Individuals will be the main line of defence against online misinformation.
We will likely remember the 2020 US election as “the coronavirus election”: the campaign season when the usual pageantry of rallies, conventions and canvassing evaporated into the air we were all suddenly fearful to breathe. Instead, campaigning has been relegated to the airwaves and the internet. And as people consume more information online, the pandemic is not only changing the geographical and physical manifestations of politics; it is pushing American discourse deeper into the depths of disinformation that threaten democracy itself.
In 2016 one or more hackers, thought to be Russian, stole Democratic National Committee emails and passed them to WikiLeaks, which published them online in July that year. In October 2016 thousands of pages of emails from the personal account of John Podesta, the head of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, were published by WikiLeaks; US officials alleged that Russia was responsible. “I love WikiLeaks!” the then candidate Donald Trump said, following the breach.