May 28, 2019

2020 misinformation campaigns take aim at the latest spook issues

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

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Situational awareness

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the Taj Mahal. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

New global coronavirus cases shake Asian stocks

Health workers spray disinfectant in Seoul on Feb. 24. Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

New cases of the novel coronavirus have rocked asset prices in Japan, South Korea and Italy, as those nations and others have ratcheted up emergency efforts to contain the outbreak.

What's happening: Asian stock markets continued to tank overnight, as South Korea's Kospi dropped nearly 4%, Australia's ASX fell by 2.3% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined by 1.8%. MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan touched its lowest since early February.

In photos: Trump visits Taj Mahal after massive rally in India

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the Taj Mahal. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump visited India's Taj Mahal on Monday, hours after telling a massive crowd at a rally in Ahmedabad that he hopes to reach a trade deal with his "true friend" Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his two-day visit to the country.

Why it matters: The countries are forging deeper ties as India’s location, size and economic growth make it the "obvious counterweight to China" for American policymakers.

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