Informaatiosodankäynti, propaganda ja kulttuurivaikuttaminen - Turvallisuuden ulottuvuus

ctg

Ylipäällikkö
The effect of Russian trolls influencing opinion through social media is far more minor than commonly supposed, according to a new study.

It is believed Kremlin agents orchestrated efforts to manipulate public opinion on the web, often around major political events such as the US presidential election, through dedicated accounts, or "trolls". These trolls spread disinformation and fire up discord on social media, distracting people from real issues.

Researchers from Cyprus University of Technology, University College London, and the University of Alabama, analysed 27,000 tweets posted by a thousand Twitter users identified as having ties with Russian propaganda factory the Internet Research Agency, and were therefore likely to be state-sponsored trolls.
Linkki
 

ctg

Ylipäällikkö
The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump’s election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in the tech giant’s biggest ever data breach, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.

A whistleblower has revealed to the Observer how Cambridge Analytica – a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon – used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements.

Christopher Wylie, who worked with an academic at Cambridge University to obtain the data, told the Observer: “We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis that the entire company was built on.”
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/cambridge-analytica-facebook-influence-us-election
 

ctg

Ylipäällikkö

St Petersburg's Internet Research Agency -- AKA "The Troll Factory" -- is in the news since Robert Mueller indicted 13 of its employees, but it first came to public attention in 2013, when investigative reporters working for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta revealed that the agency was working to manipulate Russian public opinion in favor of Putin and the Kremlin and against opposition politicians by flooding Russian online discussions with thousands of "patriotic" posts made under a welter of pseudonyms.

The story of Novaya Gazeta's scoop -- and the followup revelations in Russia's precarious independent press -- is quite a tale, where bravery, smarts, and dogged determination uncovers a plot by a seemingly impregnable state to shore up its power.
https://boingboing.net/2018/03/26/firehoses-of-falsehood.html
 
Psychological Weapons of Mass Persuasion

When I was a teenager, my parents often asked me to come along to the store to help carry groceries. One day, as I was waiting patiently at the check-out, my mother reached for her brand new customer loyalty card. Out of curiosity, I asked the cashier what information they record. He replied that it helps them keep track of what we’re buying so that they can make tailored product recommendations. None of us knew about this. I wondered whether mining through millions of customer purchases could reveal hidden consumer preferences and it wasn’t long before the implications dawned on me: are they mailing us targeted ads?

This was almost two decades ago. I suppose the question most of us are worried about today is not all that different: how effective are micro-targeted messages? Can psychological “big data” be leveraged to make you buy products? Or, even more concerning, can such techniques be weaponized to influence the course of history, such as the outcomes of elections? On one hand, we’re faced with daily news from insiders attesting to the danger and effectiveness of micro-targeted messages based on unique “psychographic” profiles of millions of registered voters. On the other hand, academic writers, such as Brendan Nyhan, warn that the political power of targeted online ads and Russian bots are widely overblown.

In an attempt to take stock of what psychological science has to say about this, I think it is key to disentangle two prominent misunderstandings that cloud this debate.

First, we need to distinguish attempts to manipulate and influence public opinion, from actual voter persuasion. Repeatedly targeting people with misinformation that is designed to appeal to their political biases may well influence public attitudes, cause moral outrage, and drive partisans further apart, especially when we’re given the false impression that everyone else in our social network is espousing the same opinion. But to what extent do these attempts to influence translate into concrete votes?

The truth is, we don’t know exactly (yet). But let’s evaluate what we do know. Classic prediction models that only contain socio-demographic data (e.g. a person’s age), aren’t very informative on their own in predicting behavior. However, piecing together various bits of demographic, behavioral, and psychological data from people, such as pages you’ve liked on Facebook, results from a personality quiz you may have taken, as well as your profile photo (which reveals information about your gender and ethnicity) can improve data quality. For example, in a prominent studywith 58,000 volunteers, a Stanford researcher found that a model using Facebook likes (170 likes on average), predicted a whole range of factors, such as your gender, political affiliation, and sexual orientation with impressive accuracy.

