The hazy world of online disinformation is about to get even hazier. From fake videos of politicians giving speeches they never uttered to concealed coordinated groups posing as grassroots movements to influence policymaking, it's increasingly challenging to tell fact from fiction on the web.
Recent technological advancements are threatening to make it worse. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies have the potential to revamp how disinformation is packaged and distributed online, increasing the threat already posed by disinformation campaigns.
In our newest publication “On the radar: Mapping the tools, tactics, and narratives of tomorrow's disinformation environment”, we analyse the cutting-edge tools and strategies that are shaping the future of disinformation.
The report dissects the major threats to our online information ecosystem into three pillars:
- technological tools: synthetic images, audio, video and text;
- popular tactics: preparing content dissemination through inauthentic news factories or proxy sources, fabricating false narratives by embedding false social media posts into (in)authentic news content and spreading disinformation by cross-platform sharing, coordinated sharing behaviour and the abuse of algorithmic recommender systems;
- disinformation narratives based on these tools and tactics
In doing so, we identify potential new disinformation threats and offer forecasts on what is still below the radar, such as:
- Decreasing barriers of entry of ML models
- Increased quality of AI and ML technologies across the board
- Merging of multiple synthetic tools
- Reliance on human agency instead of inauthentic content spreading
While much research has covered individual characteristics of disinformation, little of this has brought together the different technical and tactical elements involved in the fabrication of false narratives. This is where the Disinfo Radar project comes into play. The report is its first bi-annual publication.
The Disinfo Radar project is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.