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How Online Disinformation Affects the Real World

In this week’s CYBER podcast, we delve into the past, present, and future of disinformation operations.

by Motherboard Staff
Mar 20 2019, 9:00am

In the lead up to the 2016 US presidential elections, the Russian government allegedly used internet trolls, fake Facebook and Twitter accounts, and hackers in a coordinated disinformation campaign. Its goal: divide the American population and influence the elections.

Disinformation is not new, but this operation put a spotlight on what some people may have thought was a Cold War era relic.

What did we learn from 2016? How is the world preparing to deal with this new kind of information operations that straddle between the online and real world? And before we actually propose solutions, are we sure we even understand what’s the problem?

We spoke to Roel Schouwenberg, the director of intelligence and research at Celsus Advisory Group, a consulting firm based in the US that helps clients deal with disinformation operations.

“How do you determine what is real when there’s a million echo chambers out there all having that unique answer that is suitable to you and your target demographic?” Schouwenberg told host Ben Makuch. “That is the long term scary part from a societal perspective.”

“What is fact is one of the long term fights we have to fight,” he warned.

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