limited. The newsworthiness of the phrase existed in what researchers refer to as a “data void”—search terms for which the available relevant data is limited or problematic. At that moment (May 2, a little before noon ET), only a few stories surfaced. One was from The Guardian condemning the use of the slogan at the rally. Another from Mediaite featured a headline accusing the Associated Press of misidentifying the sign and publishing misinformation. Even more confusing is that a few hits down was the AP link to a fact-check article with the headline “Protestor not waving sign with Nazi slogan.”

Google and the Cost of 'Data Voids' During a Pandemic
TWITTER VIA FRANCESCA TRIPODI

I was immediately confused. Was this post a “fake”? Had it been Photoshopped in an effort to frame libertarians as Nazis? I clicked on the AP link, which seemed to claim that the photo of a sign reading “Arbeit macht frei” was edited. It wasn’t until I read the article in full that I realized the depth of the confusion. The AP was fact-checking an entirely different protest. It wasn’t misidentifying a fake photo as Mediaite claimed, it was fact-checking a claim from Re-Open Pittsburgh not Re-Open Illinois. Adding to the confusion was that the AP story was published on the same day as the Re-Open Illinois protest (May 1). Herein lies the power of data voids and why the temporal structure of news is so critical when understanding the flow of misinformation online.

Linking to the Mediaite article, people began dismissing the Illinois sign as “fake.” While some come back on the thread to correct their mistake, the claim is already out there. Those wanting to think the sign wasn’t real now have the power of a news story to back their claim. As you can see on Twitter, people are also using the AP story to dismiss the sign as fake. Users out their “doing their own research” are clearly not reading past the headline when it comes to verifying their own biases.

Google and the Cost of 'Data Voids' During a Pandemic
GOOGLE VIA FRANCESCA TRIPODI

Since the original tweet, the void has been filled. Search for information about the sign and a number of news stories from Buzzfeed, The Hill, Business Insider, NBC, and Forbes corroborate the claims by the nurse in Illinois. He witnessed the rally, took the photo on his phone, and has verified the sign was real. The Auschwitz Museum has also used Twitter to condemn the hateful language used on the Illinois sign.

Google and the Cost of 'Data Voids' During a Pandemic
GOOGLE VIA FRANCESCA TRIPODI

But in many ways, the damage is already done. As #IllionisNazi began to trend, people who believed what they saw and those who didn’t seek to find more information. Based on Google’s immediate returns, it allowed for some to walk away thinking that hate speech and antisemitism in the United States isn’t “real.” It also sowed the seeds of distrust in the AP to serve as a neutral fact-checker, largely because many failed to check what the AP was actually fact-checking. This will be the most lasting effect of this event. The immediate misreporting on the event, and the irresponsible headlines that followed, only served to erode trust in yet another institution, putting us even further behind when it comes to combating the uphill battle of misinformation online. Source: WiredNews

The World Is In Big Trouble, for Those That Believe We Will Go Back to Some Sense of Normal Life Here on Earth, You Will Be Sadly Disappointed, Seven and Half Years of Hell on Earth Which Began January 1, 2020

“Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed” (Isa. 59:14, NLT)…We Turned Our Backs On GOD, Now We Have Been Left To Our Own Devices, Enjoy…

While Mainstream Media Continues to Push a False Narrative, Big Tech Has Keep the Truth From Coming out by Shadow Banning Conservatives, Christians, and Like-Minded People, Those Death Attributed to the Coronavirus Is a Result of Those Mentioned, They Truly Are Evil…

Source: HNewsWire

StevieRay Hansen
Editor, HNewsWire.com
Watchmen does not confuse truth with consensus The Watchmen does not confuse God’s word with the word of those in power…

In police-state fashion, Big Tech took the list of accused (including this site), declared all those named guilty and promptly shadow-banned, de-platformed or de-monetized us all without coming clean about how they engineered the crushing of dissent, Now more than ever big Tech has exposed there hand engaging in devious underhanded tactics to make the sinister look saintly, one of Satan’s greatest weapons happens to be deceit…

The accumulating death toll from Covid-19 can be seen minute-by-minute on cable news channels. But there’s another death toll few seem to care much about: the number of poverty-related deaths being set in motion by deliberately plunging millions of Americans into poverty and despair.

American health care, as we call it today, and for all its high-tech miracles, has evolved into one of the most atrocious rackets the world has ever seen. By racket, I mean an enterprise organized explicitly to make money dishonestly.

All the official reassurances won’t be worth a bucket of warm spit. The Globals are behind the CoronaVirus, It Is a Man-Made Bioweapon.

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The 127 Faith Foundation understands the pain and sorrow associated with being a throwaway child, We push this throwaway child towards bettering their education, be it junior-college are going for a Masters’s degree. This program is about them because they determine by the grace of God if they’re going to be a pillar in the community or a burden on society. Some of the strongholds orphans deal with are: fear, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, apathy, unbelief, depression, anxiety, lust, anger, pride, and greed. Many of these strongholds do open the door to addiction. Please Help The 127.ore

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The number of Orphans aging out of Child Protective Custody has grown at an alarming rate. The 127 Faith Foundation receives many requests each week to house them at our ranch. Our prayer is that the good people of our country will step up to the challenge and offer financial support for "the least among us." We need your help! StevieRay Hansen, Founder, The 127 Faith Foundation

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1 Comment

  1. Patrick Galasso on May 7, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    New York Governor Cuomo and California Governor Gavin Newsom seem to out-perform the rest of the crisis actors with their daily reality TV shows. Both reading polished scripts from teleprompters go on and on about how they’re here to help, while telling us we’re “non-essential” and should stay home. Newsom’s body language and sheepish grin is perhaps most annoying to me. Other governors around the country sometimes try to compete for the best show in town, but usually come up short. What they do all pretty consistently do is parrot the talking points and phrases written by the Whitehouse Coronavirus Task Force, the CDC, and WHO. It’s sickening to me to watch that endless stream of propaganda.

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