Washington, D.C. — Ahead of congressional hearings on the Justice Department’s Russia investigation, a new Center for American Progress report finds that Russia has invested heavily in developing its disinformation capabilities, effectively treating these tools as a new weapon system that it can readily use against liberal democratic societies. CAP’s report traces the evolution of “dezinformatsiya,” or disinformation, as a military strategy and examines the history of such operations, the motivations behind them, what techniques are being used and how, and what the United States and others should be doing to respond to such actions.
According to the report, Russian information operations are integrated whole-of-Kremlin efforts that use Russia’s immense intelligence and espionage capabilities, criminal networks of cyberhackers, official Russian media networks, and social media users or trolls paid by Kremlin-linked oligarchs. Uniquely, Russia has used hacking to influence election outcomes in the United States and Europe. Russian influence efforts, including disinformation, are heavily enmeshed with U.S. alternative media.
“Moscow’s goal is to discredit democratic governance and the existing liberal international system,” said Max Bergmann, CAP senior fellow and co-author of the report. “In modern democratic societies, credible information is critical to the economy, political system, and way of life that citizens have come to expect. When citizens of democracies do not trust information, the forums for discussing politics and debating policy are compromised.”
CAP’s report proposes a series of short- and long-term policy solutions to protect American democracy, including increased investment in cyber infrastructure, expanded public diplomacy efforts to counter Russian propaganda abroad, and new technological capacities to warn American users when they’re interacting with an account that may be operated by a foreign government.
Click here to read “War by Other Means: Russian Active Measures and the Weaponization of Information” by Max Bergmann and Carolyn Kenney.
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