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Fake news, hacking threat to democracy now on ‘unseen scale’, report says

The ABC’s Patrick Wood reports (29.5.17) on new research from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute which demonstrates the increasingly complex cyber and information environment in which democracies are operating, and where election interference is becoming ‘the new normal’.

‘The internet and social media pose an unprecedented threat to Australia’s democratic systems and an urgent response is needed to safeguard against attacks, according to a new report.

‘The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) report drew on case studies from the US and found technology had enabled malicious foreign forces to potentially influence elections on a “scale and scope previously unseen”.

‘”Two critical elements of the democratic process are under assault,” said the report’s author, Zoe Hawkins.

‘”The security of our election infrastructure — think hacked voting machines — and the integrity of our public debates — think fake news. “The technical vulnerabilities of elections is an increasingly attractive target for malicious actors as systems become increasingly digital”.

‘ASPI’s report, Securing Democracy in the Digital Age, focuses heavily on the recent US presidential election and Russian influence. It found that in the days just before the 2016 election, Facebook users’ engagement with fake news actually surpassed engagement with mainstream news.’

Australia’s trust in media at record low as ‘fake news’ fears grow, survey finds

Amanda Meade reports in The Guardian (7.2.18) on a study which shows people are far more willing to trust traditional news media than Facebook and Twitter, but that trust in all media is worryingly low.

‘Trust in the media in Australia is at a record low of just 31% and consumers say they struggle to tell the difference between fake news and facts, according to a global survey of trust and credibility in institutions.

‘The Edelman Trust Barometer is an 18-year annual study of attitudes across 28 countries towards four pillars of society: government, non-government organisations, business and the media.

‘Australia and Singapore were the only two countries to have declined in trust across all four institutions this year: Australia’s trust in NGOs is 48%, business 45%, government 35% and media 31%. Only Turkey, on 30%, scored lower on the question of trust in the media.

‘However the news is not all bad for the Australian media as the public appears to recognise the difference between traditional media outlets and social media, and is far more willing to trust the journalism in newspapers and online media than Facebook and Twitter.

‘The diminishing trust in media overall is driven by the public’s growing distaste for social media and the way it spreads fake news.’

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