Russian Disinformation Targets Americans–Especially Veterans– on Social Media
The Russian Government is targeting American democracy by disseminating fake news in social media. Russia has been accused of having a hand in recent major disturbances such as the 2016 Turkish coup and the Brexit referendum.
Now, Russia is leveraging nascent technologies like social media, information warfare, and automation technologies to destabilize the United States and undermine American democracy. It's also using our own tools against us: after all, we invented social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Russian analysts are experts at creating and manipulating content in social media to increase political tension and polarization in the United States. While collusion with American officials is undetermined, US intelligence confirms that Putin authorized a Russian pro-Trump campaign with misleading propoganda in order to influence American voters.
Russia's disinformation efforts have been called "a weaponized form of information warfare" and "a kind of global twilight war".
Alexandra Stevenson, writer for The New York Times states that "In the years since [the Soviet Union's dissolution], Russia has been accused of other behind-the-scenes attempts to meddle in elections and influence political debate in Europe and the United States.
Notably, Russian hackers have largely targeted military personnel and veterans as part of their misinformation campaigns in the United States and abroad. United States intelligence experts say that Russia has increased its “active measures” of social media warfare to gather intelligence and influence military members.
Russia has also sponsored efforts to distribute propaganda to veterans. In 2013, Russia’s government-sponsored internet journal New Eastern Outlook partnered with American site Veterans Today. Since then, the site has consistently published pro-Russia articles and other conspiracy theories, targeting American veterans and over 900,000 unique visitors per month.
Instead of turning against the source of the disinformation, American factions are warring between themselves. Americans will need to recognize the Russian agenda to dismantle our nation's strength in order to overcome Russian disinformation efforts.
Americans learn basic skills to help them learn how to identify disinformation and not share it. In fact, studies suggest that even if a person stops for 5 seconds to ask themselves if an article could be fake news, they are less likely to share it.
Proactively avoiding spreading disinformation is key to stop feeding the Russian agenda, combating Russia’s algorithmic dominance in social media, and restoring an environment that is conducive to traditional, less-polarized, news media. Every time we stop before sharing disinformation, we make it just a little bit more expensive and harder for the Russian network to ignite their information warfare.