CIMUN Chronicle / Article / 2016

Disinformation in Elections

IPD Article Image - Disinformation in Elections

By: Dejea Lyons, Pan African News Agency

During the past couple of years, disinformation has been an evolving issue, especially between the governments of Russia and the United States. This issue escalated significantly when Russia was accused of interfering with the 2016 elections to diminish the campaign of Hilary Clinton and favour Donald Trump’s candidacy. 

    This disinformation  is now leaking into Africa through social networks such as Facebook. On October 30, Facebook reported three Russian operated networks on its site that encouraged Russian policies while denouncing French and American policies. 
     Facebook is reporting that Russian actors were able to get 8,900 posts during the month of October. In comparison to the 2016 American interference campaign, the Russians only got to post 2,446 times a month. This is about a 72% difference in the amount of posts done in a month.     
     By using locals to translate the message, the misinformation was able to go undetected for a great length of time. The misleading messages were spread through several countries including: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Sudan. “They are trying to make it harder for us and civil society to try and detect their operations,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, remarked on the secretive actions of the Russians. 
      Some may find the actions of the conspiratorial posters wrong, while Russia seems to stand by their actions. “As a nation we value the work of our foreign intelligence agency and we continue to stand behind any of the work committed by them” the representative from Russia stated. 
     As social networks continue to expand and diversify, governments will continue to find ways to reach populations in different regions and countries around the world.  Social networks need to prepare for the return of the interference campaigns. Can the prying governments be stopped or will they continue to eject themselves into each region and spread their propaganda?