Region II Disinformation monitoring in Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and Central America)

  • Tickner, Arlene Beth (PI)

Project: Research Project

Project Details


GEC funding will allow Global Americans to deepen and make more systematic our existing news-monitoring program, and instrumentalize and disseminate our findings and propaganda alert system, to monitor international and domestic media, and improve objective, professional journalism. To do this, Global Americans will work with four local counterparts in Latin America to track state media and social media feeds and report on potential misleading stories, tactics and target audiences in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and Central America. Through these counterparts, together with Columbia University School of Journalism professors, Global Americans will train journalists, scholars and civil society leaders in Latin America to detect, expose and report on false narratives intended, intentionally or unintentionally, to misinform and mislead. In addition to developing a trained network to track international and domestic media, Global Americans will produce quarterly reports on the patterns and tactics of these media operations and their social media counterparts and use its extensive media and academic network to publish articles and op eds to inform—in English, Spanish and Portuguese—and improve the public debate on these issues.
Why does this matter? Today, new forms of political influence, often wielded through state-sponsored media disinformation campaigns, are a part of a strategy by non-democratic regimes. For external actors, these media and their activities reflect a long-game to broaden geo-strategic and even territorial goals by building allies, undermining U.S. and Western influence and recasting the international order in favor of non-democratic states. Though Latin America and the Caribbean are often overlooked in discussions on the phenomenon, in the past decade, foreign state media have assumed a greater role in Western Hemisphere’s media landscape, both directly and indirectly.
According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), state media companies from non-democratic states are investing heavily to increase their global presence. This included local language media sites, YouTube channels, news bureaus, and social media accounts. A central goal of these efforts is to influence public perception of these non-democratic states and their policies and tilt local media coverage and sow disinformation and discord. Countering this near-and long-term threat to democratic norms, public consensus and discourse, and values of transparency, civility, tolerance, open markets and political systems, and human rights requires first understanding the sources, methods, targets, and themes of these state-based propaganda and disinformation campaigns. Collecting and using that information is essential for working with journalists, civil society organizations, academics, and policymakers throughout the region to alert citizens and decision makers of their intent and false claims. To this end, Global Americans will work with four local counterpart organizations to:
● Form a cross-regional network to detect and share misleading stories and disinformation efforts published by foreign state media in Latin America;
● Identify and report on the social media agents at disinformation/misinformation and monitor efforts to influence civil society, media and policymakers in Latin America to develop an understanding of these external actors’ and tactics and intentions in the developing world;
● Develop a database of foreign state media actors’ stories in English, Spanish and Portuguese that will allow Global Americans and counterparts to identify the modalities of their intent and tactics, including through social media and video format;
● Publish quarterly reports in Spanish, Portuguese and English on foreign state media actors’ ongoing disinformation campaigns, both through state-owned media and proxy media in the region;
● Work with local counterparts to publish a series of op-eds, articles and research notes in prominent local newspapers owned by the syndicate Grupo de Diarios América and in academic journals in English, Spanish and Portuguese;
● Train 20+ journalists in the region on the tactics, intent, targets, and messages of these foreign actors’ activities, stories and tactics in Latin America and the Caribbean to better expose them and craft a new public narrative about their intentions relative to Western values, U.S. leadership, the international liberal order and its development model; and
● Publish an end-of-year report that details the findings of the research and activism project including: the extent, nature and objectives of foreign state-media campaign and disinformation—domestic and international—the targets of those efforts—in media, countries, population sub-groups, decisionmakers, and topics—reasons for targeting these groups and themes, effectiveness in shaping public opinion and debate and journalism generally, and how to combat these efforts.
Project stakeholders include Global Americans and its counterparts, as well as objective, independent journalists and the consumers of media. Through our monitoring and evaluation plan, Global Americans will measure the extent to which it has affected those stakeholders, including media consumers, policymakers and citizens in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The guiding principle of this project—and Global Americans—is that as the developing world, including but not limited to Latin America and the Caribbean, become more globally integrated, the efforts by countries and foreign actors that do not share values of open political systems and markets both within the Western Hemisphere and beyond need to be better monitored, reported on and understood. At risk are not only the values of human rights, open markets and democracy but also the norms and institutions that have provided the foundation for the broader post-World War Two international liberal order.

Commitments / Obligations

● Regular communication among partners in the region and with Global Americans to share information on a monthly basis on tactics, messages, and partners of media—traditional and social;
● Greater appreciation among the media, academics, policymakers and citizens of the presence and tactics of modern propaganda and mis/dis-information, especially regarding Western values of open markets and societies, human rights and economic growth; and
● Increased media and academic attention on propaganda leading to greater analysis and dedication to this topic in the media and in academic research.
Effective start/end date8/3/207/31/21

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Main Funding Source

  • International


  • South America


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