|Door breaching exercise with Ukrainian, Canadian, US combat engineers, Starychi, Ukraine. Photo – Canada at NATO|
Alina Polyakova, Director of research for Europe and Eurasia at the Atlantic Council, wrote on March 8, “‘Fake news’ is the term du jour in the current discussion on the new media landscape. We knew long ago, however, about the prevalence and proliferation of fabricated stories produced by so-called media entrepreneurs looking to make a profit with flashy headlines or fly-by-night ‘news sites’ churning out outrageous click-bait stories. The Russians (and the Soviets before that) had a different word for it: dezinfomatsiya, literally translated as disinformation. In the United States, we called it propaganda. In the Cold War years, the Soviet disinformation machine produced and spread lies that aimed to damage the United States’ reputation as a value-driven and principled nation. […] In today’s media environment, binary narratives no longer work because the media landscape has changed profoundly since the Cold War in three important ways. First, how we consume information has changed: individuals no longer tune into the same nightly news broadcasts. Rather, we go online, to social media platforms, or to opinion shows instead of news shows. […] Second, there are many more sources for news (or fake news) online and on television, and because media literacy is no longer a common part of the average school curriculum, few Americans have the critical skills to discern propaganda from real news. RT, the Russian state-sponsored television network, has masterfully used this to its advantage. […] RT is just part of the story. New ‘news’ sites with legitimate sounding names but no editorial boards or journalistic credentials pop up like mushrooms after a storm to skew the message on any geopolitical event by ‘reporting’ an alternative point of view. They mix facts with fiction to obfuscate reality and undermine the very notion of truth. On social media, Russian trolls and bots attack critics, confuse the objective narrative, and drown out reason with noise. New think tanks and research organizations with vague names but without a transparent funding structure or recognizable expertise appear with ‘analysis’ ready in support of a pro-Kremlin view. And once a seed-be that a meme, a lie, or some mix of truth and fiction-is planted, it travels across media platforms at astounding speeds. This is the third difference between now and then: disinformation spreads at lightning speeds thanks to our highly-connected societies. What used to take months or years of constant hammering at the same topic in newspapers and television broadcasts, now takes minutes or seconds to find its way across the globe. […] This is why disinformation is so much more dangerous today than it was during the Cold War: a successful disinformation campaign is no longer defined by whether or not someone believes the Soviet or the Western version; rather, a successful campaign is one that leaves no trace of its origins, dissolving into the mainstream like an ink drop in water.” The full article is available at http://www.atlanticcouncil.