The UK and northern European allies have agreed to establish a multinational group of experts to tackle Russian disinformation, say the MoD.
Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster led discussions on the subject according to a news release, stating the importance of getting on the front foot against disinformation and warning that the threat of hostile and brazen disinformation is increasing.
Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster said:
“As NATO’s biggest exercise in a decade draws to a close, it is clear we are best equipped to deterring threats when working side by side with allies and partners.
However, we face more than just the conventional threats of old, which is why the UK plays a leading role in all areas of defence including debunking the kind of hostile disinformation we saw from Russia following the tragic attack in Salisbury.”
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 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.