Freedom House survey finds 30 countries manipulate elections via armies of "opinion shapers"

A 2017 Freedom House survey of 65 countries found that 30 of them were using armies of "opinion-shapers" to manipulate elections, advance anti-democratic agendas, and repress their citizens. Although most of these countries direct these efforts to manipulate opinion domestically, the report finds that manipulation and disinformation  played a role in elections in at least 17 other countries, including the US presidential election and the UK's EU referendum. The number of countries using these techniques - which includes Venezuela, Turkey, and the Philippines - has been growing every year since the first such report was issued in 2009, and the techniques in use have become increasingly sophisticated. Today, bots, propagandists, and fake news outlets ensure high visibility and spread by using social media and search algorithms, as well as integration with trusted content.

Writer: Alex Hern
Publication: Guardian
Publication date: 2017-11-14