The Tech Policy Greenhouse is an online symposium where experts tackle the most difficult policy challenges facing innovation and technology today. These are problems that don't have easy solutions, where every decision involves tradeoffs and unintended consequences, so we've gathered a wide variety of voices to help dissect existing policy proposals and better inform new ones.

Social Media Can Apply COVID-19 Policies To Reduce the Spread of Election Disinformation

from the do-more,-do-better dept

With less than eighty days until Election Day and a pandemic surging across the country, disinformation continues to spread across social media platforms, posing dangers to public health, voting rights, and our democracy. Time is short and social media platforms need to ramp up their efforts to combat election disinformation and online voter suppression — just as they have with COVID-19 disinformation.

Social media platforms have content moderation policies in place to counter both COVID-19 disinformation and election disinformation. However, platforms seem to be taking a more proactive approach to combating COVID-19 disinformation by building tools, spending significant resources, and most importantly, changing their content moderation policies to reflect the evolving nature of inaccurate information about the virus.

To be clear, COVID-19 disinformation is still rapidly spreading online. However, the platforms’ actions on the pandemic demonstrate they can develop specific policies to address and remove this harmful content. Platforms’ efforts to mitigate election disinformation, on the other hand, are falling short, due to the significant gaps that remain in their content moderation policies. Platforms should seriously examine how their COVID-19 disinformation policies can apply to reducing the spread of election disinformation and online voter suppression

Disinformation on social media can spread in a variety of ways including (1) the lack of prioritizing authoritative sources of information and third-party fact-checking; (2) algorithmic amplification and targeting; and (3) platform self-monetization. Social media platforms have revised their content moderation policies on COVID-19 to address many of the ways disinformation can spread about the pandemic.

For example, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all direct their users to authoritative sources of COVID-19 information. In addition, Facebook works with fact-checking organizations to review and rate pandemic-related content; YouTube utilizes fact-checking information panels; and Twitter is beginning to add fact-checked warning labels. Twitter has also taken the further step of expanding its definition on what it considers harmful content in order to capture and remove more inaccurate content related to the pandemic. To reduce the harms of algorithmic amplification, Facebook uses automated tools to downrank COVID-19 disinformation. Additionally, Facebook places restrictions on its advertisement policy to prevent the sale of fraudulent medical equipment and the platform prohibits ads that use exploitative tactics to create a panic over the pandemic as two methods for stopping the monetization of pandemic-related disinformation.

These content moderation policies have resulted in social media platforms taking down significant amounts of COVID-19 disinformation including recent posts from President Trump. Again, disinformation about the pandemic persists on social media. But these actions show the willingness of platforms to take action and reduce the spread of this content.

In comparison, social media platforms have not been as proactive in enforcing or developing new policies to respond to the spread of election disinformation. Platforms’ civic integrity policies are primarily limited to prohibiting inaccurate information about the processes of voting (e.g., misrepresentations about the dates and times people can vote). But even these limited policies are not being consistently enforced.

For example, Twitter placed a warning label on one of Trump’s inaccurate tweets about mail-in-voting procedures but have taken no action on other similar tweets from the president. Further, social media platforms current policies may not be broad enough to take into account emerging voter suppression narratives about voter fraud and election rigging. Indeed, Trump has pushed inaccurate content about mail-in-voting across social media platforms, falsely claiming it will lead to voter fraud and election rigging. With many states expanding their mail-in-voting procedures due to the pandemic, Trump’s continued inaccurate attacks on this method of voting threaten to confuse and discourage eligible voters from casting their ballot.

Platform content moderation policies also contain significant holes that bad actors continue to exploit to proliferate online voter suppression. For example, Facebook refuses to fact-check political ads even if they contain demonstrably false information that discourage people from voting. President Trump’s campaign has taken advantage of this by flooding the platform with hundreds of ads that spread disproven claims about voter fraud. Political ads with election disinformation can be algorithmically amplified or micro-targeted to specific communities to suppress their vote.

Social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter have recently announced new policies they will be rolling out to fight online voter suppression. As outlined above, there are some lessons platforms can learn from their efforts in combatting COVID-19 disinformation.

First, social media platforms should prioritize directing their users to authoritative sources of information when it comes to the election. Authoritative sources of information include state and local election officials. Second, platforms must consistently enforce and expand their content moderation policies as appropriate to remove election disinformation. Like their COVID-19 disinformation policies, platforms should build better tools and expand definitions of harmful content when it comes to online voter suppression. Finally, platforms must address the structural problems that allow bad actors to engage in online voter suppression tactics including algorithmic amplification and targeted advertisements.

COVID-19 – as dangerous and terrifying an experience as it has been – has at least proven that when platforms want to step up their efforts to stop the spread of disinformation, they can. If we want authentic civic engagement and a healthy democracy that enables everyone’s voices to be heard, then we need digital platforms to ramp up their fight against online voter suppression, too. Our voices – and the voices of those in marginalized communities -- depend on it.

