Russia’s systematic spread of misinformation

Russia has used and optimized the systematic use of disinformation and cyber attacks for a hybrid warfare. One case, the interference in the US election 2016, is depicted in great detail in the Mueller report and reveals the workings of Russian disinformation warfare.

It uses a mixture of fake accounts on social networks and similar sites, fake groups that represent minorities and more to actively spread misinformations.

Sources: one example is Russia’s disinformation warfare in Ukraine (2014-2015)

Destabilization as the goal

The main goal is to destabilize countries, especially their western, democratic and stable neighbours. The less stable a country, the easier it is to control it through various ways such as election fraud or armed uprisings.

An effective way is to undermine the legitimacy of democratic governments and the required institutions including the media. Furthermore, extending the gap in societies, be it along political ideals, ethnicity or language is another tool to successfully destabilize.

Disinformation techniques

Repeated lies don’t get true…

… but they stick to the minds. A common used technique is to repeat, over and over, false claims.

Example: TASS, a Russian media outlet, is repeating in many articles at the end something like “He [Putin] stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories, but aims to demilitarize and denazify the country.” Randomly picked article 1, 2, 3.

Wild assumptions based on “hear-saying”

A good example is given in an interview/press-conference by V. Putin.

This is taking a far-fetched statement and incorporation it as if it were real.

Example from the internet

While doing research on the war, one user on StackExchange, by the name “convert”, seems to be an active Russian misinformation spreader:

  • The user signed up about a months before the war started
  • Posts and comments are all about tags that talk about the war
  • Statements follow exactly the Russian narrative and contain propaganda claims (e.g. in this post) like “Kyiv was the first capital of Russia” – complete historical nonsense

Another troll is wrod with a similar profile and behavior.