counter-propaganda

A look at some of the tactics the United States can use to respond to disinformation in the 21st century.

After coming under pressure from lawmakers, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has taken steps toward spending tens of millions of dollars to counter propaganda by Islamist extremists and governments such as Russia. A State Department official confirmed on Thursday that Tillerson last week approved the use of about $60 million by the Global Engagement Center toward the anti-propaganda efforts.

The tragic condition of U.S. foreign policy ever since the Reagan administration is that public diplomacy has consistently occupied a tertiary status in the scale of national priorities. [...] It is OK to send messages like the Tillerson-Mattis one only if we reassure the North Korean people that we haven’t abandoned them. The Tillerson-Mattis message can thus serve a psychological disarmament purpose, at least to a limited degree. But we must have a parallel track of diplomacy — with the North Korean people. We must give them hope.

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.

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.

At a time when extremism is increasing, when our citizens are questioning their common EU identity more than ever – now is the time to firmly place culture and cultural policies at the heart of the European political agenda. Making 2018 the year of European Cultural Heritage is a first step in the right direction. But the EU should use the positive dynamics created by this initiative to create a concrete strategy and action plan for international cultural relations, including culture as a tool of soft power and promoting it as a pillar of sustainable development.

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.

Pages