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Russia is biggest culprit of spreading fake news, says survey of UK social media users

Poll by humanitarian charity the Syria Campaign sheds light on Britons’ susceptibility to online misinformation




Powered by article titled “Russia is biggest culprit of spreading fake news, says survey of UK social media users” was written by Ben Quinn, for The Observer on Sunday 31st December 2017 00.05 UTC

More than half of British users of social media surveyed in a new poll have admitted that they fail to check the original source of online material before sharing or “liking” it.

The survey, which sheds light on people’s susceptibility to manipulation by purveyors of “fake news”, also finds that three in four Britons believe tech companies, such as Twitter and Facebook, and MPs, are not doing enough to counter the organised online spread of falsehoods by state actors such as Russia.

The research by Survation was commissioned by the Syria Campaign – an advocacy group – to accompany a report setting out how Russia is fuelling a disinformation campaign to cover up atrocities in Syria.

The chair of a House of Commons inquiry last week warned Facebook and Twitter could face sanctions if they continue to stonewall parliament over Russian interference in the EU referendum. Damian Collins, chair of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport select committee, which is looking into so-called fake news, has given the companies until 18 January to correct their failure to hand over data he requested about Russian misinformation campaigns on their platforms.

The poll of more than 2,000 UK adults found Russia was the country most likely to be regarded as a culprit when it came to online campaigns. Almost two thirds (64%) believe it is true that certain governments employ people to mislead the public online, sometimes through fake profiles on social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Of those people, 59% believed Russia was employing people to engage in such activities, followed by 41% who believed that the US government was doing so. The figure was 32% for China and 27% for the UK government.

The Syria Campaign’s report, Killing the Truth: How Russia is fuelling a disinformation campaign to cover up war crimes in Syria, includes additional data on Russia’s multi-pronged propaganda campaign focusing on Syria’s humanitarian workers. It found that co-ordinated groups of “bots” and trolls linked to Russia have reached an estimated 56 million people with tweets attacking the volunteer rescue workers, known as White Helmets, during 10 key moments of 2016 and 2017.

  • This article was amended on 3January 2018 to correctly describe the Syrian Campaign as an advocacy group. It was originally labelled a charity. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has died



Buckingham Palace has announced that The Duke of Edinburgh has died.

Philip Mountbatten, the rakish naval officer who captured the heart of a young Elizabeth Windsor and became the lifelong consort to the British queen, has died aged 99.

The death ends the longest marriage of a reigning monarch in British history, an enduring alliance that outlasted the Cold War, war and peace in Northern Ireland and the painful divorces of three of their four children.

Reacting to the death, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said;

“Prince Philip earned the affection of generations here in the UK, across the Commonwealth & around the world.

He was the longest serving consort in history & one of the last surviving people in this country to have served in WW2.”

Prince Philip never held the official title of Prince Consort, but he was Queen Elizabeth II’s closest confidant, most reliable political advisor and the undisputed master of the royal household for more than six decades.

Philip was known equally as a curmudgeon and a charmer who could quickly put nervous guests at ease with an easy one­liner.

The Queen, on the event of their golden wedding anniversary in 1997, said of her husband: “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years.”

The Duke is survived by his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, and his children Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.

While Elizabeth presided over affairs of state, Philip championed dozens of charities, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which has promoted self­reliance, physical development and other personal accomplishment for more than 6 million youths all over the world.

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Breaking News

Biden Expected To Repeal Military Trans Ban Tomorrow




The Biden administration is expected to repeal the ban on transgender Americans from serving in the military, multiple people informed of the decision told CBS News. The announcement is expected as soon as Monday, one senior Defense official and four outside advocates of repealing the ban told CBS News.

The senior Defense official told CBS News the repeal will be through executive order signed by President Joe Biden. The announcement is expected to take place at a ceremony with newly-confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who will order the Pentagon to go back to the policy enacted in 2016 by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter that allowed transgender Americans to serve openly.

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The new order will direct the branches of the military to outline an implementation plan. 

The ban was announced by former President Trump via a tweet in July 2017. The ban took effect in April 2019 and barred transgender Americans from enlisting in the military.

In 2014, it was estimated there were around 15,500 transgender military members serving, according to a study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

Biden frequently repeated on the campaign trail his promise to repeal the ban.

Austin said at his Senate confirmation hearing last week that he planned to repeal the ban.

“I support the president’s plan or plan to overturn the ban,” Austin said on Tuesday when asked by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, “I truly believe, Senator, that as I said in my opening statement, that if you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve. And, you can expect that I will support that throughout.”

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Trump Pardons Steve Bannon In One of His Final Acts As 45th President




(CNN)— President Donald Trump has decided to pardon his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, in a last-minute decision made only hours before he is scheduled to depart the White House for a final time.

Officials cautioned CNN that Trump’s decision was not final until he signed the paperwork. Trump told people that after much deliberation, he had decided to pardon Bannon as one of his final acts in office.

Bannon’s pardon would follow a frantic scramble during the President’s final hours in office as attorneys and top aides debated his inclusion on Trump’s outgoing clemency list. Despite their falling out in recent years, Trump was eager to pardon his former aide after recently reconnecting with him as he helped fan Trump’s conspiracy theories about the election.

It was a far cry from when Trump exiled Bannon from his inner circle after he was quoted in a book trashing the President’s children, claiming that Donald Trump Jr. had been “treasonous” by meeting with a Russian attorney and labeling Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.” Those statements from Bannon drove Trump to issue a lengthy statement saying he had “lost his mind.”

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Trump said at the time.Things shifted in recent months as Bannon attempted to breach Trump’s inner circle once again by offering advice before the election and pushing his false theories after Trump had lost.

Since Trump’s election defeat, the President has leaned further into his expansive pardon powers — granting pardons to his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, longtime ally Roger Stone and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, among others.

Among Trump’s pardons earlier in his term were those for former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza and financier Michael Milken.

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