“The danger is the proliferation” of the techniques, he said. “Anybody who wants to influence the 2020 election may be tempted to copy what the Russian operation did in 2016.”
China’s emergence as a powerful force in global disinformation is one of the most significant developments of the past year, researchers said. The country has long used propaganda domestically, but the protests this year in Hong Kong brought evidence that it was expanding its efforts. In August, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube suspended accounts linked to Beijing that were spreading disinformation about the protests.
Philip N. Howard, director of the Oxford Internet Institute and one of the authors of the report, said that such online disinformation campaigns can no longer be understood to be the work of “lone hackers, or individual activists, or teenagers in the basement doing things for clickbait.”
There is a new professionalism to the activity, with formal organizations that use hiring plans, performance bonuses and receptionists, he said.
Social media became one of the primary venues for consuming news by accident and it has allowed a great many people find a voice. Unfortunately, it has also afforded governments the ability to shape public opinion both at home and abroad.Click HERE to subscribe to Fuller Treacy Money Back to top