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More governments are following the lead of Russia and China by manipulating social media and suppressing dissent online in a grave threat to democracy, a human rights watchdog said Tuesday. A study of internet freedom in 65 countries found 30 governments are deploying some form of manipulation to distort online information, up from 23 the previous year.The report said online manipulation and disinformation tactics played an important role in elections in at least 18 countries over the past year, including the United States.Freedom House said China was the world's worst abuser of internet freedom for a third straight year, due to stepped-up online censorship, a new law cracking down on anonymity online and the imprisonment of dissidents using the web.Other countries also increased their efforts to censor and manipulate information, the report said.The study also found governments in at least 14 countries restricted internet freedom in a bid to address content manipulation.
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