In September 2024, the United Nations is set to launch its “Global Digital Compact,” which will outline shared principles for an “open, free and secure digital future for all.” This sounds promising in theory. But a growing divide between U.N. leaders and their Silicon Valley counterparts threatens to undermine these efforts.
Over the past decade, the use of smartphones to check the latest news updates has become the first reaction of many people to crisis. But as debates over the lessons that militaries can learn from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have shown, the fragmented nature of digital information flows can distort perceptions of events.
During the war in Ukraine, Telegram has been essential for communications. As a result, Moscow has infiltrated the encrypted messaging app’s channels to spread disinformation to Ukrainians and flood Russian users with pro-Kremlin content, indicating that when Moscow can’t block a technology, it will work to subvert and overwhelm it.