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Expand chart
Illustration: Gerald Rich, Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Efforts to sow discord via misinformation ahead of the 2020 election cycle are pegged to a new set of societal controversies, including the race to spread 5G, anti-vaccine fears, and immigration.

Why it matters: The timelier the issue within the national conversation, the more effective it can be to sow confusion.

Flashback: The key misinformation targets during 2016 focused on memes and posts around #BlueLivesMatter, #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo.

"The most effective form of disinformation has the ring of truth."
— Matthew F. Ferraro, a lawyer at Wilmer Hale who writes about misinformation issues

The big picture: Deepfake technology is making it easier to create misinformation about about our preconceived concerns or doubts.

  • A good example: The video of Nancy Pelosi that went viral last week, which was slowed down to make her appear drunk.
  • Similar misinformation schemes around Hillary Clinton being sick circulated in 2016, playing off a "weak, older woman" narrative.

The bottom line: "Sometimes that is the point – not to convince you of one thing but to make you doubt the accuracy of anything," says Ferraro.

Go deeper: How Russia’s disinformation strategy is evolving

Go deeper

Biden speaks with Macron for first time since diplomatic crisis

President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron have a conversation ahead of the NATO summit in Brussels, on June 14, 2021. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Biden on Wednesday spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron for the first time since a diplomatic row erupted over a scrapped submarine order, per the White House.

Driving the news: Macron said that the French ambassador will return to Washington next week and will resume working with senior U.S. officials.

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: U.S. and Israel held secret talks on Iran "plan B"

Bennett and Biden. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/Pool/Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel held secret talks on Iran last week to discuss a possible “plan B” if nuclear talks are not resumed, two senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time a top-secret U.S.-Israel strategic working group on Iran has convened since the new Israeli government took office in June.

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: Jake Sullivan plans to visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE next week

Sullivan. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

White House National Security adviser Jake Sullivan is planning to travel to the Middle East next week, including a stop in Saudi Arabia. He would be the most senior Biden administration official to visit the kingdom.

Why it matters: Sullivan's first trip to the region since taking office is expected to include stops in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, sources briefed on the plans tell Axios. All three countries are longtime U.S. partners who have faced some early tensions with Biden.

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