Approaches to Counter Russian Social Media Influence
In testimony before Congress, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats predicted that Russia’s social media campaigns “will continue to focus on aggravating social and racial tensions, undermining trust in authorities, and criticizing perceived anti-Russian politicians” and may seek to influence U.S. policy and elections. The Russian “disinformation chain” starts from the very top—from Russian leadership, to Russian actors and proxies, through channels of amplification such as social media platforms, and finally to U.S. media consumers. So how can policymakers combat this threat in the United States?
RAND researchers categorized and analyzed different approaches and policy options to respond to the specific threat of Russian influence via disinformation spread on social media in the United States. In this briefing, Elizabeth Bodine-Baron discusses:
- The challenges facing current measures underway by Department of Homeland Security and Department of State to combat this threat
- Proposed approaches, as well as unintended consequences and drawbacks
- Recommendations for policymakers
Portions of audio used in this briefing video were provided by C-SPAN.
The Russian government's disinformation campaigns have found a comfortable home on social media. No single approach to countering their influence is likely to produce a conclusive victory over the threat. Therefore, it would be prudent to adopt approaches that target multiple links in the disinformation chain.
Russia is engaged in an active, worldwide propaganda campaign, but it is particularly interested in targeting its western border. What can the United States and allied governments do to limit Russian influence in the region?
Russia uses social media in nearby states to sow dissent against neighboring governments and NATO. Options for countering the Kremlin's campaign include tracking and blocking propaganda more quickly and offering alternative content to help displace the Russian narrative.