World Disasters Report 2020 Released

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released their World Disasters Report 2020: Come Heat or High Water, which analyzes the disastrous global ramifications of climate change on a humanitarian level. “The frequency and intensity of climatological events are increasing substantially, with more category 4 and 5 storms, more heatwaves breaking temperature records and more heavy rains, among many other extremes. Loss of natural resources, food insecurity, direct and indirect health impacts and displacement are likewise on the rise.”

The authors urge that more can be done to make a difference, as in 2020, “none of the 20 countries most vulnerable to climate change […] were among the 20 highest per person recipients of climate change adaptation funding.”

After the introductory chapter, the report is organized into 6 distinct sections:

  • Chapter 2, Hazards everywhere – climate and disaster trends and impacts
  • Chapter 3, Climate as a risk multiplier – trends in vulnerability and exposure
  • Chapter 4, Reducing risks and building resilience – minimizing the impacts of potential and
    predicted extreme events
  • Chapter 5, Going green – strengthening the environmental sustainability of response and recovery
    operations
  • Chapter 6, Climate-smart disaster risk governance – ensuring inclusive and coherent regulatory
    frameworks
  • Chapter 7, Smart financing – getting the money where it’s needed most

For more information on topics related to this piece, visit the HSDL Featured Topics on Climate Change and Hurricanes.

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Author: Vincent Milano

Remote Work in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond

The American Enterprise Institute has released a new report The Trade-Offs of Remote Work: Building a More Resilient Workplace for the Post-COVID-19 World which explores the ways in which the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has changed the traditional work culture in the US.  

The report begins with an assessment of trade-offs made in a remote work environment, both positive and negative from the perspective of employers and employees.  

In a discussion of a hybrid model, the report explains that “the benefits of remote work can be maximized and the challenges minimized if employers allow workers to self-sort into the work conditions in which they are most comfortable and there is a split between time working remotely and in the office.”

The report acknowledges a number of barriers that must be overcome to make remote work more widely available and equitable, concluding that policy makers must invest in research in this area, especially in light of the fact that remote work has an impact on not just individual companies but on the workforce and society writ large.  

The bottom line is that remote work is not a panacea for businesses or workers. It solves some problems and creates others and will likely require a great deal of trial and error to balance these trade-offs. The organizations that can best leverage these working models are those that experiment with what works and move toward programs that balance organizational and employee needs. 

More resources on related topics such as remote work and organizational resilience can be found at the HSDL including in the COVID-19 Special CollectionPlease note that an HSDL login is required to view some of these resources.  

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Author: Emily Christian

COVID-19: Implications for First Responders

As part of an ongoing research project to monitor and mitigate the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on public safety, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland has released a new training presentation COVID-19: Implications for First Responders. In addition to the slides, a video of this presentation is also available.  

The presentation begins by exploring how violent extremists have exploited the pandemic, explaining that  COVID-19 has provided new sources of opportunity, motivation, and capability for such groups.  The presentation lays out “a tragedy in three acts” wherein the COVID-19 lockdown, and compounding crises such as the George Floyd Protests, the U.S. general election, and a second wave of COVID-19 have energized a myriad of extremists including: anti-government extremists, xenophobic and conspiracy theory Extremists, anarchist extremists, anti-law enforcement extremists, racist extremists and anti-fascist extremists 

The presentation also considers several complicating factors presented by COVID-19 which negatively impact first responder’s efforts including heightened call volumes, quarantines, and decreased productivity.  Finally the presentation ties back to the overarching research project, providing an overview of the  Monitor & Mitigate the Impact of COVID-19 on Public Safety initiative which has 5 key objectives 

  1.  Build situational awareness of COVID-19 and its effects on first responders; 
  2.  Analyze and understand literature regarding past pandemics’ effects on first responders and other public safety organizations;
  3.  Provide initial best-practice guidelines for public safety organizations in public health emergencies; 
  4.  Monitor current events, collect data, and rapidly synthesize information for use by first responders;
  5.  Review practices and planning guidance and analyze data to identify and disseminate evidence informed practices to be shared by DHS across the homeland security enterprise

For more information on related topics such as violent extremism or COVID-19 visit the HSDL Featured Topics on Domestic (U.S.) Terrorism and  Pandemics and Epidemics or view other resources included in the COVID-19 Special Collection. Please note that an HSDL login is required to view some of these resources. 

