• A Political Murder and Far-Right Terrorism: Germany’s New Hateful Reality

    The death threats started in 2015, when Walter Lübcke defended the refugee policy of Chancellor Angela Merkel.On June 2, Mr. Lübcke was fatally shot in the head on his front porch, in what appears to be Germany’s first far-right political assassination since the Nazi era.

  • As Feds Struggle, States Create Their Own Anti-election Propaganda Programs

    As the 2020 presidential campaign heats up, individual states are ramping up education efforts to counter the threat posed by foreign disinformation campaigns to US elections. A lack of action at the federal level has prompted many states to craft their own programs designed to counter foreign efforts to undermine American democracy and educate the next generation of voters in schools.

  • Conspiracy Theories Make Inroads in Venezuelan Politics

    Despite how predictable (and tiresome) it has become, the Maduro government’s repetitive use of elaborate plots and attributing Machiavelian-styled traits to its adversaries doesn’t come out of pure laziness; conspiracy theories have not just found their way into our political discussion for quite some time now, they’ve won acceptance.

  • Twitter Takes Down Louis Farrakhan’s 2018 Anti-Semitic Tweet after Policy Change

    Twitter said Tuesday that it was requiring anti-Semitic hate preacher and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to delete a 2018 anti-Semitic tweet that compared Jews to termites. The move came as the social media giant introduced new rules prohibiting “language that dehumanizes others on the basis of religion.”

  • YouTube removes audio copies of neo-Nazi books

    James Mason’s neo-Nazi manifesto, Siege, has inspired a generation of neo-Nazis since it was first published as a single volume in 1992. The book sparked a violent online subculture called Siege Culture, devoted to Mason’s calls for independent terror cells to carry out a race war. YouTube has now taken down uploads of both Siege and the neo-Nazi book The Turner Diaries.

  • “They Can't Stop All of Us”: Over 400,000 People Planning to Raid Area 51 All at Once

    Area 51, an Air Force base in Nevada where many conspiracy theorists have long believed the U.S. government holds top secret information about extraterrestrial life. They also allege the area to have been the site of frequent UFO sightings. 

  • Once Again, Russian Internet Propaganda Efforts Shown to Be Much Bigger than Originally Believed

    Early on, as the scope of Russia’s disinformation and hacking efforts were being revealed, there was a tendency on many fronts to downplay the depth and breadth of the problem, with many describing the Russian effort as a few harmless sods posting lame memes in broken English. In time, it became clear that the efforts were larger, broader, and far more sophisticated than initially believed. 

  • How Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories Began and Why They Persist Today

    Even if they are far-fetched in factual terms, moon landing conspiracy theories nevertheless call up the more plausible possibility that in our media-saturated age reality itself is constructed, if not actually faked. The moon landing conspiracy theories also brought to the mainstream the notion that significant events are not what they seem: they have been staged, part of an official disinformation campaign.

  • The Great Replacement, White Genocide Theories: Prevalence, Scale, Proliferation

    A new in-depth study of the Great Replacement and White Genocide, two racist conspiracy theories with hundreds of thousand followers – some of them violent — in Europe and the United States, has found that the proliferation of theses conspiracy theories was helped by their mainstreaming by elected officials, and the active promotion by alternative far-right media outlets.

  • Europe Built a System to Fight Russian Meddling. It’s Struggling.

    The European Union launched an ambitious effort earlier this year to combat election interference: an early-warning system that would sound alarms about Russian propaganda. Despite high expectations, however, records show that the system has become a repository for a mishmash of information, produced no alerts and is already at risk of becoming defunct.

  • Searching for Truth: Q&A with Jennifer Kavanagh

    Senior RAND political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh helps lead RAND’s work on “Truth Decay,” the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life. Her research has helped set a national agenda to better understand and combat the problem, to explore its historical precedents, and to mitigate its consequences.

  • Truth decay People Who Spread Deepfakes Think Their Lies Reveal a Deeper Truth

    While photographic fakes have been around since the dawn of photography, the more recent use of deep learning artificial intelligence techniques (the “deep” in deepfakes) is leading to the creation of increasingly credible computer simulations. Because the problem seems to be a technological one, it’s tempting to cast about for technological, rather than social or political, solutions. The flaw of such solutions is they assume people and platforms circulating fake information will defer to the truth when confronted with it.

  • How Fake News Could Lead to Real War

    Who really bombed the oil tankers in the Persian Gulf two weeks ago? Was it Iran, as the Trump administration assured us? Or was it Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or Israel—or some combination of the three?

  • Report: Pentagon Should Assume U.S. Satellites Are Already Hacked

    The U.S. and its allies need to double down on the cybersecurity of their satellites as space infrastructure becomes ever more integral to national security, according to a recent report. The Pentagon and other Western military forces rely heavily on space-based systems to guide weapons, gather intelligence and coordinate operations around the globe, but security gaps in their satellite infrastructure threaten to bring those functions to a grinding halt or worse, a new Chatham House study found. Jack Corrigan, writing in Defense One, quotes the study’s authots to say that as adversaries like Russia and China ramp up their offensive cyber capabilities, the Western world needs to lock down its space infrastructure against potentially crippling attacks. And in the meantime, “it would be prudent” for countries to assume their systems have already been infiltrated.”

  • How Fake News Could Lead to Real War

    Who really bombed the oil tankers in the Persian Gulf two weeks ago? Was it Iran, as the Trump administration assured us? Or was it Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or Israel—or some combination of the three? Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon write in Politico that they believe in the official U.S. position, that Iran was behind the attacks, trying to prod other countries to pressure the U.S. to relax its sanctions makes sense. But the whole unsettling episode opened our eyes to a deeply troubling reality: The current fake news epidemic isn’t just shaking up U.S. politics; it might end up causing a war, or just as consequentially, impeding a national response to a genuine threat. Thus far, public discussion of deep fakes—and fake news more broadly—has focused on domestic politics and particularly elections. That was inevitable after the Russian interference on President Donald Trump’s behalf in 2016—the dimensions of which were laid out in the unprecedented joint assessment of the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation in February 2017 and the Mueller Report.
    But fake news’ implications for foreign and security policy may be as far-reaching—and even more dangerous. Misinformation in geopolitics could lead not only to the continued weakening of our institutions but also to combat deaths. Sure, fake news has been a feature of international relations for a long time, but it’s different now: “Advancing technology that can fabricate convincing images and videos combined with the chronic, exuberant dishonesty of the commander-in-chief and his minions has meant that no one can feel confident in assessing life or death choices in foreign policy crisis. For a democracy—one with global interests—this is a disaster,” Benjamin and Simon write.