16 January 2024.Elections are being held in over 70 countries around the world this year. Around four billion people will be voting in more or less free elections to decide who should govern them in the future. Not to mention the European elections at the beginning of June.
Anti-democrats are threatening to gain support in many countries. This is not only due to democratic fatigue, but above all to large-scale disinformation campaigns in which autocratic regimes such as Russia and China are investing billions. They are using targeted misinformation to influence elections in the super election year of 2024.
According to an analysis by Dr. Katja Muñoz from DGAP, “Generative AI exacerbates misinformation and election interference on a global scale – a boon for foreign influence campaigns or opportunistic scammers. In tandem, AI-driven voice synthesis and deepfakes could be used to orchestrate fabricated visuals such as counterfeit scenes of ballot manipulation or disrupted polling stations. This fake content could then be augmented by distribution through seemingly reputable news sites. Social media ecosystems extend the reach of misinformation, unleashing further turmoil.”
The World Risk Report published a few days ago by the World Economic Forum (WEF), currently taking place in Davos, considers misinformation based on artificially generated images and videos to be the greatest risk over the next two years.
Example: Many Russians support the war against Ukraine. Propaganda – i.e. disinformation – plays a key role here. In collaboration with Novaya Gazeta Europe and the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the German-Russian independent internet platform dekoder.org has investigated how state propaganda has succeeded in convincing millions of Russians that war is the surest path to peace.
They analysed three million articles published by Russia’s main propaganda news agency, RIA Novosti, between 2002 and 2023, and identified the patterns by which propaganda works: ” Propaganda generates falsehoods and distorts the truth. Sometimes it seems that all we need to do to counter it is tell the truth. But it is not that simple. Propaganda is not always about outright lying. It is about creating a lens through which we perceive everything around us. Including the war.“ (In Propagandas Web)
Disinformation works not only in Russia, but also in Hamas’ war against Israel.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz writes that since 24 December, Israeli social media users have been at the mercy of a foreign influence campaign. Since the Hamas attack on 7 October, there has been a systematic effort to create feelings of fear, despair and chaos online in order to undermine trust in the government and the IDF.
The M100 Sanssouci Colloquium, which will take place for the 20th time in Potsdam in September, will also focus on disinformation in election campaigns, artificial intelligence and the impact and dangers for democracy.