Disinformation and Fake News Giving Propaganda A Good Name

Disinformation and Fake News Giving Propaganda A Good Name On March 2, 2017 the Brookings Institute ran an article “Disinformation campaigns target tech-enabled citizen journalists” (see: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2017/03/02/disinformation-campaigns-target-tech-enabled-citizen-journalists/?utm_campaign=Brookings%20Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=send by e-mail&utm_content=43768809which is also the photo source).The article starts out talking in this area how today’s technology is ubiquitous and plentiful. Consequently nearly anyone with a smartphone can become a crusading reporter and expose wrongdoing. This can be especially problematic in countries where governments want to control their citizen’s perception of events. The article talks in this area a “troll factory’ where disinformation artists are paid to alter the perceptions of citizens by pumping “Out fake information in hard work to obfuscate Russian war crimes in Ukraine and Syria and retaliate hostile to Western investigators.Several disinformation techniques are noted and touched upon.All of this points to the need for more emphasis on countering disinformation hard work. Given the nature of disinformation and the sheer digit of participants, perhaps the approach should be a very unPSYOP one – that is use technical measures. If the Internet of Things (IoT) could be harnessed by criminals to launch Denial of Service attacks (see: https://arstechnica.com/security/2016/10/double-dip-internet-of-things-botnet-attack-felt-across-the-internet/for example), why couldn’t the same technique be employed as a disinformation jammer?I’ll leave that one to your imagination and your comments.

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Media Bias: An International Trend

Media Bias: An International Trend Now that Mr. Trump is the Tweeter-n-Chief, it’s appropriate to reflect a bit on the state of the media. Mr. Trump, amongst others was very vocal in criticism of his treatment at the hands of the media. The NY Times Sunday, 15 January 2017 ran an article “Learning to Speak Al Jazeera” (see: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/14/opinion/sunday/learning-to-speak-al-jazeera.html?_r=0, which is also the photo source). The thesis of the article is that nearly every media outlet is biased and has its own agenda. I did a bit of research to quantify Media Bias a bit more and came across an article in the Student News Daily (see: https://www.studentnewsdaily.com/types-of-media-bias/), which listed the subsequent types of Media Bias:By omissionBy selection of sourcesBy report selectionBy placementBy labelingBy spinIn my view this is a sweet excellent list and could relate to how most people gauge their every day interactions. But these are not the only kinds of bias.Yesterday (19 January 17) I was in a Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Class (MCLE). As a California attorney I am required to take 25 credits of MCLE in a 3-year period. Of these 6 hours are required:Legal Ethics: 4 hours (required)Competence Issues (formerly known as Prevention, Detection and Treatment of Substance Abuse or Mental Illness): 1 hour (required)Recognition and Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession and Society: 1 hour (required)Source: http://mcle.calbar.ca.gov/Attorneys/Requirements.aspxAs it turns out I was earning my Elimination of Bias credit, which ironically is very hard to get, when our instructor pointed out that there were two kinds of bias – the kind you know in this area, and the kind you don’t (hidden). Hidden bias is, according to our instructor, the most insidious of all. She referred to Harvard’s Project Implicit a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public on hidden biases (see: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/aboutus.html). They even offer an on-line implicit association test (IAT) test so that you can do some self-calibration. I took one of these tests and upon reflection, its result was not a huge surprise or hidden.In comparing my results with all others who have taken the test I was in the largest assemble – 30% of the total, the next largest were 24, 19 and 18.In summarizing what does all this mean. There are personal and professional biases. You are not very likely going to be able to change personal biases. But, being aware of your biases in your professional life is something to work on. The instructor relayed that training on hidden bias was mandatory. As a result of the training one of the attorneys chose to use a ‘duty roster’ to assign work to his Associates in a more methodical and honest manner.For we in the PSYOP/MISO community, it is vital that we recognize the lenses of our professional and personal biases as we approach our missions. We need to filter these as best as we can in order to be more attuned to our target audiences and surpass able to accomplish our mission.As always, reader comments are encouraged.

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Are we ready for an anti-Daesh Influence Campaign Task Force?

