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Considering that the 2015 US election and 2016 Brexit referendum upsets, foreign relation to democratic elections has become a hot topic. On John Oliver’s A week ago Tonight, a segment explained the tranquility of tampering with voting machines which inspired me to write down this article. Before I get into how simple and easy , inexpensive it can be to propagate disinformation on the web, I’d like provide some background on why and exactly how more nations is going to be entering a digital warfare space inside the coming years.
Foundations of Geopolitics, a magazine drafted by the International Department in the Russian Ministry of Defence back 1997, paved the way as a philosophical instructions manual for dismantling and dethroning enemies and super-powers alike, using the ultimate goal of “Finlandization” it really is Europe. Based on Wikipedia’s summary for the strategy:
“Military operations play relatively little role. The textbook advocates a classy program of subversion, destabilization, and disinformation spearheaded from the Russia special services.”
During the 2015 US election with a meagre monthly budget of only $1.25M (estimated $15M a year), Russia’s Investigations Agency was able to provide the US election towards the Republican Party. With regards to return-on-investment (ROI), Russia spends $36M per Mi-35 helicopter. It is no surprise then, that as Russia gains more territory and influence, its actual military spending is decreasing.
Military power is clearly a very costly ongoing expense where destabilization is fairly cheap and plentiful. But how exactly is done?
Tactic 1: Obtain the Fractures Then Divide & Conquer
With all the example of the US, 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 have been most visible. Yet this only scratches the counter.
But more subtle and vicious domestic attacks have been around in support of fringe and other right-wing religious groups attacking women’s reproductive rights, gay marriage equality, homelessness and mental health.
There has been generational divisiveness growing between Forty somethings and beyond and Millennials. There is a growing demonization of environmental stewardship (see baseless attacks and other trolling of Greta Thunberg) and attacks on democratically-held values in general.
Long-term, inter-generational damage from the exploitation of these existing divides is viewed within the gutting of america education system, diminishing use of healthcare for those, ballooning deficits that future generations will be saddled down by are just some of the long-term consequences to get felt by this surprisingly inexpensive destabilization warfare technique.
What were once cracks in the overarching national unity have become red line fractures in a artificially created, cold civil war. Most are now asking the thing that was implemented to exploit these existing social divides?
Tactic 2: Leverage the digital age intersection between behavioural economics, social media marketing loopholes and also the relative easy internet search engine exploitation
Being a digital strategist and internet based marketer I’ve observed that lots of the tactics available to civilians were modified to get weaponized against competing nations. Boosting social websites reach on divisive posts and influencers gave fringe groups a false sense that they held popular yet controversial views.
Social websites provides extensive loopholes which I often share to my online marketer followings to enable them to get more bang for his or her buck with clients. It’s donrrrt forget to remember social websites platforms’ #1 goal is always to help you stay on the platform providing possible for them to make ad revenue. They do this by demonstrating content they think help keep your self on just a little bit longer. They all are literally designed at some level to get addictive to us.
I discuss inside 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 instance, with under $100 I could 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 in order to convince its shareholders this web page engagement is increasing. It’s not just Twitter – Facebook, Instagram, Youtube (Google), Snapchat and in many cases Linkedin have the ability to the identical fundamental vulnerability. It is now very easy to give false social proof to almost anything.
Humans are hardwired with cognitive biases which can be easily and often exploited by social media platforms and check engines to produce us feel that situations are more (or fewer) popular compared to what they really are. Increasingly we seem to be getting stuck in your own social echo chambers and believe most of the people see things similar to us.
There was legitimate grievances around the US economy like job losses from globalization and artificial intelligence causing increased economic inequality. But Us residents 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 simply was the thing achieved to destabilize the US by facilitating the turning of a nation on itself, but additionally have its internal damage bleed Anti-Americanism into US-global relations. The surprise betrayal of the American-Kurd alliance may have lasting consequences on American credibility, leaving American soldiers and civilians more susceptible than previously.
France, the first and the oldest international ally of the United States, is now questioning how much it might depend upon the US as soon as the abrupt pulling people forces from Northern Syria with no consultations from NATO partners. As stated by the BBC,
“Russia, which sees Nato being a threat towards the security, welcomes french president’s comments as “truthful words.””
It’s hard to say just when this second Cold War started, only one thing is for sure: we’re woefully willing to defend ourselves from disinformation and have learned to stop difficult political conversations.
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