Misinformation in 2021; searching 4chan
As my Florida fellowship enters its final days, I wanted to leave you some resources and ways to stay connected.
Dear FPA members,
The year is almost over and my Florida fellowship is coming to an end.
First Draft researchers are showcasing the lessons we learned this year as part of the project 20/20 Vision. This 10-article series features reflections on an unprecedented year, and lessons for disrupting misinformation in 2021. The first stories in the series:
- Assessing the impact of prioritizing US political disinformation over health misinformation in 2020
- Online influencers have become powerful vectors in promoting false information
- As online communities mobilize offline, misinformation manifests a physical threat
- We need independent platform oversight in 2021
Tutorial: Searching 4chan
By searching 4chan, we uncovered some of the conspiracy theories about former Florida Department of Health data scientist Rebekah Jones. To search 4chan safely, we highly recommend browsing in “incognito” mode, and using a virtual private network. If you aren’t browsing safely, you could compromise your computer’s information and that of your sources.
Our team monitors 4chan in two ways:
(1) Searching for content related to a topic that we are already looking into using 4chansearch.com.
- Most of the time the relevant threads containing political or health misinformation can be found on the board /pol/. Exercise caution when visiting other boards, as many of them are not safe for work. /pol/ also often contains violent, pornographic and hate speech.
- Boolean queries work using this search engine. Below is a search for Rebekah Jones, but you could also search for Florida AND “data scientist” and yield similar results that used those keywords.
(2) Monitoring /pol/ to see what the highest-performing threads are.
- We don’t often do this because there is a lot of shocking content and misinformation.
- Discussions on 4chan are ephemeral and disappear sometimes by the minute.
This site https://4stats.io allows you to select a board and shows you the most active threads.
As a reminder, in addition to our US 2020 newsletter, you can subscribe to our daily and weekly global newsletters here. We’d love your feedback on our Daily Briefing, so we can provide the best insights to you in 2021. Take our quick survey.
Support from First Draft
Journalists who would like help with an online investigation, have questions about content or need a quote can reach out via SMS, @FD_Update, Slack or email email@example.com.
Keep up with us on our Twitter.
All the best,
First Draft’s Florida fellow