Disinformation, Democracy, and Conflict Prevention
In this essay series from Items, the SSRC’s digital forum, researchers assess the state of disinformation across the world and its effects on democratic processes and conflict prevention.
The essays in this series on “Disinformation, Democracy, and Conflict Prevention” are based on presentations at a research workshop on “Disinformation, Democratic Processes, and Conflict Prevention,” convened by the SSRC’s Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum (CPPF) and MediaWell disinformation research mapping initiative for the SSRC’s Academic Network on Peace, Security, and the United Nations. Scholars and researchers from regions around the world examined the frameworks, findings, and debates in emerging research on information disorder and the linkages between disinformation, elections, hate speech, and identity-based violence. The workshop also explored the ways in which disinformation affects the UN prevention agenda, and how the UN system can better identify, track, and respond to the negative impacts of disinformation where the UN is engaged.
By Steven Livingston and Lance Bennett
The roots of the information disorder are multiple, but Steven Livingston and Lance Bennett argue that a disproportionate amount of attention—and critique—have been directed at technology. Although social media platforms rightly share blame for the circulation of mis- and disinformation, the authors suggest that a prior and more consequential source of information disorder may be traced to sustained attacks on “authoritative institutions,” which have worked, historically, to foster a sense of shared reality and to mitigate against the threat of disinformation.
By Eleonore Pauwels
Recognizing that in the absence of adequate regulations and oversight the most intimate data we share can be used to undermine democratic processes and hurt citizens, Eleonore Pauwels offers suggestions for how UN member states, particularly across Africa, might prevent rising forms of data collection and manipulation that lead to information disorders and electoral disruptions.
By Idayat Hassan and Jamie Hitchen
The increasing threat to democratic institutions posed by disinformation is a global phenomenon. Yet, as Idayat Hassan and Jamie Hitchen reveal in this case study of Nigeria, the local effects of disinformation are shaped as much by offline conventions and institutions as by online interactions.