Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has revealed that journalism is contending with an increasing amount of propaganda and misinformation, with the help of AI software and inadequate oversight from tech companies. RSF’s annual ranking of 180 countries showed that the environment for journalists was rated “bad” in 70% of the countries, and “good” in only eight. The countries with the best and worst press freedom ratings remained Norway and North Korea, respectively.

Artificial Intelligence’s Role in Disinformation

Misinformation and propaganda are drowning out trustworthy news, and the rapid growth of AI is making it even harder to distinguish between the real and the false. RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire stated that “it is the tech industry that allows disinformation to be produced, distributed, and amplified,” and that “reliable information is drowned in a deluge of disinformation.” Deloire cited the example of Elon Musk’s new paid-for verification system as an arbitrary, payment-based approach to information. RSF also mentioned Midjourney, an AI programme that produces high-quality images feeding social media with increasingly plausible and undetectable fake ‘photos’.

Political Interference and Disinformation Industry

Traditional forms of political interference are becoming more prevalent in many countries. RSF highlighted the cases of Russia, India, and China, where two-thirds of countries have political actors who are often or systematically involved in massive disinformation or propaganda campaigns. RSF also supported a consortium of investigative journalists working on “Forbidden Stories,” which revealed the activities of Israeli firm “Team Jorge,” which specialises in producing disinformation.

The countries with the worst press freedom ratings were North Korea, Vietnam, which has almost completed its hunt of independent reporters and commentators, and China, the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, according to the report. Meanwhile, India has fallen from “problematic” to “very bad,” due to media takeovers by oligarchs close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The United States fell three places to 45th, mainly due to a deteriorating security situation for journalists. The biggest falls were seen in Peru, Senegal, and Haiti. The Middle East and North Africa remain the most dangerous region for journalists, while Europe remains the safest, though attacks on journalists in Germany saw it drop five places.

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