In a follow-up study, researchers showed that such digital footprints can in fact be leveraged for mass persuasion. Across three studies with over 3.5 million people, they found that psychologically tailored advertising, i.e. matching the content of a persuasive message to an individuals’ broad psychographic profile, resulted in 40% more clicks and in 50% more online purchases than mismatched or unpersonalized messages. This is not entirely new to psychologists: we have long known that tailored communications are more persuasive than a one-size-fits all approach. Yet, the effectiveness of large-scale digital persuasion can vary greatly and is sensitive to context. After all, online shopping is not the same thing as voting!

So do we know whether targeted fake news helped swing the election to Donald Trump?

Political commentators are skeptical and for good reason: compared to a new shampoo, changing people’s minds on political issues is much harder and many academic studies on political persuasion show small effects. One of the first studies on fake news exposure combined a fake news database of 156 articles with a national survey of Americans, and estimated that the average adult was exposed to just one or a few fake news articles before the election. Moreover, the researchers argue that exposure would only have changed vote shares in the order of hundredths of a percentage point. Yet, rather than digital footprints, the authors mostly relied on self-reported persuasion and recall of 15 selected fake news articles.

In contrast, other research combing national survey data with individual browser histories estimates that about 25% of American adults (65 million) visited a fake news site in the final weeks of the election. The authors report that most of the fake news consumption was Pro-Trump, however, and heavily concentrated among a small ideological subgroup.

Interestingly, a recent study presented 585 former Barack Obama voters with one of three popular fake news stories (e.g. that Hillary Clinton was in poor health and approved weapon sales to Jihadists). The authors found that, controlling for other factors, such as whether respondents liked or disliked Clinton and Trump, former Obama voters who believed one or more of the fake news articles were 3.9 times more likely to defect from the Democratic ticket in 2016, including abstention. Thus, rather than focusing on just voter persuasion, this correlational evidence hints at the possibility that fake news might also lead to voter suppression. This makes sense in that the purpose of fake news is often not to convince people of “alternative facts,” but rather to sow doubt and to disengage people politically, which can undermine the democratic process, especially when society’s future hinges on small differences in voting preferences.

In fact, the second common misunderstanding revolves around the impact of “small” effects: small effects can have big consequences. For example, in a 61-million-person experiment published in Nature, researchers show that political mobilization messages delivered to Facebook users directly impacted the voting behavior of millions of people. Importantly, the effect of social transmission was greater than the direct effect of the messages themselves. Notably, the voter persuasion rate in that study, was around 0.39%, which seems really small, but it actually translates into 282,000 extra votes cast. If you think about major elections, such as Brexit (51.9% vs. 48.1%) or the fact that Hillary ultimately lost the election by about 77,000 votes, contextually, such small effects suddenly matter a great deal.

In short, it is important to remember that psychological weapons of mass persuasion do not need to be based on highly accurate models, nor do they require huge effects across the population in order to have the ability to undermine the democratic process. In addition, we are only seeing a fraction of the data, which means that scientific research may well be underestimating the influence of these tools. For example, most academic studies use self-reported survey experiments, which do not always accurately simulate the true social dynamics in which online news consumption takes place. Even when Facebook downplayed the importance of the echo chamber effect in their own Science study, the data was based on a tiny snapshot of users (i.e. those who declared their political ideology or about 4% of the total Facebook population). Furthermore, predictive analytics companies do not go through ethical review boards or run highly controlled studies using one or two messages at a time. Instead, they spend millions on testing thirty to forty thousand messages a day across many different audiences, fine-tuning their algorithms, refining their messages, and so on.

