If the disinformation becomes more effective in influencing the public opinion and the majority’s will than the truth and the facts, then the war between information and disinformation will turn into a battle of different disinformation against one another. “Our disinformation” against “their disinformation”, disinformation that suits us against disinformation that doesn’t suit us. It is one of the basic rules, proven throughout history, for both communication and the media, and also for the technology: efficiency prevails, especially when it comes to the struggle for power and the battle of interests. Everything beyond that can only mean an improvement of the efficiency of the disinformation, and the fight against disinformation will only be possible by using disinformation in the war against disinformation.

This is a possible undesirable future that many researchers and analysts warn us about. Steve Fuller, in his book Post Truth: Knowledge as a Power Game, 2018, elaborates the idea that “knowledge depends on strategies for acquiring and maintaining power“. If disinformation prevails in “the power acquisition strategies”, then they will dictate the “knowledge” that should maintain that power.

Radio, which for the first time allowed the human voice to be transmitted to a mass audience, played a key role in the popularity of Hitler and Mussolini, by empowering the masses with their frenetic speeches and ideas of nazism and fascism. Television, with the dominance of its selective visuality over truth, was a crucial means of creating a polarized world during the Cold War, just as the near-bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia was for us. Disinformation dispersed across the global network and the Internet has a similar potential to trigger tectonic changes throughout history. Radio, television, and the Internet, each in its historical phase, have had a crucial influence on how power is created and how knowledge is controlled in favor of that power.

If we analyze for what purposes disinformation is most effective, then its narrowest circle of answers certainly entails their potential to polarize society. The spread of disinformation that promotes intolerance, hatred and discrimination has proven to be one of the most effective ways of political mobilization during this decade. This is confirmed by numerous studies, including a study by Oxford University, which states that “manipulation of public opinion through the internet and social networks is becoming an increasing threat to public life”. First at stake are the trust in information and their truthfulness, which undermines the democratic process and citizens’ decision-making in their societies. This directly affects the shift from the war of arguments and facts to a polarization and weakening of the control mechanisms of violence.

According to this study, the presence of disinformation has been demonstrated in 48 countries worldwide. In each of these countries it was proven that there’s at least one political party or government agency that use social media to manipulate the domestic public opinion. Often this means organized dissemination of information during elections and cases of increased crisis where countries feeling threatened by disinformation and external interference take counter-activities. Since 2010, more than half a billion dollars have been spent on research, development and implementation of operations for manipulation of the public opinion through social media.


What about North Macedonia?

In the case of North Macedonia, the use of disinformation to polarize political and interethnic relations had a central role. The spread of disinformation is spread on several levels, and due to the low media culture, hyper-fragmentation of the media and the drastic fall of the journalistic standards, they have found fertile ground and proved to be a very effective means of intergovernmental polarization. The main focus of the disinformation were the online media, but due to the low professional standards and media partisanship, many of them circulated also through the electronic and print media as well. According to the research analyzes and reviews of local media monitoring and fact-checking services, the main purposes of using disinformation are:

– increasing the political and civic polarization

– increasing the ethnic/inter-religious tensions (primarily between ethnic Macedonians and Albanians)

– strengthening nationalist-patriotic activities and their support

– debilitating the pro-western orientation of the country

– disputing the Prespa Agreement and undermining its support

– disruption of the local media ecosystem and disruption of the professional journalism

– promotion of pseudo-science, superstitions and conspiracy theories.


The most commonly used methods for achieving these goals include mobilizing local groups and organized supporters through the use of:

-Creating “online groups” or units at the level of local parties or organizations and coordinating their activities on the popular social networks. Their purpose is to reinforce certain propaganda through coordinated sharing and dissemination, as well as taking control of social media discussions. Spread of planned disinformation is usually done through mass publishing, sharing, liking, commenting, linking, and so on. They can create false popularity, virality, hysteria or moral panic. Optionally, advertising opportunities are also used to boost message dissemination. The ultimate goal is to somehow “hack” the algorithms used by the social networks and news aggregators and other content through organized publishing and sharing.

– Coordinating attacks on individuals and groups, as well as creating a content aimed at defocusing from other topics or problems. Planned and systematic attacks on individuals or smaller groups are carried out by mockery or ‘trolling’, direct attacks through hate speech or other types of verbal attacks and pressures. Their purpose is to eliminate opposing or alternative narratives and attitudes from those they represent and defend. Various means from the local colloquial inventory are used for this purpose, which are often reduced to hate speech and vulgar verbal assault.

-Creating bots, i.e. fake profiles, orders, and accounts for spreading and disseminating online propaganda. False profiles can be controlled by a human factor or be fully automated.

– Techniques of creating and distributing “fake news” by publishing completely fake content (text, photos, videos) and distributing them online, or manipulating existing events supplemented by disinformation.

– Targeted propaganda, i.e. the use of processed data from social networks or official documents to individuals, groups and institutions, which may be framed, decontextualized or manipulated in a variety of other ways.

Unfortunately, in the case of North Macedonia it has been confirmed that the Internet and social networks are great media used to inform, but they’re even better disinformation tools.


Sead Dzigal




This project was funded in part through a U.S. Embassy grant. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the implementers/authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Government.


© 2024 F2N2.