Dana White told reporters:
“The Russian disinformation campaign has already begun. There has been a 2,000 percent increase in Russian trolls in the last 24 hours.”

In last year’s Defense Intelligence Agency report on Russian military capabilities, the American agency devoted a section to the topic, stating “weaponisation of information is a key aspect of Russia’s strategy and is employed in time of peace, crisis, and war”.

“Russia employs a troll army of paid online commentators who manipulate or try to change the narrative of a given story in Russia’s favour. Russia’s Troll Army, also known as the Internet Research Agency, is a state-funded organisation that blogs and tweets on behalf of the Kremlin.

Trolls typically post pro-Kremlin content and facilitate heated discussions in the comments sections of news articles. Their goal is to counter negative media and “Western influence.” While the goal of some trolls is to simply disrupt negative content, other trolls promote completely false content.”

Russia is at the forefront of information warfare in the modern age, utilising an array of organisations and strategies to spread disinformation to further national strategy but how are they doing it?

Every now and then we come across a report from one of the many Russian state broadcasters that have more than remarkable headlines revolving around military equipment and it seems fairly obvious that the piece has a clear agenda but why is this being done?

They were false but the rumours had begun spilling into conventional news media. Numerous analysts and experts in intelligence point to Russia as the prime suspect, noting that preventing NATO expansion is a centrepiece of the foreign policy of the nation.

Even the UK Defence Journal has been contacted by various Russian based ‘news organisations’ looking for soundbites whenever we publish a story about an MoD blunder or questionable government decision.

The flood of inaccurate stories is so strong that both NATO and the European Union have established special offices to identify and refute disinformation.

The most effective instrument in this effort appears to be Russia Today, the organisation has been frequently described as a propaganda outlet for the Russian government and media regulator, Ofcom, has repeatedly found RT to have breached rules on impartiality, and of broadcasting “materially misleading” content.

In the paper ‘Computational Propaganda in Russia: The Origins of Digital Misinformation’ Sergey Sanovich argues that the digital propaganda of the Russian government seeks to insulate Putin’s leadership from any domestic challengers and aid in his foreign policy ventures, which increasingly sets Russian interests off against the West.

The study argues that the propaganda tools, including trolls and bots, were conceived and perfected in the pockets of political competition and a globally integrated market economy still left in Putin’s Russia.

“It’s argued that Russia could be on a mission to restore its Soviet or imperial glory and to prevent liberal democratic values from taking root in the Russian political system. 

Yetthe tools used are precisely the ones developed in the most internationally competitive part of the Russian economy that emerged during the liberal 1990s and (until recently) was not subject to heavy-handed interventions by the government: the online media and tech sector.”

The paper concludes that the fact that bots and trolls thrive in the low-trust, anything goes, prove-it-on-the-spot environment. People share sensational and alarmist headlines without much verification more often on social media than any other medium.

The paper also advises that that building up the reputation of mainstream media, ensuring their objectivity, fairness and professional integrity are trusted by the public would do more than anything else to deny Russian digital propaganda the power it currently wields.

“These external limitations, coupled with the vibrancy and tightness of and the emphasis on the burden of proof in the Russian blogosphere, required the government to build sophisticated tools of online propaganda and counter-propaganda.

They combined the ability of bots to jam unfriendly and amplify friendly content and the inconspicuousness of trolls posing as real people and providing elaborate proof of even their most patently false and outlandish claims.

Beyond that, exposing trolls and bots as well as the nuts and bolts of their campaigns could help both to educate the public in how to avoid falling for the misinformation they spread and to find technological means of disrupting their activity.”

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Lee H

Morning all
Welcome to asymmetric warfare.
This is another new normal.
For those that like to watch, listen and read news from multiple sources this is going to be an interesting couple of days.
It’s game on now for those who fight battles virtually, a new warfare is being contested, one where the learning curve is steep and one where currently the aggressor has the advantage.
Game on

Paul.P

Putin is targetting the strength of western political systems; our democratic assemblies and free speech. He is using cyber warfare to turn us on ourselves. He saw it fragment the west when Cameron lost the UK parliament vote for action in Syria. Corbyn needs to wise up.

Expat

“Corbyn needs to wise up.”

He doesn’t even believe the official narrative himself. He will likely profit from any misinformation, especially amongst the younger part of the electorate who rely more on social media for news. Kompromat will likely be used against some of our politicians in the coming weeks and you can bet those who support Corbyn will not be targets.

Steven

Paul.P, I don’t want all of our politicians singing from the same song sheet.

Paul.P

Fair enough. But Corbyn conflates two issues. His world view does not allow of any circumstances which justify taking up arms and his insistence on the strictest interpretation of legality would have meant that all evidence of a crime would have been erased and that one of the protagonists, Russia, is permanently able to block political progress. There are times when the nation has to be united.

