We judge that narratives driven by Chinese, Iranian, and Russian state media, and proxy websites linked to these governments, often involve fact-based articles as well as editorials; these publications may include misinformation, disinformation, or factual but misrepresented information. This monthly “Snapshot” compiles English-language narratives, which we assess are intended for US and Western audiences, and highlights both consistent trends and emergent messaging, which we assess to reveal foreign actors’ changing influence priorities. We judge that, typically, China uses state and proxy media—including US-based outlets—to try to shape diaspora conduct and US public and leadership views; Iran state media manipulates emerging stories and emphasizes Tehran’s strength while denigrating US society and policy; and Russia uses both state and proxy media to amplify narratives seeking to weaken Washington’s global position relative to Moscow’s.
Tag Archive for Influence Operations
Department of Homeland Security
(U//FOUO) DHS Bulletin: Moscow’s Invasion of Ukraine Impeding Reach of Russian State Media in the West
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has spurred Western governments, social media companies, and individuals to limit or disengage from Russian state media outlets, likely degrading many outlets’ ability to directly message to Western audiences through 2022. This Western response impedes the ability of critical elements of Russia’s influence ecosystem to recruit and retain culturally adept media talent, shape in-country reporting, maintain a perception of media independence, and generate revenue. These setbacks affect multiple facets of RT’s and Sputnik’s operations, hampering the prospects for a speedy reconstitution of their Western-facing efforts. These actions, and others being considered by Western countries, go well beyond previous efforts to counter Moscow’s use of its state media outlets to spread mis-, dis-, and malinformation (MDM), such as deplatforming, foreign agent registration, and social media labeling of content.
Department of Homeland Security
(U//FOUO) DHS Bulletin: Iranian Influence Efforts Primarily Use Online Tools to Target US Audiences, Remain Easily Detectable for Now
We assess that Iran likely will continue to rely primarily on proxy news websites and affiliated social media accounts to attempt sustained influence against US audiences, while we expect intermittent, issue-specific influence attempts via other means (e.g., e-mails). We base this assessment on Iran’s actions since at least 2008 to build and maintain vast malign influence networks anchored by proxy websites, as well as Iran’s attempts to find new avenues to re-launch established malign influence networks after suspension. Tehran employs a network of proxy social media accounts and news websites that typically launder Iranian state media stories (stripped of attribution), plagiarize articles from Western wire services, and occasionally pay US persons to write articles to appear more legitimate to US audiences.
Applied Physics Laboratory Paper: The Need for Intelligence Community Sponsored Influence Research
Military Information Support Operations (MISO) is a critical capability in contemporary conflict. Its success depends upon the application of social and behavioral science to analyze target audiences, craft messages, and measure the outcome of their dissemination (Spitaletta, 2013). Recent operational experience has exposed weaknesses in US capability that require redoubled effort to conduct research on the mechanisms and methods of influence and their effective application. In particular, the US needs to better understand the doctrines of adversaries and to develop countermeasures against them. The modern Russian manifestation of information confrontation, often attributed to Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov, adapts historical Russian and Soviet tactics of maskirovka (surprise, camouflage, concealment, mimicry, disinformation, and deceptive maneuver) in the contemporary information environment (Thornton, 2015). These approaches are a combination of not only overt military but also covert intelligence tactics that, when executed by disciplined professionals, can achieve a variety of economic and geopolitical effects (Pacepa & Rynchlak, 2013).
Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Joint Staff Strategic Multilayer Assessment: Influence in an Age of Rising Connectedness
In the pluralized, multipolar world, in which military and economic sources of power are widely distributed and technologies are making nation states increasingly more porous, the US and its partners face significant challenges on how best to adapt and thrive in a period of revolutionary changes. These factors may change the way US analysts, planners, and operators evaluate approaches in order to affect and direct the outcomes of military operations. To date, such courses of actions to a large extend have focused on compelling adversaries through the threat or application of force to achieve victory (i.e., “control”). In this changing geopolitical/technical landscape, it is increasingly clear that the DOD needs complement “control” with an explicit focus upon “influence” factors and forces that produce desired behavioral outcomes across complex and intermeshed human and technical systems.