Alicia Wanless

Main focus: Propaganda

Twitter handle: @lageneralista


Languages: English

City: Ottawa

Country: Canada

Topics: strategic communications, fake news, digital communications, disinformation, information warfare


Alicia researches how we shape — and are shaped — by a changing information space. As the Director of Strategic Communications at The SecDev Foundation, Alicia develops campaigns and strategies for engaging beneficiaries in outreach and behavioural change. Her work includes developing a training program that deals with verifying information and the spread of content online, and has supported projects in the Middle East, Vietnam and the post-Soviet space.

In presenting on the Age of (Dis)information and Participatory Propaganda, Alicia has participated in events at Wilton Park, the Hedayah Centre, Oxford and Ryerson Universities, Whitehall, NATO’s ARRC, the UK’s Joint Information Activities Group and the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, among others. Alicia also advises on Red team Information Activities and strategic communication for military exercises.

Alicia currently sits on programming committees for the conferences Social Media and Society, and RightsCon. She has also undertaken research on Facebook usage during the U.S. elections with Ryerson University’s Social Media Lab and is currently working on book chapters related to strategic communications and propaganda for two separate text books.

Examples of previous talks / appearances:

TEDx Talk on Falling Down the Digital Rabbit Hole
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The internet has changed our world. We still do many of the things we did before internet was invented, we just do them differently. In many ways, the internet is a lot like a looking glass, distorting our offline world. This talk explores the pitfalls of an always-on world making recommendations of how we might live better - digitally.

This talk is in: English
Participatory Propaganda

Propaganda has traditionally followed a very top-down communication model. The propagandist issues persuasive messaging aimed at achieving a specific outcome among the target audience. As such, it’s been rather one way – like most mass media. With the internet and social media, however, the audience can in fact become coopted to propagate persuasive messaging too. This talk at Ryerson University's Social Media Lab explores how persuasive communications are changing online through the example of Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, putting forward a model for participatory propaganda. The research for this has since been expanded (spelling mistakes addressed) and talks given at the NATO's ARRC, UK's JIAG, NATO-USSOCOM Joint Senior Psychological Operations Conference, and in Oslo at the Social Media & Social Order conference.

Talk Delivered 31 March 2017 in Toronto, Canada

This talk is in: English