• ArgumentWhy Does Russia Use Disinformation?

    There is much discussion about Russian disinformation in today’s popular discourse, but the conversation about why Russia uses disinformation usually does not get beyond general notions of Moscow wanting to “divide us” or “muddy the waters.” Kasey Stricklin writes that this is dangerous and incorrect thinking, because, in fact, “Russia has a number of strategic goals that it hopes to advance through its use of disinformation, including restoring Russia to great power status, preserving its sphere of influence, protecting the Putin regime and enhancing its military effectiveness.

  • The Russia connectionIn Politics and Pandemics, Russian Trolls Use Fear, Anger to Drive Clicks

    Facebook users flipping through their feeds in the fall of 2016 faced a minefield of Russian-produced targeted advertisements pitting blacks against police, southern whites against immigrants, and gun owners against Obama supporters. The cheaply made ads were full of threatening, vulgar language, but according to a sweeping new analysis, they were remarkably effective, eliciting clickthrough rates as much as nine times higher than what is typical in digital advertising. The Kremlin-sponsored troll farms are still at it, already engaged in disinformation campaigns around COVID-19.

  • The Russia connectionFacebook, Twitter Remove Russia-Linked Fake Accounts Targeting Americans

    Social-media giants Facebook and Twitter say they have removed a number of Russia-linked fake accounts that targeted U.S. users from their operations in Ghana and Nigeria. Facebook on 12 March said the accounts it removed were in the “early stages” of building an audience on behalf of individuals in Russia, posting on topics such as black history, celebrity gossip, and fashion.

  • China syndromeU.K.: Tory MPs Rebel against Government’s Huawei’s Plan

    The U.K. government has launched an all-hands-on-deck effort to contain a growing rebellion by Tory MPs who want to ban the use of Huawei’s equipment in the U.K. 5G telecoms network, arguing that allowing the Chinese company, with its close ties to China’s intelligence and military establishments, any access to the country’s communication infrastructure would be like inviting a fox to guard the hen house.

  • Truth decayChinese and Russian State-Owned Media on the Coronavirus: United Against the West?

    By Amber Frankland and Matt Schrader

    Beginning in late January, when news emerged of a “novel coronavirus” spreading through China, Beijing’s propaganda apparatus shifted into overdrive. The epidemic has also been heavily covered in externally directed Russian state-backed media outlets, offering an opportunity to compare and contrast the approaches of both countries’ propaganda apparatuses.

  • ArgumentWhy the 2020 Election Will Be A Mess, Part II: Beyond Russian Disinformation

    In 2016, an effective Russian disinformation campaign helped Donald Trump win the presidential election. What would the next iteration of Russia’s effort look like? Alex Finley, Asha Rangappa, and John Sipher write that an influence campaign “is only one piece of Russia’s larger use of political warfare. Russia’s full active-measures toolkit—one that goes back to the Soviet Union’s KGB—includes subversion, espionage, sabotage, propaganda, deception, provocation, spreading of rumors and conspiracy, weaponization of social media, and even assassination and promotion of violence.” The three authors write that a look at Russia’s actions in Europe and past practice “suggests the United States should prepare for the worst.”

  • Election security“Internet of Things” Could Be an Unseen Threat to Elections

    By Laura DeNardis

    The app failure that led to a chaotic 2020 Iowa caucus was a reminder of how vulnerable the democratic process is to technological problems – even without any malicious outside intervention. Far more sophisticated foreign hacking continues to try to disrupt democracy, as a rare joint federal agency warning advised prior to Super Tuesday. Russia’s attempt to interfere in the 2016 election has already revealed how this could happen: social media disinformation, email hacking and probing of voter registration systems. The threats to the 2020 election may be even more insidious.

  • PerspectiveJudge Rebukes Barr’s Handling of Mueller Report

    U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton Thursday sharply criticized the way Attorney General William Barr handled the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report, saying Barr had made “misleading public statements” to spin the investigation’s findings in favor of President Donald Trump. AP reports that the scolding from the judge was unusually blunt, with the judge saying that “he struggled to reconcile Barr’s public characterizations of the report — which included his statement that Mueller found ‘no collusion’ between the Trump campaign and Russia — with what the document actually said.”

  • The Russia connectionNo Foreign Meddling in Super Tuesday Primaries: U.S. Officials

    By Jeff Seldin

    U.S. voters who headed to the polls to cast ballots in Super Tuesday primaries encountered scattered problems, some causing long lines or delays, but nothing that could be attributed to foreign interference, U.S. officials said. As a precaution, U.S. security and intelligence officials warned voters Monday to expect foreign actors to try to sway their views as they prepared to vote in key presidential primaries. The U.S. intelligence community, and the exhaustive Mueller investigation, found incontrovertible evidence that Russia engaged in a broad and successful campaign to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election. Earlier Tuesday, acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf told lawmakers that the threat, whether it manifested during Tuesday’s primary elections or during the general election in November, is growing. “We see an ongoing influence campaign by Russia,” he said, adding “We would not be surprised if other adversaries are not also looking at what they’re doing.”

  • The Russia connectionUnderstanding Russian Subversion

    Since 2014, Russia has undertaken a wide range of subversive activities intended to influence the domestic politics of the United States, its partners, and its allies. A new RAND study synthesizes previous work, discussing what Russian subversion is and the capabilities Russia uses to undertake it today.

  • China syndromeBipartisan Bill Would Reimburse Telcoms for Replacing Huawei’s, ZTE’s Equipment

    New bipartisan legislation aims to protect American communications networks from threats presented by foreign suppliers like Huawei and ZTE. The “rip and replace” part of the legislation would offer relief to reimburse smaller telecommunications providers – largely in rural areas – by reimbursing them for the costs of removing and replacing untrusted foreign equipment.

  • China syndromeSen. Rubio Wants Review of Sale of AT&T Unit Operating in Central Europe to a “China proxy”

    Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) is asking U.S. officials to review the national-security implications of AT&T’s planned sale of its majority stake in Central European Media Group Enterprises (CME) to PPF Group, a Czech-owned conglomerate, because of PPF’s record of acting as “China’s proxies” inside the Czech Republic. Rubio charges that PPF has “supported China’s malign activities abroad.”

  • Truth decayTools to Help Fight Disinformation Online

    Today’s information ecosystem brings access to seemingly infinite amounts of information instantaneously. It also contributes to the rapid spread of misinformation and disinformation to millions of people. Researchers at RAND’s Truth Decay initiative worked to identify and characterize the universe of online tools targeted at online disinformation, focusing on those tools created by nonprofit or civil society organizations.

  • PerspectiveDigital Threats to Democracy

    A new study surveyed hundreds of technology experts about whether or not digital disruption will help or hurt democracy by 2030. Of the 979 responses, about 49 percent of these respondents said use of technology “will mostly weaken core aspects of democracy and democratic representation in the next decade,” while 33 percent said the use of technology “will mostly strengthen core aspects of democracy.”

  • PerspectiveSpies, Election Meddling, And Disinformation: Past and Present

    Calder Walton writes that following Russia’s “sweeping and systematic” attack on the 2016 U.S. presidential election—which was intended to support Moscow’s favored candidate, Donald J. Trump, and undermine his opponent, Hillary Clinton—the media frequently labeled the operation “unprecedented.” “The social-media technologies that Russia deployed in its cyber-attack on the United States in 2016 were certainly new,” he writes, “but Russia’s strategy was far from unusual. In fact, the Kremlin has a long history of meddling in U.S. and other Western democratic elections and manufacturing disinformation to discredit and divide the West.”