‘Post-truth era’: NATO strategic group finds efforts to correct ‘fake news’ can backfire

by WorldTribune Staff, September 24, 2018

Disinformation was an integral strategy deployed against the United States by the Soviet Union’s KBG and GRU intelligence agencies. In the ‘Information Age’ that followed the USSR, disinformation or “fake news” is playing a larger role than ever posing massive political, cultural and geostrategic conflicts.

Better fact-checking could help in countering “fake news” but no response at all might be better than repeating fake news articles in order to correct them, according to a report by the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence.

Social media, a large platform for fake news, needs to employ more editors and crowdsourcing methods to identify and stop fake news in the “post-truth era,” said the 129-page report, which was produced together with the King’s Center for Strategic Communications in London.

It is troublesome at times to attempt to counter fake news as repeating false stories can make the problem worse, the report said.

“What is at stake is the risk that only a limited set of information and evidence is considered in political discourse and policy development,” the report said.

“Echo chambers and filter bubbles now dominate our social media newsfeeds through the use of sophisticated algorithms,” the report said. “The destructive effects of these filter bubbles can be seen in the political culture of the U.S. [presidential election] and the U.K. [Brexit vote] in 2016, while similar events can be seen to have occurred in Ukraine, North Korea, Russia, Venezuela and beyond.”

The report noted that efforts by the Chinese government to stop what it regards as fake news has led to tighter controls on information and greater restrictions on freedom of expression.

Russia is perhaps the most egregious offender when it comes to the dissemination of fake news, the report said.

“Russia’s goal, as seen from the West, is to deprive audiences of the ability to distinguish between truth and lies by creating as many competing narratives as possible in the global media space.”

Security correspondent Bill Gertz noted in a Sept. 19 report for The Washington Times that “The aftermath of the 2016 hack-and-release influence operation showed Moscow’s use of troll farms, state-controlled media like Sputnik and RT and GRU intelligence to steal documents and publicize them.”

The phrase “fake news” rose to prominence as a favorite epithet of President Donald Trump in his frequent denunciations of false and misleading news stories on CNN and in The New York Times about him and his administration.


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