Wednesday, December 14, 2016

How internet trolls are attacking democracy

Russia is helping Trump’s campaign, yes, but it is not doing so solely or even necessarily with the goal of placing him in the Oval Office. Rather, these efforts seek to produce a divided electorate and a president with no clear mandate to govern ...
Russia’s desire to sow distrust in the American system of government is not new. It’s a goal Moscow has pursued since the beginning of the Cold War. ...  What is new is the methods Russia uses to achieve these objectives.

Last month War on the Rocks published a report by Andrew Weisburd, Clint Watts and  J.M. Berger on Russia's social media propaganda war against American democracy.

They argued that:
Until recently, Western governments focused on state-to-state negotiations with Putin’s regime largely missed Russian state-to-people social media approaches
and identified five objectives that Russia’s social media campaigns seek to strengthen Russia’s position against Western democracies:

  • Undermine citizen confidence in democratic governance;
  • Foment and exacerbate divisive political fractures;
  • Erode trust between citizens and elected officials and democratic institutions;
  • Popularise Russian policy agendas within foreign populations;
  • Create general distrust or confusion over information sources by blurring the lines between fact and fiction.
They conclude that
The ultimate objective is to diminish and tarnish American democracy. Unfortunately, that effort is going very well indeed.
Meanwhile in Britain, research by Brexit24 reveals, someone appears to be employed full time to seed The Times website with positive stories about Brexit and to ridicule those who express doubts about it.

Whoever employs that troll, Putin has decided to weaponise the West's own stupidity against itself. And that is one resource with which we are well endowed.

No comments: