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The notion that powerful forces control the world in part with the careful deployment of body doubles is a long-standing conspiracy theory. As a medical team worked on him, anti-vaccine activists flooded social media sites with unfounded claims that a vaccine was somehow to blame. Hamlin’s injury came during a surge in anti-vaccine misinformation that attributes any recent death, without evidence, to vaccines. Much of the misinformation came from a handful of serial misinformers, including longtime anti-vaccine activists, conspiracy theorists and podcasters. While still recovering, Hamlin has tweeted a photo of himself in front of a mural painted in his honor., seemingly winking at the conspiracy theory.
When Dr. Natalia Solenkova woke up Monday morning, she was greeted with a flood of Twitter notifications on her phone. It was what misinformation researchers call a “cheap fake,” a term for a piece of fake media such as an image or video that takes little effort to produce. Someone had clumsily altered one of Solenkova’s posts to portray a blind, even deadly, zealotry for Covid vaccines and a vilification of anti-vaccine activists. “And then disinformation became rampant.”Despite the overwhelming success of the covid vaccines — which have prevented millions of severe infections and deaths — an aggressive and politicized anti-vaccine community has persevered. There were obvious tells that the tweet attributed to Solenkova was a fake, likely fabricated with what’s known as a tweet generator.
The Pennsylvania man charged in the killing of four University of Idaho students was a doctoral student at nearby Washington State University studying in the criminal justice and criminology department. Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was booked into custody on an arrest warrant out of Moscow, Idaho, charging him with first-degree murder, court records show. He was listed as a Ph.D. student in the department of criminal justice and criminology at Washington State University (WSU), which is 10 miles west and just across the state line from the University of Idaho. Kohberger graduated from nearby DeSales University in 2020 with a degree in psychology and earned a master of arts in criminal justice from DeSales in the spring, DeSales University said in a statement Friday. At the time, the person identified himself a "student investigator" at DeSales University and was using a school-issued email address.
Meanwhile, Twitter’s resources to fight child sexual exploitation content online (and what is sometimes called child pornography or child sexual abuse materials) are thin, following layoffs, mass-firings and resignations from the company. Child sexual exploitation content has remained a problem for Twitter, though most major social media platforms continue to deal with it in some form or another. Moderation of this content usually relies on a combination of automated detection systems and specialized internal teams and external contractors to identify child abuse content and remove it. “So, I mean, that is disheartening.”It’s unclear how many Twitter employees remain to work on child safety issues. A search on LinkedIn for current Twitter employees who say they work on child safety turned up only a few accounts.
A “general amnesty” has restored hundreds of accounts of right-wing activists and QAnon adherents, according to data reviewed by NBC News. The reinstatement of far-right accounts has coincided with a series of bans of left-wing accounts, leaving users unsure of how the company is now applying its rules. It’s a dangerous combination.”The reinstatements and bans come as researchers continue to monitor an uptick in hate speech, and high-profile users leave the platform. Among the spammers, copyright rule-breakers, adult-content creators and high-profile accounts, Twitter has reopened the door to a growing and emboldened community of trolls, white nationalists, conspiracy theorists and extreme right-wing activists. Those reinstatements also come after Twitter dramatically reduced its staff, including those dedicated to dealing with abuse and hate speech.
While Maricopa County election officials initially categorized the problem as a "hiccup," it took hours before a solution was identified early Tuesday afternoon. An adjucation board reviews ballots at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center on Tuesday in Phoenix. John Moore / Getty ImagesIn 2020, Joe Biden won Maricopa County by about 6,000 of the more than 2 million votes cast there. When Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema won her seat in 2018, she did so with 50% of the statewide vote, including the 51% she took in Maricopa County. Maricopa County election officials responded that the tweet was inaccurate and "all voters are being served."
Musk has said the company won’t allow anyone back on Twitter who was previously banned for at least a few more weeks. One current and two former employees were also concerned about a planned product that would allow Twitter users to buy verification badges. “Twitter isn’t prepared for that scale,” said one Twitter employee who survived Friday’s layoffs and asked to remain nameless because they were not authorized to speak publicly about internal company projects. The Twitter employee said that, as of the layoffs, the plan was that “there’s not going to be any verification of ID” to acquire a verification badge. “Now they’ve taken the brakes off the car.”One laid-off Twitter employee told NBC News that “the only saving grace is that he changes his mind on things all the time.”“There were some incredibly talented people who didn’t deserve this,” said a current Twitter employee.
Elon Musk set the tone for his first full day as head of Twitter with a response to @catturd2. “I will be digging in more today,” Musk tweeted in response Friday morning. As of Friday morning, Trump’s account was still suspended, and trending topics included everything from the news of the day (Paul Pelosi) to culture (#FridayFeeling, Rihanna). “Elon” was one of the top trending topics of the morning, and many conservative influencers who had been critical of Twitter’s moderation were already celebrating what they saw as a tectonic shift. Those downloads, however, are still less than 5,000 per day, while Twitter often still sees hundreds of thousands of downloads per day, according to Adam Blacker, vice president of insights at Apptopia.
There is no evidence that any school has deployed litter boxes for students to use because they identify as cats. The rumor of litter boxes in schools appears to have begun among parents on social media, and one of the first schools to confront the falsehood was in Canada last fall. Catalina Lauf, a Republican congressional nominee in Illinois, tweeted this month that schoolchildren were using litter boxes in her state. Some say litter boxes are located in “transgender bathrooms” in schools. Meanwhile on TikTok, one video claiming “kids are now requesting litter boxes at school” collected 3 million views on the platform.
Utah County Attorney David O. Leavitt speaks on July 31, 2019, in Provo. The accusations were part of a new case from Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith. Discussion about satanism and satanic abuse has increased in recent years, according to data provided to NBC News by Zignal Labs, which analyzes social media conversations. Popular culture and social media have also ferried ideas about satanism and widespread child abuse from fringe to the mainstream. (Anti-LGBTQ politicians and activists have equated LGBTQ people with predators who abuse children as part of a “gay agenda,” the well-worn panic that the gay rights movement’s true motivation is recruitment.
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