Thus, given the lack of transparency, the privatized nature of these models, and commercial interests to over-claim or downplay their effectiveness, we must remain cautious in our conclusions. The rise of Big Data offers many potential benefits for society and my colleagues and I have tried help establish ethical guidelines for the use of Big Data in behavioral science as well as help inoculate and empower people to resistmass psychological persuasion. But if anything is clear, it’s the fact that we are constantly being micro-targeted based on our digital footprints, from book recommendations to song choices to what candidate you’re going to vote for. For better or worse, we are now all unwitting participants in what is likely going to be the world’s largest behavioral science experiment.
 
https://www.savonsanomat.fi/kotimaa/Lehdet-Valtioneuvoston-ex-viestintäjohtaja-Mantila-siirtyy-Naton-strategisen-viestinnän-keskukseen/1183764

Lehdet: Valtioneuvoston ex-viestintäjohtaja Mantila siirtyy Naton strategisen viestinnän keskukseen

Valtioneuvoston entinen viestintäjohtaja Markku Mantila on nimitetty päällikkötehtäviin Latvian Riiassa sijaitsevaan Naton strategisen viestinnän osaamiskeskukseen. Asiasta kertoivat maanantai-iltana ainakin Aamulehti ja Kaleva.

Lehtien mukaan Mantila aloittaa tutkimuksesta ja kehityksestä vastaavan yksikön päällikkönä elokuussa. Tehtävä on aluksi kaksivuotinen, mutta sopimukseen sisältyy mahdollisuus jatkosta. Lehtien mukaan edeltäjä tehtävässä oli tohtori Antti Sillanpää.¨

Aamulehti ja Kaleva kertovat, että osaamiskeskus on itsenäinen asiantuntijaelin, joka ei kuulu Naton komentorakenteeseen tai saa siltä rahoitusta.

Mantila työskenteli aiemmin muun muassa valtioneuvoston viestintäjohtajana sekä päätoimittajana Kalevassa ja Pohjalaisessa. Viime aikoina Mantila on toiminut perustamassaan viestintäyrityksessä.
STT
 
Linkki: https://jamestown.org/program/amids...iological-weapons-in-former-soviet-republics/

Amidst ‘Chemical’ Confrontation in Syria, Russia Looks for US Biological Weapons in Former Soviet Republics

On April 12—on the eve of the United States’ and its allies’ airstrikes against Syria in response to the recent chemical attack in Douma—Russian foreign ministry press secretary Maria Zakharova stated that the US, through programs financed by the Pentagon, is creating a network of microbiological laboratories in the Caucasus and Central Asia. She added that “the very fact of the large-scale medical-biological activities of the Pentagon on the borders of Russia” causes particular concern for Moscow (Mid.ru, April 12). The timing of Zakharova’s statement is notable, occurring within weeks of the poisoning in the United Kingdom of Russian double-agent Sergey Skripal and his daughter with a Russian-produced nerve agent and soon after Bashar al-Assad’s forces attacked civilians in Douma with chlorine gas. As such, these charges of US biological weapons programs in the Caucasus and Central Asia appear to form part of Moscow’s asymmetric response to growing scrutiny over Russia’s use of or indirect enabling of chemical weapons attacks, as well as its general confrontation with the West.

Since the late 1990s, when the United States first established partnerships in biological studies with several post-soviet republics, Moscow has repeatedly suggested that such cooperation represented a threat to Russia. The main targets of scorn for Russian officials and experts have tended to be the so-called “Lugar laboratories” in Georgia, Azerbaijan and, recently, in Kazakhstan. These biological research facilities were built as part of the Nunn-Lugar Biological Threat Reduction program, named after its leading US Senators, Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar. The program sought to dismantle the former Soviet Union’s massive biological weapons research, development and production infrastructure. Moreover, it aims to prevent the proliferation of expertise, materials, equipment and technologies that could contribute to the development of biological weapons. Under the program, the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has carried out bio-threat reduction projects in Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine (Dtra.mil, Nap.edu, accessed April 17, 2018).

In Azerbaijan, the DTRA, in partnership with Baku, has helped upgrade a network of regional diagnostic laboratories throughout the country, created a national electronic disease reporting system, and conducted technical training in clinical, epidemiological, laboratory and veterinary practices. It has also improved biological safety and security measures. Finally, it has partnered with local scientists on endemic disease research projects as well as provided equipment, technical management and oversight support for construction of the Azerbaijani-funded Central Reference Laboratory (Az.usembassy.gov, accessed April 17, 2018; Defense.gov, April 17, 2013).

