Disinformation and the 2024 Presidential Election w/ David Gilbert

Disinformation and the 2024 Presidential Election w/ David Gilbert

In this episode of "Democracy Nerd," host Jefferson Smith is joined by David Gilbert, a senior reporter for WIRED magazine specializing in disinformation and online extremism. As the 2024 presidential election looms, their conversation delves into the profound implications of disinformation and misinformation on democratic processes worldwide.

Gilbert explains the core differences between disinformation (deliberately false information spread to deceive) and misinformation (false information spread without harmful intent), and how both differ from propaganda. The discussion highlights the alarming inaction of social media platforms in addressing disinformation and misinformation campaigns. Despite the evident threat these campaigns pose, platforms are criticized for their lackluster response and insufficient guardrails.

Gilbert contrasts the capabilities of different state actors in executing misinformation campaigns, noting that Russia has been particularly adept compared to others like China. He discusses how these foreign influences further complicate the information landscape.

The conversation underscores the potential consequences of unchecked disinformation and misinformation, including the erosion of public trust in elections. Gilbert and Smith stress that the continuous onslaught of lies could lead to a scenario where the public loses its ability to discern truth from falsehood, threatening the very foundation of democracy, bringing to mind the line from the TV miniseries 'Chernobyl': "What is the cost of lies? It's not that we'll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all."

This episode provides a thorough examination of the current state of disinformation and misinformation, particularly in the context of the upcoming 2024 election, serving as a wake-up call about the urgent need for robust measures to safeguard the integrity of democratic processes against the backdrop of rampant online falsehoods.