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The degree to which this has already occurred only becomes apparent when something cherished is lost: when a foreign power successfully subverts a democratic process (Russia in the 2016 US election) or when a health crisis cannot spur people to follow sound public health advice (COVID-19). The problem is much more widespread. Last year “social media manipulation campaigns” were detected in 70 countries.

Stakes are high. There are many ways that unfettered digital disinformation campaigns (ie coordinated 'fake news' to further a malicious geopolitical goal) can affect Australia negatively, at the very top of them the legitimacy of any Government (for example a foreign state actor aiming to establish a friendly administration), or the mass loss of Australian life (as in the deliberate spread of misinformation about coronavirus).

But even more likely than these edge cases are the ones that pull apart the seams of the Australian social fabric every day: widening community divisions, increasing partisan echo chambers, increasing distrust of 'others' and the fuelling of violent extremism.

To ensure the integrity of our political discourse, elections and our ability to respond to crises like pandemics, and to be able to do so from the position of government, political parties need to both acknowledge and address this infodemic.

This report provides a roadmap for the Labor Party to do just that, and to harness the positive opportunities provided by the new landscape that allows for laser-targeted connection with voters, in a way that coalesces with the way people form political opinions in 2020 and beyond.