SoleSurvivor

But the nation isn’t united on this Paul, in fact the majority of the general public back him on Syria. Go have a look at the first few articles on this, its about 50/50 on there as well in the comments. Like people have said on here myself included over the last week, it isn’t a black and white case as much as May and Macron tell you it is, lots more atbolay and at stake in this. Lord West the former first sea lord was on the bbc earlier totally going against the narrative, he doesn’t think it was… Read more »

Paul.P

Well, I am susceptible as the next man to conspiracy theories. Did rogue forces in Assads army with Islamist or Turkish sympathies hijack a helo? Possible but unlikely. With all respect to Lord West I don’t believe he is privvy to all the intelligence. For my part I believe other statements to the effect that Assad’s forces have actually used chemical weapons fifty times since the last strike made by the US. It is valid to ask why then has nothing been done before; why act now? Should UK Parliament, US Congress and the French assembly not have debated this… Read more »

maurice10

Lord West does not constitute the majority view. We all have the right to an opinion but in this case, in particular, I’m with the government. The free World must not allow the use of chemical or germ weapons, and always be allowed to punish those who deploy them. The use of force isn’t the only instrument at our disposal, sanctions are considerably more effective than weapons in many cases. The weekend attacks gave a clear warning to any party considering the use of these hideous weapons, and that they will not go unpunished. I for one don’t believe Russia… Read more »

SoleSurvivor

Hi lads Was a helo used at all though Paul? Who told you that the BBC? Did they see it, who told them the white helmets? This is what information war is. I personally am not making any comment on who was responsible because I don’t know. But a lot of people a lot more qualified than me including men like Lord West and Major-General Jonathan Shaw are questioning the official narrative. Where is Macrons evidence? The US has already labelled their evidence as classified. Do we even have any evidence, if not this was taken on a hunch that… Read more »

maurice10

I would not be surprised to see an escalation of probing flights and UK coastal patrols by the Russian military in the coming months. This type of activity has been growing exponentially in recent years and, no matter what the politicians say, it has a disquieting reaction from the public. When lying on a British beach you don’t expect the roaring jet above or the distant warship to be Russian!

I’m not surprised Russia has stepped up the electronic aggression, however, like conventional military methods of response GCHQ will have to up their game too!

Nigel Collins

Another very good reason to speed up the in service date of Perseus.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perseus_(missile)
It’s funny how we almost always seem to to have the answer, but rarely the product when we most need it!

Frank62

Haven’t Soviet & now Russian warships always passed through UK waters transitting between Northen/baltic fleets & the Med/Black sea?Eastern fleets?

I’ve noticed in recent years every such transit is portrayed as exceptional Russian provocation by our media, sensationally.

Russia under Putin is a serious concern for the UK & their support shielding & propping up Assad sickening, but we have to be careful of our own paranoia too.

Troll factories as part of military/political strategy is a real threat to be countered. Trump also acts as a Troll when he spouts lies & distorts truth, no wonder he liked putin so much.

Frank62

Apologies for spelling & grammer.

Julian

Is Peder about to spawn some offspring to come and post even more crap on this site? As someone who studied computer science mainly due to an interest in artificial intelligence and who spent the first few years of his career working on natural language processing (getting computers to read and “understand” newspaper articles and simple stories, hold conversations with people, understand speech etc) I do find this whole area extremely fascinating. It’s a subject area where the average lay person simply has no idea how difficult the technical challenges are. Beating a moderate to good player at chess is… Read more »

John Clark

Taking a wider view, its so sad to see Russia in full retreat from the civilized world. After a brief filtration with democracy after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has progressively turned into a personality cult dictatorship. Putin’s Kremlin is truly an insidious regime, that even uses the Russian Orthodox Church as a weapon to progressively brain wash the youngsters, to prop itself up and encourage attacks on minority groups. From our perspective, the only thing a bully like Russia understands is a strong shove back. To me this means cyber counterattacks were nessasary, to undermine Putin ….… Read more »

Nigel Collins

I agree that a 3% allocation for defence is required.

However, given the current climate, a far larger investment is required to bolster our lack of investment over the years across all of our armed services, including cyber warfare and our intelligence services during the course of this parliament.

Time to invest heavily in British designed military equipment including its manufacture. Now is most definitely not the time for complacency!

Paul.P

Echo your point re Russian retreat. Sad to see that. Oligarchs notwithstanding the Russian people are just like the rest of humanity. Sadly a bunker mentality is historically woven into their psyche and is being ruthlessly exploited by Putin. It would help if the Russian Orthodox church needs got out more.

