The most recent issue of the German magazine “Zeit Geschichte” features in its topical issue dedicated to propaganda an interview Professor Quandt (PropStop Project) and the historian Wolfgang Wippermann. They spoke about conspiracy theories, political propaganda and the influence of the internet.
Professor Quandt reminds the reader that there is little empirical evidence to support the common public perception of a “post-fact” age with an increased amount of lies. Only the visibility of formerly inaccessible private discussions has increased due to social media.
He also cautions against equating all supporters of the controversial ‘Lügenpresse’ accusation. People with a vague distrust towards journalists should be distinguished from those who see the issue as a political agenda and allege an organised conspiracy. Quandt sees the attraction of such fringe theories in the promise of some kind of ‘exclusive’ truth, unbeknownst to the majority. History though has proven some of these ideas right, e.g. the mechanisms of the American NSA intelligence agency.
Although the internet allows the proponents of conspiracy theories to connect and interact better than before, the real danger lies in state-sponsored propaganda, according to Professor Quandt. The Russian intelligence services are the most prominent example, but he suspects that other nations might engage in similar practise.
Viewers and readers should carefully question information that they encounter online and remain aware of such manipulation attempts. At the end, the term of President Trump might help engage a new young generation with politics.
The full article (in German) can be read free of charge here.