Disinformation is by no means a novel concept; history is littered with examples of the
diffusion of deceptive content. Sun Tzu recognised the central role of disinformation in
conflict advocating that [a]ll warfare is based on deception.” 1 The invention of the printing
press saw a rise in the spreading of false content. 2 King Leopold’s international
disinformation campaign sought to sow discord and distrust amongst his critics, 3 and the
KGB of the former Soviet Union had dedicated departments conducting disinformation

While the objective of deceiving people is not novel, the nature of the beast is amplified
through the use of social media and other online platforms, that are enabling and unleashing
new and innovative ways of disseminating content in mass. The speed, reach, and scope of
information production and dissemination have expanded exponentially in the digital era.

As of late, we have seen online disinformation scourge the fairness and credibility of elections in
several countries around the world, threatening democratic political and policy-making
processes. We were recently presented with innumerable challenges concerning
disinformation amidst the current global health crisis, observed the impact of disinformation
and incitement during the July unrest in 2021, and are currently confronted with orchestrated
disinformation campaigns targeting foreign nationals.

Discussion Document – Disinformation through a childrens rights lens

For more information contact:

William Bird

williamb@mma.org.za/ 011 788 1278