Abstract: In an era of post-truth politics and rising populism, this seminar assesses the viability of state-led attempts to counter propaganda and misinformation online. It takes an historical approach by examining the antecedents of current approaches in two programs at the US State Department: the Counter-misinformation Team and the Digital Outreach Team. Both programs sought to win the hearts and minds of Muslim people in the context of Islamist radicalisation by identifying false information and correcting the record. I suggest that governments working in this space should take seriously the shortcomings evident in these programs. The most relevant issue in this regard is the recurring problem of credibility, when the authenticity of government information is undercut by the realities of foreign policy practice, and existing perceptions of hypocrisy are reinforced in target audiences.
Bio: Tim Aistrope is Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Kent. He was previously Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales. His research interests include IR theory, post-truth politics, asymmetric warfare, cyber security and the implications of new media for war and peace. These themes are drawn together in a recent book, Conspiracy Theory and American Foreign Policy (MUP, 2016), which explores the relationship between secrecy, power and interpretation in US foreign policy after 9/11. His research has also been published in leading international outlets, including European Journal of International Relations, International Affairs and Security Dialogue.
DetailsOpen to everyone, especially those interested in cyber security research,
Contact: Jason R.C. Nurse