Russia Disrupts Democracies With New Propaganda Tricks

The United States may have declared victory in the Cold War after the Soviet Union’s fall, but Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, did not give up trying to disrupt democracies. Russia has invested in waging a propaganda war with “data hacking, denial-of-service attacks, phishing schemes that lure campaign workers to click on bad links, and release of fake news to inspire outrage or induce apathy,” explain Agnia Grigas, senior fellow with the Atlantic Council, and Seth Freeman, journalist and television writer and producer. The meddling was less successful in France and the Netherlands than in the United States and Britain, where false reports have unleashed protests and pushed voters toward isolationism and hardline views. Evidence suggests the extent of Russian influence, increasing uncertainty and raising questions about leaders’ motives and policy endeavors. “To counter Russia’s manipulation, the United States and its allies need, at minimum, to project a forceful unified vision of the appeal of liberal democracy and its values,” argue Grigas and Freeman. Citizens must also study up on propaganda techniques, assessing social media and news reports with a new wariness. The threat has been exposed, and those who love democracy must take action. – YaleGlobal

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