A thread for posting and discussing information and news relating to information warfare. By the way, here’s my understanding of what information warfare actually is. Information warfare involves using or (deceptively) manipulating information to harm an adversary–Two ways come to mind: causing political damage to politicians or institutions (e.g., any government agency, a news outlet, academic institution, etc.), often using information to create unfavorable impressions and/or undermine the faith of those individuals and institutions and widening existing social divisions and exacerbating social polarization. Basically, an adversary will manipulate and poison the information landscape–the public square where people get, think about, and discuss news and information. My understanding is that information warfare has always taken place (in the form of political propaganda). What’s different now is that technology has created a new platform, opening the possibility and capacity for greater information manipulation–enhancing the ability to weaponizing information, while also weakening defenses against them. (Actually, the type of defenses we need might not have existed; it’s something we may have to create.) In my view, politicians and prominent individuals, key institutions (and even businesses) and the general public are all vulnerable right now.
As for hyper-warfare, my understanding is that this is strategy utilizing unconventional means (i.e., not conventional use of military force), in a comprehensive way to weaken and defeat an opponent. In the case of Russia, my understanding the Russian government will weaponize anything and any part of their government or society, in whatever way possible. For example, the government controls banks, and those banks can be used to help launder money or use money to fund illicit activity; they will use organized criminals, oligarchs to corrupt prominent individuals or organizations in other nations, which creates kompromat that they can use to control those individuals. There’s a comic book character that I think of when I think of this approach, and that character is Bullseye. Bullseye was an assassin who was known for taking anything and turning it into a deadly weapon. He used to a play calling to kill someone, a table, whatever. Hyper-warfare is sort of like this. It differs in that the approach may not be so direct–as in, blowing up an adversary. The key here is guile, cleverness, deception, psychological manipulation. The other character that comes to mind is Loki–who I think of as someone who has to rely on his wits and ability to deceive and manipulate in order to defeat physically superior opponents. (I think this entails much of the type of information warfare I describe above.) I think of hyper-warfare as Bullseye + Loki.
In the thread, I hope to include articles and reporting to shed more light on the nature of information warfare, as well as give specific examples of it that is occurring right now. A good starting point is one of the first articles to introduce me to these concepts, Putin’s Real Long Game by Molly McKew.
To Read Later
From Business Insider How Russia Successfully Interfered with the 2016 Elections
From Strategic Studies Quarterly: Commanding the Trend: Social Media as Information Warfare
From Yahoo News: Play Fake News Tycoon Combat Misinformation
From Defense One: How to Inoculate Public Against Fake News
From the United States Army Special Operations Command: “Little Green Men:” a Primer on Modern Russian Unconventional Warfare, Ukraine 2013-2014
— Big Think (@bigthink) January 4, 2019