The United States Made Information Free and Foreign Manipulation Possible

How Unrestricted Broadcasting Set the Stage for a Misinformation Overload

Dado Ruvic / Reuters

  “[False] reports can easily be propagated on an immense scale so as to confuse public opinion.” Today the above sentence sounds like one ripped from a news story about the role of social media—or cyberwarfare—in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. But the statement predates the Internet, and the anxiety it voiced was not American but French. The encroaching information superpower that the French government feared was in fact the United States, which at that time—and for decades to follow—assertively promoted its own right of way in international media traffic. Back in the 1960s, most countries outside the …