Just as combating COVID-19 disinformation is important to our public health, reducing the spread of election disinformation is critical to authentic civic engagement and a healthy democracy. As part of our efforts to stop the spread of online voter suppression, Common Cause will continue to monitor social media platforms for election disinformation and encourages readers to report any inaccurate content to our tip line. At the end of the day, platforms themselves must step up their fight against new online voter suppression efforts.

Yosef Getachew serves as the Media & Democracy Program Director for Common Cause. Prior to joining Common Cause, Yosef served as a Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge where he’s worked on a variety of technology and communications issues. His work has focused on broadband privacy, broadband access and affordability, and other consumer issues.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: content moderation, covid-19, disinformation, election disinformation


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 12:23pm

    The issue I see here is that even though the Federal government has attempted to politicize COVID-19 and for much of the past five months took public communication and data tracking out of the hands of the CDC who is an expert in handling it, COVID-19 primary sources of authority have a vested interest in putting out accurate information.

    How do you map that to elections, where the party in charge of disseminating the information and controlling the authoritative narrative is also the one with a vested interest in spreading online voter suppression?

    Because in this case, one party's authoritative sources becomes another party's untrustworthy sources.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 12:37pm

    When the CDC originally said that ordinary people didn't need to wear facemasks, were they an authoritative source? Should people that said everyone should rush out and buy a facemask have been censored?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      RD, 26 Aug 2020 @ 12:46pm

      Re:

      Just wait, they just reversed another mandated thing about testing, changing it back to "only if you show symptoms" (the norm for any other influenza/coronavirus since time immemorial) from the "if you were around anyone or even think you might have been exposed, get tested immediately and repeatedly!"

      The speed at which that narrative will flip from "you MUST listen to the experts!", (implying that you and bloggers are not experts for doubting the mandated courses of action), to "the CDC is wrong, here is what we must do!" (from those same bloggers who are now suddenly the experts they vilified YOU for trying to be when you disputed things) will give you whiplash, if not break your neck outright.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 1:24pm

        Re: Re:

        This goes back to my comment at the top.

        https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/08/cdc-loses-its-mind-says-people-exposed-to-covid-19-do-n ot-need-testing/ for interesting discussion, including indications that the CDC is no longer a trustable authoritative source (similar to how the Trump administration as a whole is not a trustable authoritative source for elections).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 3:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Unfortunately when you've got a president who believes that the government and it's agencies are there to serve him rather than the public and is willing to punish any 'disloyalty' displayed by anyone who steps out of line the trustworthiness and authority of those agencies comes into question, and it becomes necessary to scrutinize their actions through the lens of 'are they doing this because they think it's the best course of action, or because they've been told 'do it this way or else'?'

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 11:37pm

        Re: Re:

        If you were not a moron, you'd understand the underlying reasons why the CDC makes statements, and why people react to them different in context.

        Unfortunately, since you are such a person you can never understand the complexities of real life, and are probably out there ignorantly infecting people as we speak, thus making it more likely that you will lose the freedoms you pretend to fight for. Pity.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 11:35pm

      Re:

      "When the CDC originally said that ordinary people didn't need to wear facemasks, were they an authoritative source?"

      Yes, and if you weren't a contrarian idiot you'd understand why they made that statement at the time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    RD, 26 Aug 2020 @ 12:38pm

    My, how things have changed

    Funny, "Appeal to Authority" used to be held up on this site as a significant example of fallacious thinking, and a dangerous mindset.

    Now, it's unquestioning goose-stepping to only the tune of "the authorities" and don't anyone dare suggest otherwise. One singular source of all "truth" and no dissension allowed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 1:05pm

      Re: My, how things have changed

      There wasn't an appeal to authority argument made, so you're making a fallacious argument about logical fallacies.

      Of course the advice has changed, since 1) the CDC, like other agencies, has been co-opted by the political appointees in charge, and the experts silenced or fired, and 2) science works in the real world, where you find out more information as time goes on. Most of your references point to 1, where the "authority" (people in charge, and not actual experts) were morons like Trump.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 1:08pm

      Re: My, how things have changed

      Funny, "Appeal to Authority" used to be held up on this site as a significant example of fallacious thinking, and a dangerous mindset.

      What? First off, as CLEARLY STATED, the whole point of the Greenhouse series is to post various viewpoints, not all of which we agree with. So, yes, you will see some Greenhouse posts that the rest of us don't necessarily agree with.

      Now, it's unquestioning goose-stepping to only the tune of "the authorities" and don't anyone dare suggest otherwise. One singular source of all "truth" and no dissension allowed.

      No one has ever said this on this site. You are making shit up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 1:27pm

        Re: Re: My, how things have changed

        To be fair Mike, RD is on this site and has said it. Of course, the rest of us are perfectly free to disagree, and have obviously done so, in many different ways ;)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 11:56pm

          Re: Re: Re: My, how things have changed

          Man, I remember when RD was all over out_of_the_blue and John Smith and average_joe's idiocy. Now he's decided that being the hero was boring so he opted to be the villain? Damn, son...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            RD, 27 Aug 2020 @ 6:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things have changed

            Villain my a-hole, I am about getting to the truth. We are being systematically lied to at every turn, and everyone on this site is willingly marching in lock-step to the authoritarian beat. Anyone who questions and doubts the "official" narratives or conclusions is automatically . That's what big media does to keep everyone in line and on-narrative, it should have no place here. We should be seeing counter articles on the actual science underlying the covid issue that really dig in to the misrepresentation of conclusions we are being fed (such as the NIH's own actual studies that show mask effectiveness is near nil for preventing spread of influenza-like viruses, or the numerous documented cases of Hydroxychloroquine regimens having material and significant results in helping people recover). Instead posters are labelled cuckoo for not falling in line.

