DAUK Film Night: Countering Disinformation and False News in 2020: Operation Infektion
was held on February 7, 2020 in London
PHOTO CREDIT: New York Times
Directors: Adam Ellick and Adam Westbrook
About The Film
A three- part video series produced by the New York Times in 2018.
Edward Lucas, Kyle Taylor David Patrikarakos, and Magda Walter -moderator
A short introduction to the film and the issues
The Issues at Stake
The Film Night
This was an opportunity for DAUK members to investigate and discuss some of the most critical and challenging issues facing Western democracies and the integrity of our elections: the political deployment of disinformation and false news.
The screening of Operation Infektion, a concise and well-resourced film produced by the New York Times, served as a curtain-raiser for this discussion.
Operation Infektion analyzes the history, tactics and objectives of Russian “active measures”. Using eye-catching and innovative visuals, and a tight, clear script to tell a complex story, the film forensically dissects a decades-old Soviet toolbox and shows how it applies to most of the disinformation we are exposed to today.
Interviews with former KGB spies, State Department officials and disinformation experts explain how techniques developed in the 1980s have been enhanced and refined to adapt to the modern world and contemporary technology. As one interviewee explains, this has unleashed the potential of the internet and social media to use often preposterous lies to “deceive, manipulate, confuse and sow chaos” on an unprecedented scale.
The after-screening panel of leading experts helped us navigate the many issues involved, and how we, as voters and activists, can counter these strategies and protect ourselves.
Addressing these issues is urgent. Every day brings news about ‘faked’ videos’, false conspiracy theories, photoshopped images or the corrosive activities of professional trolls on Twitter. And the key tech giants, Twitter, Facebook and Google, are now responding to challenges about their practices and responsibilities.
Thanks to Kyle Taylor, Director of Project Fair Vote UK for the use of these slides
About The Film Night Speakers
We discussed and explored strategies on how to prepare for and counter these measures: how voters can protect themselves, recognize and deal with disinformation, and what we should lobby lawmakers and regulators to do.
Edward Lucas, who appears in the film, is a journalist and expert in energy, intelligence and cyber-security issues. He has covered Central and Eastern European affairs since 1986, writing, broadcasting, and speaking on the politics, economics, and security of the region. He witnessed the final years of the last Cold War, the fall of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of the Soviet empire. He spent 23 years at the The Economist, working as a foreign correspondent and later as a senior editor until 2017.
Lucas has edited Standpoint magazine since September 2019 and serves as senior vice-president at the Center for European Policy Analysis. He writes a regular column for The Times. He is the author of The New Cold War, Deception, The Snowden Operation and Cyberphobia.
David Patrikarakos is an author, journalist and broadcaster specializing in disinformation. His most recent book War in 140 Characters: How Social Media is Reshaping Conflict in 21st Century was published in November 2017. He has also written for many leading publications and regularly appears on TV and radio.
He is a Poynter Fellow at Yale and an Associate Fellow of the School of Iranian Studies, St Andrews University, and has lectured at major universities and think tanks in the US and UK, as well as at West Point and British Army HQ. He has also briefed Parliament, the Foreign Office and MPs on the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
Kyle Taylor, is the founder and director of Project Fairvote UK, a consultancy and advocacy group focusing on data misappropriation in elections and big tech regulation. He has expertise in the issues around misinformation strategies in US (and UK) voting and elections, including the operation of data collection, mining and targeting of voters.
He has advised an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) of Members of the UK Parliament on Electoral Campaigning Transparency which produced an election safeguarding report in late 2019. He is also working with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on these issues.
Magda Walter, moderator, is a former senior broadcast journalist for US TV networks PBS, CNN, CNBC and NBC News in Moscow (where she was bureau chief). She is an international communications strategist, media consultant and journalism trainer.
She has led and edited several large research studies into the impact of Russian disinformation on countries of the former USSR with recommendations for policy change aimed at strengthening independent media in the region. In this area, she has collaborated with the European Endowment for Democracy in Brussels, Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington and the Baltic Centre for Media Excellence in Riga and spoken on panels at several international conferences.
Disclaimer: The screening of this film does not constitute an endorsement or promotion of the film, nor of any views expressed therein or any association with The Film Committee, DAUK, Democrats Abroad or the Democratic Party. Screenings are solely conceived as educational activities: offering an opportunity for members to discuss issues.
Links to other organizations or publications imply neither endorsement of their policies nor any association with the Democratic Party or Democrats Abroad – UK.