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Militia group, right-wing

 

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Author: Emily Christian

Hate Crimes, Mass Casualty Attacks, and BIAS in America

A grey car drives into a crowd of protesters carrying colorful signs, sending two men airborne while onlookers rush to the sceneThe University of Maryland‘s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) has released a new project evaluating the characteristics of mass casualty offenders (perpetrators who plan/execute an attack with the intention to kill or injure four or more people) and non-mass casualty offenders (perpetrators of violent and non-violent hate crimes).

The project, Bias Incidents and Actors Study (BIAS), analyzes hate crimes and acts of terrorism from 1990 to 2018, and evaluates “a dataset of 689 violent and 277 non-violent bias crime offenders who were motivated by bias based on (1) race, ethnicity, and nationality, (2) religion, (3) sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity, (4) age, or (5) disability.”

The study finds that low education and poor work history are the two highest indicators for both mass and non-mass casualty violent offenders, and that lone actors who fall into those categories are responsible for 47% of mass casualty attacks.

The highest rate of mass casualty attacks are anti-Semitic, but the same group is one of the least likely to be attacked by non-mass casualty offenders. Anti-Black attacks are a close second for mass casualty attacks, and make up the highest percentage of violent and non-violent hate crimes. The report also considers anti-LGBTQ, anti-Muslim/Arab, anti-Latinx, anti-White, and anti-Asian attacks and perpetrators.


For more information, visit the HSDL Featured Topics on Active Shooters, Mass Gatherings, School Violence, Domestic (U.S.) Terrorism, and Lone Wolf Terrorism.

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Author: Emily Bruza

Antisemitism and Violent Extremism in America

The George Washington University’s Program on Extremism along with the National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology, and Education Center have released a new paper exploring the connection between antisemitism and violent extremism in the United States. Titled, Antisemitism as an Underlying Precursor to Violent Extremism in American Far-Right and Islamist Contexts, the authors describe how antisemitism is a foundational piece for many far-right and jihadist extremist groups.

Antisemitism is pervasive throughout several categories of American extremist movements, both violent and non-violent. American extremists incorporate antisemitic tropes and narratives in every level of their worldviews, using them to help construct ‘us/them’ dichotomies and wide-sweeping conspiracies that are essential to their movements.

Three case studies from the U.S. are examined that illustrate the role antisemitism plays in fostering violent extremism and radicalization. As it is used to justify one’s extreme views and conspiracy theories, antisemitism is also a tool for dehumanizing future targets of violence. Furthermore, the authors conclude that antisemitism should be viewed as a potential indicator for violence as “antisemitism can often be a gateway issue into increasingly violent forms of extremism.”

More resources on antisemitism and violent extremism can be found at the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL).

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Author: Vincent Milano

National Strategy for Domestic and International Issues

The Aspen Institute has released Domestic & International (Dis)Order: A Strategic Responsea report providing response recommendations for current domestic and international issues in the U.S. Specifically, the report focuses on “the rising domestic tensions in the United States; the future of U.S.-China relations given China’s increasing assertiveness; the global economic fallout from the pandemic; and the top foreign policy priorities for the U.S. going into 2021.” In terms of domestic concerns, the U.S. is facing racial tensions heightened by the current coronavirus pandemic, along with deep political divisions, causing social unrest and instability. Economics concerns, also heightened by the pandemic, are contributing to national security issues, both domestically and globally. High unemployment rates, opportunity gaps, and a lack of “effective global response” has weakened the U.S. economically and socially. In addition to this, the U.S. is facing several foreign relations issues including “managing the rise of China, climate change, the global assault on democracy, the ongoing threat of terrorism,” nuclear proliferation, and managing the “tense relationships with Russia, Iran, and North Korea.”

protest crowd

According to the report, the “first priority must be to set our own house in order” by overcoming the pandemic and “credibly deal[ing] with racial injustice, political polarization, and income inequality.” Increasing domestic stability will aid in overcoming international issues by “restor[ing] the international community’s faith” in the U.S., as well as solidify a competitive position in relation to China.

