The NYT leads with an alarming story about the UK’s Patriot News Agency, run by James Dowson, a far-right political activist. The article reports that ‘With the explicit aim of getting Donald J. Trump elected, a website run by a far-right activist pumped out anti-Hillary Clinton hoaxes and drew tens of thousands of views’.
With more and more young people turning to social media as their primary source of news and false news on Facebook now at critical levels, the NYT’s story is deeply worrying.
Whilst propaganda and disinformation is not new, the weakness and biased positions of the mainstream media plus the growth of social media is a strategic threat to mature democracies. Just like the far-left, the far-right suppress the truth and underlying evidence, claiming that ‘the end justifies the means‘. But history reminds us that populism is ultimately a tool of corrupt dictators, who prefer totalitarian regimes depriving widely accepted democratic freedoms.