Authoritarianism and disinformation
Where there is authoritarianism, there is disinformation. Nikolina Klatt and Vanessa Boese-Schlosser examine in their contribution for The Loop, the ECPR blog, the use of disinformation in authoritarian governance and highlight how autocrats use it to maintain their grip on power. But they also caution that disinformation is not exclusive to autocratic governance: spreading deceitful narratives harms democracies.
Though disinformation characterises day-to-day governance in autocracies, it is also cause for concern in democracies. Over a third of the global population has experienced substantial reductions in civil liberties and political rights since 1994. 2021 saw the level of democracy enjoyed by the average global citizen decrease to 1989 levels, with 70% of the world population living in autocracies.
This rise of authoritarianism is accompanied by polarisation and the use of disinformation by autocratic governments to shape domestic and international opinion. Disinformation can become a problem for democracies when a wide and free media environment lacks oversight and fact-checking, enabling the uncontrolled spread of false information.
The new issue of the WZB Mitteilungen on Digitalization will include the German version of this article on authoritarianism and disinformation.