Degree Type

Creative Component

Semester of Graduation

Summer 2020

Department

Political Science

First Major Professor

Dr. Mack Shelley

Degree(s)

Master of Arts (MA)

Major(s)

Public Administration

Abstract

Targeted disinformation campaigns are a cheap and effective way to create real harms that have a society-wide impact. This form of information warfare capitalizes on inherent features of the internet messaging platforms and the free nature of democratic societies to spread false and malicious content designed to increase discord by exacerbating existing social and political chasms, promote chaos and fear, and generate distrust toward government. Through the lens of Russian “Active Measures,” this paper gives a historical overview of foreign state-backed disinformation efforts, insight into modern disinformation tactics and why they are effective, and applies this analysis to a real-world scenario to inform the general public and key decision-makers while identifying potential areas of government action to combat this threat. Immediate government action can be taken to tackle this threat. Modern disinformation operations are not married to a particular election cycle, political candidate, or political party, and efforts to combat them need to be sustainable in the long-term and involve a cohesive government approach. A practical, government-led response has four main components. First, to allocate government responsibility and centralize efforts to combat threat actors. Second, to strengthen and promote methods of information sharing between the public and private sectors. Third, to increase the liability of online social media platforms. Lastly, to build resilience through public education.

Copyright Owner

Guge, Ethan

File Format

PDF

Embargo Period (admin only)

7-19-2020

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