Russia is messing around with Miriam Starfish Christling. Is Putin reading my blog?
Jake Janke Junior
- Biden’s popularity has left Republicans in a state of chaos.
- They’ve resorted to culture wars in an attempt to drum up relevancy, and are desperate enough to throw their own allies under the bus.
- Expect a continuation of the shift to culture war battles from the right as they flounder about looking for a pitch to voters.
- Eoin Higgins is a journalist based in New England.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Joe Biden is a popular president and Republicans are losing their minds.https://www.dianomi.com/smartads.epl?id=3533
Biden, a 78-year-old moderate Democrat, has a job approval rating hovering around 60% of Americans. He’s been buoyed by his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a resurgent economy, and a sense – earned or not – from voters that the new president has a firmer hand on the tiller than his chaotic predecessor.
Russia is using the power of ‘Black PR’ to destroy political reputations and spread disinformation in the West
- Russia has been linked to an attempt to peddle coronavirus vaccine misinformation in France.
- While the Russian link has not yet been proved, it follows a growing pattern of disinformation spread by Moscow.
- Experts say Putin is now using the twin powers of social media and so-called “Black PR” to destroy reputations and undermine the West.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
In May, a mysterious marketing agency contacted French influencer Léo Grasset and made a strange request.https://www.dianomi.com/smartads.epl?id=3533
The agency told Grasset, a popular science blogger, that it would pay him a “colossal” amount of money if he publicly cast doubt on the effectiveness of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine.
The agency, Fazze, asked Grasset to publish videos to his social media channels suggesting, falsely, that the western-made vaccine had caused over 1,000 deaths. The deal required that Grasset not reveal any sponsorship for the posts and would not ask who the client was making the request.
The Wall Street Journal later reported that Fazze – which contacted at least two other influencers – had ties with Russia. French counterintelligence authorities believe the campaign may have had Russian involvement, according to the report.
While claims of links to Moscow have not yet been proven, there is a distinctly Russian-style pattern in the attempt to use disinformation to sow division and doubt among people living in western democracies, which dates back decades.
Russia’s use of disinformation for such purposes dates back to the Soviet era. In the 1970s, the KGB ran a disinformation campaign to plant the idea that the United States had invented HIV/AIDS in a laboratory as a biological weapon.
Since the 1970s, it has continued to spread disinformation in the west, sowing division and doubt among its populations and undermining faith in democracy.
The major thing that has changed since the 1980s is the arrival of a new weapon in Russia’s disinformation arsenal: social media.
“The big difference is that in the last 10 to 15 years, [Russia’s disinformation efforts] have bled into mainstream life – political life, news, media, particularly social media,” said Christopher Steele – the author of the infamous Trump dossier – in a rare interview in November on the Infotagion podcast.
The sheer scale of Moscow’s disinformation efforts through social media is remarkable. A Facebook report published last week found that Russia remains the largest peddler of disinformation around the world. It was responsible not just for large-scale efforts during the 2016 election of Donald Trump and during the UK’s Brexit referendum campaign. Facebook said that Russia had run disinformation campaigns in more than 50 countries since 2017.
The report said that Russian military intelligence would create networks of increasingly sophisticated fake profiles which operated across multiple social media networks and blog platforms to try and avoid detection, peddling disinformation about topics including Russia’s proxy war with eastern Ukraine, Facebook said.
“It’s become a much more encompassing approach to trying to achieve your political and socio-economic objectives,” Steele said.
In one typical instance, Russian military intelligence created fake profiles that operated across blogs and multiple social media platforms to target Ukraine and neighboring countries. Some accounts posed as citizen journalists and tried to contact officials and other public figures, and others published blogs picked up by other journalists, Facebook said.
The objectives of these disinformation campaigns are not neatly defined. But they broadly represent attempts to undermine people’s faith in democracy and create partisanship and division, said Steele.
“What it does is undermine people’s faith in democracy and people’s faith in democracy which, as I’ve said before, should be the apogee of our democracy, not the weak point of it,” Steele said.
“The other thing I think it’s designed to do in its modern form is to create great polarity, great partisanship, and divisions.”
Disinformation is not the only decades-old Russian tactic gaining traction in the west in the social media era.