Rising Star | Camille Francois battles disinformation to protect elections, consumers

Camille Francois, chief innovation officer at Graphika, speaks at a panel discussion on disinformation and the 2020 campaign. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images  for PEN America)

Camille Francois isn’t a rising star in the traditional sense. She didn’t break onto the scene in 2020. Graphika, where she is the chief innovation officer, was well-known in online disinformation circles before the Senate Intelligence Committee tapped the firm for research in 2018 to investigate Russian election meddling. And Graphika wasn’t her first high-profile role. Francois had already been principal researcher at Jigsaw, Google’s public interest technology division.

Camille Francois, Graphika

Francois is an affiliate of Harvard’s Berkman-Klein Center, a Fullbright scholar, and a Mozilla fellow. She has advised several governments, including serving as a special adviser to the chief technology officer of France. She holds two masters degrees, one from Sciences-Po and the other from Columbia, and is a widely cited expert in the field of disinformation.

But, if she isn’t a rising star in a traditional sense, she is a rising star because the sky is moving around her. The importance of disinformation research became clear in 2020, when government, social media and third-party research firms like Graphika fired on all cylinders to protect an election. It was the first time we saw the importance of technological solutions to root out disinformation networks.

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Disinformation is no longer viewed as a purely governmental concern. Enterprises are increasingly attuned to these tactics as a threat to their own operations.

And in an outcome-driven world, it is tough to argue with Graphika’s results. Their approach to disinformation research unearthed international campaigns targeted a host of global audiences across a variety of platforms, designed to do anything from delegitimizing American political groups to rehabilitating the image of Huawei.

Disinformation is garnering enough attention to now be deemed a security interest. And Francois has many more years at its forefront.

Joe Uchill

Joe is a senior reporter at SC Weekly, focused on policy issues. He previously covered cybersecurity for Axios, The Hill and the Christian Science Monitor’s short-lived Passcode website.

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