Welcome to the age of “total information warfare.”A startling new report released by Canada’s spy agency suggests Western democracies are facing a wide range of threats from disinformation and propaganda campaigns.
The culprits range from a 20-something in Kosovo pushing out “fake news” to make a quick buck, to hyper-partisans trying to influence domestic politics, to sophisticated influence campaigns from hostile nations trying to exploit existing divisions in Western society.
But the report points to a common thread: the use of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to publish disinformation at a time when traditional journalism’s authority is under threat.
“Increases in data transmission capacity coupled with a shift toward programmatic advertising have resulted in a precipitous decrease in the ability of traditional journalism to mediate the quality of public information,” the report, compiled by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, stated.
“Conventional journalism has been partially displaced by a torrent of data from an infinite number of originators. Within that torrent is a current of lies and distortions that threatens the integrity of public discourse, debate and democracy.”