In October, Bloomberg published a useful report on Russian disinformation efforts targeting the EU and with a particular emphasis on Russian-backed media operations such as RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik. The report begins:
Since news first broke that Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny had been poisoned with a nerve agent, some of the most popular coverage in Germany has come from Kremlin-funded outlets questioning Berlin’s efforts to blame Moscow for the attack. RT Deutsch’s stories denouncing the accusations as shrill and hypocritical ranked among the top 10 most shared sources on German-language social media on the subject, registering more engagement than official government statements or coverage in mainstream outlets like Welt, Bild and broadcaster ZDF, according to analysis by the European Union covering the period since the August attack. The popular Kremlin-backed posts were just a part of a flood of stories from Russian state media across Europe that sought to cast doubt on the official German account, pushing unsubstantiated alternatives ranging from allegations Navalny’s poisoning was a western intelligence plot to claims he did it to himself. Echoing Russian officials’ statements, the torrent was picked up by some German politicians, as well.More than five years after Europe began trying to combat Russian disinformation in earnest, the Kremlin’s campaigns are still hitting their targets. Alongside overt operations that take advantage of an information landscape that makes people distrustful and willing to buy into conspiracy theories, Moscow’s outlets have steadily adapted their tactics to evade efforts to combat them, often using local media and writers to avoid detection and reach receptive audiences. The EU’s focus on exposing Russian disinformation hasn’t succeeded in substantially limiting its reach. “The Kremlin remains largely undeterred in using disinformation as a political weapon,” said Monika Richter, a senior director at Counter Action and former EU official at the East Stratcom Task Force. “The EU still predominantly tackles disinformation as a tech governance challenge — but it is also a geopolitical security threat.”
Read the rest here.
Recent Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reporting on Russian backed media has included:
- A report on a study by the Alliance for Securing Democracy that said such media focused on four key themes: the sad state of U.S. political culture, criticism of the U.S. media, divisions in the Democratic party, and Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacy.
- A report on an RT OpEd that responded to the US Presidential election results by suggesting that “US democracy really is in its death throes.”
- A report on an RT article claiming that the social media platform known as Parler is struggling with a massive inflow of new users resulting from what RT characterizes as” Twitter’s latest round of censorship.”