Mass Propaganda Confronted Beyond Russia’s Social Media War On America

The “Time” article, “Inside Russia’s Social Media War on America” by Massimo Calabresi with reporting by Pratheek Rebala, details the budding research into how the Russian government may have sought to use social media and the internet to manipulate public opinion in the US and elsewhere. Clearly, insights presented in the article can be generalized to any attempt to use propaganda and technology to manipulate public opinion and powerful actors. The lessons learned can also be used to help develop ways to defend against attempts to utilize mass propaganda.

The Calabresi article argues that Russian cyber operatives target influential individuals, i.e. aides to policymakers, national security experts, journalists, and anyone else who might help shape public opinion and public policy. Russian cyber operatives then profile their targets to determine who might be sympathetic to some aspect of their message. They then flood these individuals with messages that reinforce their predisposed opinions and slowly ”train” them to trust in Russian propaganda. These individuals then became an extension of the Russian propaganda machine. Those who do not are discredited and silenced by any means possible.

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