It seems that modern wars are fought in the battleground of social media. While propaganda is nothing new, foreign actors are becoming increasingly sophisticated at using social media to influence the dialogue in other countries.
Our government is working internationally and domestically to counter this. Internationally it is working with other countries to establish frameworks to address the threats that foreign misinformation poses and to use sanctions against those who are instigating misinformation campaigns. Closer to home, CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, is fighting misinformation with a campaign designed to look like it is coming from Russia, featuring a font resembling the Cryllic alphabet and imagery strongly tied to that country. The ad warns Canadians about the risks of misinformation.
A CSIS spokesperson is quoted as saying, “While this social-media campaign was evocative of Soviet imagery, the main goal of the campaign was to educate the public on the threats posed by all hostile state actors that often engage in hostile activities, such as clandestinely spreading disinformation targeting Canadians.”
A political science professor reports being concerned that these ads were intended to evoke fear and that they could backfire. The European Union is also concerned about the spread of misinformation. X (formerly Twitter) is identified as the biggest source of fake news, but it is not alone. Google, TikTok, Microsoft, Google, and Meta were all identified by the EU as purveyors of disinformation.
With the young adults of today being the first generation to have had access to social media their entire lives, the line between fact and fiction may rapidly be lost. For individuals, leaving social media is sometimes the answer. However, organizations that are fighting misinformation seemingly have little choice but to be a voice of truth using the same media they’re fighting against. This may prove to be the biggest paradox of the 21st century.