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The New York Times 'needs your help' identifying 'false information' ahead of 2018 midterm elections

The New York Times wants "your help" identifying "false information being spread deliberately to confuse, mislead, or influence voters ahead of the 2018 midterm elections," the paper said in a Tuesday tweet. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

The New York Times wants "your help" identifying "false information being spread deliberately to confuse, mislead, or influence voters ahead of the 2018 midterm elections," the paper said in a Tuesday tweet.

In an article focusing on specifics of its request, the Times said it wants "examples of online ads, posts and texts that contain political disinformation or false claims and are being deliberately spread on internet platforms to try to influence local, statewide, and federal elections."

Times' reporters hope to use reader tips for their stories, the piece said, adding that all you have to do is upload a screenshot to a form.

Some examples of "social media disinformation" the paper said it's looking for may include:

  • "A Facebook account spreading false information about a candidate for office, or impersonating a candidate."
  • "A Twitter post attempting to confuse voters by sharing false information about the election process (for example, by advertising the wrong Election Day, or promoting nonexistent voter ID requirements)."
  • "A YouTube channel or Instagram account that uses doctored or selectively edited videos or images to mislead voters about a candidate or issue."
  • "A disinformation-based smear campaign against a candidate being organized on Reddit or 4Chan, or in a private Facebook group."
  • "A text message with false information to impersonate a candidate or confuse voters."

The Times said it's also looking for "sketchy digital campaign ads" that aren't clearly labeled or don't indicate funding sources.

What is the paper not looking for?

The paper said it's not after social media posts or news stories "you don't agree with" or examples of political robocalls or campaign emails.

How did folks react?

Given "fake news" complaints about the mainstream media in general — and the Times' recent botched story on U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley’s curtains — more than a few found humor in the request from the often-dubbed newspaper of record.

Conservative commentator Erick Erickson pulled no punches:

Jesse Jane Duff — a retired Marine gunnery sergeant and fellow with the London Center for Policy Research — had this to say:

Others saw things from the opposite side of the political aisle, suggesting the Times should simply keep an eye on what President Donald Trump tweets and what Fox News reports in order to collect examples of false information.

(H/T: Washington Times)

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