For more information, visit the HSDL Featured Topics on Domestic (U.S.) Terrorism, Global TerrorismLone Wolf TerrorismPandemics and Epidemics and Nuclear Weapons.

You can also visit our Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Special Collection or our In Focus: 2019 Novel Coronavirus collection.

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Author: Victoria Vanderzielfultz

Right-Wing Militia Groups and the 2020 Election

With the election just around the corner, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) has released a new report titled Standing by: Right-Wing Militia Groups & the US Election. In this study, ACLED along with MilitiaWatch map out right-wing militia activity across the United States and identify which locations are at highest risk of violence heading into the 2020 election.

Nine active right-wing militia groups are analyzed, and the authors divide them into three different categories based on their pollical posturing:

  1. ‘Mainstream militias,’ or groups most likely to work with and alongside US law enforcement
  2. Right-wing street movements, those that are highly active in fighting in physical space
  3. Highly devolved right-wing libertarian groups, those skeptical of state forces, with a history of conflict

Each group’s origins, goals, core activities, and potential for violence are covered in the report. According to the study, the Three Percenters, Boogaloo Bois, and Proud Boys are among the groups with the highest potential for violence in the coming weeks.

The authors also identify multiple factors that drive right-wing militia activity, including anti-coronavirus lockdown protests, perceptions of ‘leftist coup’ activities, and personal relationships with police or law enforcement. They determine that the states at highest risk of increased militia activity are Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Oregon; whereas North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, California, and New Mexico are considered to be at moderate risk.

More resources on Right-Wing Extremists, Militia Groups, and 2020 Election Security can be found at the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL).

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Author: Vincent Milano

Analysis of U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Released

The National Center for Disaster Preparedness has recently released 130,000 – 210,000 Avoidable COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] Deaths – and Counting – in the U.S.,’ an analysis of U.S. COVID-19 related deaths. With more than 217,000 coronavirus-related fatalities, the United States now has the highest number of coronavirus-related fatalities worldwide. It is important to note that the U.S. only accounts for 4% of the total world’s population, yet multiple factors have led the U.S. to dwarf other countries in COVID-19 fatalities by more than 65,000 deaths. According to the report, “[m]any of the underlying factors amplifying the pandemic’s deadly impact have existed long before the novel coronavirus first arrived in Washington state on January 20th – a fractured healthcare system, inequitable access to care, and immense health, social and racial disparities among America’s most vulnerable groups.”

empty hospital beds

The U.S. also faces additional coronavirus specific challenges, including limited testing availability, a lack of testing standards and prevention mandates, and a general delay in pandemic response. The report estimates that “the United States may have incurred at least 130,000 avoidable deaths.” While the immediate effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue across the world, it is important to note that there will be long-term ramifications from the disease, which may include prolonged health issues such as “long-term damage to patients’ lungs, heart, immune system, and brain.”

For more information on topics related to this piece, check out the COVID-19 Special Collection, or visit the HSDL Featured Topics on Pandemics and Epidemics. Please note: HSDL login is required to view some of these resources.  

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Author: Victoria Vanderzielfultz

National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking Released

The White House has recently released its National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. Human trafficking can take different forms — sex trafficking, labor trafficking, forced labor, etc. — and is considered to be a form of modern slavery. These acts have no place in a free society that values human dignity, and this plan constitutes the United States’ commitment to eliminating all forms of human trafficking. According to the plan, in 2019 there were 11,500 human trafficking incidents reported to the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline, and it is estimated that 24.9 million people are victims of human trafficking worldwide.

The plan outlines four Pillars that represent the actions to be taken to combat human trafficking:

  • Pillar 1: Prevention — Prevent Human Trafficking
  • Pillar 2: Protection — Identify, Assist, and Protect the Victims of Human Trafficking
  • Pillar 3: Prosecution — Dismantle Human Trafficking Networks and Hold Traffickers Accountable
  • Pillar 4: Crosscutting Approaches and Institutional Effectiveness — Enable Prevention, Protection, and Prosecution through Collaboration

More resources on Combatting Human Trafficking and Forced Labor can be found at the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL).

