VACCINE MISINFORMATION SPREADS ON TIKTOK
Video-sharing platform TikTok has been found to spread vaccine misinformation and anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, a report has found.
The report, which was produced by new credibility rating service NewsGuard and shared with the World Health Organisation, found videos with millions of views suggesting people would turn into zombies after taking a coronavirus vaccine.
Other popular videos involved testimony of people losing the ability to use their hands after taking a vaccine, and reports of “vaccine shedding” among people who had received a vaccine.
It also found that searching for “vacc” using the app’s search bar produced suggested searches such as “vaccine side effects” and “vaccine conspiracy”. Searching for “covid” gave the suggested search results “covid vaccine gone wrong” and “covid magnet on arm.”
A study of the social media activity of nine participants aged 9-17 was produced as part of the research, where videos watched by each participant during a 45-minute session on the platform were recorded and analysed.
“TikTok feeds false and dangerous information about COVID-19 to children as young as nine years old, quickly after they sign up for the platform, with little or no warnings,” reporters from NewsGuard said.
“The barrage of toxic content — including videos asserting that the vaccines are deadly and that COVID-19 is a genocide conspiracy — came even though some of the children did not follow a single account or search for specific kinds of information.”
In response to the report, a TikTok spokesperson said, “the safety and well-being of our community is our priority, and we work diligently to take action on content and accounts that spread misinformation while also promoting authoritative content about COVID-19 and educating users about media literacy.”
FRAUD EXCEEDS £750 MILLION IN FIRST HALF OF 2021
£753.9 million has been stolen by fraudsters in the UK in the first half of 2021, according to a report by UK Finance, the banking and finance trade association.
The level of fraud represents an increase of 30% compared to the same period in 2020, though it could have been higher: bank security systems prevented some £736 million from being stolen in H1 2021, according to the report.
Fraudulent advertising on search engines and social media are thought to be among the reasons for the increased fraudulent activity, as criminals impersonated private banks and investment managers to persuade social media users to part with their money online.
There was also a rise in “purchase scams” — where goods ordered online are never delivered — thought to have been fuelled by increased working from home and online activity during the pandemic.
“What all these scams have in common is that criminals are using online platforms, including fraudulent advertising through search engines and social media, and fake websites,” said Kate Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance.
“The level of fraud in the UK is such that it is now a national security threat. The banking sector cannot solve this on its own.”
HATE SPREAD VIA VIDEO GAME CHAT FORUMS
Extremist gamers are using video game chatrooms to spread hate including homophobia, antisemitism and racism, research by BBC Click has found.
The hateful messages can often initiate a path towards radicalisation, according to campaign group Hope Not Hate. “That’s when you start to go to other meetings, to smaller groups that aren’t necessarily playing games, talking about politics more explicitly,” Hope Not Hate campaigner, Joe Mulhall told the BBC.
In addition to the chatrooms, BBC researchers also found users creating model Nazi and Uigher concentration camps on platforms like Roblox and Minecraft, as well as a “become a racist” game in which a user is invited to run over someone from an ethnic minority in a car simulation.
In response to the research a Minecraft spokesperson said, “Terrorist or violent extremist content is strictly forbidden by our community standards and we take action to remove such content if it appears on our systems.”
VIRGIN MEDIA CUSTOMERS CONTACTED OVER ILLEGAL DOWNLOADS
US company Voltage Holdings has been given permission from the High Court to contact UK residents over alleged piracy.
The company plans to contact users suspected of downloading and watching copyrighted material without permission. People will be asked to pay a settlement fee or face court proceedings if they refuse to pay.
Virgin Media have confirmed they handed over customer information to Voltage as part of the court order. “Any customer who receives a letter should note that the Court has not yet made any findings of copyright infringement against them,” a spokesperson from Virgin Media told TorrentFreak. “This would be a matter to be determined by the Court in any subsequent claim.”
According to TorrentFreak, other major internet services providers are also expected to hand over customer information as a consequence of the High Court Decision.
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