The West is suffering from Russian Information Warfare efforts designed to sow chaos, undermine democracy, and promote Russian national interests.
There have been widespread calls to counter Russian propaganda but few actual efforts by state or multi-state governments or defense organizations and none larger than a handful or two of worker bees.
On this blog, I have archived and editorialized most of the calls by experts to counter Russian IW.
This is not to say counter Russian Information Warfare is not being waged. It is, but it is mostly a very private and non-productive effort. It certainly does not pay well and nobody seems to be recruiting for it.
I’ve already covered most of the government programs attempting to counter Russian IW, let’s concentrate on other ‘efforts’.
I am friends with most of the experts you read about on these pages, mostly because what we do and say overlaps in many different ways. Let’s review a few of their efforts, what is actually being done, and some of the results.
- News articles. This has two subcategories.
- Independent journalists/information warfare specialists. This is the highest visibility effort. Molly McKew is probably the brightest rising star and fairly successful. She writes a lot of news articles, is published widely, and tweets prolifically. Molly is an expert in the field and throws around words and phrases that make experts sit up and notice. Another truly notable celebrity is Jessikka Aro, a Finnish journalist targeted by Finnish and Russian trolls. She wrote multiple articles for YLE about a Finnish hate group and wrote a book about her experiences. I wrote a review of her articles and as a result was the recipient of the same troll group in one of their publications.
- Then there are the general subject professional journalists. There are great ones, like Adrian Chen, who wrote “The Agency“, a piece about the Russian troll farm in St. Petersburg, Russia, which is the standard of really good investigative journalism. Then there are the not so great ones who confuse hacking with influence, where one does not equal the other. This problem is perpetuated by a number of cyber professionals who casually say the same thing, even a few Ph.D. friends, but it’s just not right. Then there are the professional journalists that read a news release from UPI, AP, Reuters, or often just an opinion piece and regurgitate the article, not knowing what they are really saying.
- Academic conferences. Again, there are two types.
- Biased/political. Every week I see an advertisement about a new forum of experts with a litany of academic experts lining the tables and a list of the moderators. Many of the moderators are experts, themselves, so I check out both the panelists and the moderators, paying attention to their writing. Often their writing is a political hit piece disguised as a discussion of an issue. Look for the names dropped during the first few paragraphs. If a see a president’s name, and I really don’t care which one it is, the article is probably attacking them or singing their praise and is biased to the point of being ridiculous. Then look for a lack of counter-arguments, a lack of facts which run contrary to author’s point. If I see a group of these type of experts, the conference itself will most likely not be a good conference to attend and I will not and do not list them.
- Informative, professional, introspective, and inspiring. When the panelists bring a wide variety of experience to the panel, they generally tend to be objective, fair, and balanced. This is an expert I want to hear, watch their videos, and read their research. Look for where they work and listen to who is their boss for that is a good place to be and the person is a tolerant and flexible person.
- Military, government, and corporate experts. This is probably the grouping that is most interesting. They tend not be publicly published outside of military channels and can be found on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media. These are the experts who should be testifying before Congress about how to counter Russian information warfare efforts and not the vast majority of academic scholars who lack any practical experience. They are actually more difficult to find because of their lack of publication. Every now and then you will find some real experts worth following. I could easily list quite a few of their names but the vast majority do not even have social media accounts. I looked for the five best experts and good friends that I know and one has no social media accounts, the second has only Facebook, but the third, that rascally rabbit, has Twitter and Facebook, but I’m not going to list him out of respect for the first two. One is in the US, one is in Australia, one is in Sweden. Two more good friends in the UK are only on email… One Canadian expert communicates via closed groups on Facebook. Most of the rest of my friends are only on email…
- Private individuals. These folks only communicate their expertise before or after work. Their opinions are valued. They might fall in a group, above, but that is not their main category.
So what prompted this blog? Why? Yesterday I published a blog featuring a fairly damning article about Russian information warfare failures. Early this morning I received a bunch of comments on that article, all negative, all hateful, profane and many from Russian IP addresses. Why? The heck if I know, I just deleted them. All I know is that this blog is “getting to” Russians, to leadership, to make me a listed target for Russian trolls. That is a good thing. This means I am getting beneath their skin, making them apoplectic, making them spit when they talk. I am introducing data into their mind which runs contrary to their blind faith in the “Dear Leader” of Russia. Not only is Putin’s popularity rating plummeting, down 15% is the past few weeks and one category is below 50% already, but he has been forced to form a Praetorian Guard to fend off a possible popular uprising. Now Russian trolls are attacking this blog because somebody is scared.
Good. This means people in Russia are reading the truth and not reading only Russian internal propaganda.
When Putin loses, the Russian people win. Putin is losing. Win!