Information and news are increasingly weaponized. While not new, the weaponization of news and information has been set on steroids by the rise of social media. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and their counterparts in other countries, such as in Russia and China, have become the main source of news for citizens.
It is in and through social media that propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation thrive. The first, propaganda, is a way to tell one’s own story and can be used for good or ill. Advertising, for instance, is a form of propaganda. The second, misinformation, is false and faulty news that need not be deliberately false but can be harmful. The last, disinformation, is the deliberate spreading of false and misleading news and information with the intention to create confusion and cause harm.
Because social media is now the most widely used source of news and information, persons become easily misled and fooled because social media is a fertile breeding ground for misinformation and disinformation.
In Information Wars: How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About It, Richard Stengel tells how false and faulty news is now normalized. The former editor of Time Magazine, Stengel was recruited by the State Department during the Obama Administration to counter misinformation and disinformation, especially those put out by Russia and ISIS, the terrorist group.
It was a Byzantine experience. An admixture of outdated technology, ill-prepared and ill-informed government officials and workers, turf wars, career ambitions, ego, and more, got in the way of countering the coordinated and concerted attack on truth and facts, both within the United States and globally.
Information Wars: How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About It by Richard Stengel. Atlantic Books, October 2019
Reviewer bio: Eron Henry is a communications consultant. He blogs at https://oletimesumting.com.
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