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Pinterest Outlines Latest Efforts to Combat Political Misinformation Ahead of the US Midterms

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Pinterest Outlines Latest Efforts to Combat Political Misinformation Ahead of the US Midterms

With the US midterms fast approaching, Pinterest has outlined its latest measures to combat political misinformation via Pins.

Which may seem like a lesser consideration. The visual style of Pinterest, and its Pins, probably doesn’t immediately spark thoughts of potential political manipulation. But as with all platforms, Pinterest has been the target of coordinated manipulation in the past, and as such, it’s important that it too takes steps to address the spread where it can.

Pinterest, it’s also worth noting, has 433 million active users, a huge audience, which will no doubt attract those seeking to influence political opinion, if they can.

First off, Pinterest is rolling out a new search advisory message for query terms that could be related to elections or voting.

As you can see in this example, Pinterest will show a pop-up notifier on related searches which will refer users to Vote.org for more information.

These types of prompts are only small steps in the broader scheme, but even minimal nudges like this can be effective in guiding users towards more reputable, official sources.

Pinterest says that it’s also working with network analysis group Graphika to detect and remove potentially misleading political content, while it’s also working to enforce its community guidelines around false or misleading content ‘that impedes an election’s integrity or an individual’s or group’s civic participation’. This includes information on registering to vote, voting, or being counted in a census. 

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Pinterest also re-states that it does not accept political campaign ads on Pinterest.

“Additionally, during election seasons, we will not monetize election-related content. That means for the months surrounding the midterms we won’t show any ads when you search for common election-related search terms like candidate names, “vote,” and “election campaigns.”

Pinterest was one of the first social platforms to ban political advertising, taking an official stance on such in 2018, after the controversy surrounding the 2016 US Presidential Election. Pinterest has since expanded this to include election issue ads, while it also banned all climate change denial content earlier this year.

Which, it probably is easier for a platform like Pinterest to do, as opposed to Twitter or Facebook which both focus on more broad discussion around trending topics. But even so, it is worth noting Pinterest’s efforts on this front, which are another part of the broader push to combat misinformation across social networks.

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Iran pop singer silenced, but his song remains a protest anthem

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Shervin Hajipour's song "Baraye" draws on the tweets of Iranians longing for a normal life

Shervin Hajipour’s song “Baraye” draws on the tweets of Iranians longing for a normal life – Copyright Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)/AFP –

David Vujanovic

Even though he has been silenced, Iranian pop singer Shirvin Hajipour’s impassioned song in support of protests over Mahsa Amini’s death in custody remains an unofficial anthem of the movement.

The song “Baraye” notched up 40 million views on Instagram before it was deleted when Hajipour was arrested, but he has since been freed on bail and has distanced himself from politics, likely as a condition for his release.

Baraye, the Persian word “For” or “Because”, is composed of tweets about the protests and highlights longings people have for things lacking in sanctions-hit Iran, where many complain of hardship caused by economic mismanagement.

It also draws on everyday activities that have landed people in trouble with the authorities in the Islamic republic.

“For the sake of dancing in the streets; Because of the fear felt while kissing; For my sister, your sister, your sisters,” the song’s lyrics say.

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“Because of the embarrassment of an empty pocket; Because we are longing for a normal life… Because of this polluted air.”

Baraye has been heard played loudly at night from apartment blocks in Iran to show support for protests sparked by Amini’s death on September 16, after the notorious morality police arrested her for allegedly breaching rules requiring women to wear hijab headscarves and modest clothes.

It was also sung with gusto by the Iranian diaspora at rallies in more than 150 cities around the world at the weekend.

In one clip shared by the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, a group of schoolgirls without headscarves is seen singing Baraye in class with their backs to the camera.

The tune was removed from Hajipour’s Instagram account shortly after his arrest but is still widely available on other social media platforms, including Twitter and YouTube.

– ‘Because of forced Instagram stories’ –

Hajipour’s lawyer Majid Kaveh said he was released on bail at noon on Tuesday.

The reformist Shargh newspaper said his family had been informed of his arrest in the northern city of Sari on Saturday, in a report that cited his sister Kamand Hajipour.

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She had said in an Instagram post that her parents had been informed of his arrest in a call from the city’s intelligence ministry offices.

Shortly after his release, Hajipour was back on Instagram, but this time to apologise and distance himself from politics.

“I’m here to say I’m okay,” he told his 1.9 million followers on the platform.

“But I’m sorry that some particular movements based outside of Iran — which I have had no relations with — made some improper political uses of this song.

“I would not swap this (country) for anywhere else and I will stay for my homeland, my flag, my people, and I will sing.

“I don’t want to be a plaything for those who do not think of me, you or this country,” he added.

In response to his post, many on Twitter suggested the line “Because of forced Instagram stories” should be added to the lyrics of the song.

Human rights groups including Article 19 have repeatedly called on Iran to end its use of forced confessions, which they say are false and extracted under duress or even torture.

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In one recent case, a young Iranian woman, Sepideh Rashno, disappeared after becoming involved in a dispute on a Tehran bus with another woman who accused her of removing her headscarf.

She was held by the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and appeared on television in what activists said was a forced confession before being released on bail in late August.

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