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Disarming Disinformation: Our Shared Responsibility
With Fact Sheets and Reports
Anthony Bliken, U.S. Secretary of State
U.S. State Department, Wash, D.C., Jan 20, 2022
“There is truth and there are lies. Lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders – leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation — to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”JOSEPH R. BIDEN, JR.
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
Disinformation is one of the Kremlin’s most important and far-reaching weapons. Russia has operationalized the concept of perpetual adversarial competition in the information environment by encouraging the development of a disinformation and propaganda ecosystem. This ecosystem creates and spreads false narratives to strategically advance the Kremlin’s policy goals. There is no subject off-limits to this firehose of falsehoods. Everything from human rights and environmental policy to assassinations and civilian-killing bombing campaigns are fair targets in Russia’s malign playbook.
Truth disarms Russia’s disinformation weapons. The Kremlin creates and spreads disinformation in an attempt to confuse and overwhelm people about Russia’s real actions in Ukraine, Georgia, and elsewhere in Europe. Because the truth is not in the Kremlin’s favor, Russia’s intelligence services create, task, and influence websites that pretend to be news outlets to spread lies and sow discord. Disinformation is a quick and fairly cheap way to destabilize societies and set the stage for potential military action. Despite having been exposed for engaging in these malign activities countless times, Russia continues to work counter to international norms and global stability.
“We see a significant effort to push propaganda against Ukraine, NATO, and the United States. That includes malign social media operations, the use of overt and covert online proxy media outlets, the infection of disinformation into TV and radio programming, hosting conferences designed to influence attendees into falsely believing that Ukraine – not Russia – is at fault for heightened tensions in the region, and the leveraging of cyber operations to deface media outlets and conduct ‘hack and release’ operations – that is, hacking, and then releasing private data and communications.”ANTONY J. BLINKEN
SECRETARY OF STATE
JANUARY 20, 2022
The Kremlin has launched widespread disinformation campaigns, imprisoned journalists, shut down independent media outlets, and attacked its opposition.
JANUARY 20, 2022
Russia has long exploited the “Illusion of Truth” effect: When a lie is repeated so often that people begin to believe it. Understanding this effect can help you avoid falling for it.
JANUARY 20, 2022
Russian state-owned and state-directed media, such as RT and Sputnik play a crucial role in how Russia uses disinformation to advance its foreign policy. These state-funded, and state-directed outlets disseminate Russian narratives to foreign audiences, and regularly amplify content from the other pillars of Russia’s disinformation ecosystem, including websites associated with Russia’s intelligence services. The State Department’s Global Engagement Center’s “Kremlin-Funded Media: RT and Sputnik’s Role in Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem” report exposes Kremlin-controlled organizations that masquerade as independent media.
The State Department’s Global Engagement Center released the “Pillars of Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem” report in August 2020. The report outlines the five pillars of Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem and how these pillars work together to create a media multiplier effect. In particular, it details how the tactics of one pillar, proxy sources, interact with one another to elevate malicious content and create an illusion of credibility. The report is also available in Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Arabic.
Counter Disinformation Dispatches
The Global Engagement Center’s Counter Disinformation Dispatches summarize lessons learned about disinformation and how to counter it based on the experiences of frontline counter-disinformation practitioners, for the benefit of those newly engaged in this issue. Previous editions of the Dispatches are listed below and are also available in Spanish, Russian and French.
JANUARY 13, 2022
This Dispatch focuses on how and why fear is used in disinformation, while also showing that pointing out people’s irrational fears can help counter these false narratives.
OCTOBER 4, 2021
Documentary evidence on instructions given to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) troll factory following Nemtsov’s murder, and extensive propaganda/disinformation claims following the Skripal and Navalny poisonings.
AUGUST 23, 2021
The overall goals are to manipulate and weaken adversaries. The main tactics for weakening adversaries are to discredit, divide, disarm, and demoralize them. Russian authorities value disinformation for its long-run, cumulative effects.
JUNE 7, 2021
A comprehensive analysis of how Russia likely segments target audiences and devises themes for each of them, based on an in-depth analysis by the Lithuanian Armed Forces Strategic Communication Department and analyses by Lithuanian NGO Debunk EU, which can serve as a template for other governments or organizations interested in conducting similar analyses for their countries.
DECEMBER 1, 2020
The U.S. government’s interagency Active Measures Working Group is widely credited with causing the Soviets to stop crude, overt, anti-American disinformation in the late 1980s. The Dispatch examines the factors for its success, with lessons that may be useful today.
MARCH 23, 2021
Documentary evidence from KGB archives on how the KGB tried to influence the decisions of foreign governments in the early 1980s provides unimpeachable information on this little-known aspect of disinformation. KGB-controlled messengers tried to convince foreign leaders that if they pursued policies opposed by the Soviet Union, this would create “nightmare scenarios” for them. There is no reason to believe the same methods are not used today.
NOVEMBER 10, 2020
How the SVR-directed Strategic Culture Foundation partnered with Global Research (a far-left website in Canada) and The 4th Media (an obscure website in Beijing), to begin to build an international disinformation system in the early 2010s.
MAY 27, 2020
False Russian and Chinese claims that the coronavirus is a U.S. biological weapon follow 70 years of false claims of U.S. biowarfare.
SEPTEMBER 28, 2020
How the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) uses a pseudo-academic online journal, the Strategic Culture Foundation, to amplify the views of fringe voices in the West.
APRIL 14, 2020
Tips on debunking, the importance of discrediting, telling stories, recognizing the power of associations; how truth best competes with lies.
MARCH 25, 2020
The faulty social science finding that hampered counter-disinformation efforts starting in 2007.
FEBRUARY 11, 2020
There are three basic ways to counter disinformation: 1) refuting disinformation claims before they can take hold, as is done in Lithuania; 2) a “counter-allegation” approach, in which one tries to correct misperceptions after they have become established; 3) a “counter-brand” approach, which emphasizes exposing the disinformer’s misdeeds as a way to discredit their false claims.
JANUARY 8, 2020
How Lithuanian NGOs use algorithms, volunteer researchers, and strong media contacts to monitor, research, and debunk disinformation before it spreads widely.