            This place used to be a bastion of independent thinking and values. Now it is just another echo-chamber for the mainstream media and government narratives that are being vastly abused as a control mechanism of the population and to gather more powers to itself (the gov). This site ought to know better and the intelligence quotient of (most) of it's posters should have put you at the vanguard of calling this crap out and demanding proper science and truthful actions from our "leaders" (ProTip: they are not our leaders, they are supposed to be our representatives)

            Instead all I see are people, just like at any other MSM site, blindly and willingly joining the crowd in labeling everyone so they can feel superior and be above criticism. It's like no one has ever learned (or forgotten) the maxim: Question EVERYTHING.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 6:49am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things have changed

              "We are being systematically lied to at every turn"

              Yes, and you side with the people most openly lying.

              "Now it is just another echo-chamber for the mainstream media"

              Want me to list the con men you're being brainwashed by? You have a umber of tells as to which fictions you're being fed.

              "Question EVERYTHING."

              We do. You've just been conditioned not to accept the real answers.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                RD, 27 Aug 2020 @ 7:15am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things have changed

                "Yes, and you side with the people most openly lying."

                I'm not siding with anyone, I have done my own research. When those on one side or the other state something, I would go look things up and see if there is any veracity to it or not. Many times, not. Easily half of all media "reporting" is either biased, lies, or massaged in such a way as to leave out important details (usually THE important detail) that makes it sound like one thing, when it really isn't that thing.

                "Want me to list the con men you're being brainwashed by? You have a umber of tells as to which fictions you're being fed."

                Do, tell, since I am not listening to ANYONE blindly. Did you not get that from my rant? Perhaps you should re-read. Brainwashing involves unquestioning acceptance of what is being presented and then defending it without any real knowledge of it. Sounds like someone else to me.

                "We do. You've just been conditioned not to accept the real answers."

                No I have conditioned myself not to just accept what the MSM or Big Gov (or some loudmouth know-it-all on a blog site) tries to sell me at face value. Not anymore. Real answers is the entire point.

                If its true, then it can be proven so. If that doesn't stand up, then it isn't accepted.

                I don't "Baaaa" and bow down to authoritarian "sources" like you do just because they have the loudest and biggest bullhorn.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 7:41am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things have changed

                  "I'm not siding with anyone"

                  Oh, but you are.

                  "I have done my own research"

                  Strange, then, how you not only parrot the same faulty arguments as many of the right-wing misinformation echo chamber, but you use the same words and phrases as they do to dismiss anyone trying to correct them.

                  "Do, tell, since I am not listening to ANYONE blindly. Did you not get that from my rant?"

                  No, the words and phrases you used in your rant confirmed that you are listening to certain groups of people, since people who don't buy into their brand of bullshit don't usually utilise those phrases. Nor do they get this angry about what should be a non-partisan medical issue that's affecting every country on the globe regardless of political leaning.

                  " No I have conditioned myself not to just accept what the MSM or Big Gov"

                  Again, people who aren't being brainwashed by a certain echo chamber don't tend to use those terms. In telling me you're thinking for yourself, you are ironicially confirming that you're not.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    RD, 27 Aug 2020 @ 8:16am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things have changed

                    I just told you I am not. Oh but that's right, lefitst liberals "know better" than what is in my own mind, and therefore are best qualified to determine what I mean than myself. I mean, you are obviously so superior and smarter than the rest of us idiots who don't just unconditionally lap up every glorious word that falls like mana from the righteous lips of the "enlightened" and everyone else who doesn't see it that way is just to be slandered as much as possible because they use certain terms and phrases that must only come from "misinformation" conditioning. It couldn't be that someone has a balanced view of all sides and just determines for themself what they do and don't agree with. Nope, there is only one way, and one way only, to see things, and anything that deviates even the slightest or co-opts opposing language, questions or disputes that way, MUST be the product of ignorance and partisanism. I would suggest you are just as guilty then of that which you accuse.

                    You also proceed from a false assumption, because of your blind superiority. I criticize Dems and liberal/progressive views a lot. I don't agree with the direction much of that side of things has been going in recent years. But taking exception to, and a stance against, something does NOT automatically imply full support of its opposite. Only a programmed ideologue, uninterested in any dissent or discussion, would make an assumptive leap like that, then try to argue the superior standpoint from it.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2020 @ 8:52am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things have changed

                      and everyone on this site is willingly marching in lock-step to the authoritarian beat.

                      Is proof that you are not keeping up the questioning attitude, but have swallowed some conclusion hook line and sinker, and are the person marching to an authoritarian beat.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • identicon
                        RD, 27 Aug 2020 @ 9:13am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things have chan

                        and everyone on this site is willingly marching in lock-step to the authoritarian beat.

