Hyperpartisan and foreign-state sponsored disinformation targeted at voters through social media is undermining democracy and interfering with elections from the US to India, from Indonesia to Taiwan. Authoritarian adversaries, partisan domestic actors, and weak democratic governments are using the platforms and the extensive data they hold on individuals to manipulate voters and spread false narratives. The implications for the health of democracies everywhere are troubling. And with the US Presidential election looming in 2020, many argue that not enough is being done to halt the spread of deliberately false and misleading information. How can democracies fight back?
Kelsey Munro, host of the Lowy Institute's Rules Based Audio podcast, together with Katherine Mansted from the ANU’s National Security College and Harvard’s Belfer Center, and Lowy Institute Southeast Asia Project Director Ben Bland, had a thought-provoking discussion on democracy in the disinformation age.
Katherine Mansted is a Senior Adviser at the ANU National Security College and a Nonresident fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center. Her research and policy analysis focuses on emerging technologies, cybersecurity, and international relations. Her publications cover information warfare, cyber-enabled foreign interference, and internet privacy. Katherine previously practiced law and served as a ministerial adviser in the Australian government.
Ben Bland is the director of the Southeast Asia project at the Lowy Institute. Ben’s personal research interests span politics, economics, and diplomacy across Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam, as well as China’s growing role in the region. Ben is an award-winning former foreign correspondent for the Financial Times, with postings in Hanoi, Hong Kong, and Jakarta.