Frank62

The best weapon against lies is the truth, not our own properganda, though deception is a necessary tactic in military intelligence.
“Know the truth & the truth will set you free.” The best thing we can do is provide Rusians with the truth & allow them to realise where Putin is coming from for themselves in time. You can only decieve & supress your people for so long.

SoleSurvivor

Be very careful what you say lads..

You might end up with a shot of uncle Vlads special sauce.

John Clark

Sole Survivor … I have survived the “special” under the counter weapons grade chilly sauce from my local Kebab shop on more than one occasion, probably immune to most things now…

SoleSurvivor

?

Lewis

Just look at any Russia related Daily Mail article, The comments are full to the brim of Russian trolls pretending to be British citizens insulting their own country and praising Putin’s.

Ian

That’s very interesting, they have infiltrated virtually every comment section of every news outlet that I’ve seen lately. Saying that some facebook groups are also getting bombarded not only by trolls but also the libtard gullible tinfoil hat types who are more than ready to see their own country as a force for evil in the world, especially if they throw in a few anti-semitic rants at the same time, rather than face up to exactly what Russia is capable of.

I just think their trolls are completely counter productive. Whenever I see a pro Putin comment I automatically assume it’s a troll. Which most of the time it probably is.

John Clark

It always makes chuckle when the liberal element in our society think we should have a nice little chat over tea and biscuits with the Russian bear, to resolve our differences…. Having worked as an outside contractor to a UK based, Russian Aviation Company (that has now packed up and gone thank god) in the past, I believe I have a fairly good handle on the typical Russian mindset. Top management in Russian companies are absolutely feared by the employees, the highly skilled Russian engineers employed by that Company were decent friendly people, all of them were terrified of the… Read more »

John West

Now that is an interesting comment. I am not military but industry, metals and treatment. I have a lot of Russian (and Chinese for that matter) colleagues. They are good people. I agree that “the boss” in these countries is key. Knowledgeable people will do what a halfway tells them to do, knowing it is wrong, because they are “the boss”. It’s why Chinese steel is shit (just this week I have audited a rusty 316L stainless steel – 3 weeks old). The biggest benefit we have in this country is workers who will tell idiots to piss off when… Read more »

Julian

There’s one bright spot in all of this. At least there’s no shortage of photos of Putin looking either smug, sinister or both for the media to use to illustrate their articles, the one at the head of this story being a good example.

And with images of the mighty Putin parading bare chested on hunting trips and wrestling bears, if only we had a prime min…. Ooops, on second thoughts let’s not go there 🙂

Nathan

Russia wouldn’t get the leverage it has if we had a more diverse media. Presently, there is a dulling homogeneity of thought on all major topics, worse dissent is not tolerated. Our liberal media and political consensus is neither liberal nor tolerant. If you want to debate same sex marriage – you’re a homophobe. If you want to debate Islam – you’re an islamophobe If you want to debate unchecked migration – you’re a racist If you voted for brexit – you’re a small minded simpleton and probably a racist If you want a smaller state – you’re cruel and… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Excellent post.

Ross

I’m a little unsure on this one. The best selling newspapers in this country, for example, are arguably all just about as far to the right as Corbyn is to the left. And there are still extremely high quality journalists/news reporters/commentators in the UK, such as Andrew Neil. I fully agree that the general standard of the conversation on every one of those topics is atrocious, especially on the TV. That is why so many are now turning to online content instead. There is an increasing trend of youngsters watching and listening to 2 hour + long conversations and debates… Read more »

SoleSurvivor

What a great comment Nathan. It’s identity politics through and through in this country at the moment, everybody has to be labelled for having an opinion. There is an establishment narrative about a whole host of topics, from the so called gender pay gap to what’s going on in Syria. Because it’s the narrative of a liberal elite in their safe ivory tower in London, they are imposing their views onto the rest of us. You seen it with that c4 presenter Kathy Newman with the great John Peterson, she couldn’t get her head around the idea that her narrative… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

And another good post.

Frank62

Spot on. Wierd how intollerant secular liberalism has become. The BBC, which we all have to pay for, is one of the worst. They’re forever preaching their extreme liberal values & have cheapened & undermined their impartial reputation.

david

Keeps some Russians in work. They need the jobs!

david

Bad time to tell the truth in Russia… http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43781351

Sceptical Richard

Stay wise, stay balanced, stay alert, explore both sides of the argument, think carefully and then make up your mind. The answer to all this is in our own hands. If we knee jerk every time, the trolls will win…

Paul.P

Hasn’t there been a 2000% increase in UKDefence articles in the last 24hrs?

Paul.P

Just joking ?