                        "Is proof that you are not keeping up the questioning attitude, but have swallowed some conclusion hook line and sinker, and are the person marching to an authoritarian beat."

                        Just because you proclaim "it's not me, it's you!!" doesn't prove anything except that you are reacting like a 3rd grader.

                        My conclusions are my own. I arrived at them months before. I am not parroting them, they are catching up to ME. I had been researching and putting in the real work from the jump, starting back in January. My own brother called me in late Jan to inform me he was sick with this, and I dug in to all the info then available. I even ordered N95 masks the last week of Jan, and then after doing the research found the NIH's own studies that showed an N95 will do NOTHING to prevent virus spread as the outgoing valves are open and filter nothing. Yet we are told to this day that any mask works and is necessary (though just very recently some are starting to talk about the N95 valves). I already knew what kind of mask(s) would be most effective back in early Feb (hint: a bandanna will not work) because I did the WORK. Have you done any work to verify?

                        I have already found answers and did the research. Can you say the same? Can you show the same? Or are you the one who is doing the parroting of the "experts" in Gov without any sort of critical eye, and then slagging off and branding anyone who doesn't "conform" to the "right" view?

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2020 @ 10:08am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things have

                          Countries that went into lockdown, and are now insisting on social distancing and non valved mask use are doing a lot better that the US in controlling the spread of the virus. Interestingly mask prove more effective at stopping an infected person passing on the virus, that in stopping someone getting infected, so long as they are not of the valved type.

                          From the perspective of someone living in Scotland, expert advice has resulted in low and declining infection rates, while in the US, where expert advice is questioned and ignored by some people, infections and deaths are still climbing.

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                          • identicon
                            RD, 27 Aug 2020 @ 10:32am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things h

                            "while in the US, where expert advice is questioned and ignored by some people, infections and deaths are still climbing."

                            This is categorically wrong, and borders on misinformation. While it is true cases have risen a couple of months ago, they are not "still climbing," and have been declining for over a month, Nor are deaths, which in particular have been flat-to-declining with a brief bump up (but nowhere near the same spike as cases) in the same period as the case rise 2 months ago. Nothing has been rising, as a trendline, in the US since mid-July. Google "covid deaths" to see the charts that will show directly.

                            As to the masks, well like I pointed out, they have been pushing any "face covering" here (USA) as effective at stopping all virus spread. That's been the claim for almost 6 months now, but the science doesn't support that when it comes to things like homemade cloth masks and absurd things like slapping a bandanna around your face. The efficacy of even surgical masks is, according to the NIH's own studies, barely anything, 1-2% effective. And something else that gets zero discussion anywhere is that those masks are meant to be worn in a largely sterile environment of a hospital, not out on the streets and in offices, and add the fact that they are recommended to be replaced after an hour or two at most of use, not all day or multiple days of use out in the public/world. But no one is allowed to talk about that or ask a question like "hey, if these aren't really all that effective, how are we really safer using them?"

                            The point is we are being told things that, while there may be some limited use to them, are not scientifically backed and any questions or doubt are met with derision and scorn, as if no one can go research any of this for themselves and he only arbiters of truth are those that are deemed "Experts"

                            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                            • icon
                              PaulT (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 11:33am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how thin

                              "This is categorically wrong"

                              Only if you lie to yourselves. The US has around 4% of the population but 25% of COVID deaths, even though you had a better infrastructure to deal with it (until Trump fired them) and weeks of advance notice after it got to Europe.

                              You're a laughing stock, especially as you dig deeper into your cult mythos to explain your failure to the safe people laughing their asses off at you.

                              As for the rest of your claims, verifiable evidence please.

                              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                              • identicon
                                RD, 27 Aug 2020 @ 11:59am

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how

                                "This is categorically wrong"

                                Only if you lie to yourselves. The US has around 4% of the population but 25% of COVID deaths, even though you had a better infrastructure to deal with it (until Trump fired them) and weeks of advance notice after it got to Europe."

                                None of that disproves the rate over time, as was the point. That is, and has been for over a month now, declining. That is categorical fact and you can see it for yourself if you aren't too ideologically blinded to type in "covid deaths" in google and select "all" on the deaths and cases graphs. Otherwise, if you insist on remaining willfully blinded, don't come around criticizing others for pointing out the statistics.

                                "As for the rest of your claims, verifiable evidence please."

                                So now you want me to do your work for you? How about if you are so certain of the falseness of it, you provide counter evidence yourself?

                                Here is one to get you started that focuses on cloth masks:
                                https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4420971/

                                There are many more studies like this from 10-11 years ago during SARS and show limited efficacy of masks to prevent respiratory spread.

                                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                • identicon
                                  Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2020 @ 12:17pm

                                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My,

                                  That is a study of using mask to prevent people being infected, This report from the Mayo Clinic on the other hand is more up to date. On cloth masks it says:

                                  A cloth mask is intended to trap droplets that are released when the wearer talks, coughs or sneezes. Asking everyone to wear cloth masks can help reduce the spread of the virus by people who have COVID-19 but don't realize it.

