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Feb 26, 2019

techpolicypodcast_washingtech_renee diresta

Renée DiResta: How to Fight the Imminent Disinformation Blitzkrieg (Ep. 175)

Renée DiResta joined Joe Miller to discuss the ongoing threat of state-sponsored misinformation campaigns on social media designed to destabilize the U.S. government.

Bio

Renée DiResta (@noUpside) is the Director of Research at New Knowledge and a Mozilla Fellow in Media, Misinformation, and Trust. She investigates the spread of malign narratives across social networks, and assists policymakers in understanding and responding to the problem. She has advised Congress, the State Department, and other academic, civic, and business organizations, and has studied disinformation and computational propaganda in the context of pseudoscience conspiracies, terrorism, and state-sponsored information warfare.

Renée regularly writes and speaks about the role that tech platforms and curatorial algorithms play in the proliferation of disinformation and conspiracy theories. She is an Ideas contributor at Wired. Her tech industry writing, analysis, talks, and data visualizations have been featured or covered by numerous media outlets including the New York TimesWashington PostCNNCNBCBloombergFast CompanyPoliticoTechCrunchWiredSlateForbesBuzzfeedThe EconomistJournal of Commerce, and more. She is a 2019 Truman National Security Project security fellow and a Council on Foreign Relations term member.

Renée is the author of The Hardware Startup: Building your Product, Business, and Brand, published by O’Reilly Media.

Previously, Renée was part of the founding team and ran marketing and business development at Haven, the transportation management technology platform that’s transforming trade logistics for commodity, CPG, and food shippers. Before that, Renée was a Principal at seed-stage venture capital fund O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV), where she invested in early technology startups with a focus on hardware, manufacturing, and logistics companies. She spent seven years on Wall Street as an equity derivatives trader and market maker at Jane Street, a top quantitative proprietary trading firm in New York City.

Renée has degrees in Computer Science and Political Science from the Honors College at SUNY Stony Brook. She is a 2017 Presidential Leadership Scholar, a Staff Associate at the Columbia University Data Science Institute, a Harvard Berkman-Klein Center affiliate, and is a Founding Advisor to the Center for Humane Technology. She is passionate about STEM education and childhood immunization advocacy, and is one of the co-founders of parent advocacy organization Vaccinate California. For fun, she explores data sets and loves cooking and crafting. Renée and her husband, Justin Hileman, are the parents of two feisty little people.

Resources

RenéeDiResta.com

New Knowledge

What We Now Know About Russian Disinformation by Renée DiResta (N.Y. Times, 12/17/18)

The Digital Maginot Line by Renée DiResta (RibbonFarm, 11/28/18)

She Warned of ‘Peer-to-Peer Misinformation.’ Congress Listened. By Sheera Frenkel (N.Y. Times, 11/12/2017)

The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium by Martin Gurri

The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook by Niall Ferguson

News Roundup

Facebook

  • A new British Parliament report is calling for new regulations against Facebook. Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee concluded an 18-month investigation against the social media giant finding it routinely breaks privacy and competition laws. The Committee report is non-binding but it could pave the way for additional regulations.
  • Back here in the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission issued a complaint against Facebook saying the company reveals sensitive health data in groups. And the FTC is currently in the process of negotiation a multibillion dollar fine with the company.
  • Also, several groups including Common Sense filed an FTC complaint against Facebook for violating children’s privacy laws and pushing kids to make in-app purchases.
  • And the Verge posted an exposé yesterday on Facebook’s treatment of its contractors working for Cognizant. Apparently content screeners paid less than $29,000 a year are the first line of defense in preventing harmful content from being posted to the site. The reviewers are routinely exposed to death, sexual abuse, and other types of content that exacts an extreme mental health toll on these workers. Facebook claims its working to alleviate some of these working conditions.

Google

  • YouTube is facing an advertiser boycott after a YouTuber published a report detailing how comments and recommendations on normal products, like bikinis, ultimately nudge users to access inappropriate videos of children. The video aren’t necessarily pornographic per se, but users post comments within the videos that included time stamps that show children in compromising poses and positions. Nestle, Disney and Fortnight are among several advertisers that have pulled or restricted ads from YouTube because their ads appeared alongside the inappropriate content. YouTube reiterated its zero-tolerance policy for such content and deleted millions of the comments in question that directed viewers to the material in question.
  • In other YouTube news, the platform announced that going forward it will prevent anti-vaxxer channels from hosting ads. YouTube cited its policy against dangerous and harmful content.
  • And YouTube’s parent company Alphabet’s Google unit announced that it will end its policy of forced arbitration regarding worker disputes.

Microsoft defends military contract

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella defended a $479 million military contract with the US Army to supply the company’s augmented reality systems called HoloLens. More than 100 Microsoft employees signed a letter protesting the contract and asking Microsoft to back out.  But Nadella said the company won’t withhold technology from what he deems to be “democratic governments” such as the United States.

Bipartisan group of Senators ask DoE and Homeland to block Huawei

A Bipartisan group of Senators wrote a letter to the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security yesterday urging them to block Huawei technology from accessing U.S. electrical systems and infrastructure. Several weeks ago, Congress blocked Huawei from accessing the nation’s telecommunication’s infrastructure as security officials believe the China-based company is working on behalf of the Chinese government to spy on the U.S.

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