Democracies Degraded by Disinformation: Lessons from Hungary, the US, and the UK (81125)

Session Information: Politics and Social History
Session Chair: Yusuke Ishikawa

Saturday, 25 May 2024 10:45
Session: Session 1
Room: Room 603
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

Democratic backsliding has been a growing concern globally that has been tracked through both quantitative and qualitative research in the past two decades. In parallel to the literature on democratic backsliding, the literature on disinformation has been expanding. Hitherto, both literatures have developed separately. This paper provides a unique contribution to the existing literature by exploring the interactions between the two phenomena. Through its analysis on disinformation’s impact on democracies, this paper argues that disinformation furthers democratic erosion, which in turn can further exacerbate the spread of harmful disinformation.

The paper conducts a comparative analysis between three democracies that are facing different levels of crisis, namely Hungary, the US, and the UK. Hungary was selected as an autocratizing democracy, the US as a democracy in peril, and the UK as a liberal democracy escaping from its crisis. Through these case studies, the paper finds that democratic institutions can be undermined by specifically interference type disinformation campaigns, and countries should pursue a two-pronged approach. On the consumption side, improved media literacy and institutional trust are paramount. Online civic groups such as NAFO could also be more effective at combating disinformation that utilizes what the paper coins the “engagement trap”. On the distribution side, tech companies should face tighter regulations on their platforms. This paper concludes by arguing that greater attention should be paid to each country’s context and how disinformation interacts with democratic institutions to better understand how and why disinformation spreads.

Yusuke Ishikawa, Asia Pacific Initiative, Japan
Marina Dickson, Asia Pacific Initiative, Japan
Sara Kaizuka, Asia Pacific Initiative, Japan

About the Presenter(s)
Dr Sara Kaizuka is a Independent Scholar at Asia Pacific Initiative in Japan

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00