Discussions on disinformation mostly focus on the external sources of disinformation: Russia and China. But if we focus exclusively on disinformation as a foreign challenge, we are simply ignoring the elephant in the room. Democratically-elected leaders are increasingly fuelling the spread of disinformation, according to Sohini Chatterjee, an associate professor at Columbia University School of International & Public Affairs, and Péter Krekó, Director of the Political Capital Institute* in Budapest.
Contemporary disinformation is distinct from propaganda. It is neither based on ideologies nor facts, they write for Euronews:
In many ways, it is predicated on a much more pessimistic and cynical worldview where, as Peter Pomerantsev writes about the disinformation of the Putin-regime, “Nothing is true and everything is possible”….The goal of disinformation is not to persuade the audience with one message. Rather, disinformation is intended to confuse people with multiple messages. As a result, it does not need ideology or to be fact-based at all. It can be almost anything, which is why it is so much more dangerous than propaganda.
Coda Story’s Infodemic is tracking how global disinformation shapes the world emerging from the Covid-19 lockdown, Today, from drama about pangolins in China to coronavirus-related arrests in Bangladesh, and the power of state-controlled media companies around the world.
*A partner of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).