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Author: Vincent Milano

Disinformation


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41 featured resources    updated Oct 20, 2020

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Government Reports

  • Antitrust and ‘Big Tech’ [September 11, 2019]

    From the Document: “Over the past decade, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple (‘Big Tech’ or the ‘Big Four’) have revolutionized the internet economy and affected the daily lives of billions of people worldwide. While these companies are responsible for momentous technological breakthroughs and massive wealth creation, they have also received scrutiny related to their privacy practices, dissemination of harmful content and misinformation, alleged political bias, and–as relevant here–potentially anticompetitive conduct. In June 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC)–the agencies responsible for enforcing the federal antitrust laws–agreed to divide responsibility over investigations of the Big Four’s business practices. Under these agreements, the DOJ reportedly has authority over investigations of Google and Apple, while the FTC will look into Facebook and Amazon.”

    Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

    Freeman, Wilson C.; Sykes, Jay B.

    2019-09-11

  • Can Public Diplomacy Survive the Internet?: Bots, Echo Chambers, and Disinformation

    “Scientific progress continues to accelerate, and while we’ve witnessed a revolution in communication technologies in the past ten years, what proceeds in the next ten years may be far more transformative. It may also be extremely disruptive, challenging long held conventions behind public diplomacy (PD) programs and strategies. In order to think carefully about PD in this ever and rapidly changing communications space, the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (ACPD) convened a group of private sector, government, and academic experts at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution to discuss the latest trends in research on strategic communication in digital spaces. The results of that workshop, refined by a number of follow-on interviews and discussions, are included in this report. I encourage you to read each of the fourteen essays that follow, which are divided into three thematic sections: Digital’s Dark Side, Disinformation, and Narratives.”

    United States. Department of State

    Powers, Shawn; Kounalakis, Markos

    2017-05

  • China Deep Dive: ‘A Report on the Intelligence Community’s Capabilities and Competencies with Respect to the People’s Republic of China’ (Redacted)

    From the Introduction: “For the first time in three decades the United States is confronted by the rise of a global competitor. How the United States Intelligence Community meets the challenge of China’s arrival on the global stage, as well as the continued potential for highly disruptive transnational crises that originate within our competitors’ borders, the profound technological change transforming societies and communication across the globe, and the international order’s return to near-peer competition will have profound and long-lasting implications on our nation’s continued security, economic prosperity, and ability to preserve America’s democratic way of life.”

    United States. Congress. House. Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

  • Combatting Targeted Disinformation Campaigns: A Whole-Of-Society Issue

    From the Disinformation Overview: “[T]he purpose of disinformation is to mislead. disinformation is information created and distributed with the express purpose of causing harm. […] A targeted disinformation campaign, in the context of this paper, is more insidious than simply telling lies on the internet. One untrue meme or contrived story may be a single thread in a broader operation seeking to influence a target population through methods that violate democratic values, social norms and, in some jurisdictions, the law. […] Targeted disinformation campaigns are not a new phenomenon and sophisticated ones follow a predictable progression. after establishing the objective, a threat actor follow distinct steps, discussed later in more detail: recon, build, seed, copy, amplify, and control to bring about an outcome.”

    United States. Department of Homeland Security

    2019-10

  • ‘Disinformation Online and a Country in Crisis’

    From the Overview: “Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has tried to frame the issue of reining in mis- and disinformation as not wanting to be ‘the arbiter of truth’. This entirely misses the point. The point is not about truth or falsehood, but about algorithmic amplification. The point is that social media decides every day what is relevant by recommending it to their billions of users. The point is that social media has learned that outrageous, divisive, and conspiratorial content increases engagement. The point is that online content providers could simply decide that they value trusted information over untrusted information, respectful over hateful, and unifying over divisive, and in turn fundamentally change the divisiveness-fueling and misinformation-distributing machine that is social media today. By way of highlighting the depth and breadth of these problems, I will describe two recent case studies that reveal a troubling pattern of how the internet, social media, and more generally, information, is being weaponized against society and democracy. I will conclude with a broad overview of interventions to help avert the digital dystopia that we seem to be hurtling towards.”

