In the summer of 2016, he was the director of National Intelligence at the time Lieutenant General James Clapper It began to spot a disturbing trend. It was an election year, and he was starting to see a slight rise in Russian activity on disinformation and disinformation that went beyond the usual rules of the game. Russia had been known to carry out activities with disinformation before the previous US elections, so it wasn’t shocking at first. The then DNI and other leaders within the intelligence community anticipated a certain amount of surrounding Russian activity. But it’s not like what Clapper was seeing starting to play.
Clapper told The Cipher Brief last week: “Russia has a long history of interfering in its own elections and those of others, but not on the scale, aggressiveness, or breadth of the scale as they did in the 2016 election.”
Clapper wrote extensively about what he saw in his 2018 book, Facts and Fears: Hard Facts from Life in Intelligence, Including how Russian hackers began to use tactics around social media and how quickly it spread through American people’s accounts, creating a problem for the International Court of Justice. “The reason we are so slow in understanding this is that there is a reservation about monitoring US communications, even if they are available to the public,” Clapper told us.
He still has Edward’s details Snowden theft And the leakage of intelligence secrets in 2013 He’s still fresh in his mind and a clear understanding of how messages about what government is actually doing, and under what authority, are easily lost in the media hype.
“After Snowden burned me with this sort of thing, I wasn’t as aggressive as I should have been in pushing society to pay attention to what was happening on social media,” Clapper said.
What Clapper was discovering in 2016 and what it is today, is fueled by another growing phenomenon that a recent RAND study refers to asDecay of truth“: The diminishing role that facts and analyzes have played in America – not just over the course of a single presidential administration – but over the past two decades. The RAND Corporation defines” the decay of truth “as the growing disagreement over facts that tends to blur the lines between what someone’s opinion is and what Is the truth and how opinion now appears to have a greater impact on this fact in American society The downside is that the result has been a decline in confidence in what had long been seen as “reliable sources”.
“There is a phenomenon in which we ignore facts, empirical data and objective analysis,” Clapper told us. “This is only spread through social media where people live in different realistic bubbles.” “This problem will not be solved through a complete government approach, as it needs full societal efforts.”
What will the outcome of this effort by the entire community look like? Clapper has an idea about that. The basic coordination may be along the lines of the intelligence community products. PDB [Presidential Daily Brief] It can be a single format. This will be a one-page article and it will definitely come in handy. I also think more in-depth products like NIE [National Intelligence Assessment] It will provide more depth. In general, I will design these products according to what the community is producing now and there are a variety of formats and templates that can be used for that. ”
Let’s talk about that. Read the Background summary Below then join us Wed Feb 24 at 1:30 pm We also get a briefing from Lieutenant General Clapper About why something like this is needed in the intelligence community today and what is at risk if we don’t get it right. Members receive registration links via email. Not a member? This is an easy fix.
Background Brief: a A key overview of misinformation and misinformation
misinformation It is the transmission of false or misleading information without specific intent to deceive.
Misinformation It is a specific type of misinformation in which there is an intentional spreading of false information in an attempt to intentionally deceive. Simply put, misinformation is a willful crime. It becomes important in understanding the difference between these two blanket terms.
- A 2018 study by MIT researchers found that “fake news” spreads faster than real news on social media. The study focusing on the Twitter platform highlighted the growing concern that disinformation is inherently more vulnerable to the virus. With
- It turns out that the probability of retweeting and sharing misinformation posted on Twitter is over 70%. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan
- Technology has enabled foreign actors to covertly divide democratic institutions around the world.
US presidential election 2020:
Russia’s efforts to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election have been less successful than they were in 2016, in part due to coordination between the FBI and social media companies like Facebook and Twitter in identifying and removing foreign disinformation accounts. (NBC)
- In the lead up to the 2020 US presidential election, Russia’s Internet Research Agency recruited independent American journalists to write articles for a Russian news website, called Peace Statements, that was intended to divide the Democratic electorate. (Washington Post)
- Russia has redoubled allegations of voter fraud with mail-order voting in an effort to discredit the legitimacy of the 2020 elections.FPRI)
Recent US government approaches to disinformation:
- 2017: Russia’s Sputnik News mainly led the disinformation attack, causing problems for US forces in Germany. This prompted the European Command of the US Army to combat the spread of disinformation by creating a specific team known as Team Mis / Dis Tiger. C4ISR
- 2019: The Department of Defense has been steadily renewing its information operations capabilities due to the increase in disinformation since 2016. The United States government’s vision of the conflict has made it difficult to combat disinformation campaigns targeting the American civilian population. C4ISR
- 2020: The United States and its allies have made efforts to send messages to people in Iraq and Syria in an effort to focus on their audiences in the region, build relationships, and reach out to journalists. This effort concluded that while social media spread information faster, the media reached more people. This became an approach in 2020, with some suggesting that forces on the ground be provided with reliable cameras and WiFi so that they can download content that can combat disinformation efforts. C4ISR
US tech companies fighting disinformation:
- March 2020: The WHO discusses the pandemic as an information crisis as much as a health crisis, saying disinformation about COVID-19 was spreading faster than the virus itself.
- September 2020: Twitter has publicly announced that it will rate and remove posts that spread misinformation.
- October 2020: Twitter has begun changing the labels regarding the misinformation and trying to address the violators in a timely fashion. Reuters
- November 2020: Facebook, Twitter, and Google joined the nonprofit The whole truth In an effort to better combat misinformation regarding Covid-19 and the plots surrounding it. Watchman
- January 2021: Google News Initiative Launch a project against misinformation related to COVID-19 vaccines. Much of the program is devoted to fact-checking and disseminating information to groups that are often targeted by disinformation campaigns. Reuters
Maxx Annunziata, Alexis Laszlo, and Brian Hoffarth contributed research to this article.
Join us for a special briefing on misinformation with former Director of National Intelligence Lieutenant General James Clapper (retired) on Wednesday, February 24th. Cipher Brief members receive registration links via email.