ISD’s Head of Digital Integrity, Jiore Craig, spoke to ABC’s RN Breakfast show about disinformation and misinformation being spread ahead of the Australian elections, and what ISD is doing with partners to prevent false and misleading narratives from taking hold.
Speaking about how elections have become experimental spaces for information manipulation, Jiore told ABC: “Australia is another petri dish for bad actors to experiment with as they try out tactics to sow distrust in elections and election systems.”
Jiore also noted that disinformation narratives are often carried over from different contexts, particularly the United States, with one example being “to do with voting machines that are not used here and will not be used here unless there is a legislative change.”
There is a common perception that fact checking and information manipulation detection is purely about finding blatant falsehoods. Jiore told ABC, though, “more than false claims, we look at things that are trying to evoke an emotional reaction from the audience and move them in a specific direction. It might be to make them confused or mistrust what’s going on, or simply to sow doubt about what candidates are saying.”
She also highlighted the importance of recognising key contextual factors in different countries’ electoral systems. For Australia, this includes the presence of diaspora communities for whom English is not a first language: “we know that mis and disinformation can disproportionately go unchecked in diaspora communities that speak other languages, and that’s something that fact checkers need to be considering.”