Is the global village becoming a Potemkin village? Back in the optimistic 90s, many were certain that the Internet would spell the end of ‘Potemkin villages’ and bring a new era of media pluralism, where people could express themselves online, sharing stories and raising voices previously left unheard. Today, we have to wonder: is anyone listening? Worse yet: are louder, more powerful voices drowning them out? Fake news, Cambridge Analytica, the death of independent journalism and social-media echo chambers are the Internet’s reality in so-called Western democracies. Elsewhere – in China, Russia and Myanmar, among others – state propaganda and censorship have adapted surprisingly well to social media, using the algorithm to push their agenda, and drown out the voices of those struggling to be heard. Going into the new decade, this panel wonders aloud whether the global village we hoped the Internet would bring is actually becoming the Potemkin Village that we hoped it would eliminate. It explores three fundamental questions. What will Propaganda 2.0 look like? How can we fight it? And, what are the wider social issues that will shape this fight?

Organised in association with Media Diversity Institute (UK) and International Center for Journalists (USA).