Over 30 countries employ online opinion manipulators: report

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While the issue of alleged Russian involvement in elections heat up in the US a new report says that governments 30 countries deployed some form of manipulation to distort online information during last year.

The techniques included employment of paid commentators, trolls, bots, false news sites, and propaganda outlets.

This was revealed by Freedom on the Net 2017 report by US NGO Freedom House that assesses internet freedom in 65 countries, which accounted for 87 percent of internet users worldwide.

The report is based primarily on happenings between June 2016 and May 2017.

“Online manipulation and disinformation tactics played an important role in elections in at least 18 countries over the past year, including the United States, damaging citizens’ ability to choose their leaders based on factual news and authentic debate,” the NGO said.

“Governments are now using social media to suppress dissent and advance an antidemocratic agenda,” said Sanja Kelly, director of the Freedom on the Net project.

“Not only is this manipulation difficult to detect, it is more difficult to combat than other types of censorship, such as website blocking, because it’s dispersed and because of the sheer number of people and bots deployed to do it,” Kelly said.

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