Target America: Dissecting Moscow’s Social Media Campaign

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In recent years, Russia has waged a new cold war on the United States through its actions, though we have only recently come to grips with this reality. As in any war, the Kremlin’s objectives are political. The principal weapon in this conflict is information, and the evidence of Russia’s use of it in Europe and the United States is clear. With the advent of ever-expanding and precise communications technologies capable of manipulating public opinion at the individual level on a massive scale – in particular social media – the tools and tactics of influence developed over the course of the 20th century can now alter perceptions of reality to a degree that they can shape societies, influence election outcomes and undermine states and alliances.

Russia’s well-financed and deliberate intervention in American political dialogue, including the 2016 election, is part of a broader effort to: undermine America’s faith in its free institutions and diminish U.S. political cohesion; erode confidence in western democracies and the credibility of western institutions; weaken trans-Atlantic relationships, including NATO; and diminish the international appeal of the United States as well as reduce American power abroad, as I noted earlier this year in a co-authored report, Shatter the House of Mirrors.

The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

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