Divisions within Libya’s civil war have been amplified by foreign-sponsored disinformation campaigns. Reconciliation and peacebuilding will require local actors to reclaim Libya’s digital spaces.
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The growing sophistication of Russia’s disinformation campaigns in Africa demand greater vigilance from tech companies, internet watchdog groups, and governments.
Disinformation campaigns are popular among states accused of human rights violations and war crimes. None is more popular than the Russian template: a two-pronged approach that attacks the credibility of reporters of abuses as well as sows confusion about the reality of the abuse itself, thereby denying the possibility for any serious accounting. And yet, tech-enabled citizens can set the record straight. The collection of evidence—pictures, recordings, texts—can be crowd-sourced with the ubiquitous mobile phone. Combined with satellite imagery and international fact-finding missions, this evidence becomes irrefutable and can force accountability on states.
(This article originally appeared as a chapter in "Russia Strategic Intentions White Paper," Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) publication series, NSI, May 2019.)
Russia has significantly expanded its engagements in Africa in recent years. These engagements often take the form of propping up embattled and isolated autocratic leaders of countries that are rich in natural resources. The United States can draw a distinction with Russia’s destabilizing role by pursuing a positive engagement strategy in Africa. The United States must avoid the Cold War trap of competing with Russia for the affections of corrupt, autocratic leaders in Africa, however, as such a policy would be disastrous for Africa while not advancing US interests.
Nigeria faces an array of security challenges beyond Boko Haram. Distinguishing these threats and understanding their socio-geographic contours is essential for adapting customized solutions.
The rise in disinformation in Africa poses a threat to security, public health, and democracy. Combatting this requires building the capacity of Africa’s fact-checking community and improving media literacy.
African elections in 2020 will be a test against efforts to erode presidential term limits and other democratic checks and balances, with direct consequences for stability on the continent.