Distinguished Professor and Thomas E. Eimermann Professor Dr. Ali Riaz has published an essay on the role of controlling the flow of information by the new autocratic regimes. In the essay, titled “Democratic Backsliding and Information Battle,”
Riaz argues that institutional aspects of the democratic backsliding, including changes in constitutions and electoral systems, have received attention but how information is controlled has not been explored. ‘The new autocrats have adopted various legal measures and employed various strategies to establish a firm control over the mediascape,” he writes.
“The survival of autocrats is dependent on a host of factors—coercion or a threat of coercion against the critics, ensuring pliant institutions, developing a veneer of legitimacy, co-opting various segments of society, to name a few. Drawing on the large number of instances, what has become more obvious is that one factor plays a crucial role: the control of information,” Riaz continues.
One of the growing phenomena is the emergence of the “troll army” The troll army dishes out not only about the positive elements of the non-democratic forces but is also geared towards undermining the legitimacy of critical voices. They drown the voices of the opposition and inundate them with messages which sway public opinion.