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Ukraine, Disinformation, Propaganda and the Platforms

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Protestors gather in New York’s Times Square to demand Russia end its illegal war to occupy Ukraine, February 25 2022

In this special episode of the podcast, we’re going to consider questions related to disinformation and the information ecosystem, and the role of the tech platforms in this deadly moment. 

The first guest is Clint Watts, a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and Non-Resident Fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a national security contributor for NBC News and MSNBC, and author of Messing With The Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians and Fake News. His research and writing focuses on terrorism, counterterrorism, social media influence and Russian disinformation, and he has testified before multiple Senate committees regarding Russia’s information warfare campaign against the U.S. and the West. We discuss his recent analysis of Russian disinformation targeting Ukraine.

The second guest is Taylor Lorenz, a reporter covering tech culture and online creators who has worked for The New York Times, The Atlantic, and recently joined The Washington Post as a columnist. Taylor wrote this week for Input Magazine about meme scams capitalizing on the Ukraine conflict, and I spoke to her about what they say about our social media driven information ecosystem.

The final guest is Patrick Coffee, a correspondent at Business Insider on the media and advertising team. He was formerly editor at large at Adweek, where he led the agencies team and managed the AgencySpy blog. I spoke to him about his recent reporting on how platforms and the broader ad tech ecosystem are handling the conflict, and the ethical choices they face about how or whether to do business with Russian state media.