                                  It goes on to recommend their use by people in public spaces and around other people/.

                                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                  • identicon
                                    RD, 27 Aug 2020 @ 12:26pm

                                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                    "That is a study of using mask to prevent people being infected, This report from the Mayo Clinic on the other hand is more up to date. On cloth masks it says:"

                                    Are you shitting me? I give you a STUDY and you come back with a lousy "report?" That is barely above opinion, and you are posing it as a counter? And all it says is "may help" well duh. Lots of things "could" help, doesn't make them scientifically sound. Come on man.

                                    I knew you would pull something like that, so here is ANOTHER actual study on cloth masks:

                                    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7108646/

                                    The basic conclusion is "Better than nothing, last resort" and even your Mayo article only says "can help" but is hardly deserving of MANDATORY status.

                                    But every store I go to says the Govt has MANDATED that a face covering be worn to STOP the spread, which clearly a cloth mask will have little chance at doing.

                                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                    • icon
                                      PaulT (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 12:43pm

                                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                      "The basic conclusion is "Better than nothing, last resort""

                                      Yes. Why is better than. nothing a bad thing, in a climate where Trump sold off all the decent supplies plus his pandemic team before this started?

                                      "But every store I go to says the Govt has MANDATED that a face covering be worn to STOP the spread,"

                                      Because you ignorant twats won't take more subtle arguments.

                                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                    • icon
                                      nasch (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 9:59pm

                                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                      One of your studies is about preventing health care workers from getting infected (that is, how well the mask protects the wearer, which is not the main goal today), and the other states "The findings of the study found that adherence to mask use significantly reduced (95% CI, 0.09-0.77; P = .015) the risk for infection associated with influenza-like illness". So where is this evidence that wearing masks doesn't help reduce the spread of respiratory diseases?

                                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                      • icon
                                        PaulT (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 11:58pm

                                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                        Indeed, the most recent link he's lying about says this:

                                        "Thus any mask, no matter how efficient at filtration or how good the seal, will have minimal effect if it is not used in conjunction with other preventative measures, such as isolation of infected cases, immunization, good respiratory etiquette, and regular hand hygiene. "

                                        In other words, it DOES help, but is not a magic solution on its own. Which is what anyone with any sense already knew. It also states this:

                                        "As a result, we would not recommend the use of homemade face masks as a method of reducing transmission of infection from aerosols."

                                        Note: NOT face masks you buy in a store, they're saying that people should be using those masks instead of just wrapping their face up with random objects.

                                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                        • icon
                                          nasch (profile), 28 Aug 2020 @ 7:45am

                                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                          Also, what that study meant by homemade face masks is people making them out of T-shirts. Even those are better than nothing, but the masks I see most people wearing appear to be significantly better made than that.

                                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                • icon
                                  PaulT (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 12:25pm

                                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My,

                                  "There are many more studies like this from 10-11 years ago"

                                  So... long before the disease that we're talking about existed?

                                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                  • identicon
                                    RD, 27 Aug 2020 @ 12:28pm

                                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                    It's a virus, not a disease. Do you even know what Covid is? It's a derivative of SARS-COV, which is a coronavirus, which is in the influenza family. So, yes, these studies are "long before" an almost identical (type, size) virii that has been extensively studied for years.

                                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                    • icon
                                      PaulT (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 12:40pm

                                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                      "Do you even know what Covid is"

                                      Yes, it has 2 names for specific reasons. Novel coronavirus because it had never been seen before it was discovered... and COVID-19 because it wasn't know about until 2019.

                                      "which is in the influenza family"

                                      Many things exist in the same family which do not require the same treatment. Ask your ignorant cult why that is.

                                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                      • identicon
                                        RD, 27 Aug 2020 @ 1:26pm

                                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                        No one was talking about treatment, the discussion was about transmissibility and in that regard it behaves in the same manner, being the same basic type and size, as other virii in the family. Hurling ad hom insults while you move the goalposts of the argument proves you aren't interested in debating the merits.

                                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                        • identicon
                                          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2020 @ 1:47pm

                                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                          Actually viruses spread inside aerosols, which are larger particles that the virus, and masks reduce the spread of aerosols, especially those coming from the wearer.

                                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                        • icon
                                          PaulT (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 11:45pm

                                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                          "the discussion was about transmissibility"

                                          ...which also has some different characteristics you're chosen to ignore. Funny, that.

                                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                        • icon
                                          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 28 Aug 2020 @ 4:39am

                                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                          "...and in that regard it behaves in the same manner, being the same basic type and size, as other virii in the family."

                                          You do realize, I hope, that "same basic type and size" means jack all when it comes to modes of infection vector, viable survival time in air, etc, etc?

                                          Varieties of the same "type" such as the various Herpes viruses have radically different modes of operation, infection and expression. Based on minor changes in the capsid and DNA payload.

                                          And that's why we trust medical experts with a degree in virology to know and advise exactly what we should do about it rather than a facebook post written by a Trump cultist.

