Information Warfare

Hannes Grassegger
Reporter DAS MAGAZIN - Zürich & Sandberg-Fellow 2020 GERRIT-RIETVELD-ACADEMIE - Amsterdam

Take a deep dive into Information Warfare with this hand-curated series of 11 time-tested articles and videos from around the web. We’ll guide you through, one link per day, in the app or in your inbox.

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As a journalist I think a lot about the power and impact of words — or information, in a much broader sense. And I am terribly fascinated by the weaponization of information: Information Warfare. A topic which I have worked on for half a decade now, from covering Trump's 2016 digital campaigning to Web War One against Estonia, or The Plot against George Soros, how some evil genius campaigners turned one of the world's richest philanthropists into the most hated person on the Internet. Information Warfare is big. As beings we react to the information we receive, and in an increasingly digital world, this offers potentials for manipulation and thus power. I have compiled a reader to guide you into this world.


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Glad to see you made it all the way through this Deep Dive. We hope you found it useful and can put some of the insights to good use in your own daily life.

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Deep Dives are carefully hand-curated series of time-tested articles and videos from around the web.

We’ll guide you through, one link per day, in the app or in your inbox.

Deep Dives come in bites that are short enough to fit in your day...

...but add up to a satisfying learning experience.

Start reading at page 98. The Dark future of the Information Society? The first reading of our guide into Information Warfare looks ahead. A study by RandCorp, an influential US think tank. This 2019 study lays out several graphic scenarios of a near future in which the US descends into a digital civil war. Social media bubbles fighting each other.

Hannes Grassegger

An ancient technique. The second reading from our Information Warfare list is not a reading but a watching. A rapid guide through thousands of years of Information Warfare by hacker and twitter legend @pwnallthethings. 

Hannes Grassegger

The third reading of our guide into Information Warfare is another video. Watch a former KGB agent from the 1970s explain, how Russia wanted to demolish the United States through Dezinformatsiya. Bezmenov's concept is to stir up societal groups and pitch them against each other. It didn’t work too well. But maybe they were just too early? The Information Age seems ripe for Disinformation. Inside view from a Soviet Union Information Warrior. Some of it might be disinfo too. Take it with a grain of salt, please.

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Here is the No1 essential disinfo lesson from Russia (with no love). How the US created HIV and AIDS! Here is how these false rumours were spread: Operation Infektion. The 4th recommendation from our Information Warfare deep-dive is a case-study.

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Here is the essential reading to discuss Russian Information Warfare in the present. The Gerasimov-Doctrine (which is not a doctrine, after all), as first published and translated. Gerasimov calls it hybrid warfare, attackers first use information attacks and then roll in with tanks. Like in Georgia. Or Ukraine. Its cheaper and more efficient, and it might even spare some lives, hopefully. Read all about it: 

Hannes Grassegger

Information Warfare deep-dive number 6. The great thing about pointing out things is one is pointing away from him- or herself. Information Warfare is not a Russian thing, only. In the US, Information Warfare is traditionally a privatised enterprise. It’s for hire. Listen to my favorite American Information Warrior (AIW) - the legendary spin-doctor Arthur Finkelstein, one of his ultra-rare lessons in negative campiagning. In making your enemy look really bad. 

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Lesson 7. For all those who start here, go back to deep-dive one in Information Warfare, and learn the basics first. Here is how Information Warfare migrated to Social Media, mixed with the trolling ethics and how ISIS is the result of all this: 

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Information Warfare is not all bad, either. You remember the Arab Spring? The «Facebook-Revolution»? Here it is back again, same same but different. Information can take down dictators. How Telegram is a weapon in Belarus, and how the founder of Telegram (who has no hoime in the physical world), helps the revolutionaries maintain an information infrastructure: 

Hannes Grassegger

Information Warfare deep-dive 9 really builds on all the previous links. This is my favorite reporting about the Internet Research Agency. That famous thing the Americans now call THE Agency. That thing, that helped Trump from Russia via satellite, facebook groups and many other fancy tricks. This RBC report is a reminder, that there is still excellent press in Russia, and also, how THE Agency was financed. I used deepl.com for translation: 

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You almost did it. This is a reminder, that we need no organization, no coordination to descend into a full blown Disinformation Camapaign. Suffice you can profit from it. Here is the story of some Macedonian mercenaries in Information Warfare, young men who produced these wonderfully strange headlines,the Americanos were clicking on during the 2016 elections: the pope & Trump one for example. They didn’t write these headlines for the lulz. They did it because Facebook made them earn money from it. They did it for-profit.  

Hannes Grassegger

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