Glasgow South MP, Stewart McDonald, has today published a report entitled ‘Disinformation in Scottish Public Life’. The report, the first of its kind in Scotland, is Mr McDonald’s assessment of disinformation activity in Scotland over recent years, including with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic and political campaigns.
Mr McDonald assesses the actions of hostile states and other actors, outlining some examples of the different ways in which they seek to interact with people in Scotland on a range of issues and via different platforms and means.
The report also outlines 9 recommendations that he believes will help make Scotland more information resilient, building up a national resistance to hostile disinformation campaigns and conspiracy theories.
Commenting on the publication, Stewart McDonald said:
‘Disinformation is not a new threat, but it is one that is now more sophisticated than it has ever been before. It represents a challenge to open societies that many countries across Europe and the wider world are dealing with, and Scotland is no different. Any challenge to our own security, public health and societal cohesion must be met with a robust national strategy to counter that challenge and maintain the open, democratic way of life we enjoy.
‘This report, whilst not a wholesale strategy, is an attempt to outline my own assessment of how the threat of disinformation to Scotland currently manifests itself and maps out some ideas on how we can meet that threat. This ought to be something that has way more discussion in political and public life and so I hope, if nothing else, that is what my report encourages.
‘The pandemic has brought into sharp focus why this issue is of real importance. Disinformation, both before and during the vaccine campaign, has been weaponised at levels nobody imagined. Clear public health messaging really matters when you are trying to save lives by communicating facts, and there is no shortage of people who want to distort those facts and disrupt our ability, as an open society, to communicate them clearly.
‘As we start to both recover and learn from the pandemic, it is incredibly important that lessons around how we counter-disinformation is part of that learning process. We cannot go into the next pandemic – and there will be another in the future – with the same toolkit as we’ve used this time round. Disinformation campaigns are always evolving to become more sophisticated and better resourced, and so too must our own counter-disinformation strategy.
"I hope this report encourages some deep and cross-party thinking on the issue, and encourages politicians and civil society groups to work together and help Scotland build robust information resilience that is fit for the modern age."
Read the full ‘Disinformation in Scottish Public Life’ report here