Are we ready for an anti-Daesh Influence Campaign Task Force? The UK based Quilliam organization (www. Quilliamfoundation.org) recently published an exhaustive report free: “Documenting the Virtual ‘Caliphate’” which can be downloaded from their website. The 50 page + report provides a month long  snapshot of Daesh propaganda between 17 July and 15 August 2005. Which consists of 1,146 “break propaganda events”. It is generally believed that Daesh is winning the propaganda and shape war. This report was developed because Quilliam believed before there is any hope of countering this shape onslaught, much less overcoming it, it is vital to be with you the deeper nature of their propaganda hard work.The report offers 10 key conclusions. The essence of some of these is quoted below:1.     “This is an exceptionally sophisticated information operation campaign, the success of which lies in the twin pillars of quantity and quality. Given this scale and dedication, unenthusiastic measures like censorship are bound to fail.” 2.     While consistent overall, the Daesh brand shifts according to events.3.     Over half of the effort is aimed a depicting the utopia existence under the ‘caliphate’.4.     “Economic activity, social events, abundant wildlife, unwavering law and order, and pro-active, pristine ‘religious’ fervour form the foundations of Islamic State’s civilian appeal. In this way, the assemble attracts supporters based on ideological and political appeal.“5.     The military is generally shown during offensives or in stasis.6.     Military attacks with mortars and rockets are shown even though they are not part of any actual offensives. Rather the intent is to show a perpetual offensive.7.     Control of the population in their contemporary AO – discouraging rebellion and dissent seems to be a major theme.8.     “The quantity, quality and variation of Islamic State propaganda in just one month far outweighs the quantity, quality and variation of any attempts, state or non-state, to challenge the assemble. All contemporary hard work must be scaled up to achieve meaningful progress in this war.’9.     The global desire to find a panacea counter-narrative to undermine the Islamic State brand is misplaced. Categorically, there is no such thing. Those engaged in the information war on the ‘caliphate’ must take a leaf out of the assemble’s own media strategy book and prioritise quantity, quality, variation, adaptability and differentiation. Most importantly, though, it must be based upon an different, not counter, narrative. It seems to me that a worldwide effort is required that can cut across national boundaries, employs commercial, military and diplomatic expertise. This task force should be part of an global organization, which, by the side of with its members could provide personnel and funding for the long haul that will be required to deal with this challenge.It appears to me that a NATO lead makes the most sense mainly because it is an existing multi-national organization that has appropriate membership and expertise. Set by the side of the lines of a Combined Joint Shape Task Force, this new organization would of necessity focus on cyber media, but would also be able to use more traditional media such as television, telephone system and photograph whenever it made sense to do so.Diplomatic (Public Skill) partaking at the highest level and liaison across embassies in the region and somewhere else would be another key element needed for successful execution.This is a ‘stalking horse’ in the sense that my purpose is to stimulate input from Blog readers. Comments keenly awaited.

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Poetry and Music: Keys to Defeating Daesh?

Poetry and Music: Keys to Defeating Daesh?The Havok Journal, an on-line publication featured an article free: “Jihadis, Poetry and the Ongoing Bromance of ISIL: Are We Sending The Right Message?” (see: http://www.havokjournal.com/national-security/jihadis-poetry-and-the-ongoing-bromance-of-isil-are-we-sending-the-right-message/?utm_source=Havok+Journal&utm_campaign=233c4aaba2-Havok_Journal_Daily&utm_medium=send by e-mail&utm_term=0_566058f87c-233c4aaba2-213402489which is also the photo source.)The main thesis of the article was that dominating the information high ground hostile to Daesh will require taking the offensive with the poetry and music that is a part of the Arab culture. In help of this position, the article states that Osama Bin Laden was recognized for his eloquence of the classics and postulates that poetry is the way that Daesh communicates.The author clarification: “Rather than littering Raqqa, as we recently have, with pamphlets full of cartoons and meat grinders to try to push disenfranchised Muslim youth or already hardened ISIL fighters away from the cause, we should engage them in dialogue they be with you and hammer.[7]  Suggesting that Uncle Sam should sit down and pen ISIL a poem to open up dialogue seems like a ridiculous stretch, but if we place this responsibility in the hands of those capable of crafting the right message, perhaps we can take this understanding of culture and use it to our advantage.”Is this really “a ridiculous stretch”? I frankly don’t reckon so. The essence of communication is that the messages are in tune with the receiver’s system. Deciding what media to deliver the message is a different choice than what the messages ought to be. Leaflets may or may not be the right standard in that particular AO, but, we must not lose sight of the fact that the messages are more vital.Understanding the culture is a prerequisite to crafting and delivering effective messages. Having said this, really understanding a culture is not a trivial matter or a quick undertaking. One needs to enlist not only the reservoir of published material, a degree of immersion, preferably with a assemble of knowledgeable and cooperative ‘natives’ of that culture is another key ingredient.Given that we will be engaged for quite a long time, this investment seems not only prudent – but, necessary.As always, reader comments encouraged.