    United States. Congress. House. Committee on Energy and Commerce

    Farid, Hany

    2020-06-24?

  • First Responder’s Toolbox: Violent Extremists Likely Will Continue to Use Disinformation on Social Media Outlets to Instill Fear and Radicalize Others

    “This product highlights examples of official media releases by designated foreign terrorist organizations, such as ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria], and unofficial media releases by auxiliary news agencies and terrorist supporters. It is intended to describe how terrorists use disinformation to potentially influence Homeland and Western audiences, and introduce steps that can be taken to determine the credibility of the messaging.”

    National Counterterrorism Center (U.S.)

    2018-08-09

  • Government Responses to Disinformation on Social Media Platforms

    From the Comparative Summary: “Concerns regarding the impact of viral dissemination of disinformation on democratic systems of government, on political discourse, on public trust in state institutions, and on social harmony have been expressed by many around the world. These concerns are shared by countries with advanced economies as well as those with emerging and developing economies. […] This report is composed of individual surveys of the European Union (EU) and fifteen selected countries from around the globe. The countries surveyed vary geographically, culturally, in their systems of government, and in their commitment to democratic principles of governance, which include protections for freedom of expression, the right to privacy, and transparency and oversight of governmental actions, among other things. The surveys were prepared by the foreign law specialists and analysts of the Law Library of Congress’s Global Legal Research Directorate based on primary and secondary sources available in the Law Library of Congress’s collections, legal databases to which it subscribes, and open sources.”

    Law Library of Congress (U.S.)

    Levush, Ruth; Buchanan, Kelly (Kelly S.); Ahmad, Tariq . . .

    2019-09

  • Soviet ‘Active Measures’ Forgery, Disinformation, Political Operations

    “In late 1979, agents of the Soviet Union spread a false rumor that the United States was responsible for the seizure of the Grand Mosque of Mecca. In 1980, a French journalist was convicted by a French court of law for acting as a Soviet agent of influence since 1959. In August 1981, the Soviet news agency TASS alleged that the United States was behind the death of Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos. These are three examples of a stream of Soviet ‘active measures’ that seek to discredit and weaken the United States and other nations. The Soviets use the bland term ‘active measures’ (‘aktivnyye meropriyatiya’) to refer to operations intended to affect other nations’ policies, as distinct from espionage and counterintelligence.”

    United States. Department of State. Bureau of Public Affairs

    1981-10

  • Weapons of Mass Distraction: Foreign State-Sponsored Disinformation in the Digital Age

    From the Document: “If there is one word that has come to define the technology giants and their impact on the world, it is ‘disruption.’ The major technology and social media companies have disrupted industries ranging from media to advertising to retail. However, it is not just the traditional sectors that these technologies have upended. They have also disrupted another, more insidious trade – disinformation and propaganda. The proliferation of social media platforms has democratized the dissemination and consumption of information, thereby eroding traditional media hierarchies and undercutting claims of authority. The environment, therefore, is ripe for exploitation by bad actors. Today, states and individuals can easily spread disinformation at lightning speed and with potentially serious impact. […] The following interdisciplinary review attempts to shed light on these converging factors, and the challenges and opportunities moving forward.”

    Park Advisors

    Nemr, Christina; Gangware, William

    2019-03

Hearings

  • Examining Social Media Companies’ Efforts to Counter on-Line Terror Content and Misinformation, Hearing Before the Committee on Homeland Security, House of Representatives, One Hundred Sixteenth Congress, First Session, June 26, 2019

    This is the June 26, 2019 hearing titled “Examining Social Media Companies’ Efforts to Counter on-Line Terror Content and Misinformation,” held before the House Committee on Homeland Security. From the opening statement of Bennie G. Thompson: “In March, a white supremacist terrorist killed 51 people and wounded 49 more at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. […] Shockingly, the terrorist was able to live-stream the attack on Facebook, where the video and its gruesome content went undetected initially. […] When New Zealand authorities called on all social media companies to remove these videos immediately, they were unable to comply. Human moderators could not keep up with the volume of videos being reposted, and their automated systems were unable to recognize minor changes in the video. […] This committee will continue to engage social media companies about the challenges they face in addressing terror content on their platforms.” Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Monika Bickert, Nick Pickles, Derek Slater, and Nadine Strossen.

