The Cold War Daily

Notes on the new great power struggle.

Russia election hacking and Russian influence stories by Chris Zappone

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The only surprise for me is why the US media didn’t cover it more closely. But I have some good ideas about why they didn’t.

May 3, 2016
Blog: Donald Trump as a Manchurian Candidate (…sort of) for Russia

June 15, 2016
Fairfax: Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin: Russia’s information war meets the US election

June 22, 2016
Blog: Russia’s US election hacking / information war campaign

June 24, 2016
Fairfax: DNCHack: Did Kim Dotcom warn the world about the Democratic Party hacking?

July 26, 2016
Fairfax: DNC leak: Russia better at information war now than during Cold War

July 24, 2016
Blog: The first US election fought in cyberspace

August 1, 2016
Blog: DNCLeaks justified because, well, I can’t vote in US: Julian Assange

August 9, 2016 (Republished October 13, 2016)
Fairfax: Donald Trump campaign’s ‘firehose of falsehoods’ has parallels with Russian propaganda

August 11, 2016
Fairfax: DNCLeak: Five times WikiLeaks and Russia have crossed paths

August 14, 2016
Blog: For Russia’s social media propaganda, change is everything

August 19. 2016
Fairfax: Shadow Brokers NSA leak: this too could be a form of Russian propaganda, says expert

August 25, 2016
Blog: Information war and propaganda: a brute force attack on reality

September 7, 2016
Blog: Russian influence and Shadow Brokers’ message ‘to elites’

September 9, 2016
Fairfax: Who controls our news? Welcome to the era of Russian and Chinese information war

September 14, 2016
Fairfax: WikiLeaks drops latest Guccifer 2.0 data on Hillary Clinton, DNC, Democrats

September 16, 2016
Blog: Isn’t Russia’s meddling in the US election a ‘Cyber Pearl Harbor’?

October 14, 2016
Fairfax: If Donald Trump scares you, you should fight for facts everywhere

October 14, 2016
Blog: DNCHack is the ‘most significant’ of any cyber attack ever seen: Thomas Rid

October 19, 2016
Fairfax: Twitter bots: Donald Trump ‘has rabies’ – and it’s something we should all care about

October 26, 2016
Fairfax: SurkovLeaks: Is Vladimir Putin aide’s email hack payback for DNCLeak-Clinton exposure?

November 25, 2016
Fairfax: Why was I blocked by WikiLeaks on Twitter?

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#China influence afoot? Secure your hashtags, Australia

Given the surge of news and developments around the China influence story, it’s worthwhile to consider what Australians would do if they found the hashtag #Chinainfluence blocked in their own social media conversations.

More likely, the term could be drowned out. Or rendered unusable.

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So imagine if trolls or bots or other coordinated teams of humans undertook a campaign to suppress the productive use of hashtags like #auspol, or #dastayari or #UFWD or #SouthChinaSea or one as broad as #China itself in Australian social media conversation.

Trolls could be located overseas even as they influenced or squelched domestic Australian discussion.

It’s not as if China doesn’t already do this domestically as a way to shape and derail public conversation.

The ability to micro-blog relevant news on the subject of influence campaigns on social media platforms such as Twitter has become the norm for the nation’s class of  academics, researchers, policymakers and self-selected members of the informed public.

In a crisis, would important news about Australian national security be accessible on this platform?

Think about how reliant communications regarding Australian national security are on a foreign-based platform with an incredibly uneven record of countering abuse and misuse.

The social media companies are staffed with people who confuse the concept of “free speech” with the action of coordinated trolling campaigns, often driven by nation states.

That means, when authoritarian nations are exploiting social media platforms to undermine democracies, don’t expect timely or effective help from the company.

As Australia begins addressing influence operations conducted on its own shores by foreign powers, it’s important to consider the enormous vulnerability of social media that many in Australia’s political class and civil society have embraced as normal, and even desirable.

What kind of backup plans and redundancies does the nation has in place to prevent discussion on social media from being stymied, manipulated and disrupted?

It’s just a thought.

But one worth thinking about now – before a crisis hits.

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When ‘free speech’ becomes a shield for planned chaos

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