                                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      PaulT (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 11:29am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things have changed

                      "lefitst liberals"

                      See what I mean? You're so fucking brainwashed you can't even spell your reactionary insults.

                      I will just note that through all your impotent whining you haven't bothered either suggesting a "real" information source or explain why people here are wrong other than your way too familiar cult programming. There's no way you'd lower your self to an actual discussion based on verifiable facts.

                      I think you for proving yet again that idiots are easily fooled into thinking they're better than experts, I just hope your particular sect isn't responsible for too many deaths while you make fools of yourselves.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • identicon
                        RD, 27 Aug 2020 @ 12:05pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things have chan

                        " There's no way you'd lower your self to an actual discussion based on verifiable facts."

                        Anytime, anywhere. You would never agree to it though, because all you would do is hand-wave away and supplied proof, then demand "real" proof, ignore that too, then declare your superiority in "winning" the debate.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • icon
                          PaulT (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 12:23pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things have

                          "Anytime, anywhere."

                          You are literally using the correct place to back up your random assertions with verifiably checkable sources. Why do you not? Why do you instead revert to the laziest cultish insults and claims that bear no relation to reality?

                          " then demand "real" proof"

                          I did. You chose to whine like a child, again.

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                          • identicon
                            RD, 27 Aug 2020 @ 12:30pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things h

                            And as predicted, you are doing EXACTLY what I predicted, ignoring the postings I have made with verifiable studies (do you even know what the NCBI is?) and then proclaiming I haven't given anything and you are superior.

                            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                            • icon
                              PaulT (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 12:54pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how thin

                              I'm not questioning your sources, I'm questioning you conclusions, which are exactly what your cult has been misinforming you about for a while.

                              Don't worry, I'll be here, taking sensible precautions with zero effect on my civil liberties in countries that aren't as hilariously stupid as some part of the US. As I', capable of subtlety and not the paranoid raving you revert to when it's suggested that there's no 100% magical cure for something, I'll be fine with taking the most basic minimal effort actions.

                              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                              • identicon
                                RD, 27 Aug 2020 @ 1:31pm

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how

                                How could "they" misinform me of something I already had known and researched weeks before it became vogue? I am not following them, they are catching up to ME.

                                And I have no idea what your last paragraph is about. I mean, it sounds like a "USA BAD!" screed but who can tell with the unhinged, unfocused ranting.

                                Not sure how lockdowns and mandates on masks and restrictions on movement are somehow "Zero effect" on civil liberties, but whateves! You do you, and definitely do what you feel appropriate to take care of YOU and yours, as all free men should be able to do.

                                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                • icon
                                  PaulT (profile), 27 Aug 2020 @ 11:50pm

                                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My,

                                  "How could "they" misinform me of something I already had known and researched weeks before it became vogue? "

                                  Because it seems weird if you've done independent research, and not only stumbled across the same misinformation but also the same word patterns in attacking people who try to correct you. Understandable if you're a cult members, very strange if you've done real research and peer review.

                                  "Not sure how lockdowns and mandates on masks and restrictions on movement are somehow "Zero effect" on civil liberties"

                                  Lockdowns are, of course, but they were a necessity. If you're still locked down where you are, blame the people who were too slow to take action. I've been living a relatively normal life for months.

                                  As for masks, I agree to wear anything from clothes to a seatbelt while in certain situations, I'm not sure how one extra garment is a violation of my freedoms, especially one that was used successfully to help stop the spread of the last major pandemic. Luckily, I don't live in an area surrounded by plague spreading idiots, so there's been almost no infections in my area.

                                  "You do you, and definitely do what you feel appropriate to take care of YOU and yours, as all free men should be able to do."

                                  As the saying goes, "your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins". You do you, but when you start threatening the lives and freedoms of those around you, that means you need to be asked to stop. And, yes, people should have the freedom not to be infected b y idiots like you who refuse to follow the most basic medical advice that in reality costs you nothing.

                                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                            • icon
                              nasch (profile), 28 Aug 2020 @ 7:43am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how thin

                              And as predicted, you are doing EXACTLY what I predicted, ignoring the postings I have made with verifiable studies

                              Except those studies don't show what you claimed they do. You said "(such as the NIH's own actual studies that show mask effectiveness is near nil for preventing spread of influenza-like viruses, or the numerous documented cases of Hydroxychloroquine regimens having material and significant results in helping people recover)" but so far I've seen two links. One shows cloth masks are not effective in preventing health care workers from getting infected (which is unrelated to the public wearing masks), and the other shows that masks have a significant effect in reducing transmission of respiratory viruses. I haven't seen anything about hydroychloroquine.

                              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2020 @ 11:48pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things have changed

              Villain my a-hole

              Well, no wonder you've been acting like one for a while.

              We are being systematically lied to at every turn, and everyone on this site is willingly marching in lock-step to the authoritarian beat

              Why the fuck does disagreeing with you automatically mean I'm sucking the cock of whatever figure of authority you dislike, i.e. all of them?

              Instead all I see are people, just like at any other MSM site, blindly and willingly joining the crowd in labeling everyone so they can feel superior and be above criticism. It's like no one has ever learned (or forgotten) the maxim: Question EVERYTHING.

