Disinformation campaigns have weaponized WhatsApp into very real fake news

LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images

Judging by mainstream media in the U.S., you would think the world is ending because of fake news and Russian trolls on Facebook and Twitter. But around the world, the worst danger posed by the spread of fake news actually happens through private messaging apps. And in countries like India, fake news "danger" is not hyperbole. At least 24 people have been killed by mob lynchings in India this year, caused by rumors that spread on WhatsApp.

With private messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, WeChat, and Line, people can forward messages to their friends or groups, with no way to determine the origin of the message. These messages are encrypted, so that no one can read messages not intended for them. Supposedly, even employees of these apps can't access the messages.

RELATED: BuzzFeed Writer: Why Can't Google, Facebook Get a Grip on Fake News?

Samantha Bradshaw works for Oxford University's Computational Propaganda Project, which studies disinformation campaigns around the world. The project has found political disinformation campaigns waged through private messaging apps in 10 countries so far this year. Bradshaw says, "The closed platforms can be more dangerous because the information is spreading in these intimate groups of friends and family – people we tend to trust."

Unvetted rumors spread through these apps have turned deadly. In one incident, a group of friends were driving through a village and paused to give chocolate to some local children. Someone started a rumor on WhatsApp that the carful of friends were kidnappers. A mob formed quickly and overwhelmed the group of friends, killing one of them, a 32-year-old man. The man's brother said, "They kept pleading, but nobody listened to them. My brother was killed by fake news."

In Brazil, a fake message claiming that a yellow-fever vaccine was dangerous spread through WhatsApp. So many people avoided the mandatory vaccine that the government had to issue an official warning debunking the claim.

Technology continues to improve so many aspects of life, but it hasn't been able to improve one key thing for mankind: our ability to tell the truth.

WhatsApp was founded by two libertarians with a deep belief in privacy. Their whole concept for the app revolved around not mining and storing information about users. In 2014, Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion. Ironically, the privacy controls that made this and similar apps so appealing, are the very things people are now using to weaponize the app.

Technology continues to improve so many aspects of life, but it hasn't been able to improve one key thing for mankind: our ability to tell the truth.

There's a new "reality" spreading, and the mere act of questioning it has become incredibly dangerous, Wall Street Journal investigative journalist Abigail Shrier told Glenn on the most recent episode of "The Glenn Beck Podcast."

Shrier's book, "Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters," exposes the radical gender activism that — like critical race theory — has overtaken our children's schools and culture. But even worse, she warned, it could end your parental rights for good.

Shrier made it clear she is by no means "anti-trans," but simply speaking up against the extremes of this new "reality" has made her enemy No. 1 to many activists. Her book has been bashed so hard by the Left that Target has stopped selling it twice, Amazon once banned ads for it, and the American Booksellers Association even called sending it to others "a serious, violent incident."

In the clip below, Shrier explained why she believes "there may be no hope for the public school system."

"You have teachers behaving like activists across the country who have no interest in actually teaching. They believe their job is to remake your child," she asserted. "We're seeing so much evidence of that, I think it's fair to say that it may be too deeply rooted in the ideology being taught in public school. I'm not sure that the public school system is redeemable at this point."

Watch the video clip below for more or find the full podcast with Abigail Shrier here:

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What is actually in Texas' new GOP-led voting bill? Nearly every Texas House Democrat fled the state to block its passage, calling it racist and oppressive, and President Joe Biden backed them as well.

But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Friday to set the record straight and call out the lies: All of these claims are "completely false." He also explained his promise to "arrest" the Texas House Democrats when they return to the Lone Star State.

"What is in the bill is completely different than what they're saying, what Kamala Harris is saying, what President Biden is saying. What's in the bill actually increases the number of hours that people have to vote in the state of Texas. In the state of Texas, we have at least 12 days of early voting, and we are adding hours to those days. And on top of that, we are giving people time off from work to be able to vote. Bottom line, we're making it easier to vote in the state of Texas," Gov Abbott explained.

