India’s Fake News Epidemic

A new report from The Atlantic details an epidemic of "fake news" now plaguing India as it gears up for an upcoming national election, with a critical difference from stories of Russian interference in European and US elections: This problem is based at home.

Indian political parties have reportedly created elaborate operations to spread false and malicious stories aimed at political rivals, critics, and even religious minorities.

The damage has been dramatic; carefully crafted rumors that play on existing fears and prejudices have reportedly contributed to the lynching deaths of more than two dozen victims.

The troubling trend: There is nothing uniquely Indian, of course, about organized misinformation campaigns or public appetite for ugly rumors that confirm prejudices. Indonesia President Joko Widodo is now making campaign appearances via hologram in part to refute fake news stories in front of as many people as possible ahead of an upcoming election there later this month. "I assure you it's all slander, lies. Don't believe it," his hologram pleas.

The bottom line: If this trend is taking hold in India and Indonesia, you can be sure it's going to be a problem all over the world. Here are some recent African examples. Prepare for upcoming stories about digital-age dirty tricks in every country that holds elections—and new ideas on how to guard against them.

Democrats have the power to impeach Donald Trump.

After all, impeachment simply requires a majority vote of the House of Representatives, and Democrats hold 235 seats to just 199 for Republicans.

Of course, impeaching the president is only the first step in removing him from office. It's merely an indictment, which then forces a trial in the Senate. Only a two-thirds supermajority vote (67 of 100 senators) can oust the president from the White House. Just two US presidents (Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998) have been impeached. Neither was convicted by the Senate.

Many Democrats, including two of the party's presidential candidates, argue the Mueller Report and other sources of information offer ample evidence that President Trump has committed "high crimes and misdemeanors," the standard for removal from office under Article Two of the US Constitution. But the impeachment question has provoked intense debate within the Democratic Party.

Here are the strongest arguments on both sides of the Democratic Party's debate.

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Should Sri Lanka have blocked social media following the terror attacks?

That's a hard one. Misinformation spreads on social media and there's an instinct to say, "Wait, stop it!" But a lot of useful information also spreads and people get in touch with each other. So I would say no they should not have blocked it.

Are Tesla cars at risk of exploding?

There was one video from China of a parked Tesla exploding. I don't think you really have to worry about it though. I am curious to know what that video was really about.

Why do tech companies hate the census citizenship question?

Because if you ask people whether they're citizens. A lot of people will answer and you'll get bad data and the card companies need to know where they set up their operations. Good data matter to Silicon Valley.

What happened during the Space X Crew Dragon accident?

We don't know this one for sure either but one of the engines in a SpaceX test exploded. No one was hurt. Let's hope it was something to do with the way it was set up - not something deep and systematic.


And go deeper on topics like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence at Microsoft Today in Technology.

What's troubling you today? A revisionary new talk show hosted by Vladimir Putin offers real solutions to your everyday problems.

Crises create opportunities. That's the story of European politics over the past decade, and Spain offers an especially interesting case in point.

On Sunday, Spanish voters will go to the polls in the country's third national election in less than four years. Gone are the days when just two parties (center-right and center-left) dominated Spain's national political landscape. As in other EU countries, the economic spiral and resulting demand for austerity triggered by Europe's sovereign debt crisis, and then a tidal wave of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East, have boosted new parties and players. Catalan separatists have added to Spain's political turmoil.

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