Topic 2024

Democracy under Attack

Disinformation Campaigns, AI and the Role of the Media in the 2024 Super Election Year
Thursday, 12 September 2024, Orangery Sanssouci, Potsdam/Germany

Never before have so many people around the world been able to vote in one year as in 2024. Around half of the world’s population will be able to cast their vote this year and have a decisive influence on the way the world will be governed for years to come.
Experts fear that this super election year will be accompanied by an increase in fake news and disinformation to influence voters’ opinions and voting behaviour. Increasingly rapid advances in artificial intelligence, growing threats from wars and crises, and decreasing protection against hate and hate speech on social media are all contributing to this trend.
The fight against large-scale disinformation campaigns by autocratic states is one of the greatest political, media and social challenges of our time, the outcome of which will have a major impact on the future world order. Russia has long used disinformation as a ‘psychological weapon of mass destruction’. This is described by Finnish investigative journalist Jessikka Aro in her book “Putin’s Trolls“, which examines the impact of Russian troll factories on people’s thinking, attitudes and behaviour since 2014. The aim is to justify military attacks and destabilise Western democracies, not least by influencing elections.
After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, it became clear that the Kremlin’s years-long disinformation campaign had had a profound effect on Western leaders, Aro writes: “Not all leaders were prepared to provide military support to Ukraine immediately after 24 February, possibly for fear of becoming targets of Putin’s aggression themselves. Some Western politicians even cited the Kremlin’s threats in their arguments against supporting Ukraine.”
France, Poland and Germany have agreed to take joint action against troll campaigns in the wake of massive disinformation and cyber-attacks, largely orchestrated by Russia. A massive increase in Russian disinformation activities aimed at influencing the population is expected in many European countries, especially in the run-up to the European elections and the Paris Olympics.
In the super election year of 2024, M100 will focus on the impact of disinformation, Europe’s ability to defend itself, the transatlantic partnership, the state of democracy, the opportunities and dangers of artificial intelligence, and the role and responsibilities of journalists in an increasingly complex and complicated world.


To allow us to react to current events, we reserve the right to amend the programme.