In Georgia, the DTRA helped construct the Public Health Research Center, which was recently upgraded to Biosafety Level-2 with funds from the US government (Ge.usembassy.gov, accessed April 17, 2018). Similarly, with US support, Kazakhstan carried out multiple biological security improvements. In the 1990s, it dismantled a large-scale biological weapons program; and now it is working to bolster the security of biological materials, gainfully employ those with dual-use knowledge in the biological sciences, and expand public health capacities (Belfercenter.org, January 2017). The Central Reference Laboratory opened in 2015, in Almaty; it offers high-security lab space to study dangerous diseases and provides early warnings of potential outbreaks. Additionally, the facility offers stable employment to scientists who might otherwise be tempted to sell their high-level and potentially destructive knowledge to hostile groups (Caravan.kz, September 9, 2016; National Geographic, September 13, 2013).

Moscow’s spurious accusations leveled against the aforementioned cooperation fall into three main categories: a) the United States, in cooperation with local scientists, is conducting research that could potentially be used for the production of bacteriological weapons; b) the transfer of information and samples of pathogens to the US may mean the disclosure of military and biological secrets not only of the Soviet Union, but of Russia, its legal successor; c) along with the disclosure of Soviet secrets to Washington, such activities by Georgia, Azerbaijan and other post-Soviet states threaten Russia’s interests (Vpoanalytics.com, April 2, 2017). Although these allegations have been repeatedly refuted by officials and experts of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, the dissemination of negative information about these laboratories has intensified in recent years (see EDM, July 30, 2013; Apsny.ge, November 9, 2017; Haqqin.az, September 3, 2016; 365info.kz, August 5, 2015; Tengrinews.kz, January 16, 2014).

High-level Russian foreign ministry officials have accused the US of violating the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (RIA Novosti, May 25, 2016; Vz.ru, September 1, 2016). Moreover, Gennady Onishchenko, a former head of the Federal Service for the Protection of Consumer Rights and the country’s Chief Sanitary Physician, alleged that the DTRA-supported laboratories in the post-Soviet space are an important part of the US biological weapons program. He also stated that US military microbiologists in Georgia can purposely infect mosquitoes with the Zika virus (Cnsnews.com, October 15, 2013; Komsomolskaya Pravda, February 16, 2016).

In 2016, several media outlets in Armenia blamed the Richard Lugar Public Health Research Center in Georgia for the death of more than ten people from swine flu (H1N1), an absurdity recognized even in the Russian media (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, January 20, 2016). Negative information about the aforementioned laboratories has also appeared in Azerbaijani and Kazakhstani media (Bakumedinfo.com, May 1, 2017; Kt.kz, April 8, 2017). Recently, Dagestani journalists, led by Mukhtar Amirov, alleged that the Georgian laboratory dispersed biological weapons in Dagestan and Chechnya. Moreover, Amirov wrote up a petition, addressed to Vladimir Putin, asking the president to initiate “an investigation into the activities of the [Georgian] Lugar laboratory in connection with the threat to the biological safety of Russian citizens,” and calling for the imposition of sanctions against individuals and legal entities related to this facility (Kavkazr.com, March 30, 2018; Dag.aif.ru, February 19).

The persistent Russian narrative alleging that the US is cooperating with several former Soviet republics in violation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Treaty provides Moscow with a useful justification for putting additional pressure on its post-Soviet neighbors as well as an asymmetric tool in its confrontation with the West. In line with Soviet tradition, Moscow often uses offensive measures under the justification of defensive efforts. Indeed, in recent years, Russia repeatedly used supposed bacterial or biological threats in order to impose economic sanctions on several neighboring states (Ceps.eu, September 2014; Global Risk Insights, June 30, 2015). And in the face of its intensifying confrontation with the US, Zakharova’s recent statement blasting the “Lugar laboratories” in the former Soviet space may well have been meant as a diplomatic warning to Washington: Moscow may use this “biological threat” as a pretext to put additional pressure on Western partners in the region in retaliation to the strikes on Syria’s chemical weapons program.