Monday, October 24th 2016
“New media and the information revolution have not only empowered access to information but also fuelled the spread of disinformation. Such is the scale of the problem that the World Economic Forum has defined misinformation as one of the world’s most urgent problems.”
Sunday, August 28th 2016
“I remember facts seemed to be terribly important during the Cold War,” wrote Legatum Institute senior fellow Peter Pomerantsev in a dark July 20, 2016, article, “Why We’re Post-Fact,” in Granta: The Magazine of New Writing. “Both Soviet Communists and Western Democratic Capitalists relied on facts to prove their ideology was right. The Communists especially cooked the books – but in the end they lost because they couldn’t make their case any longer. When they were caught lying they acted outraged. It was important to be seen as accurate.”
That was then. Now is now. Pomerantsev senses changes in basic thinking and how they bear on Public Diplomacy and strategic communication. Practitioners need to be aware, for instance, of the “equaling out of truth and falsehood,” “disinformation cascades, “techno-fantasies,” and “digital wildfires.” Here are some highlights of his article:Read More
Saturday, January 16th 2016
“. . . there is much more to Islamic State propaganda than brutality,” wrote Charlie Winter in “Islamic State Propaganda: Our Response to the Competion,” published by the Legatum Institute in November, 2015. This was one of three articles on “Cyber Propaganda: From how to start a revolution to how to beat ISIS” published by the Institute in its indispensable “Beyond Propaganda” series.
This rich and detailed paper runs only eight pages, so it should be read in full, not in summary. For instance, Winter opened with a discussion of five key characteristics that make Islamic State propaganda successful -- quantity, quality (production value), adaptability, narrative variation, and audience differentiation – each with valuable insights, analysis, and examples. ISIS relies on six key narratives -- brutality, mercy, belonging, victimhood, war, and uptopia. It runs simultaneous appeals to many different audiences.
He outlined “the response” by governments, the private sector (social media companies), the third sector (independent organizations), and communities. The main ways have been direct engagement, counter-propaganda campaigns, and sponsorship. He offered words of appreciation for the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications at a time when words of praise have been few. Also mentioned are the UAE’s Sawab Center; twitter accounts from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Australian Defence Force; responses by Google, Facebook, and Twitter; the Institute for Strategic Dialog; The Quilliam Foundation; and the Active Change Foundation.
The bottom line: “It is high time that we take a leaf out of Islamic State’s media strategy book and recognise that, at a minimum, all counter-propaganda efforts need to be scaled up and re-strategised.”
Here are just a few key quotes from Winter’s important paper:Read More
Sunday, December 20th 2015
There’s an abundant historical literature on Public Diplomacy, and a July 24, 2015, report published by the Legatum Institute, “Counter Propaganda: Cases from US Public Diplomacy and Beyond,” provides a crisp historical review. The author is Professor Nicholas Cull of the University of Southern California, well known as the author of the magisterial The Cold War and the United States Information Agency 1945-1989 (Cambridge University Press, 2008). For Public Diplomacy, propaganda, and counter-propaganda, the report includes principles, case studies, historical lessons learned, and recommendations in only 12 pages of text.
Professor Cull’s review of propaganda through the 1930s is full of cautionary examples, well explains the word’s negative associations, and summarizes the post-World War I debate to define what is licit and illicit. The compact section on World War II and the longer portion on the Cold War are full of instructive examples – too many forgotten – that still echo in America’s approach to Public Diplomacy.Read More
Sunday, November 1st 2015
“Modern disinformation consists of lying at the speed of light. And it is not only the Kremlin that has picked up on this. ISIL is using the Internet to radicalise Western citizens; China has made disinformation one of the pillars of its Three Warfares; outlets such as Iran’s Press TV and Venezuelan-led TeleSur broadcast anti-Western messages to a global audience.” These are among the conclusions of Ben Nimmo, former NATO press officer who is now an analyst of information warfare and defense issues based in Scotland. “Disinformation campaigns have seriously undermined the concept of information as an objective and provable set of facts, eroding public trust in all media and all sources,” he continued.
Nimmo’s contribution to the Legatum Institute’s September 27, 2015 report on Information at War: From China’s Three Warfares to NATO’s Narratives was “The Case for Information Defence: A Pre-Emptive Strategy for Dealing with the New Disinformation Wars.” Here are some main points; the full essay elaborates.
The chorus of voices demanding a response from democratic governments has grown to a Verdiesque fortissimo. Some insist that we fight fire with fire, demanding a “reawakening of our lost skills for propaganda”.
Others argue that liberal democracies should respond “less with a focus on countering Russian propaganda than on building attractive alternatives”.Read More