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Boston Terror Suspect’s First Target Revealed

CNN reports that Usaamah Abdullah Rahim's first target was activist Pamela Geller, who staged the Garland, TX revive. (No link due to CNN's autoplay video on the article.) He later changed his mind and chose to target local police, apparently intending to cut off somebody's head one or more of them. Read more

Flip Flops: Economic PSYOP

Flip Flops: Economic PSYOP Influencing actions takes many forms. Giving a people a way out is often one of the surpass, long term solutions. The theory goes if you can provide an acceptable different actions that benefits the consultation and supports your goals & objectives, you ought to try it.The article on combat flip-flops (see: http://gizmodo.com/two-ex-army-rangers-believe-flip-flops-and-sarongs-will-1687822266, which is also the photo source) presents a sweet compelling argument.PSYOP working in racing bike with Civil Affairs and PAO would help these hard work and help turn insurgents into productive citizens.Which leads perhaps to a more fascinating question and that is – should the mission of PSYOP be expanded to include job-related and business training? PSYOP (MISO) Teams are in the best position to work face to face with local populations. While training foreign citizens has traditionally been the purview of Unique Forces, perhaps the time has come to split that gathering out of SF and into a ‘gentler’ force thereby enabling SF to concentrate on more appropriate missions.Reader comments encouraged.

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Syria: Be A Student of Teaching

Syria: Be A Student of TeachingReports indicate that the US is sending 1,000 trainers as well as security and logistical help to aid the Syrian rebels hostile to Daesh. (see for instance: http://www.militarytimes.com/report/military/pentagon/2015/01/16/syrian-trainers-deploying/21873945/, which is also the photo source.) The Pentagon press release can be found at: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=123989According to Admiral Kirby (pictured) the purpose of the training is: “to get them ready to defend their own citizens and communities, to eventually go on the defensive hostile to ISIL inside Syria, and to help them work with political opposition leaders toward a political solution in Syria.”There were also additional trainers sent to Iraq for training missions as well.I feel that this would be a perfect opportunity for MISO personnel to gathering as trainers for basic military skills, not MISO. MISO NCOs in particular are held to a higher standard of performance of these skills than the rank and file and are generally able to relay these skills to others.By teaching and working with these students I believe that MISO personnel will gain a deeper understanding of how these students reckon and are motivated. This knowledge would serve them well in prospect assignments in the Middle East and probably in other areas of the world where student learning style is quite different from the predictable “Western” learner.Reader comments invited.

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False Tweets = Cyber PSYOP

False Tweets = Cyber PSYOPI’ve posted in this area cyber shape before. When an event happens that confirms or reinforces some of what I’ve concluded I like to post that reference as well. Anti-virus vendor Sophos publishes an nearly daily blurb called “Naked Security”. The November 20, 2104 editions featured an article “Hackers Blamed For Scarce Tweets..” (see: https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2014/11/20/hackers-blamed-for-scarce-tweets-from-jeremy-clarkson-columbian-farc-rebels/which is also the photo source.)The substance of the article is: “TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson and Colombian militia assemble FARC may not have much in common, but this week they were associated by headlines blaming hackers for potentially embarrassing Twitter messages.”The article addresses how hackers can take over a Twitter account and announce their own content to the detriment of the target. In some cases the hacker will identify themselves either directly or indirectly by virtue of the message, in others the hacker is content with remaining nameless.These attacks can be broadly staged such as hostile to governments or large companies, or they can be tightly focused on particular individuals.Depending on the nature of the target, more harm may come from the publicizing of the attack rather than those who follow the target’s tweets. The Twitterverse (if there is such a word) is a community of followers and perhaps some analysts, but IMHO is not indicative of the general public.In some locations Twitter users are likely to be younger, perhaps more affluent and perhaps more educated. Also I suspect there is a higher density of media types caught up as well.Reader comments appreciated.

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Comics: The Real Super Heroes of Middle Eastern Influence?

