“The manipulation of public opinion over social media platforms has emerged as a critical threat to public life,” the report reads. Governments have used social media to affect the dialog of their favor, silence dissenting opinions and undermine the credibility of the press. Campaigns pop up in nations of all sizes — from China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Saudi Arabia to Azerbaijan, Zimbabwe and Bahrain. There’s a professionalism to them, too. This is not the “lone hacker” the researchers say.
“In many countries around the world, divisive social media campaigns have heightened ethnic tensions, revived nationalistic movements, intensified political conflict, and even resulted in political crises—while simultaneously weakening public trust in journalism, democratic institutions, and electoral outcomes,” the report states.
China, particularly, has grown its disinformation efforts, the researchers instructed The New York Times. It’s considered one of a handful of nations that has unfold misinformation exterior of its border, and we noticed that at play within the Hong Kong protests. In response, Facebook took down accounts and YouTube pulled channels for demonizing the protestors. Twitter banned adverts from state-owned news shops and later eliminated accounts.
Outside of China, Twitter has banned 1000’s of different state-backed accounts for spreading misinformation, and Facebook has taken down over two billion faux accounts in 2019. But the report warns that these actions aren’t sufficient. “To address that you need to look at the algorithm and the underlying business model,” one of many authors, Samantha Bradshaw, instructed NYT. The emergence of deep fakes may add one other problem, and because the 2020 election approaches, disinformation campaigns within the US will probably enhance.