"In comparison, Delaware — the state that President Biden votes in — has exactly zero hours of early voting," he added. "That said, there is one thing that we're doing in the state of Texas, and that is we're making sure we tighten the reins on mail-in ballots that can lead to voter fraud. And it's not me saying that. It's a federal judge, appointed by Barack Obama, in Corpus Christi, Texas, who wrote in a legal opinion that voter fraud occurs, quote, in abundance as it concerns mail-in ballots. We know. Texans know. There is fraud in mail-in ballots in the state of Texas. It must be fixed. That's one thing we're trying to do. That being said, all these claims that we're denying people the right to vote and yada, yada, yada, are completely false."

Abbott went on to discuss the much-debated voter ID laws in Texas and to explain why Democrats insist on calling basic voter ID requirements "racist."

"When Democrats do not have truth on their side, they resort to one single word and that is 'racism' ... Texas implemented voter ID almost a decade ago, and when we went through that fight, what word did they use? Racism," he said. "Guess what? After Texas imposed voter ID requirements in the state of Texas, there have been more people voting and more people of color who went to vote. Voting didn't get harder. It got easier and more abundant in the state of Texas. And so, once again, Democrats have absolutely no legal standing, other than to say, 'racism.'"

Glenn asked Gov. Abbott to explain his pledge to "arrest" the Democratic lawmakers that fled once they return to Texas.

"Let me explain how this works. So, whenever there is a break of quorum, which is what is happening now — meaning there is not a sufficient number of people who are showing up to the Texas House of Representatives for the Texas House to engage in business. Whenever there's a quorum break like that, the House issues what's called a 'call on the House.' And when that happens, the sergeant-at-arms is authorized to work with the Texas Department of Public Safety, to — you can call it arrest, apprehend, whatever you want to call it — any of the members who are not in the Texas House of Representatives and bring them to the Texas House where they will be 'cabined' with no ability to leave the Texas House chamber, without a permission slip from the speaker."

Watch the video clip below for more details:

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Our Fourth Amendment, which protects our right to privacy, has never been in more danger. Journalist Lara Logan joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Thursday to explain how the digital world has given leaders — both in government and corporations — the ability to not only spy on Americans, but to track their patterns of behavior, too.

Lara explained why, even if you think you have nothing to hide, you should be very concerned. Because these digital "human terrain maps" could be used to manipulate you in any way those in control see fit.

"The purpose of your privacy is much more than just being out of public view," Lara said. "There is really nothing that's more central to our democracy than the right to privacy. I mean, all of the rights in the Constitution have a real purpose, and a real value, and if we allow people to take them away from us, we voluntarily are surrendering that. We are lambs to the slaughter.

"They're not just looking at what you have to hide. They're looking to manipulate you into doing what they want. These are control systems. That's what they are," Lara explained. "What they do with the information is they create a 'human terrain map' for every single person on the planet, anyone within a digital signature or within their reach. They are creating a human terrain map that can be used against you, by anyone."

Watch the video clip below for more details:


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Who were the people and groups involved with coronavirus research, and what really went down before and after the pandemic began? On "Glenn TV" this week, Glenn Beck heads to the chalkboard to outline a tale of negligence and then, coverup. The elites of the world - the people calling themselves experts - trusted the Chinese Communist Party with one of the most dangerous weapons we can imagine on this planet--a virus.

Glenn reveals who was involved in a definitive timeline, and argues: If proof of a lab leak does come out, the worlds needs to know EVERYONE that was involved. We must expose the coverup and attempt to control the narrative of the pandemic origins. Everyone from Big Tech, the media, the Chinese and even our own government have been involved. What lies behind the coverup could reveal the dirty secret that, in order to cut corners, the academic elites and government entrusted Communist China with a civilization-killing virus.

Watch the full episode below:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.