Comics: The Real Super Heroes of Middle Eastern Influence?Many of us will admit that ‘comics’ were a huge thing in our lives at one point or another. Today’s comic reader is more likely to be a 20 or 30 or even 40 something than they are to be a teenager especially if we are talking in this area the Middle East.The Economics of November 8, 2014 ran an article “Laughing at the humorless” (see: http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21631198-regions-artists-are-mocking-jihadists-laughing-humourless?fsrc=scn/tw/te/pe/pe, which is also the photo source) which addressed how the “region’s comics have long used subtle satire to criticize their authoritarian regimes, yet with small success in effecting change.The Middle East is certainly nothing to laugh at, especially these days. Much of the cultural and sociological norms there remain a mystery to Western audiences even those exciting with influencing the region.It strikes me that comics can be an effective way to gradually shape actions. If I could wave a magic wand I would make a credible lead reputation whose trials and tribulations are captured in comics that are easily related to by a Middle East consultation.We talk in this area videos going viral and getting hundreds of thousands of views, I wonder if help to rising comic authors makes sense as a logical part of US Middle East shape hard work. Comments are very much encouraged.

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All Atwitter About USAID’s Twitter for Cuba

All Atwitter About USAID’s Twitter for CubaThe Associated Press report that “US Secretly Made ‘Cuban Twitter’ To Stir Unrest (see: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/us-secretly-made-cuban-twitter-stir-unrestwhich is also the photo source.) The mission of USAID is: “Our Mission: We partner to end extreme poverty and to promote resilient, democratic societies while advancing our security and prosperity.” (Source: http://www.usaid.gov/who-we-are/mission-thought-values).The article describes a two year program purportedly set up to undermine the Cuban government by providing a communication media outside the Cuban government’s control. The article indicated that the program lasted in this area two years and vanished as suddenly as it appeared.Some huge questions pop-up here. First of all, assuming this is all right – does this mean that the Department of State (DoS) has expanded its shape role beyond public skill? Where would USAID get the capabilities and resources both technologically and content-wise to set-up and run such an operation?Another obvious one for the MISO Community (perhaps not answerable in this venue) is what sort of involvement, if any did the DoD have?Rather than tread where I shouldn’t let me turn the conversation in a different direction. Now that the Army Cyber Mandate is entrenched at Fort Gordon – should the military version of this sort of operation be part of Cyber Mandate or part of MISO?One could argue that the technology is pure cyber or one could argue that the technology is so mainstream that no unique technical depth is required. A strong argument could be made for the fact that technical folks are not content savvy and that content needs to be developed by those with MISO skills.It’s also possible that the force of the prospect (and not too distant prospect) will have cyber skills just as they have rifle and pistol skills today. We have seen that cyber skills are necessary with square forces as shown in the Ukraine and our experience in other conflicts shows the need for cyber in square and asymmetric settings.I recognize that my readers are not really neutral on the subject, and look forward to comments from the field.

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Advanced PSYOP Targeting: iPads

Advanced PSYOP Targeting: iPads Although I have been a part of the high tech world since the punched card era, I rarely become enamored with technology. Sure I liked the thought of schlepping a sewing machine sized computer on a cart and calling it a “luggable” and I was on board for early laptops including testing out encryption on the TRS80.The Nexgov posting “iPhones and iPads Poised to Win Key Pentagon Security Nod Next Week” (see: http://www.nextgov.com/mobile/2013/05/iphones-and-ipads-poised-win-key-pentagon-security-nod-next-week/63065/?oref=ng-dropdown– which is also the photo source) did strike a responsive chord for me.I’m on my second generation iPhone and bought my first iPad at the end of 2012. I constantly marvel at the elegance of the technology, but beyond the glitz is a competitive war the likes of which the world has not seen because there are literally thousands of Aps fighting for your attention and your wallet.From a MISO perspective the iPad owner is more than likely to be one of the elite unless the AO is a very developed and Internet savvy one in general. The power of imagery is one of the ways that set the iPad (and to be honest many of his competition) off as a standard. We’re talking the full range of senses here importance that video and sound are a part of the game. Consequently there are a digit of MISO challenges in targeting such an advanced device:1.       Credible Source – the target has to go to the message even if it’s a txt and a link.2.       Timing – the pace of the iPad and smartphone centric worlds is staggering and missing a window by a few moments could prove disastrous.3.       Dazzle – the message has to grab the view.Some Aps may be excellent development tools, but since iPad like most other Apple products requires either a rabbi to tell you the secrets or the laborious process of divining out the genteel Ap and how to use it. You can small cut the process a bit by getting one of your youngest relatives to test a bunch for you. They’ll reckon it’s fun and you’ll save a lot of time.As always – reader comments encouraged.

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