Weaponized Disinformation: Death by a Thousand Lies

Art by Rob Goldstein
The fundamental purpose of disinformation, is to undermine the official version of events — even the very idea that there is a true version of events. The Atlantic

From Business Insider

Russian internet trolls, paid by the Kremlin to spread false information on the internet, are behind a number of “highly coordinated (disinformation) campaigns” to deceive the American public.

It’s a brand of information warfare, known as “dezinformatsiya,” that has been used by the Russians since at least the Cold War. The disinformation campaigns are only one “active measure” tool used by Russian intelligence to “sow discord among,” and within, allies perceived hostile to Russia.

“An active measure is a time-honored KGB tactic for waging informational and psychological warfare,” Michael Weiss, a senior editor at The Daily Beast and editor-in-chief of The Interpreter — an online magazine that translates and analyzes political, social, and economic events inside the Russian Federation — wrote on Tuesday.

“It is designed, as retired KGB General Oleg Kalugin once defined it, ‘to drive wedges in the Western community alliances of all sorts, particularly NATO, to sow discord among allies, to weaken the United States in the eyes of the people in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and thus to prepare ground in case the war really occurs.’ The most common subcategory of active measures is dezinformatsiya, or disinformation: feverish, if believable lies cooked up by Moscow Centre and planted in friendly media outlets to make democratic nations look sinister.”

It is not surprising, then, that the Kremlin would pay internet trolls to pose as Trump supporters and build him up online. In fact, that would be the easy part.

From his interviews with former trolls employed by Russia, Chen gathered that the point of their jobs “was to weave propaganda seamlessly into what appeared to be the nonpolitical musings of an everyday person.”

“Russia’s information war might be thought of as the biggest trolling operation in history,” Chen wrote. “And its target is nothing less than the utility of the Internet as a democratic space.”

New York Times Magazine

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