Propaganda is nothing new. But Moscow is frighteningly effective—and worse is on the way, says Mike Rogers, a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. What’s new today is the reach of social media, the anonymity of the internet, and the speed with which falsehoods and fabrications can propagate, he writes for The Wall Street Journal:
Twitter averaged 319 million monthly active users in the fourth quarter of 2016. Instagram had 600 million accounts at the end of last year. Facebook’s monthly active users total 1.86 billion—a quarter of the global population. Yet even these staggering figures don’t fully capture the internet’s reach.
In February, Russia’s minister of defense, Sergei Shoigu, announced a realignment in its cyber and digital assets. “We have information troops who are much more effective and stronger than the former ‘counter-propaganda’ section,” Mr. Shoigu said, according to the BBC. Russia, more than any other country, recognizes the value of information as a weapon. Moscow deployed it with deadly effect in Estonia, in Georgia and most recently in Ukraine, introducing doubt into the minds of locals, spreading lies about their politicians, and obfuscating Russia’s true intentions. A report last year by RAND Corp., “The Russian ‘Firehose of Falsehood’ Propaganda Model ,” noted that cyberpropaganda is practically a career path in Russia.
“In effect, Moscow has developed a high-volume, multichannel propaganda machine aimed at advancing its foreign and security policy,” Rogers adds. “Along with the traditional propaganda tools—favoring friendly outlets and sponsoring ideological journals—this represents an incredibly powerful tool.” RTWT
The U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee (Chairman Richard M. Burr, R-N.C.) holds a hearing on “Disinformation: A Primer in Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaigns.” Thursday, March 30, 10 a.m. 106 Dirksen Bldg, Capitol Hill.
- Eugene Rumer, former national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia from 2010-2014, and director of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Russia and Eurasia Program.
- Roy Godson, professor of government emeritus at Georgetown University and former president of the National Strategy Information Center.
- Clint Watts, senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Research Institute Program on National Security.
- Kevin Mandia, CEO of FireEye.
- Retired Gen. Keith Alexander, CEO and president of IronNet Cybersecurity, former director of the National Security Agency and chief of the Central Security Service.