The Disinformation and What’s Surprisingly Not

The Infinite Wisdom of Infowars

In a recent Infowars article, Paul Joseph Watson purposefully misinterpreted what a Swedish Psychological Defense Agent said, focusing on one particular quote of a longer interview. attaching a quote from George Orwell to project the author’s inability to understand the nuances of misinformation, then claiming that tides of immigrants are coming to Sweden.

The interview in question was regarding Sweden’s attempts to counteract Russian disinformation campaigns, some of which revolve around Swedish migration and crime rates. The London Times interview and seems like a fairly standard article, and ironically the Infowars article is engaging in disinformation by framing it simplistically. The quote in question describes disinformation as “basically true and only somewhat tweaked.” The Times article is behind a paywall so I couldn’t check the context of the quote, and the Infowars article doesn’t give much either, it just provides the quote with minimal background, then spews opinions. Infowars does take the time to suggest that people shouldn’t be demonized for sharing disinformation if it’s “basically true,” clearly with no bias involved.

How to Tell on Them – SIFT

The claim relied on distorting the validity of a statement that is something of a well-known fact within intelligence and fact-checking communities. The source of the claim, Infowars, is already a disreputable site, per Media Matters for America.

I investigated the claim, and the quote is real, and from a mostly benign interview about what is effectively standard practice. The quote comes from a reliable outlet, London Times, and is other information is corroborated by quick google searches regarding the interview and the name of the ministry of which the interviewee was part of. The claim or conclusion itself, however, is wonky at best.

While I tried to find better coverage, most of the articles talked about the formation of the Psychological Defense Agency, meaning that the only source for the claim regarding the quote is the original London Times Article.

There were claims that were not sourced but are discussed by Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which they either refute or decontextualize the arguments in the Infowars article.

Electric Vehicles Power Vasectomies

Well One, Anyways

A New York Post article reported that Dr. Chris Yang, MD performed a vasectomy with his tools being powered by an electric vehicle. It’s a real event that occurred in Austin, TX on Aug. 25 after a power outage. Most surgeries were rescheduled until someone mentioned using the electrical vehicle as a power source and the patient preferred not to reschedule if possible. Luckily vasectomies don’t require much power. Battery tools were available but not as accurate or controlled, so the vehicle powering the standard tools made the procedure significantly safer.

Cutting Into the Sourcing

I know New York Post isn’t as reputable as New York Times, so I instantly ran to see if the doctor they mentioned was real. They had his name and some social media links, as well as critical information to enhance the validity of the article. He has a twitter, a LinkedIn, and appears on several doctor review sites.

The original source is from a tweet the Dr. Yang made, in which he shows the truck being parked and the power cord leading into the operating room. In the search for other sources I found that the story was covered by Forbes and some medical journalism. The NYP article also embeds the direct sourcing into the article, making it very easy to find.

Who Is The Internet For?

The internet is for whomever!

A log bench is pictured here, in warm color tones.
Log Bench in Ohio – photo taken by Tayin Rivera-Dorazio

Openness

Why?

The internet is open for almost anyone to use. Computers are available at local libraries and, once you’ve established a connection, a browser is all it takes to have access to as much of the web as the computer can handle. Openness spurns creativity and it allows everyone to get in on the action and transaction and creation through the internet.

Open source code and open resources, ones that are freely available, exist to allow others to proliferate what they know. This can come in many forms, such as forums for how to troubleshoot a computer issue, reading customer reviews of products and services, and YouTube videos that show you how to fix a car issue.

How?

Making your resources more open can help people find solutions to a problem you’ve encountered. It can foster collaborations across international lines. You could educate people who will be the people you innovate with in the future, and it can make a better internet for the future. This could be through informational videos, GitHub, or even articles on a platform like Medium.

Brad Frost’s advice on openness from his TEDxTalk is: “Work Hard. Don’t Be An Asshole. Share What You Know.” With that advice in mind we can keep the internet an open place for anyone and everyone.

Accessibility

Why?

Accessibility keeps the internet open for anybody, regardless of disability. This can open the doors for more people to access your content, and can even make it easier for people without disabilities to engage with your content. Things like increasing your font size may have people with visual disabilities in mind, but could just make your work easier for anyone to read, and having alternative text for blind internet users could also help those who are less visually impaired or don’t understand the context of the image. Research shows that accessible websites have more engagement. Twitter itself has adopted a lot of accessibility options like alt text that allow for image descriptions, and is one of the most popular social media platforms, and continues to grow internationally.

How?

There are many resources for making your websites accessible, such as W3C, or using header-identified text blocks, or even image descriptions like mentioned earlier. Following ADA guidelines can also help with making an accessible platform and accessible materials, as well as following the guidelines of major companies and other website design philosophies that incorporate accessibility.

Tayin

Self-Photography – Tayin Rivera-Dorazio

I am a Communication and Digital Studies Major, and I hope to focus my Digital Studies portion of my schedule towards music production. I speak English and Spanish fluently, French conversationally, a little German, and I plan to learn Arabic while I am at UMW. My pronouns are they/them.

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