How much influence do bots really have on disinformation?

By: Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels

It is cinematic to think of someone sitting in front of a trove of monitors somewhere in Eastern Europe commanding their virtual soldiers, promising that the Covid vaccine makes you magnetic. The image of an army of automated bots infiltrating your timeline with fabricated information has overtaken the narrative on how mis- and disinformation spreads. But are those bots really the biggest source of disinformation? This question has been asked frequently over the past five years, and researchers simply cannot agree on the answer.

For instance, an article published by NPR in the beginning stages of the pandemic stated, “Nearly…

Understanding the impact of “security”

By Pixabay via Pexels

States across the country have embarked on new voting endeavors to ensure “election integrity,” as FiveThirtyEight notes, “253 bills to restrict voting access had been introduced in 43 state legislatures as of Feb 19.” Most of the attention has been placed on Georgia with the passing of Senate Bill 202 and the response by large corporations, such as Major League Baseball removing the 2021 All-Star Game from the state. This has caused a frenzy on social media with people being quick to defend their political ideology rather than understanding or explaining what is actually happening in these voting bills. For…

Efficiency through disenfranchisement

By: Element5 Digital via Pexels

Nearly five months after the presidential election in November of 2020, there are still those claiming that the election was filled with voter fraud. Courts across the country have investigated and struck down the legal arguments brought by the Trump administration and those in federal agencies have repeatedly assured the population that there was zero evidence of voter fraud.

After the election had taken place in November, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) stated, “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double-checking the entire election…

High scores don’t equal success

Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

In 2019, experts from the Nuclear Threat Initiative(NTI), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and The Economist Intelligence Unit teamed up to create the first Global Health Security Index(GHS). Analyzing 195 countries, they used a six-step measurement system to determine which countries were the best and worst prepared to handle biological risks, including infectious diseases such as Covid-19. This report came out in October of 2019, just a few months before the first cases of the virus were found in the United States, and painted a different picture of how the world would handle a pandemic.

Their methodology was…

Ashutosh Sonwani via Pexels

In her book, Twilight of Democracy, Anne Applebaum delves into what is alluring about authoritarianism and the subsequent reasons as to why democracy has declined around the world. One of the most useful tools in propping up authoritarianism has been conspiracy theories. Applebaum writes, “The emotional appeal of a conspiracy theory is in its simplicty. It explains away complex phenomena, accounts for chance and accidents, offers the believer the satisfying sense of having special, privileged access to the truth.” It also does another thing — gives politicians a way to deflect their shortcomings while also making them out to be…

Taken from the authoritarian handbook

By Life Matters via Pexels

At a Trump rally in Ohio in 2018, two men were spotted wearing t-shirts that read, “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat.” Luckily for them, they just need to move to Florida. In April, Governor Ron DeSantis signed an “anti-riot” bill into law specifically designed to suppress protestors and give law enforcement the freedom to react as they deem necessary. Yet, while protesting is defended under the First Amendment and is a supposed highlight of American freedoms, the “anti-riot” bill is taken directly from Vladimir Putin’s playbook.

The bill titled “Combating Public Disorder” has alarmed activists and civil…

By Nate Hovee

On Wednesday, I published an article questioning the sacredness of American democracy when one political party does everything in its power to suppress minority voters. Cited in the article was a quote by the chairwoman of the Gwinnett County Republican Party where she said that Georgia had to change some of its voting laws “so that we at least have a shot of winning.” On Thursday, the Georgia Republican Party aimed to do just that.

They introduced a 48-page bill to change voting procedures, precisely targeted at Black voters. Ari Berman, a writer for MotherJones, described it bluntly as a…

“Of course, it is impossible to explain to Ukrainian society why, when America and Europe are not giving you vaccines, you shouldn’t take vaccines from Russia.” — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Ukraine has been embroiled in a war with Russia that is nearing seven years. Competing forces of oligarchs, politicians, and separatist groups have turned the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine into a no-man’s-land where international organizations and aid groups struggle to get the necessary supplies to citizens. People living around the line of contact or “buffer zone” — the demarcation line separating government-controlled areas from the separatist-controlled areas —…

A surprise for some, a regular day for others

Photo by Aditya Joshi on Unsplash

Maybe I’m ignorant, or stupid, or naive, or all three.

I go on Twitter and see that “We’re Being Hacked” is trending. It was an op-ed published in The New York Times by former Homeland Security Adviser to Donald Trump, Thomas P. Bossert, detailing the recent hacks on the US government and American corporations. Bossert outlines how last week, the cybersecurity firm FireEye was hacked, and its clients, including the United States government, were at risk of being compromised. He points to the evidence which experts could usually conclude with a high degree of certainty who the culprit is, and…

Connect with your friends and consume a conspiracy

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Social media has become an integral part of everyday life for nearly the entire world. The rise of social media giants like Myspace back in the day, then the advent of Twitter and Facebook have changed the world in their own right, giving people instant access to immeasurable amounts of information at the press of a button. But as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility, and to many experts and journalists, Facebook has bobbed and weaved to skirt responsibility for what happens on its platform. …

Matt Spengler

Writer on current affairs & politics. I have a Masters degree in government from Johns Hopkins.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store