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What to do about disinformation, the biggest challenge to global stability

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What to do about disinformation, the biggest challenge to global stability

In the age of information and hyperconnectivity, disinformation has become one more element to wage war between international actors (whether state or not) in cyberspace, in addition to undermining the stability of a global order that is changing faster than ever. what we can perceive.

The spread of the Internet and social networks enabled access to unlimited content that was blurred without distinctions of quality, reliability or intermediaries. What at first was something mostly positive, over time also became a potential threat through the manipulation of information strategically to twist political wills in elections or even modify public opinion on a particular issue.

Since the use generative artificial intelligence, passing through the bot farms waves fake news campaigns, the advancement of technological tools presents challenges to all countries beyond the form of government. So much so that its strategic – and even malicious – use can have unpredictable consequences in the midst of an unprecedented war escalation since the end of the Cold War, marked by the war in Ukraine and the Middle East.

Authoritarians don’t like this

The practice of professional and critical journalism is a fundamental pillar of democracy. That is why it bothers those who believe they are the owners of the truth.

Disinformation Forum 2024 in the Legislature of the City of Buenos Aires

Because it is an issue of international security, the fight against disinformation escalated to the highest levels of power in all countries. So much so that it motivated the organization of the “Disinformation Conference in the current international context”, an intensive day organized by embassies of Western allies in Buenos Aires, and which was held this Friday, April 19 in the White Room of the Buenos Aires Legislature. .

“There is a need to put this issue on everyone’s agenda. We live in a hyperconnected world. “Before, we chose what to expose ourselves to when looking for information, but now it costs us three times as much to know if the information is true or if we are facing a fake news campaign,” he said. Matias Lopez1st vice president of the Buenos Aires Legislature, who was in charge of starting the call.

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The meeting had a strong geopolitical imprint, in line with the approach of disinformation as a kind of soft weapon to wage war. Even more so considering the organizers: Poland, the United States, Ukraine, the European Union and the United Kingdom, who agree in denouncing the practices of “rebel” states that threaten the established order, such as Russia, North Korea and Iran.

James Rubin: “Governments should not have the role of deciding what is true and what is not”

According to that line, they not only use disinformation as “an element of political power” but they are becoming a kind of global alliance. In the group there are also those who included Venezuela and Nicaragua. But also to China, according to the statements of James Rubinthe last special envoy of the US government to Argentine soil, for Beijing’s alleged collaboration with Vladimir Putin’s regime in matters of information manipulation.

“If Russia says that the US has biological weapons in Ukraine, it is disinformation. We must provide transparent information to the people and minimize the strategy of China, Iran and Russia to protect our freedom and our democracy”, said Rubin, the American diplomat and coordinator of the State Department Center for Global Engagement who traveled especially to the country to participate in the meeting on disinformation. “Without rules, artificial intelligence will be a terrible risk,” he warned.

The kickoff of the day was in the hands of the Polish ambassador, Aleksandra Piatkowskathe ambassadors Marc Stanley (USA), Yuri Klymenko (Ukraine) and Amador Sánchez Rico (European Union); Bhavna Sharma, Deputy Chief of Mission of the United Kingdom Embassy, ​​and on the Argentine side Marcia Rosa Levaggi, Undersecretary of Foreign Policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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The common denominator was artificial intelligence and its ability to rapidly increase in sophistication, scope and volume, allowing countries to interfere in the internal affairs of others. “It is easier and faster for malicious actors to manipulate information and has the potential to damage public trust in information and democratic institutions globally,” said the British diplomat.

Disinformation is a real threat to democracy. It’s not just fake news, we’re talking about very sophisticated campaigns. Seeks to undermine our way of life“said the EU representative, while his Ukrainian counterpart denounced: “Russia has turned information into a weapon. “Disinformation is part of military efforts aimed at weakening support for Ukraine.”

For his part, the American ambassador was a little more optimistic about the coming “tsunami” in relation to the scope of the disinformation campaigns. ““We have a great opportunity to learn lessons.”said Marc Stanley, in addition to highlighting the possibility of forming alliances to expose disinformation.

American diplomat James Rubin.

What to do with misinformation

A string of experts on the subject gave their views on disinformation and emphasized international cooperation to combat disinformation. The intention is to attacking “the origin” of the information, and not the content itselfsince otherwise it would go against freedom of expression, one of the fundamental values ​​of liberal democracies.

The issue also takes on particular relevance in order to preventively prepare the ground for two events that will be closely followed by global public opinion and could be scenarios of strong misinformation: the European elections and those of the United States.

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There is a new trend that is the hiring of private companies that use disinformation to manipulate elections and distort civic discourse“said Aude Maio-Coliche, director of strategic communications of the EU, something that already has as a precedent the Cambridge Analytics scandal in 2015 during Donald Trump’s campaign.

Deepfakes: misinformation doesn’t stop

The European bloc, meanwhile, is the only one that implemented regulations against false information campaigns that can have direct consequences in society that go beyond political polarization and influence on public opinion, perhaps two of the issues that most They are related to disinformation campaigns in different countries.

Paula Rejkiewicz, diplomat and head of strategic communication at the Polish Foreign Ministry, spoke about the health implications of the proliferation of false information about a nuclear attack in the context of the war in Ukraine. “It had a direct impact on security. People went to buy anti-radiation pills as a preventive measure, which without supervision can be toxic“, he said.

As a preventive measure, in addition to the “coalition against disinformation” proposed by the United States, they added other strategies such as investment in education, and the creation of mechanisms that are applied to social networks and search engines to warn the population in case are about to share content that was not verified.

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