In a follow-up report, Mr. Watts described the Kremlin’s 2020 strategy as “simple, straightforward and openly available for all to see: Secure the base, split the opposition.” Part of splitting the opposition, he wrote, is sowing division “by pitting populists against the establishment.”
As Wired’s Brian Barrett wrote last week, it appears “no one has learned anything since 2016.” Yes, fake news, disinformation and “meddling” are again top of mind in politics, but few seem to understand the complicated dynamics of propaganda and how to engage in the information war without becoming unwitting participants themselves. The first mistake many make is to assume that foreign interference is wholly separate from domestic propaganda and partisan news…
The effect of such interference is, in large part, determined by our response to it. Unfortunately, many of the systems we rely on (intelligence leaks, amplification via social platforms and cable news, electoral politics) seem out of step with the current moment. When news leaks from intelligence sources, the press arguably has an obligation to report such things, even if the motivation of the leaks is unclear or political in nature. But news reports without many details leave an information vacuum. And in our platform-powered misinformation universe, that vacuum is naturally filled by media incentivized to amplify the controversy, jaded party leaders attempting to score political points and bad-faith trolls. It helps deepen divisions and sows chaos.