Science

Governments in 30 countries pay 'keyboard armies' to spread propaganda, report says

Governments in 30 countries pay 'keyboard armies' to spread propaganda, report says”

The Freedom of the Web 2017 survey was conducted by Friedham House, reports bgnes.

A study of social network manipulation found that of 65 surveyed countries, the governments of 30 of them found themselves active in targeting information in a false direction. However, most of the countries mentioned were using online manipulation to influence their own elections so their leaders could maintain power-not influence foreign elections, as Russian Federation did in the United States.

The organization said 2017 marked a seventh consecutive year of overall decline in internet freedom, as a result of these and other efforts to filter and censor information online.

"The effects of these rapidly spreading techniques on democracy and civic activism are potentially devastating", he added.

"Internet freedom improved in Georgia this year as internet penetration increased, and despite a brief blocking incident involving video-hosting platform Vimeo, the internet remained relatively free from censorship", the report reads. This includes a "keyboard army" of people hired for 10 dollars a day by the Philippine government to create the impression of broad support for the authorities' brutal action against drug trafficking. Meanwhile, in Turkey, reportedly 6,000 people have been enlisted by the ruling party to counter government opponents on social media. In one such example, Ukraine blocked Russia-based services, including the country's most widely used social network and search engine, in an effort to crack down on pro-Russian propaganda. "Democracies should ensure that the source of political advertising online is at least as transparent online as it is offline".

China was the worst offender among the 65 nations assessed, followed by Ethiopia and Syria. The survey found that governments in at least 14 countries are restricting Internet freedom in an attempt to cope with content manipulation.

A record number of governments have restricted mobile internet service for political or security reasons, often in areas populated by ethnic or religious minorities.

Russia, which ranked 15th-worst, saw a decline in Internet freedom bolstered by the "hypocritical link between state propaganda and legal restrictions on the media", while countries like Belarus, which ranked 18th-worst, disrupted mobile connectivity to prevent live-streamed images from reaching mass audiences.

Freedom House expressed concern over growing restrictions on VPNs - virtual private networks which allow circumvention of censors - which are now in place in 14 countries. In Jordan, a Christian cartoonist was murdered for mocking Islamist militants' vision of heaven, while in Myanmar, a journalist was murdered after posting on Facebook notes that alleged corruption.



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