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The Ratfucking to Come

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This will certainly not increase your confidence in the integrity of the 2020 elections:

At least we know the primary culprit: Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, GRU operatives used WikiLeaks and fake personas (“DC Leaks” and “Guccifer 2.0”) to disseminate the hacked emails, which came to dominate coverage in both traditional and social media. That is yet another lesson that has survived from Soviet days: Narrative laundering is especially effective when the stories are built on real documents.

Although it is difficult to measure precise effects, the GRU was undoubtedly successful in changing the way Americans were talking about the two candidates at the time. (The WikiLeaks dump was timed to distract from the coverage of Trump’s “Access Hollywood” sexual harassment scandal.) Of the five distinct forms of Russian interference, the “hack and leak” campaign by the GRU, and the subsequent media coverage it inspired, likely had the greatest impact.

As our data set reveals, the Russians are now perfecting these techniques worldwide — mostly to shape public discourse on topics of geostrategic interest to Russia, such as the ongoing Syrian civil war. As described in the report, GRU agents created a variety of false identities such as the Inside Syria Media Center, a nonexistent think tank that successfully pushed pro-Assad and anti-Western narratives. Another GRU-created identity called herself Sophia Mangal, the purported co-editor of the ISMC, who frequently contributed to fringe sites such as Globalresearch.ca and engaged on Medium, Quora and Twitter while hiding behind stolen profile pictures.

And obviously having crucial allies like Moscow Mitch won’t hurt.

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