The House Intelligence Committee report on impeachment engages minimally with the conspiracy theories propagated by the president’s defenders.
Latest in Disinformation
Amid the hubbub of L’Affaire Ukrainienne, you could be forgiven for overlooking another story that has emerged out of Congress over the past week. It’s a grubby, unpleasant story—so much so that it feels ugly to draw attention to it. But the times are ugly, after all, and the story is a concerning harbinger of what might be to come in the lead-up to 2020.
In the early 1980s, Soviet intelligence began Operation Infektion—a campaign to erode trust in the U.S. government by orchestrating a series of scientific papers and news articles arguing that the U.S. government created the HIV/AIDS virus.
In the summer of 2016, a meme began to circulate on the fringes of the right-wing internet: the notion that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was seriously ill. Clinton suffered from Parkinson’s disease, a brain tumor and seizures, among other things, argued Infowars contributor Paul Joseph Watson in a YouTube video. The meme (and allegations) were entirely unfounded.
Members of the Myanmar military have systematically used Facebook as a tool in the government’s campaign of ethnic cleansing against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority, according to an incredible piece of reporting by the New York Times on Oct. 15. The Times writes that the military harnessed Facebook over a period of years to disseminate hate propaganda, false news and inflammatory posts.
On Thursday, the Department of Justice unsealed an indictment of seven officers in the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, on charges of computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. The charges concern a disinformation operation against international anti-doping agencies in the wake of news reports on the Russian government’s systematic doping of the country’s athletes.
At the end of November, the New York Times reported that President Donald Trump suggested to aides that he did not in fact make the offensive comments about women on the infamous “Access Hollywood” recording.
On Nov. 13, the European Commission announced it was looking for public input and setting up a High-Level Expert Group to develop a strategy to tackle the spread of fake news. This sign is the latest in a series of signals that the European Union is stepping up its response to the threat of disinformation. In announcing the new initiatives, the commission said that intentionally misleading news was “an increasing problem for the functioning of our democracies, affecting peoples’ understanding of reality.”