Over the past few years, the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) have observed efforts to undermine election-related information integrity in every corner of the world. Without concerted efforts to identify, respond to, and build long-term resilience to election-related information manipulation, attacks on information integrity threaten to delegitimize elections globally, reduce faith in elected governments, polarize societies and weaken democracies writ large.
Dealing with information manipulation around an election is a new and unfamiliar phenomenon for many countries. Civil society actors, journalists, governments, election management bodies and other democratic actors often end up scrambling to respond in the lead-up to an election. To address this challenge, IRI, NDI and SIO have joined forces to create this course, intended to help leapfrog the first six months of the electoral preparation process. The course lays out the basics of the problem and the core elements of a response, and points to trusted resources for those looking to do a deeper dive into a particular type of intervention or threat.
We hope this course will enable you and everyone dedicated to defending democracy to push back against efforts that undermine free and fair political competition. Since information manipulation is an ongoing challenge, this playbook will also be useful outside of an election cycle.
This certification course will provide an entry-level understanding of concepts, approaches and practical skills needed to effectively use technology to support democratic development. Modules will leverage real-world examples and examine practical challenges. In addition, a series of seminars with leading voices in the field will examine emerging trends in technology and the challenges and opportunities they pose to democratic resilience around the world.
The course approach consists of how to (1) identify ongoing information manipulation campaigns; (2) develop real-time and short-term responses; and (3) build long-term resilience to information manipulation. While we outline three distinct steps in this playbook, the process for combating information manipulation is circular, with each step overlapping and reinforcing the others. Planning timelines will vary based on context, but—if at all possible—we encourage proactive rather than reactive planning to effectively counter electoral information manipulation. The course’s three-part strategy can help you develop rapid and real-time responses, as well as establish long-term and sustainable approaches to building resilience in order to maintain the integrity of elections and strengthen democratic processes.