Comments from Charles K. Asima:
Fascinating study. America, Russia, Israel, China, and the UAE spend the most money on manufacturing consensus. Imagine my shock. But most nations and political parties use bots and paid shills, or some combination of both, to get support. Yet the authors still consider Russiagate a scandal, even though everybody knows that Russia has used highly sophisticated propaganda to manipulate the American public at least as early as the Great Depression.
The Authors of this study are disturbingly optimistic about government regulation of disinformation. Not only is regulatory capture inevitable, but freedom of speech includes the freedom to be wrong and mislead others. If this were not the case communism would have been banned at least a century ago, and the United States would never have been breeding the rampant ground for Fourieran cults, new age wackery, christian sects of every variety, and afrocentric mumbo jumbo that it was. Most countries, including the majority of Liberal Democracies, have some censorship laws which are used to silence criticism of political leaders, edgy humor, and political and scholarly debate. There is no reason to suspect that the anti-disinformation task forces of say China or Germany, would amount to anything more than extensions of their expression limiting laws, with extremely Orwellian names.
Much fake news is just sloppy and/or hyper-partisan journalism, without any intent to deceive. Even sites that publish garbage, like Infowars or Natural News, occasionally publish real stories. And respected, reliable, establishment news sources like the New York Times and CNN, fall for hoaxes and promote psuedoscholarship so frequently it is sometimes hard to believe it isn’t deliberate.
Also what one considers “extremist” opinion is highly subjective, especially in the evermore polarized western world.