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COVID-19 as an accelerator for information operations in elections

PUBLISHED:
11/09/2020
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Figure 1. Internet penetration in 2020: The Covid-19 pandemic moves economic, political and social activities online and creates pressures to reduce the remaining digital divide fast and further grow the global village. 
Source: The authors based on data from http://www.internetworldstats.com; https://countrymeters.info/en/World

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this commentary are those of the authors. This commentary is independent of specific national or political interests. Views expressed do not necessarily represent the institutional position of International IDEA, its Board of Advisers or its Council of Member States.

In the 1960s, the Canadian professor Marshall McLuhan coined the term global village[1] to refer to the interconnectedness of the planet that came along with advances in communications that allowed information to reach all corners of the world in real-time.

In 2020, the World Health Organization introduced the term infodemic[2] to describe the huge volume of information, often misleading, disseminated in the context of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

As this infodemic sweeps through the global village it acts as an accelerator for information operations in elections and creates the need for election managers to develop new strategies and responses to a range of online challenges.

Read the full article in the Association of European Election Officials (ACEEEO)'s Elections in Europe 15th Volume.
[1] A phrase with predominantly negative connotations used by Marshall McLuhan in The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, written in 1961 and first published in Canada, Toronto University Press, 1962.
[2] “We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic” stated the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a meeting with foreign policy and security experts in Munich, Germany, in February.
United Nations, UN tackles ‘infodemic’ of misinformation and cybercrime in COVID-19 crisis, 31 March 2020, <https://www.un.org/en/un-coronavirus-communications-team/un-tackling-%E2%80%98infodemic%E2%80%99-misinformation-and-cybercrime-covid-19>, accessed 24 August 2020

SOBRE EL AUTOR

Senior Expert
Peter Wolf

Peter Wolf works for International IDEA's Electoral Processes team. His work focuses on the application of digital technologies in elections, emerging challenges and the sustainable and trusted implementation of ICTs in electoral processes. 

SOBRE EL AUTOR

Seconded National Expert (PEA Romania)
Ingrid Bicu

Ingrid Bicu is currently serving as expert on strategic communications and elections at the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), seconded by the Permanent Electoral Authority of Romania.