La Generalista is the online identity of Alicia Wanless – a researcher and practitioner of strategic communications for social change in a Digital Age. Alicia has spoken publicly on the Age of (Dis)information and Participatory Propaganda, and has shared her work and insights with senior government, military, industry leaders and academic experts at Wilton Park, the Munich Security Conference, the Hedayah Centre, NATO’s ARRC and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
21st Century Propaganda: Understanding Today’s Threats
Threat actors’ toolkits have evolved in the digital age. How can we respond effectively to manipulative messaging and the data that drives it? In this RUSI Journal Radio episode, hosts Demi, Emma and Ed are joined by David Gioe, Alicia Wanless and Daniel Dobrowolski to discuss the challenges facing the information environment and the measures that might protect it.
The Lawfare Podcast: Alicia Wanless on What’s Wrong with the Discussion of Influence Operations
Alicia Wanless is the director of the Partnership for Countering Influence Operations at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and she has a beef with the current debate over influence operations. Put simply, we don’t really know what works in countering them, and the studies of the subject all seem to be case studies using different methodologies and examining different things. Benjamin Wittes spoke with her about how we might improve our knowledge base on this subject, what kind of information we would need to study whether influence operations work and what works to counter them. They talked about transparency reporting requirements for the big tech companies, data sharing between companies and scholars, what a massive effort at research in this space would look like and whether it has any possibility of coming to be.
Social Media, Influence, and Democracy: Reconcilable Differences?
Did you know that about one in five US adults say they get their news primarily through social media? However, in addition to news, social media platforms have become incredibly efficient tools for spreading propaganda and disinformation credited with interference in elections in US, Mexico, France, Philippines and the Brexit referendum. The consequences of influence campaigns include partisan divide and increased violence against individuals, ethnic groups and religious minorities.
If information is the currency of democracy, and if exercising an informed choice is its backbone, then what is at stake is nothing less than the future of democracy itself. So how do you counter false narratives and influence campaigns? Our guest is Alicia Wanless is a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and PhD Researcher at King’s College London. Alicia conducts content and network analysis to research how we shape and are shaped by a changing Information environment.
At the Vanguard: How Women Lead the Charge in Researching Influence Operations
Women lead the way in researching influence operations, but their leadership comes at a cost. Often identifying and exposing nefarious campaigns that seek to discredit others, influence operations researchers frequently become targets of the operations themselves. Join us for a conversation with Maria Ressa, Shireen Mitchell, and Luiza Bandeira, moderated by Alicia Wanless, on the experiences of some of those women leading the charge to understand and counter influence operations. What drew them to the field? What are some of the challenges they face? And how can women be better protected online?
The De-Weaponization of Digital Information: What Have We Learned from the Last Year?
This event was co-hosted by the Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP) and FHI 360 to foster a rich discussion on the impact of online hate speech and disinformation on peace and stability in the US and across the globe. The forum provided a platform for practitioners and thought leaders to share lessons they have learned, and to make recommendations for how best to respond to overt digital influence operations by state and non-state actors.
Platform Bans and Free Speech on Conversations with the Future
The Center for the Governance of Change at IE University and Oscar Jonsson host Mark Scott, Chief Technology Correspondent, Politico and Alicia Wanless, Director, Partnership for Countering Influence Operations, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to discuss social media platform bans and free speech.
The Information Environment in a Digital Age on Diplomatic Immunity
Kelly McFarland and Alistair Somerville, talk to Alicia Wanless, director of the Partnership for Countering Influence Operations (PCIO) at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, on how to understand and tackle problems in the information environment.
Disinformation in 2020: Actors, Threats, Solutions
A panel talk hosted by the Institute for National Security Studies:
The Future of Data and Democracy
A panel session hosted by Aspen UK on 22 October 2020:
Russian Disinformation and the Media: One Journalist’s Story
Speaking to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s The World Unpacked on: What are influence operations? How do malign foreign actors choose targets to help spread disinformation? And what does it feel like to be an unwitting pawn in a foreign government’s campaign to sow division?
Zero Hour Podcast Interview #2
Discussing my role at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace and research related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Are we ready? Foreign interference, disinformation, and the 2020 election
Public and private sector leaders join the Digital Forensic Research Lab of the Atlantic Council to discuss what steps they have taken to secure the information space around the 2020 presidential election.
Zero Hour Podcast Interview #1
Speaking to Zero Hour about why we need to understand more about misinformation and influence operations for democracy.
How prepared are we for living in the information age?
Information’s role in conflict and persuasion isn’t new, what has changed is the speed, reach and ability of audiences to engage with content. Yet the reactions to findings of various actors attempting to manipulate the information environment to sway target audiences is being treated as a novel and exceptional threat, this chat explores some of the challenges around understanding this space and attempts to protect people without preparing them for life in an Information Age
Is Digital Propaganda Turning us into Propagandists?
Propaganda has traditionally followed a very top-down communication model. The propagandist issues persuasive messaging aimed at achieving a specific outcome among the target audience. As such, it’s been rather one way – like most mass media. With the internet and social media, however, the audience can in fact become coopted to propagate persuasive messaging too. This talk at Ryerson University’s Social Media Lab explores how persuasive communications are changing online through the example of Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, putting forward a model for participatory propaganda.
Talk Delivered 31 March 2017 in Toronto, Canada
Stop and Think – Before Falling Down the Digital Rabbit Hole
This TED Talk was presented at Whitehall in London. The event, Tedx Whitehall Women, was hosted by the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The theme of the overall TEDx event was “Time”. This talk posits that we should take the time to stop and think before falling down the digital rabbit hole, and covers issues such as online bullying, disinformation, complaining, and narcissism – but also suggests ways in which each of us can improve our information space for the better.