              Being the edgy teenager died out a long time ago, son. Try looking up LeafyIsHere. Stop channeling him if you want to be taken seriously.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 11:37pm

      Re: My, how things have changed

      Why are your posts so dependent on lying about the people you're supposedly talking to?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 28 Aug 2020 @ 4:29am

      Re: My, how things have changed

      "Funny, "Appeal to Authority" used to be held up on this site as a significant example of fallacious thinking, and a dangerous mindset."

      And it still is.

      Adherence to fact is, however, and has always been something the TD crowd holds in high regard.

      Unfortunately there's always that odd troll who keeps getting the two concepts confused, probably because they believe "facts" are a matter of perspective.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 28 Aug 2020 @ 4:59am

        Re: Re: My, how things have changed

        ""Funny, "Appeal to Authority" used to be held up on this site as a significant example of fallacious thinking, and a dangerous mindset."

        And it still is.

        Adherence to fact is, however, and has always been something the TD crowd holds in high regard."

        Yep. The definition of Appeal To Authority is, per https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/logicalfallacies/Appeal-to-Authority:

        Insisting that a claim is true simply because a valid authority or expert on the issue said it was true, without any other supporting evidence offered.

        Other than the occasional troll, that doesn't happen here. An example given on that link is:

        Example #1:

        Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist and perhaps the foremost expert in the field, says that evolution is true. Therefore, it's true.

        Explanation: Richard Dawkins certainly knows about evolution, and he can confidently tell us that it is true, but that doesn't make it true. What makes it true is the preponderance of evidence for the theory.

        The latter is what's happening here. Nobody's saying "Dr Fauci / CDC / whoever is an authority, therefore they're right". What we're saying is "those people have provided a lot of evidence along with their expert opinion, and their words therefore carry a lot more weight than Karen from Facebook University's latest misreading of blog posts".

        These guys clearly get themselves confused because when they come in here with their many times debunked theories that always suspiciously match up with the right-wing conspiracy echo chamber, backed with zero evidence, we prefer the people with a track record of being correct. Especially when, as with COVID, their recommendations have an actual real world positive effect when followed by people who aren't pretending that asking the 2020 equivalent of "wear clothes, else you won't get served" is some kind of civil overreach.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          RD, 28 Aug 2020 @ 5:57am

          Re: Re: Re: My, how things have changed

          "The latter is what's happening here. Nobody's saying "Dr Fauci / CDC / whoever is an authority, therefore they're right". What we're saying is "those people have provided a lot of evidence along with their expert opinion, and their words therefore carry a lot more weight than Karen from Facebook University's latest misreading of blog posts".

          Except for all the scientists who are providing evidence and their own expert opinions that run counter to the "official" experts and who are systematically being ignored by those experts and the media. To deny counter views and science negates any arguments against it. It is tantamount to a form of censorship whereby dissenting opinions by equally qualified persons (and empirical studies) are discarded because they do not support "established policy" or whatever.

          Only one narrative is allowed to be, and only one viewpoint is allowed to dictate policy. Funny how that one way also just so happens to grant the govt vastly more powers and control in people's lives, isn't it?

          And yes, that is EXACTLY what people are saying. It's literally on the news all the time. "Fauci says" and thats where it stops. Don't think so? Then just look at the latest kerfuffle where they tried to change the testing and everyone LEAPED in with "mah authoritai!!!" and "Fuaci wasn't there to approve of it!" because HE is somehow the final word now without any other opinions or "Expertise" considered. Then they (the media and detractors) have the unmitigated gall to do exactly what you claim is the problem: decry the official guidance and declare THEY know better and/or Fauci says. That literally happened right in front of your eyes but apparently you can't see hypocrisy when it is that close.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 28 Aug 2020 @ 6:22am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things have changed

            "Except for all the scientists who are providing evidence and their own expert opinions that run counter to the "official" experts"

            Name them. Then, provide a reason why they should be believed instead of the established experts other than banging on about "mainstream media". Established experts are always going to have more credibility, unless you provide a reason why someone else is more credible. You can't just walk into an astrophysics convention and rant about your flat earth theory and how everyone else is a brainwashed authoritarian. You have to provide reasons why you, and not they, are to be believed.

            This is where you fail. You provide no actual evidence for your claimed, call other people idiots for believing the status quo, but provide no reason why your sources are more reliable. At least not for people who haven't bought into your random conspiracy theories. Start from the beginning - who are your sources and why are they more credible?

            "Then just look at the latest kerfuffle where they tried to change the testing and everyone LEAPED in with "mah authoritai!!!" and "Fuaci wasn't there to approve of it!""

            Yes, let's look at it. The Trump administration has done everything in their power to try and undermine experts both domestically and internationally, and have in return had a hugely disproportionate number of both infections and deaths compared to global trends. After several months of promoting quack theories, and several weeks of tactics to try and hide the accepted figures, they change advice the moment the main expert with decades of experience is unable to counter them.

