Recent headlines on the role of Russian disinformation in the 2016 U.S. presidential election have ignited important policy discussions on the impact of information warfare on democratic systems. While disinformation has been used for decades to turn the tides of policy in the favor of its perpetrators, the scale and nature of modern disinformation campaigns pose a qualitatively different challenge to the future of democracy. The ubiquity of social media, the ability to individually target voters through massive amounts of personal data, the use of sophisticated behavioral modelling and the incorporation of artificial intelligence into disinformation operations require a far more urgent and serious response from the policy community.

Disinformation: A New Challenge to Democracy or More of the Same?

Recent headlines on the role of Russian disinformation in the 2016 U.S. presidential election have ignited important policy discussions on the impact of information warfare on democratic systems. While disinformation is not new and has been used for years to turn the tides of policy in the favor of its perpetrators, developments with respect to social media, big data, and artificial intelligence mean that disinformation now poses a very different type of threat to democracy.

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