Why does this history matter? Because we are living at a similarly fraught moment, in a time when international alliances are in flux. America’s reputation abroad has plunged in many countries. Conspiracy theories have never been easier to create and pass on, both abroad and at home. [...] Yet at the moment, there is no systematic U.S. or Western response to Russian, Chinese or Islamic State disinformation.
Mr. Tihonenko and Mr. Mamonov are two of the youthful faces of Current Time, America’s answer to Russia Today (RT), the Kremlin’s propaganda network. The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has started a 24-hour Russian-language TV channel to counter the rise of RT and Sputnik, another pervasive Russian broadcaster. Viewers of Current Time in Russia proper cannot be many—it started quietly in October, and is available there only online or by satellite. No cable providers will carry it.
Online clips —both geared for external and domestic consumption — has become a popular means for China to promote its policies and its perspective on issues, as part of its still fledgling, and often ham-fisted, soft power. Previous attempts have included aggressively nationalistic rap and cute, catchy tunes about its five-year plan.
For an American reader, I.I.P.’s body of work offers a fascinating look not only at what our government wants to tell the world but also at what it wants to believe about itself. The obvious conflicts of interest that accompanied Donald Trump into office are in one sense the least of I.I.P.’s problems; the larger question is what a propaganda unit is supposed to do when the pronouncements of its head of state are so often at odds with the national vision it tries to sell to the world.
To fight terrorist propaganda on the Internet, social media companies, such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have all instituted take down policies and teamed up with Microsoft to create a database of unique ‘fingerprints’ to automatically detect terrorist propaganda in the form of images and videos. [...] Despite these efforts, however, ISIS still continues to successfully disseminate its propaganda on the internet.
An innovative partnership between the leading private media group in the Middle East and top television writers and showrunners from the United States is taking a different approach: tackling the war of narratives. It might sound strange, or even frivolous, in the midst of an all-out war against the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq. But, in fact, it makes perfect sense, given the cultural, ideological nature of the larger battle against extremism.
In January 2010, secretary of state Hillary Clinton stood before the world and delivered a landmark address, calling the internet a “new nervous system for the planet.” She was describing an emerging State Department doctrine known as the “internet freedom agenda,” which built on a universal declaration that “people have the right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
An interview with Anne Applebaum about disinformation, soft power, and Russia.