Because the 2015 US election and 2016 Brexit referendum upsets, foreign impact on democratic elections has turned into a hot topic. On John Oliver’s Yesterday Tonight, a segment explained the simplicity of tampering with voting machines which inspired me to write down this post. Before I get into how easy and inexpensive it’s to propagate disinformation online, I’d like provide some background on why and exactly how more nations is going to be entering digital warfare space from the future years.
Foundations of Geopolitics, the sunday paper drafted by the International Department from the Russian Ministry of Defence in 1997, paved the way as a philosophical instructions manual for dismantling and dethroning enemies and super-powers alike, using the ultimate goal of “Finlandization” its Europe. In accordance with Wikipedia’s summary about the strategy:
“Military operations play relatively little role. The textbook advocates a complicated program of subversion, destabilization, and disinformation spearheaded with the Russia special services.”
Through the 2015 US election and with a meagre monthly budget of only $1.25M (estimated $15M annually), Russia’s Investigation Agency could provide the US election to the Republican Party. With regards to return-on-investment (ROI), Russia spends $36M per Mi-35 helicopter. It is no wonder then, that as Russia gains more territory and influence, its actual military expenses are decreasing.
Military power is clearly an incredibly costly ongoing expense where destabilization is relatively cheap and plentiful. But exactly how is this done?
Tactic 1: Find The Fractures Then Divide & Conquer
With all the demonstration of the usa, this fracturing tactic was exquisitely executed by fuelling instability and actively supporting all dissident groups simultaneously to inflame tensions and divide communities. Enemies of the USA happen to be fanning the flames of white nationalism, gun rights groups, stoking anti-immigration sentiment as well as the vilification of refugees and Muslims are already most visible. Yet this only scratches the outer lining.
But more subtle and vicious domestic attacks have been around in support of fringe along with other right-wing religious groups attacking women’s reproductive rights, gay marriage equality, homelessness and mental health.
There has been generational divisiveness growing between Baby Boomers and Millennials. There exists a growing demonization of environmental stewardship (see baseless attacks and also other trolling of Greta Thunberg) and attacks on democratically-held values generally.
Long-term, inter-generational damage in the exploitation of those existing divides is seen within the gutting of the usa education system, diminishing access to healthcare for those, ballooning deficits that our children and grandchildren will likely be saddled down by a few of the long-term consequences to become gone through by this surprisingly inexpensive destabilization warfare technique.
What were once cracks in an overarching national unity have become red line fractures in an artificially created, cold civil war. The majority are now asking that which was done to exploit these existing social divides?
Tactic 2: Leverage a digital age intersection between behavioural economics, social media loopholes along with the relative ease of internet search engine exploitation
Like a digital strategist and internet based marketer I have observed that lots of the tactics accessible to civilians were modified being weaponized against competing nations. Boosting social networking reach on divisive posts and influencers gave fringe groups the wrong sense that they can held popular yet controversial views.
Social websites has a lot of loopholes that we often share to my internet marketer followings for them to read more bang for their buck with clients. It’s important to remember social media platforms’ #1 goal is usually to keep you around the platform so long as possible to allow them to make ad revenue. Edge in the game by showing you content believe that can keep yourself a bit longer. All of them are literally designed at some level being addictive to all of us.
I discuss during my marketing content the many exploitation opportunties that trick these social platforms into thinking your content is viral by fooling the algorithm they depend on to distribute to users.
For example, with less than $100 I will buy 10,000 twitter followers, automatically getting 1,000 retweets and favourites on 10 posts. For $100 of paid ads on twitter, you barely have any results. That’s because Twitter under-reports bot activity as a way to convince its shareholders that site engagement is growing. It’s not merely Twitter – Facebook, Instagram, Youtube (Google), Snapchat and also Linkedin have the ability to exactly the same fundamental vulnerability. It has become very easy to offer false social proof to just about anything.
Humans are hardwired with cognitive biases which might be easily and regularly exploited by social media marketing platforms and check engines to generate us believe everything is more (or fewer) popular compared to what they truly are. Increasingly we are getting stuck within our own social echo chambers and believe many people see things similar to us.
There was legitimate grievances throughout the US economy like job losses from globalization and artificial intelligence resulting in increased economic inequality. But US citizens were manipulated and sentiment hijacked by populist narratives to become the victim with the government, elites, experts, Democrats, Mexicans, Muslims, and foreign allies.
Tactic 3: Erode Trust & Global Alliances
What’s worse, not merely was desire to achieved to destabilize the united states by facilitating the turning of an nation on itself, and also have its internal damage bleed Anti-Americanism into US-global relations. The surprise betrayal of the American-Kurd alliance can have lasting consequences on American credibility, leaving American soldiers and civilians more prone than ever before.
France, the the oldest international ally of the usa, is currently questioning just how much it may rely on the usa as soon as the abrupt pulling of US forces from Northern Syria with no consultations from NATO partners. As stated by the BBC,
“Russia, which sees Nato as being a threat for the security, welcomes in france they president’s comments as “truthful words.””
It’s tough to say just when this second Cold War started, one thing is for sure: we’re woefully ready to defend ourselves from disinformation and possess learned to prevent difficult political conversations.
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