A deep dive into the world of disinformation, exploring how and why it’s spreading at pace throughout the world, and the striking consequences for social cohesion and democracy. ‘Manufacturing Chaos‘ follows the journey of online disinformation from its origins in conflict zones of Asia and the Middle East, to the 2016 Brexit vote and Presidency of Donald Trump, through to the ultimate amplifier and recruiting tool, the 2020 Covid Pandemic.
The documentary reveals how similar ideas, words and memes infect rebel movements being sparked across the world. The disinformation specialists featured in the documentary warn of an existential crisis for democracies, which expert Sanjana Hattotuwa says are “under attack in a way you would’ve thought ended with the Cold War”.
‘Manufacturing Chaos‘ examines how the convergence of rising inequality, our increasing reliance on the online world, combined with new tools for manipulation, has enabled the creation of parallel realities. People living within the same community can now perceive the world in vastly different ways, depending on where they hang out online.
The power to manipulate narratives and herd people toward falsehoods (be it about stolen elections, vaccine conspiracies, or who’s to blame for any of your woes), raises the stakes so high that peace and cooperation are becoming increasingly fragile. Which is, of course, the goal of disinformation – a term from Cold War propaganda studies about calculated campaigns to create information that’s incorrect and have it dispersed.
Agents knowingly dealing in falsehoods believe there is something to gain through creating chaos and eroding public trust – be they wealthy individuals who dislike a particular government, or groups who oppose progressive societal changes, or authoritarian nation states – such as Russia and China – keen to reset global power structures away from the grip of liberal democracies.
‘Manufacturing Chaos‘ concludes by contemplating what might be next, as we edge further toward a world where all economic and social interaction moves into the virtual world through the creation of the metaverse. Interestingly, this new generation of ‘digital natives’ are increasing critical and aware of manipulation… and keen to change the trajectory.
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