The Russian trolls are at it again, and they are trying to influence the American people in this year’s upcoming election cycle. This time, however, they have learned some lessons, and they are getting more difficult to track and identify.
One huge part of avoiding scams and fraud is to recognize well, scams and fraud. And that also means recognizing disinformation campaign’s.
Disinformation i.e. Dezinformatsiya
Disinformation, fundamentally, is lying. Disinformation used to be spread by the spoken word only. But with the invention of the printed word and the press, disinformation was spread using pamphlets, leaflets, books, magazines, political cartoons, and in planted clandestine newspaper articles.
Agents of influence, political spies, and journalists can all be used to spread disinformation. Digitally, social media spreads disinformation like the proverbial wildfire.
The birth of the word “disinformation” comes from the Russian word (dez-inform-ahhT-see-ahh) dezinformatsiya. Joseph Stalin coined the term in 1923 derived from the title of the KGB black propaganda “special disinformation office” department. Disinformation was formally defined in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia in 1952 as “false information with the intention to deceive public opinion”.
Disinformation is meant to instill fear and confuse its intended target by blurring the lines between fact and fiction. Disinformation’s primary purpose is to spread conspiracy theories that isolate readers and viewers from alternative viewpoints to create a cloud of confusion and paranoia.
Russian Troll Farms
In 2016, the operation was fairly simply. Most of the trolls were coming from a big office in St. Petersburg, Russia, but now…they are getting help from scammers in Nigeria and Ghana.
These trolls have almost totally focused on racial issues in the US, and they promote things like the empowerment of African Americans and pushing anger on white Americans. The goal is to divide the American public and promote unrest in society. Which unfortunately isn’t all that difficult.
There have been hundreds of accounts created by trolls in Ghana, and it is very possible that the content on these accounts has reached millions. But Twitter and Facebook have been looking into suspicious accounts, and they are removing accounts that are not legitimate.
Facebook has said that almost 300,000 people were following these accounts on Facebook and Instagram, and about 65% of these people are in the US. Twitter has removed accounts, too, and notes that so far, these accounts had almost 70,000 followers. Most of these accounts are posting in English and alluding that they are in the US, specifically in Florida, New Orleans, and Brooklyn.
These posts are focusing on things like police brutality, the Black Lives Matter groups, shootings, and general racism.
What is interesting is that the US is not the only place these trolls are targeting. Lately, Russia has begun to show more interest in some other African countries, as it is believed that they want to exploit the resources that are present in Africa, including things like diamonds and gold. This has occurred in places like Sudan, Libya, and Mozambique. Politics are also on the table.
Divide and Conquer via Disinformation
The desired outcome of disinformation by its author is to divide and conquer or rule the persons who are manipulated by it. The Oxford definition of “divide and conquer” is the policy of “maintaining control over one’s subordinates or subjects by encouraging dissent between them”. In other words, from the perspective and motivation of the conman, “don’t trust them, trust me.”
Who is behind this? It is thought that all of these campaigns have some type of association with a Russian financier and close friend to Vladimir Putin.
This interest in Africa and the US is troubling, as it is showing how much control these people have on the public viewpoints of these countries. In other words, these groups are working hard to manipulate and divide us.
These groups are also not going away anytime soon. As soon as one of these accounts are discovered, a new one is quickly added.
Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.