Social media is a frontier of battle, and what could be unfettered space for democratic participation has been weaponised through thousands of bot armies creating false narratives, altering public opinion and seeking to intimidate those with differing views.

Bell Pottinger ran an effective campaign on behalf of the Gupta family to condemn the mainstream media as collaborators with white monopoly capital. Some journalists were targeted as "paid agents" and opponents of radical economic transformation.

The EFF has sprouted its own campaign. It charges that critical commentary and questioning of the party emanates from a "mob" of journalists serving a racist agenda.

In his final column published by the Washington Post after his death, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi wrote that Arab governments "have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate". People in these countries are uninformed or misinformed, he wrote. "They are unable to adequately address, much less publicly discuss, matters that affect the region and their day-to-day lives. A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche, and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative." As international outrage mounted over his disappearance, Khashoggi's point was underlined. Twitter suspended a large spam-bot network that engaged in an "influence operation" on behalf of the Saudi government to change the narrative. The horrific details of Khashoggi's torture and dismemberment after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul are a chilling reminder of how independent-minded journalists are a threat and detest...

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