[From The Atlantic. Read the whole piece here.]
By Jed Willard
In 2014, United States officials encountered a new form of Kremlin disinformation in Ukraine. As “little green men” streamed into the country’s south, blatant falsehoods over anything from the history of World War II to weapon-system deployments spread across the internet and the airwaves. Propagandists disguised as professors, activists, and journalists sowed confusion about what was actually happening on the ground: soldiers bearing no flag had occupied strategic territory. Intelligence collectors supplied propagandists with tapped calls and hacked emails containing compromising language, and the Kremlin leaked all of this to the media at key moments.
U.S. officials engaged in an aggressive campaign to build a global understanding of what was actually happening in Ukraine, and united Western allies in a chorus of condemnation. As a result, the West backed a sanctions regime that, remarkably, remains intact. But over time, with a peace process theoretically underway and the situation cooling, the State Department’s focus on counter-influence campaigns waned, and the unit leading the charge dissolved. Two years later, disinformation campaigns using very similar tactics targeted the U.S. electorate in the run-up to the 2016 vote, spreading so-called “fake news” and encouraging divisiveness in an effort to influence the election and American democracy itself….
[Read the rest of the article at The Atlantic, here!]