"It's about undermining key pillars of democracy and the rule of law."

There are two articles in the news today about Russian disinformation and propaganda strategies that are must-reads:

1. Joby Warrick and Anton Troianovski at the Washington Post: Agents of Doubt: How a Powerful Russian Propaganda Machine Chips Away at Western Notions of Truth.
The brazenness of the attempt to kill a Russian defector turned British citizen at his home in southwest England outraged Western governments and led to the expulsion of some 150 Russian diplomats by more than two dozen countries, including the United States. Yet, more than eight months later, analysts see a potential for greater harm in the kind of heavily coordinated propaganda barrage Russia launched after the assassination attempt failed.

Intelligence agencies have tracked at least a half-dozen such distortion campaigns since 2014, each aimed, officials say, at undermining Western and international investigative bodies and making it harder for ordinary citizens to separate fact from falsehood. They say such disinformation operations are now an integral part of Russia's arsenal — both foreign policy tool and asymmetrical weapon, one that Western institutions and technology companies are struggling to counter.

"Dismissing it as fake news misses the point," said a Western security official who requested anonymity in discussing ongoing investigations into the Russian campaign. "It's about undermining key pillars of democracy and the rule of law."

...And apart from these concerted campaigns, there is a daily churn of false or distorted reports that seem designed to exploit the divisions in Western society and politics, especially on issues such as race, violence, and sexual rights, and that are pushed by droves of operatives posing as ordinary citizens on social media accounts.
2. Anna Nemtsova at the Daily Beast: Russia's Disinformation Chief Takes Fresh Aim at America.
FAN's agenda is to wage information war against Putin's and Prigozhin's critics in Russia, Ukraine, Syria, the United States, and Africa. The number of battlefields just keeps growing.

More than 12 million people read FAN's news on riafan.ru. Meanwhile, the government of Ukraine in Kiev accuses the agency of "information terrorism." This year, Facebook shut down the agency's accounts, which infuriated FAN's managers and inspired them to take the conflict to the enemy, as it were. The Russian information soldiers physically moved to Washington.

On Friday, The Daily Beast spoke with FAN's general director, Yevgeny Zubarev, about that strategy.

"When Facebook banned us in April," he said, "we declared that we would respond by establishing a group in America; we called it USA Really." Then he added defiantly, "Whoever wants us to surrender should not count on it. We are not going to be quiet."
This is what's happening while Donald Trump screams about American news outlets being "fake news." And that is not a coincidence. That is more collusion happening right out in the open. The objective is to create such informational chaos that people don't know what to believe or who to trust, and Trump's "fake news" narrative pointedly serves that objective.

I don't really have anything else to say that I haven't already said countless times over the past couple of years — I just highly recommend reading both of the above-linked pieces in their entirety, to get a solid grasp on the nature and scope of what we're facing.

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