Anya Schiffrin

Anya Schiffrin is an adjunct faculty member at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. She worked in Hanoi from 1997 to 1999 as the bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires.

Recent Articles

The Digital Destruction of Democracy

Social media is the best friend disinformation ever had, and the cure is far from obvious. 

Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics By Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, & Hal Roberts Oxford University Press This article appears in the Winter 2019 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Disinformation and propaganda spread by media have long been a staple of politics. But the 2016 elections raised new questions about the role of new media. What role did the interplay of new and old media play in getting authoritarian demagogues elected? How do new media platforms supercharge the spread of conspiracy theories and false ideas? Is there something different about the way Facebook and Twitter spread hate and lies? How can we stop them from doing so? Yochai Benkler and his co-authors Robert Faris and Hal Roberts have amassed reams of data tracing how extreme propaganda and disinformation seeped from the edges to the center of U.S. discourse in 2016. Much of this was done via social media platforms, of course, but...

Web of Light or Web of Darkness?

The Internet is not always the friend of democracy -- oppressive regimes can use it for their own ends.

A protester during Iran's 2009 Twitter revolution. (AP Photo)
Will the Internet foster democracy by disseminating information, frustrating censorship, and promoting citizen networking that circumvents and subverts repressive governments? The drama of the 2009 demonstrations in Iran (which ultimately failed to change the regime) has been used as evidence of the power of digital networking to defy repressive regimes. And WikiLeaks seems to prove that the genie of censorship cannot be bottled in the Internet Age. But in his new book, The Net Delusion, Evgeny Morozov disparages the optimism of those who think that digital technology will undermine dictatorship -- that the revolution will be tweeted. Morozov, a wunderkind blogger on technology and freedom and now a visiting scholar at Stanford, warns against "cyber -- utopians." The Internet, he contends, will not free us from dictatorships; the battle against authoritarian governments will have to be waged on all fronts. One foil whom he uses is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who gave a...

Assignment: Vietnam

Another Vietnam: Pictures of the War From the Other Side Edited by Doug Niven. National Geographic Society, 240 pages, $50.00 During the Vietnam War, dozens of photographers working for the North Vietnamese Communist Party fanned out across the country. They took pictures of workers seeking to raise production in state-owned factories, of handsome peasants with guns, of brave fighters in the swamps and of captured U.S. airmen and soldiers. Hired by Hanoi's Vietnam News Agency, equipped with bulky East German cameras and carrying film in their backpacks, the photographers hiked for days down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to get their shots, developing them in the swamps or sending bicycle couriers back north for printing. "I lived and ate with the people. I shared the people's hardships and suffering," recalls Nguyen Dinh Uu, a veteran photographer whose first major assignment was photographing French POWs in 1947. The uplifting images were published in Communist Party papers at home. But...