Introducing a series from the Stanford Internet Observatory on assessing the threat of foreign influence operations targeting the United States.
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Information operations are sometimes sensationalized and overhyped by politicians and others to distract and confuse the public for their own political ends—but the threat persists and must be taken seriously.
On Sept. 23, the Justice Department released proposed legislation to revise Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields internet platforms from liability for third-party content shared on their services.
On June 20th, President Donald Trump showed up in Tulsa, Oklahoma for his first campaign rally after a three-month hiatus. Before the rally, the Trump campaign bragged about the million tickets that had been pre-requested. But when the rally started only 6200 people showed up at the arena, and the President addressed a sea of empty chairs.
Tackling disinformation requires humility, calm and attention to details as the threat evolves and becomes more complex: Tropes such as the “Russian playbook” are no longer helpful ahead of the November election.
TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance have filed a complaint against the Trump Administration in the Federal District Court for the Central District of California. The lawsuit seeks to prevent the U.S. government from banning TikTok, a popular mobile app, without affording its owners “due process of law.” The complaint argues that the ban was issued “for political reasons rather than because of an ‘unusual and extraordinary threat’ to the United States.”
Numerous individuals and groups are posing—both online and in person—as members of groups they oppose. Malign state actors have also begun to enter the fray.
Political pressure is mounting against broad liability protections for online platforms. What’s a better way forward?
President Trump on Thursday, May 28, signed an executive order targeting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal law that protects tech companies from being held liable for third-party content shared on their sites.
Benjamin Wittes talked with Kate Klonick, Eugene Volkh, Jack Balkin and Quinta Jurecic about the executive order and what it means. You can watch that discussion here and below: