Friday, August 7, 2020

CBS News and CNN Business explain Russian disinformation and how to deal with it

I haven't blogged about Russian election interference since Both Robert Mueller and Senate Intelligence Committee warn of Russian interference in U.S. elections and Samantha Bee explains how to get away with election interference more than a year ago. Since I seem to write about Putin's hackers and agents only during the summer, it's the season to return to the topic. Maybe it's because my media sources tend to turn to the subject when it's warm. Such is the case, as both CBS News and CNN Business uploaded videos on the story lately. I begin with the more recent, How the U.S. can combat disinformation campaigns from CBS News.

Nina Jankowicz, author of "How to Lose the Information War," joins CBSN's "Red & Blue" to discuss what the U.S. can learn from other countries about how to fight disinformation.
Nina Jankowicz tells CBS News viewers a lot of good advice about information and news literacy, including some I've posted here before: Think critically about the source of the story; Ask if others are reporting it; Do a reverse image search, as a lot of disinformation, misinformation, and malinformation (thanks, Nina Jankowicz, for introducing me to that word) uses misattributed or manipulated images or video, such as the SWAT team clip in "Plandemic" John Oliver showed in Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories; Finally, walk away and calm down so the emotion doesn't overwhelm you.

By the way, when Jankowicz said that the Russians have been seeding disinformation via social media since 2014, she was referring to the Columbian Chemicals Plant explosion hoax, which I first mentioned in Putin's hackers and agents five years ago. That operation caused confusion, but it fizzled out. Still, Russian intelligence and their contractors at the Internet Research Agency learned enough that they were able to get the conspiracy theories around Jade Helm to go viral in 2015. The Texas Tribune reported Hysteria over Jade Helm exercise in Texas was fueled by Russians, former CIA director says two years ago.
A former director of the CIA and NSA said Wednesday that hysteria in Texas over a 2015 U.S. military training exercise called Jade Helm was fueled by Russians wanting to dominate “the information space,” and that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to send the Texas State Guard to monitor the operation gave them proof of the power of such misinformation campaigns.

Michael Hayden, speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe podcast, chalked up peoples’ fear over Jade Helm 15 to “Russian bots and the American alt-right media [that] convinced many Texans [Jade Helm] was an Obama plan to round up political dissidents.”
Yikes! I had no idea!

Of course, the Russian Federation's predecessor, the USSR, had been engaged in disinformation dissemination for decades before social media came along. CNN Business tells that story in A former KGB spy explains Russian disinformation tactics.

Long before there were fake accounts and fake news on Facebook, there were fake news stories planted in small print newspapers that eventually spread. CNN Business looks at how technology has made Russian disinformation easier to spread with little risk.
Technology is intended to make work more efficient. This includes the work of intelligence services of hostile governments.

Follow over the jump for a song and cartoon that I'm recycling for this post. After all, I am an environmentalist!

For the song, I'm sharing my favorite Good Fight Short, Russian Troll Farm.

In case you needed to be singing about Russian Troll Farms for the next week... Jonathan Coulton and Head Gear Animation are back with another Good Fight Short!
Too bad this song did not get the Emmy nomination it deserved.

Next, the cartoon, along with a quote from Vox explains how Russian trolls weaponized social media.

I first posted this image in Who's hiding under the bridge of an online science article? along with the description from the now defunct Flame Warriors.*
Agent is a sinister and elusive opponent who usually works in concert with other Agents. Agent generally uses standard combat techniques, but differs from other Warriors in that he is in the employ of some organization. The organization may be political, commercial, or even criminal, and it’s Agent’s job to post messages that advance his employer’s interests.
That's who the Internet Research Agency employs, not the standard troll, who is in it for his own entertainment. Speaking of which, it's time to be a good environmentalist and recycle.
Back in the days when I tangled with the Men's Rights Movement and gave out awards for stupid net tricks on Usenet, my fellow posters to alt.usenet.kooks and I were regularly called "paid government disinformation agents." We weren't; we were just hobbyists. These guys are the real paid government disinformation agents.
Remember, "cyberwarfare doesn't just involve manipulating machines, it also manipulates minds. Welcome to 21st Century psyops and propaganda."

*A Google search revealed that most copies of this image that still exist appear on Russian-language pages. I find that both ironic and eerily apt.
I hope my readers do, too.

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