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Axios technology correspodant Ina Fried (left) and Wilson Center disinformation fellow Nina Jankowicz. Photo: Axios

Experts are seeing malicious groups, both foreign and domestic, shift to more advanced campaigns of disinformation than they had in 2016, Nina Jankowicz, disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, said Wednesday at an Axios virtual event.

Why it matters: The method, called "disinformation laundering," targets false ideas or conspiracy theories that could become legitimized through media or public figures and politicians.

  • "In 2016, we saw a lot of inauthentic amplification through networks, trolls and bots, but in 2020 especially because there is greater awareness on behalf of the public, the government, the social media platforms about these tactics, what we’re seeing is disinformation laundering," she said.

The big picture: Disinformation, which stems from deliberately malicious campaigns of false information, has an effect on how U.S. democracy functions, Jankowicz said. The drivers of this chaos, like Russia's Kremlin and domestic groups, seek long-term repercussions.

  • "In the case we’re seeing right now ahead of the U.S. election, it is instilling distrust in our democratic system and the fact that people’s votes — the idea that their votes might not be counted, that they can't trust in local and state officials or federal officials," Jankowicz said.

Watch the event, Axios' Trust and Transparency, online at Axios.com.

Go deeper

Jan 7, 2020 - Technology
Series / Misinformation age

How Iran's disinformation threat differs from Russia

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

America "needs to be prepared for retaliation in the hard cyber space and soft information space" after killing Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, says a top expert at the Atlantic Council.

Why it matters: Iranian influence operations to-date have been different than other state-backed disinformation campaigns, particularly from Russia.

Dec 9, 2020 - Technology

The search for misinformation's measure

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Facebook and other big online platforms insist they're removing more and more misinformation. But they can't say whether they're actually stemming the tide of lies, and neither can we, because the deluge turns out to be impossible to define or measure.

Why it matters: The tech companies mostly won't share data that would let researchers better track the scale, spread and impact of misinformation. So the riddle remains unsolved, and the platforms can't be held accountable.

Dec 17, 2018 - World

Russia is winning its war of disinformation

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

U.S. intelligence says Russia sought to disrupt the 2016 and 2018 elections and sow discord. Regardless of what Robert Mueller does, Russia did it — and is still at it.

The big picture: Multiple high-stakes, aggressive federal investigations were spawned by an initial FBI probe of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. And fallout from Russian meddling, including Democratic talk of impeaching President Trump, is likely to remain a dominant political issue as Democrats take over the House 17 days from now.

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