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The Coming Flood of Disinformation

Foreign Affairs: “Nearly eight years after Russian operatives attempted to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, U.S. democracy has become even less safe, the country’s information environment more polluted, and the freedom of speech of U.S. citizens more at risk.”

“Disinformation—the deliberate spread of false or misleading information—was never the sole domain of foreign actors, but its use by domestic politicians and grifters has ballooned in recent years. And yet the country has been unable to rein it in because the very subject has become a partisan, politicized issue. Lawmakers have not been able to agree to common-sense reforms that would, for instance, require more transparency about the actions of social media companies or about the identity of online advertisers.”

“In the process, they have enabled an environment of hearsay, in which many people, particularly conservatives, have used false or misleading information to raise the specter of a vast government censorship regime. That chimera of censorship chills legitimate academic inquiry into disinformation, undermines public-private cooperation in investigating and addressing the problem, and halts crucial government responses. The result is an information ecosystem that is riper for manipulation than ever.”

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