Lab Notes - Issue No. 3 - September 8, 2023
Lab Notes is the newsletter for the Information Epidemiology Lab (InfoEpi Lab), which exists at the intersection of public health, national security, and information disorder.
What to know about this autumn’s COVID vaccines - MIT Technology Review
Unsourced post claims COVID-19 booster caused 34 blood clots - Public Health Communication Collaborative
Fighting Infodemics: Labels as Antidotes to Mis- and Disinformation?! - Journal of Public Policy & Marketing
News Media Use Can Impact Perceived Psychological Distance to COVID-19 - Science Communication
The research team discovered that individuals who predominantly watch conservative media perceive COVID-19 as a distant or non-immediate threat. Conversely, those who consume less partisan news consider the disease a more immediate and pressing concern.
The proximity with which individuals perceive the threat of COVID-19 correlates with their perceived severity of the disease and their likelihood of considering vaccination or booster shots.
In essence, the media sources individuals rely on shaping their perceptions of the disease, influencing their vaccination decisions.
Modeling the Information Abundance Factors That Predict Fake News Sharing Behaviour of Social Media Users: Testing the Moderating Role of Resilience - Journal of Asian and African Studies
The study looked at why people share fake news on social media. Researchers used a theory about how our brain handles too much information and studied the role of resilience, or how well people handle stress and bounce back. They collected data from 1,068 social media users in Nigeria through an online survey.
The results showed that when people feel overwhelmed by too much information or find it stressful, they're likelier to share fake news. People also share fake news when they feel too much social pressure or receive irrelevant information. However, those who handle stress better (have high resilience) are less likely to share fake news, even when faced with much information.
In simpler terms, if someone doesn't cope well with stress, they're more likely to spread fake news on social media when they get too much information. The study provides insights for understanding and tackling the spread of fake news.
Security & Defense
Ukraine is furious with Elon Musk for thwarting an attack on Russia's navy - News Facts Network
Navy secretary says Tuberville 'aiding and abetting' communist, autocratic regimes - News Facts Network
Russia’s illegitimate “elections” convince no one — UK Foreign Office
China’s Road to Ruin: The Real Toll of Beijing’s Belt and Road - Foreign Affairs
HRW Says Taliban's Denial Of Basic Women's Rights Is A Crime Against Humanity - Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Media & Disinformation
On September 6, 2023, Ukraine’s parliament approved the appointment of Rustem Umerov to replace Oleksii Reznikov as the country’s Defence Minister.
Umerov, a Crimean Tatar, previously worked on a task force seeking to explore ways to end the Russian occupation of Crimea and acted as head of Ukraine’s State Property Fund.
Extremism & Terrorism
Around 1,000 right-wing extremists in Germany are legally allowed to own a weapon. They are a latent threat to society.
CORRECTIV shows where they live (in Germany) on an interactive map for the first time.
This finding underscores how extreme the issue is in the US, where we see 25,000 hate crimes yearly, according to Everytown. Over the past decade, the US witnessed a significant rise in mass killings linked to extremism, with the numbers being three times higher than in any decade since the 1970s.
According to a recent report, there were 21 such incidents from 2011 to 2020, a stark increase from five incidents between 2001 and 2010. In comparison, the 1991-2000 period saw seven incidents, 1981-1990 recorded two, and 1971-1980 had six. The report highlighted that the 26 mass killing incidents in the last 12 years surpass the combined total of 20 incidents from the four preceding decades.
Intelligence & Espionage
Citizen Lab found an actively exploited zero-click vulnerability being used to deliver NSO Group’s Pegasus mercenary spyware while checking the device of an individual employed by a Washington, DC-based civil society organization with international offices.
We refer to the exploit chain as BLASTPASS. The exploit chain was capable of compromising iPhones running the latest version of iOS (16.6) without any interaction from the victim.
Digital & Cyber Space
How Google plans to win its antitrust trial - The Verge
UK Online Safety Bill Enters Final Stages - Tech Policy Press
Measuring Electronically Shared Rape Myths: Scale Creation and Correlates - Journal of Interpersonal Violence
The study revealed that online platforms, especially social media, can expose users to rape myths, which are misconceptions about sexual assault incidents. Such exposure can significantly shape societal perceptions of rape.
Understanding the frequency of these online encounters is essential, given their potential influence on real-life behaviors. In the research involving 2,609 participants aged 18-25, the team examined nine items related to rape myths shared by peers on social media.
The results showed a consistent pattern across all nine items. Those who encountered more rape myths online were more likely to have attempted to commit rape, experienced rape, used illicit drugs, be male, and be younger. This research underscores the significance of recognizing online exposure to rape myths in efforts to prevent sexual violence.
More Bioweapons Disinformation from Russian State Media and Conspiracy Websites
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to InfoEpi Lab to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.