In the past twenty years, affordable digital technology and the rise of social titans Twitter and Facebook have combined to radically alter how society communicates and consumes information. Millions of users worldwide obtain their daily news on their phones and computers from social media platforms. This explosion of information has created unprecedented opportunity and vulnerability in equal measure, as witnessed during the US 2016 presidential election when Russian intelligence services sought to influence the American public and the outcome of the elections.
As techniques and instances of media manipulation, disinformation, and misinformation proliferate in democratic contests worldwide, society must grapple with a fundamental challenge: how can we preserve a free and open internet and protect our democratic institutions from nefarious actors on social media? Laura Rosenberger, Director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, and Renee DiResta, Technical Research Manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, joined The New York Times’ Cecilia Kang to grapple with this issue and more.