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Europe with Mosquito

Inoculating societies against propaganda

The Scourge of Fake News

April 2019, Number 09.02

“The Zika virus sneaked into the United States as a stowaway in the saliva of a common mosquito. Similarly, seeds of public dissent and discord are spreading through American social media, carried by Russian trolls and bots. Negative information campaigns are not new. The tactic was used by Adolf Hitler to justify the Austrian Anschluss, and more recently by Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine. How do Central and Eastern European countries keep these “mosquitos” at bay and, if bitten, develop antidotes to the toxins?

The U.S. has been under a misinformation siege for several years. The Russians manipulated public opinion through all facets of social media to influence the 2016 national elections and even the 2018 gun control debate after a mass school shooting in Florida. Ukraine’s loss of territory was preceded for years by a well-executed false information campaign.

How does society guard against this plague? Not just from large nations with a taste for territorial expansion, such as Russia, but also from smaller bands of nonstate actors with desires for power and control? Are there clues in the cultural bodies of would-be victims...”

Excerpt from Judith Reid, “The Scourge of Fake News,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues  9, No. 2, 2019: 40-47.

Judith Reid, Ph.D., was head of defense institution building at U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, where she helped new NATO members and partner states improve organizational institutions. She has over 20 years of security cooperation experience and holds a master’s in national security studies from the National War College in Washington, D.C., and a doctorate of international management from Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, Ohio.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.