3.5 out of 5 stars

The nations of the world always seem to be at war, if it is not a hot war, then it is a cold war, but now we seem to be in a virtual war. But how do you find the people who are behind the denial of service attacks, who are responsible for trolling those that decide to make a stand against the common views and the physical locations of the bot farms that have sprung up.

What is truth in this modern age of fake news and disinformation? It is like we are living in a reimagined version of 1984, and Pomerantsev is well placed to see what is happening. Originally from the Soviet Union, he was deported with his dissident parents, Igor and Lina and ended up living in the UK. The time that they spent there and the ‘truth’ that they were fed on a daily basis under that regime showed him just what a state could do to manipulate everything that we saw and heard. The Russians are now doing to the rest of the world what they have inflicted on their population for decades.

A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on. – Terry Pratchett

We may have the world at our fingertips thanks to Google, but how do you know what you are reading is true or not? The institutions that we once could trust have become sullied by accusations of fake news. Social media has become the echo chamber where people amplify these untruths and anyone attempting to make a stand against this is often drowned out in the noise generated by the trolls. To stand out in these places people take more and more extreme views. Truth is manipulated and twisted in ways that you could not imagine.

I thought his first book was slightly better written than this one, but that really does not underline the impact that this book should have on the wider discussions on political discourse and social media influence. The Bot and Troll farms that he mentions are just terrifying, not only in what they are doing at the moment but also their potential to disrupt the very foundation of our democracies. The West may have won the cold war but will it win the virtual war in cyberspace…

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