    United States. Government Publishing Office

    2020

  • Russian Disinformation Attacks on Elections: Lessons from Europe, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Sixteenth Congress, First Session, July 16, 2019

    This is the July 16, 2019 hearing on “Russian Disinformation Attacks on Elections: Lessons from Europe,” held before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. From the opening statement of William R. Keating: “Today’s hearing is on Russia’s attacks on democratic elections through targeted disinformation campaigns and the takeaways from Europe where this activity has been accelerating for years. It is on what the EU and the European countries are doing themselves, what has been effective, what has not been, lessons learned.” Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Daniel Fried, Jessikka Aro, Jakub Kalensky, and Frederick W. Kagan.

    United States. Government Publishing Office

    2019

  • S. Hrg. 115-232: Open Hearing: Social Media Influence in the 2016 U.S. Election, Hearing Before the Select Committee on Intelligence, United States Senate One Hundred Fifteenth Congress, First Session, November 1, 2017

    “This document is the November 1, 2017 open hearing titled “Social Media Influence in the 2016 U.S. Election” before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. From the opening statement of Richard Burr: “What social media platforms played in spreading disinformation and discord during the 2016 elections. This is an opportunity for each of you to tell your respective stories and, if necessary, correct the record. My sense is that not all aspects of those stories have been told accurately. I’ll note for the record that this Committee is now having its seventeenth open hearing this year, and the twelfth at which we’ll be discussing Russia and Russia’s activities. Today, I’m hopeful we can provide the American people with an informed and credible assessment of how foreign actors used your platforms to circulate lies and to agitate unrest during last year’s elections.” Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Richard, Chairman, Mark R., Vice, Colin Stretch, Sean Edgett, and Kent Walker.

    United States. Government Publishing Office

    2017

  • S. Hrg. 115-40, Pt. 1: Disinformation: A Primer in Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaigns, Panel I, Hearing Before the Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate, One Hundred Fifteenth Congress, First Session, March 30, 2017

    This is the March 30, 2017 hearing on “Disinformation: A Primer in Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaigns, Panel I” before the Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate. From Senator Richard Burr’s opening statement: “This morning the committee will engage in an activity that’s quite rare for us, an open hearing on an ongoing critical intelligence question: the role of Russian active measures past and present. As many of you know, this committee is conducting a thorough, independent, and nonpartisan review of the Russian active measures campaign conducted against the 2016 U.S. elections. Some of the intelligence provided to the committee is extremely sensitive, which requires that most of the work be conducted in a secure setting to maintain the integrity of the information and to protect the very sensitive sources and methods that gave us access to that intelligence. However, the Vice Chairman and I understand the gravity of the issues that we’re here reviewing and have decided that it’s crucial that we take the rare step of discussing publicly an ongoing intelligence question. That’s why we’ve convened this second open hearing on the topic of Russian active measures, and I can assure you to the extent possible the committee will hold additional open hearings on this issue.” Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Roy Godson, Eugene Rumer, and Clint Watts.

    United States. Government Publishing Office

    2017

  • S. Hrg. 115-40, Pt. 2: Disinformation: A Primer in Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaigns, Panel II, Hearing Before the Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate, One Hundred Fifteenth Congress, First Session, March 30, 2017

    This is the March 30, 2017 hearing on Disinformation: A Primer in Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaigns, Panel II, Hearing Before the Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate. The purpose of this hearing was to establish the extent by which a foreign adversary interfered in the 2016 Presidential elections in the United States. The witnesses listed presented unclassified information for Congress to determine the severity and impact of the events that took place. Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Kevin Mandia, Keith B. Alexander, and Thomas Rid.

    United States. Government Publishing Office

    2017

  • S. Hrg. 115-460: Open Hearing on Foreign Influence Operations’ Use of Social Media Platforms (Company Witnesses), Hearing Before the Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate, One Hundred Fifteenth Congress, Second Session, September 5, 2018

    This is the September 5, 2018 hearing titled “Open Hearing on Foreign Influence Operations’ Use of Social Media Platforms (Company Witnesses)” held before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. From the opening statement of Richard Burr: “The purpose of today’s hearing is to discuss the role that social media plays in the execution of foreign influence operations. In the past, we’ve used terms like misinformation and divisive content to describe this activity.” Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Sheryl Sandberg and Jack Dorsey.

