The talk discusses the mechanics of modern-day information operations and the ways in which hacking the information environment is similar and different from traditional intrusions. It emphasizes the need for more research to inform policy makers on how to address the threat of misinformation.
- Malign actors are exploiting divisions in society using vulnerabilities in the information ecosystem, overwhelming individuals and manipulating communities.
- Nation states leverage social networks and network infiltration to influence, distract, and manipulate large communities of people.
- There is a lack of rigorous academic research to inform policy makers on how to address the threat of misinformation.
- Companies in various industries may also be targeted with reputational attacks online.
- The talk concludes with a call-to-action for the audience to deploy their skills in the defense of democracy.
The speaker shares a screenshot of an activist page on Facebook that was thought to be connected to the IRA due to the prevalence of IRA memes, but it turned out to be a real person whose messages resonated with the audience. This illustrates how propaganda has existed for a long time and how people form opinions and internalize memes based on repetition and trust in the source.
Online disinformation has reached fever pitch: grifters pushing fake cures for COVID-19, nation states spinning pandemic conspiracies, domestic ideologues coordinating to push manipulative videos about presidential candidates. Malign actors are finding and exploiting divisions in our society using vulnerabilities in our information ecosystem. The flood of conflicting messages is overwhelming individuals and manipulating communities - and social networks are struggling to keep up.Information operations aren’t new; they are conducted within the confines of the information environment at the actor’s disposal and evolve along with technology and media infrastructure. The rules are determined by the infrastructure – in this case, the features and algorithms of social platforms. The most sophisticated players -- nation states -- leverage not only social networks but network infiltration to influence, distract, and manipulate large communities of people.This talk offers an overview of the mechanics of modern-day information operations. Using a deep dive into the tactics behind some of the most impactful recent operations, the speaker will demonstrate the ways in which hacking the information environment is similar and different from the kind of intrusions the audience normally deals with. We will conclude with a look ahead to the 2020 elections and a call-to-action for the audience to deploy their skills in the defense of democracy.