“Disinformation” is a form of propaganda honed into an art form by Russia.
These days it’s powered by bots and fake compromised accounts on social media. This week China, Russia, and Turkey were called out on the carpet by Twitter.
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you probably noticed that social media platforms are rife with conspiracy theories and political bots. Disinformation campaigns are an extremely effective tool. When used by Nation States they can be weaponized as a powerful propaganda tool. Propaganda experts mix in a just enough truth with the falsehoods to make the propaganda sound plausible.
The end goal is destabilization, confusion, and division meant to sow the seeds of mistrust among members of society — a city divided. When this form of “societal” social engineering is practiced at a geopolitical level is advances the false narratives of an adversary.
Twitter’s been steadily removing these types of accounts in waves and now another 32,242 bogus bot accounts from China, Russia and Turkey were culled. The main culprit this time around was … China. According to Twitter, 23,750 accounts were taken down because they were “highly engaged” with users.
The Chinese campaign was targeted to a Chinese speaking audience and focused mainly trying to shape and manipulate positive opinions about China in the ongoing fight with between mainland China and Hong Kong which is fighting to retain its local political independence.
According to the Twitter blog, also taken down were Russian tweets from Current Policy, a Russian media website engaging in state-backed political propaganda within Russia.
“A network of accounts related to this media operation was suspended for violations of our platform manipulation policy, specifically cross-posting and amplifying content in an inauthentic, coordinated manner for political ends. Activities included promoting the United Russia party and attacking political dissidents.”
Although this was internal to Russia it continues to use disinformation as a tool to divide political and social attitudes across the globe.
Twitter also snagged 7,340 Turkish fake and compromised accounts being used to push and amplify political narratives favorable to the AK Parti supporting President Erdogan. Several compromised accounts associated with organizations
critical of President Erdogan and the Turkish Government were found.
“These compromised accounts have been repeated targets of account hacking and takeover efforts by the state actors identified above. The broader network was also used for commercial activities, such as cryptocurrency-related spam.
“You can train yourself to spot these false narratives. And you should be training your employees to spot social engineering attacks by the bad guys.
If you want to learn more about how social media has become a propaganda playground for manipulating opinions we highly recommend that you read “Manipulated” written by Theresa Payton, a cybersecurity expert who served in the White House of the the G.W. Bush administration..
“Twenty years ago the Russians had to recruit journalists to find people to disseminate something. Nowadays they just have to start a meme.” —John Schindler, former NSA analyst”