    United States. Government Publishing Office

    2019

  • Serial No. 114-37: Confronting Russia’s Weaponization of Information, Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourteenth Congress, First Session, April 15, 2015

    This is the April 15, 2015 hearing on “Confronting Russia’s Weaponization of Information” held before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. From the opening statement of Edward R. Royace: “And today we are going to look at the danger of Russia’s misinformation campaign in Europe and, indeed, today that misinformation campaign is worldwide and we are also going to look at the failed response to that effort. And as we will hear today, Russia’s propaganda machine is really at this time in overdrive and part of the focus, from my standpoint, seems to be to subvert democratic stability. And, frankly, there is also an element of this that goes to the issue of fomenting violence in Eastern Europe.” Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Peter Pomerantsev, Elizabeth Wahl, and Helle C. Dale.

    United States. Government Publishing Office

    2015

International Perspective

Research & Analysis

  • Fake News, (Dis)information and Principle of Non-Intervention: Scope, Limits and Possible Responses to Cyber Election Interference in Times of Competition

    From the Abstract: “In the era of asymmetrical conflicts, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) play an essential role due to their importance in the manipulation and conditioning of public opinion. Several threats are linked to the use of ICT but, in terms of inter-state strategic competition, one of the main dangers is represented by so-called ‘cyber election interference’, i.e. cyber election meddling activities carried out by foreign States to influence the electorate of a target State through the diffusion of ‘fake news’ or ‘alternative truths’, principally via the media and social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.). The aim of this paper is to clarify whether and when this kind of interference constitutes a breach of international obligations, in particular of the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of a State, and also to envisage possible lawful responses under international law for States targeted by said interference.”

    Army Cyber Institute, West Point

    Rotondo, Annachiara; Salvati, Pierluigi

    2018-11-14

  • Misinformation Contagion: A View Through an Epidemiological Lens

    From the Thesis Abstract: “Misinformation and disinformation have increasingly been a focus of public and media scrutiny in recent years. What differentiates past forms of misinformation from present-day are the new tools of information warfare–primarily the internet, and specifically social media platforms–which have effectively weaponized intentional false narratives directed at populations most vulnerable to manipulation. Where there is a lack of diverse populations willing to think critically about important issues, the mass nudging of social and political opinion via misinformation and disinformation both widens societal divides and stimulates action (or sometimes inaction) based on a false narrative. This thesis explores how we can better understand and address the proliferation of misinformation by viewing it through an epidemiological lens. To aid in this examination, the processes of cognitive bias will be explained as they relate to interventional opportunities to prevent contraction and spread, develop immunity, and treat the disease of misinformation. Recommendations focus on building individual and herd immunity to false narratives, reducing the virulence of these messages, and making online environments less conducive to the spread of misinformation. These steps require significant commitment to policies that will be difficult to achieve in a partisan and polarized sociopolitical environment, but they are necessary to support fact-based democratic discourse and decision-making.”

    Naval Postgraduate School (U.S.); Naval Postgraduate School (U.S.). Center for Homeland Defense and Security

    Fenton, Scott C.

    2019-12

  • Moment of Change: Challenges and Opportunities When Covering Hate Speech and Mis/Disinformation

    From the Executive Summary: “Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, news coverage of hate speech and mis/ disinformation has skyrocketed. What was once a sleepy beat led by freelancers and activists has become a central topic of coverage for almost every news organization. As the news cycle is transformed by coverage of the COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic and coverage of the 2020 presidential election ramps up, this beat is again at a critical juncture. To better understand the challenges and changes associated with this inflection point, we conducted 10 in-depth interviews with prominent journalists covering this beat. These interviews underscore critical debates in the field about platform accountability, the news agenda and news organizations’ infrastructure and support systems.”

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Media Laboratory

    Dave, Aashka; Chen, Claudia; Zuckerman, Ethan

    2020-06

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Author: Leena Oh