Julian

Let’s look forward to a 2000% increase in Peder’s nonsense here. For a wee Russian troll he certainly is annoying to us wee little folk. I usually need a wee rest after reading some of his wee stuff on my wee iPad.

Ron5

Very interesting comments this morning. Thanks to all.

dadsarmy

This article is annoying, in the sense I seem to have spent the last day or two fighting off a couple of absurd stories, one definitely via RT. The stupid thing is it’s verifiably false with just 1 minute on google, yet even when you point it out people still argue that it must be true. And it’s not even competent to start with, but people are so desperate to believe one thing or another – they will. It makes fools out of people, but perhaps the good news is that it makes fools of the very people who are… Read more »

david

Well said!

TH

Letter sent to Secretary of State for Defence, The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP 16th April, 2018 Dear Secretary of State I am writing to you as a member of our Constituency MP’s focus group and as you will note I am a member of the Conservative Party. I am concerned at the amount of tax payers’ hard earned monies being spent by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and as you will be aware from previous correspondence between us, the cost of even the most basic items of equipment right down to simple items such as light bulbs are… Read more »

Ron5

Complaining about the cost of 8 missiles? The cost? Of 8 missiles that have already been paid for and otherwise would be sitting in a warehouse.

How morally bankrupt can you get.

Julian

Exactly. “Morally bankrupt” is the absolutely perfect phrase – it says it all. The above is also totally incoherent. At the start he says … “It has been released by the media that just eight cruise type missiles were expended by the RAF. When compared to the French munitions use and then that of the USA, the UK’s involvement has been described by ome (sic) back bench MPs as being of such insignificance as to render it not only a wasted exercise but a waste of tax pounds.” So you (TH) start out by complaining that we fired too few… Read more »

I agree with the homeland being relatively undefended, but do we not have ongoing responsibilities to our commonwealth and overseas territories that require the ability to defend them if necessary? I do think we should narrow our areas of operation a bit to relieve the strain though. The idea that we will be sailing our carrier into the Pacific to wind up the Chinese is not one I support. If we withdraw completely we loose our strategic airfields and ports around the globe, forever limiting the scope of our involvement in future conflicts, and open the door for some of… Read more »

TH

Read it again. I don’t say too few missiles were fired. I say that those that were represented an insignificant amount and were not worth the subsequent problems which will be visited upon this country. The good thing is that I am not alone in these beliefs. More and more are questioning this military madness and the amount of our money spent on it.

Mr Bell

TH I do not suppose when you wrote to “your MP” and the head of the 1922 committee that you actually disclosed that you are one of the same trolls and PutinBots this article is actually about. It must be depressing working all day in the basement of the Kremlin, why do you not turn off your computer, save the electricity and some of your poor countrymen probably need to boil a kettle and go outside and get some fresh air. The UK simply needs to increase its defence budget precisely because of Russia’s insidious attempts to undermine UK democracy… Read more »

Mr Bell

What the daily mirror fails to say is that if the Astute was aware it was being shadowed then it could probably track and destroy the improve kilo any time it wanted too.

TH

Put your silver foil hat on Bell…end. You really do live in cloud cuckoo land. Go back to reading your Victor comics. Rest assured, the campaign for more responsible defence spending will continue and ultimately we shall succeed.
Taxpayers deserve better for their hard earned money.

Mr J Bell

What a fool you are. Utter idiot TH. When will you ever grow up and realise the world we live in is no Corbyn dreamed up Navannah. 3% GDP to defence ratio is what is required, that should be enough to keep you nice and safe in your lefty leaning house dreaming of a world that does not exist. That is if you actually do live in the UK. You should hang your head in shame if you are a UK citizen. Did your grand parents or parents ever serve this country or teach you about citizenship, or the importance… Read more »

TH

Bell…end, I am a long time member of the Conservative Party. I and many others advocate neutrality. It works for other countries. I was born in this country. I don’t see the country needing to waste money on a ill budgeted department in order to keep safe. A lower level of expenditure would be adequate as in other countries. You should hang your head in shame swaggering around and attempting to poke your nose in other country’s matters. I serve thi country Bellend. I make money and employ people as did my father before me. Now, as they say in… Read more »

TH

By the way Bellend, Navanah is a personal name. Go read your BNP/EDL manual and find out how to spell, you ignorant twat.

Lee H

Evening all Who would have thought an article about Putin bots and 2000% would end up with people arguing over spelling and heritage. TH – I think it is the first time I have seen you rise to the bait. You unfortunately debase your argument when you need to tell us who you are etc. – personally I am quite content their are people like you out there, willing to stick to what you believe and try to argue your case. I am confused about which argument you think you are winning though – if it is the fact that… Read more »

Julian

Very classy Lee; a most dignified intervention. No sign of bellend-like or twatish behaviour here.