            They remain the only authority on the globe to be giving such advice, which seems counter to any accepted standards, and have been criticised globally, including by countries that have had a far better response to the pandemic than the US. This is not giving into authoritarians. This is stating that there's a bar to reach before alternative theories have credibility, because we can't give equal time to everybody, and not everybody deserves that time among their peers.

            Do you have any reason why I'm wrong, and evidence to support your claims? Or, are you intent in inventing yet another conspiracy theory as to why we err on the side of those with established credibility?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              RD, 28 Aug 2020 @ 6:38am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things have changed

              "You provide no actual evidence for your claimed, call other people idiots for believing the status quo, but provide no reason why your sources are more reliable."

              I have done absolutely no such thing, and I expect you to man-up and recant this accusation. In no place have I called anyone an idiot, yet YOU have directly called or used the term "idiot" directed at me FOUR times in this posting (and moron once).

              I never said people were idiots, I questioned what they are being TOLD and took exception to them following that without question, and suggested that people should be less blindly trusting, and more skeptical. Hold those in authority (and the experts) to account.

              Absolutely you should take exception to what you think the veracity of my comments are, but don't EVER materially misrepresent my actual words. You are no better than those you denigrate and disparage.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 28 Aug 2020 @ 6:56am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My, how things have changed

                "I never said people were idiots"

                No, you just implied it.

                "I questioned what they are being TOLD and took exception to them following that without question"

                Except people are questioning it. You're just getting butthurt because arrived at a different answer.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 12:46pm

    Covid misinformation is relatively easy to deal with, as 'covid' will select all covid information, and it is all discussion of the same topic. However election, postal voting, and similar terms are complex to deal with, because they can refer to one or more of different countries, and organizations within countries. Therefore the policies to deal with covid information will be much simpler than equivalent policies to deal with election related information, especially as context. like country will not be obvious, and may require examination of a thread of conversation to determine.

    To claim that election information is as easy to fact check as election information is to assume that there is only one election, and that assumption is blatantly false.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 1:33pm

      Re:

      To add perspective to this: are all the guidelines being put in place for COVID messaging the same as the ones being applied to, say, cancer? Measles, Mumps and Rubella? SARS? The flu?

      Just like there are many different elections at many different times, there are many diseases. And yet we still see the spread of anti-vaccination arguments and the like, and they aren't moderated like COVID-19.

      Fact checking US federal election data can be done, but it's going to take more work and be less effective than fact checking a disease that is infecting the entire world and has never existed before.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 1:55pm

        Re: Re:

        You have missed the point, in that covid and other diseases can be dealt with by similar rules, because they are all global, and there is a consensus about the facts.

        The US presidential elections on the other hand overlap with other elections that can have different rules, like say electing the president of a bird watching society. They have different rules, and what is a true fact with respect to one can be a false fact with respect to the other, and it may take a lot of context to sort out which one is being discussed.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2020 @ 1:28pm

        Re: Re:

        And yet we still see the spread of anti-vaccination arguments and the like, and they aren't moderated like COVID-19.

        To prove that you are a hypertrophied-proboscidian inflammatory-breeches-donning forked-tongue mendacious liar in full spate (and spittle):

        Anyone can see, in this very forum, on this very day, the legal filings of a anti-vaxxer (a letf-wign anti-vaxxer even, you might say) complaining that anti-vaccination arguments are being moderated!

        How do you live with yourself?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 9:25pm

    I and a qualified medical professional (RN+) have been watching the published stats from WHO and CDC. Based solely on correlating that information: by the end of May, we could see that the deaths were being underreported by at least a third, and cases were being underreported by more like 70-100%). Often we could even see where specific numbers were artifacts of the data collection methodologies--to be later confirmed by specific reports and/or other statistics.

    For the record, I was predicting--and still am predicting--total US deaths of at least 1 million. I can understand why a lot of people feel it's all overblown

    If you're a student on long summer break, or an out-of-work twenty-something whose society consists of casual contacts in bars and a small clique of game-playing friends, or even an employee of a typical small business ... if only 1% of the population is showing symptoms, you probably don't really know any victims--and to you, the whole thing may seem like a bogeyman.

    But if you are in an army barracks (or a student dorm!) or a nursing home or meat=packing house, or you know any medical professionals, or you go to anyplace where people of all ages meet together regularly (church or casino) ... or, for that matter, if you're involved in contact-team-sports, then you will know victims, and probably dead ones. The pharmacist in my family has been exposed, as have been several medical professionals in my (small) home church; there have been several deaths in the families of church members. A singer in the Sacred Harp group whose website I manage is dead. An army non-com in the family probably had a mild case, when COVID was confirmed rampant in the base barracks. And that was mostly before the lockdown started leaking.

    So I can see where both viewpoints come from. Expected fatalities are less than one-half of one percent of infections ... but in crowded conditions more than half of the crowd will be infected. That will be ONLY ... about a million deaths.

    The possible long-term effects of childhood infections are completely unknown: but contemplating diseases like measles, polio, and STD's, no sane person wouldn't be very concerned. (Unfortunately, how many people have had courses in epidemiology? or know enough statistics to be useful? let alone both!)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt

The Tech Policy Greenhouse
is a special project by Techdirt,
with support from:

Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.