• Russian agents in Western media

    The exposure of a journalist of the German magazine, Der Spiegel, Claas Relotius, who falsified materials for his articles, was a real shock and sharply raised the issue of the availability of effective tools for controlling misinformation in the media community. In the early 1960s, Der Spiegel was involved in another scandal, when it ran a series of investigations by journalist Conrad Ahlers, who severely criticized and accused the then German Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss of unprofessionalism and corruptionit. Strauss was forced to resign – but we now know that the conflict between Strauss and Der Spiegel was part of a Soviet special operation aimed at discrediting Strauss, who might have become the next chancellor of West Germany.

  • Hundreds of German politicians hacked – except those on the pro-Russia far right

    The personal and job-related information of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, senior politicians, and members of the Bundestag from all political parties was released by hackers and posted to Twitter. The leaked information included office letters, internal memos, departmental communicatin, contact details, office access passcodes, and more. The only politicians who were not hacked and the information of which was not released: Members of the populist, far-right, pro-Russia Aleternative for Germany (AfD). In the run-up to the fall 2017 federal election in Germany, the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence, helped the AfD by employing the same combination of hacking and social media disinformation the GRU had succefully used to help Donald Trump win the 2016 U.S. election. The Russian campaign was successful, and the AfD is now the thiord-largest party in the Bundestag.

  • For your spies only: Cold War prisoner swaps

    While Russia has detained and officially charged Paul Whelan — a dual U.S.-British citizen — with espionage, questions have arisen over whether this is a real spy case or just another move in a decades-old Cold War game. Is the 48-year-old private-sector corporate security executive guilty of nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Some think so.

  • Russia undermines trust in science by spreading lies about genetic editing

    Genetic editing has been a hot topic of conversation lately. There are arguments on ll sides of the issue, but Jesse Kirkpatrick and Michael Flynn – in an important article in Slate, titled “Don’t Let Russia Undermine Trust in Science” — are drawing attention to a growing threat in the debate: Russian disinformation.

  • China exerting “sharp power” influence on American institutions

    China is penetrating American institutions in ways that are coercive and corrupt, while the United States has not fully grasped the gravity of the situation, a Hoover Institution expert says. “An ultimate ambition for global hegemony” is driving China’s multifront efforts to manipulate US state and local governments, universities, think tanks, media, corporations, and the Chinese American community, said Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at Hoover.

  • Social media efforts to combat foreign interference

    In the wake of revelations throughout 2017 that Russia had exploited social media platforms to influence the 2016 presidential election, executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on 31 October 2017 to discuss foreign interference on their platforms. Over ten months later, on 5 September 2018, representatives from tech giants were again called to Capitol Hill to update lawmakers on their efforts in the lead-up to the midterm elections. A new report reviews and analyzes the steps taken by online information platforms to better defend against foreign interference since 2016, specifically focusing on three lines of effort: policies to address inauthentic behavior, measures to improve advertising transparency, and forward-looking investments and external partnerships.

  • The IRA and political polarization in the United States

    Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) launched an extended attack on the United States by using computational propaganda to misinform and polarize U.S. voters. A new report from the Computational Propaganda roject at Oxford University’s Oxford Internet Institute (OII) provides the first major analysis of this attack based on data provided by social media firms to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). The analysis answers several key questions about the activities of the known IRA accounts, and identifies which aspects of the IRA’s campaign strategy got the most traction on social media and the means of microtargeting U.S. voters with particular messages.

  • Russian social-media-interference operations “active and ongoing”: Senate Intel Committee

    The Russian influence campaign on social media in the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign sought to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election by deepening divisions among Americans and suppressing turnout among Democratic voters, according to a report produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee. “What is clear is that all of the [Russian social media] messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party — and specifically Donald Trump,” the report says. “Increasingly, we’ve seen how social media platforms intended to foster open dialogues can be used by hostile foreign actors seeking to manipulate and subvert public opinion,” said the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina). “Most troublingly, it shows that these activities have not stopped.”

  • Russian interference: Far, wide, ongoing, and successful

    Thanks to the bipartisan, exhaustive work of the Senate Intelligence Committee, we now know more about Russia’s broad, sustained effort to help Donald Trump win the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. This effort was similar to Russia’s interference campaign in more than two dozen other countries, aiming to bring to power – or increase the power of – leaders, parties, and movements who would be more accommodating toward Russia’s interests. Here is how the U.S. media covered the two important reports written based on material gathered by the Intel Committee.

  • Medical problems of U.S. Havana embassy personnel explained

    A medical team has released the first report of acute symptoms and clinical findings in 25 personnel living in the U.S. Embassy in Havana. The researchers did not attempt to determine the cause of the symptoms in the U.S. Embassy residents, the authors noted that intense ultrasonic radiation can produce “a syndrome involving manifestations of nausea, headache, tinnitus, pain, dizziness, and fatigue,” based on occupational health literature.

  • Maria Butina pleads guilty to U.S. charge of foreign-agent conspiracy

    A Russian woman has pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to act as a foreign agent in a case that the U.S. government said highlighted Moscow’s efforts to influence Washington’s foreign policy. Butina, who received a graduate degree from American University in Washington and who publicly advocated for gun rights, sought to build relationships with influential conservative political groups, including the powerful National Rifle Association.

  • Demagogues on the right and left use digital tools to exploit popular resentment, dissatisfaction

    The digital era has spurred many advancements in many areas of human society, but it has also led to growing instability and inequality, notes Tom Wheeler, a Visiting Fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings’ Center for Technology Innovation. At the political level, the digital engine which is driving economic and social instability also provides the tools to exploit the resulting dissatisfaction so as to threaten liberal democratic capitalism, he argues.

  • The time of the trolls

    The West woke up to the threat of Kremlin trolls in 2016, however it had already been very damaging in 2014–2015. The Ukraine crisis saw the deployment of trolls to Facebook and VKontakte, as well as YouTube and Twitter. The investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election showed that trolling was never completely dependent on a technology like bots, nor that it was predominantly about Kremlin employees sitting somewhere in Russia manufacturing anti-Clinton propaganda. Rather, it was ordinary Americans and Europeans that were sharing the messages launched by trolls, and often posting them themselves.

  • Sen. Warner: Moscow has closed cyber gap with U.S.

    The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee warns the United States is being outgunned in cyberspace, already having lost its competitive advantage to Russia while China is rapidly closing in. “When it comes to cyber, misinformation and disinformation, Russia is already our peer and in the areas of misinformation or disinformation, I believe is ahead of us,” Senator Mark Warner told an audience Friday in Washington.

  • Butina pleads guilty to meddling in U.S. politics under the direction of “Russian Official”

    ABC News has obtained a copy of Maria Butina’s plea agreement, and she has decided to plead guilty to conspiracy charges and cooperate with authorities’ ongoing investigations. Butina admits that she and an unnamed “U.S. Person 1,” which sources have identified as longtime Republican operative Paul Erickson, with whom she had a multiyear romantic relationship, “agreed and conspired, with a Russian government official (“Russian Official”) and at least one other person, for Butina to act in the United States under the direction of Russian Official without prior notification to the Attorney General.”