Information Operations

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Information operations and warfare, also known as influence operations, includes the collection of tactical information about an adversary as well as the dissemination of propaganda in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent. RAND research has enabled military leaders and policymakers to develop strategies and policy frameworks to address the challenges of these military operations.

  • The business centre Lakhta-2, which reportedly houses internet research companies known for the trolling on social media, in St. Petersburg, Russia, February 20, 2018, photo by Anton Vaganov/Reuters

    Commentary

    Exposing Russian Information Operations Does Not Violate the First Amendment

    May 11, 2020

    Russia's hostile information operations are continuous and extend to a broad range of domestic issues. First Amendment concerns are important, but they do not protect hostile information campaigns by foreign actors, nor are they a legal excuse for inaction by the United States.

  • Illustration of social media users and trolls, image by dem10/Getty Images

    Report

    Machine Learning Can Help Detect Misinformation Online

    Jun 23, 2020

    As social media is increasingly being used as a primary source for news, there is a rising threat from the spread of malign and false information. A new machine learning model identified differences between authentic political supporters and Russian trolls shaping online debates about the 2016 U.S. election. How could the model be applied in the future?

Explore Information Operations

  • Report

    Frameworks for Assessing USEUCOM Efforts to Inform, Influence, and Persuade

    It can be challenging to assess the progress, performance, and effectiveness of efforts to inform, influence, and persuade in support of U.S. national security objectives. This report presents robust and flexible frameworks to enhance assessment.

    Jul 2, 2020

  • A radio telescope in front of a field of stars

    Report

    Opportunities for Including the Information Environment in U.S. Marine Corps Wargames

    Wargaming is enjoying renewed prominence in the defense community, yet the information environment remains underdeveloped and underrepresented in wargames.

    Jul 1, 2020

  • Virtual human 3D illustration with computer code, photo by monsitj/Getty Images

    Commentary

    A Machine Learning Approach Could Help Counter Disinformation

    Disinformation has become a central feature of the COVID-19 crisis. As this type of malign information and high-tech “deepfake” imagery can spread so fast online, it poses a risk to democratic societies worldwide by increasing public mistrust in governments and public authorities. New research highlights new ways to detect and dispel disinformation online.

    Jun 25, 2020

  • A magnifying glass on a digital human hacker image, photo by monsitj/Getty Images

    Report

    Detecting Malign or Subversive Information Efforts over Social Media

    The United States has a capability gap in detecting malign or subversive information campaigns in time to respond before they influence large audiences. A novel method can now detect these efforts.

    Mar 16, 2020

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony for newly appointed foreign ambassadors to Russia, in Moscow, Russia, February 5, 2020, photo by Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Kremlin via Reuters

    Report

    How to Understand and Respond to Russian Subversion

    Russia's interests motivate different forms of subversion to influence domestic politics in the United States and elsewhere. Capabilities vary across countries and activities, and the effectiveness of such efforts remains largely unknown. Despite these challenges, there are ways to deter and respond to Russian subversion.

    Feb 18, 2020

  • Two digital faces facing each other, photo by wildpixel/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Artificial Intelligence and the Manufacturing of Reality

    Humans carry flaws in deciding what is or is not real. The internet and other technologies have made it easier to weaponize and exploit these flaws. And artificial intelligence will likely be used to exploit these weaknesses at an unprecedented scale, speed, and level of effectiveness.

    Jan 20, 2020

  • The entrance to Lakhta-2 business center, which reportedly houses news organizations and internet research companies known for trolling on social media, in St. Petersburg, Russia, February 20, 2018, photo by Anton Vaganov/Reuters

    Commentary

    What Translation Troubles Can Tell Us About Russian Information Warfare

    Russian information warfare has attracted significant international attention since 2014. But little research has focused on its apparent shortcomings. Most notable are the confusing translation mistakes that undermine Moscow's attempts at covert influence efforts.

    Oct 4, 2019

  • Blog

    Social Manipulation, Boko Haram, Citizen Scientists: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap looks at hostile social manipulation, stopping the next Boko Haram, a citizen-science success story, and more.

    Sep 6, 2019

  • News Release

    Hostile Social Manipulation by Russia and China a Growing but Poorly Understood Threat

    With the role of information warfare in global strategic competition becoming much more apparent, a new RAND Corporation report delves into better defining and understanding the challenge facing the United States by focusing on the hostile social manipulation activities of the two leading users of such techniques: Russia and China.

    Sep 4, 2019

  • Illustration of a network, security information, and AI technology, image by issaronow/Adobe Stock

    Report

    'Hostile Social Manipulation' Is a Growing Threat to the United States

    Hostile social manipulation includes social media campaigns, sophisticated forgeries, and spreading rumors and conspiracy theories. As these techniques are used by Russia and China, Washington should invest more resources to understand and counter them.

    Sep 3, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Using an Inoculation Message Approach to Promote Public Confidence in Protective Agencies

    This investigation tested the effectiveness of inoculation as a pre-crisis strategy in combating the effects of politically motivated violent acts.

    Jul 3, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Assessing Against and Moving Past the "Funnel" Model of Counterterrorism Communication

    Through numerous forms of media, terrorists are embracing new opportunities to spread the psychological impact of terrorism throughout the world. This article discusses the promise and challenges of counterterrorism communication efforts.

    Jul 3, 2019

  • Fishing boats departing from Shenjiawan port in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province towards the East China Sea fishing grounds, September 17, 2012, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Report

    How the United States Can Compete in the Gray Zone

    America is entering a period of intensifying strategic competition with Russia and China. U.S. officials expect this to play out below the threshold of armed conflict, in the gray zone between peace and war. What policy options does the United States have to respond to gray zone threats?

    Jun 27, 2019

  • A portion of a city model glows red indicating a cyber threat to infrastructure at the DarkMatter booth during the Black Hat information security conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 26, 2017

    Commentary

    Fighting and Winning the Undeclared Cyber War

    Russia has executed deliberate intrusions into U.S. critical infrastructure since at least 2011. These systems have included government entities, commercial facilities, water resource plants, and aviation institutions. What actions or policies can the U.S. execute to improve security?

    Jun 24, 2019

  • Research Brief

    The Growing Need to Focus on Modern Political Warfare

    RAND researchers analyzed how political warfare is practiced today and identified ways that the U.S. government, its allies, and its partners can respond to or engage in this type of conflict to achieve U.S. ends and protect U.S. interests.

    May 31, 2019

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, April 5, 2019, photo by Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Druzhinin via Reuters

    Commentary

    Mueller Report May Result in Russian Sanctions but Not Better Behavior

    The Mueller report could help mobilize political pressure in the United States for a stronger posture toward Russian activities that harm American and allied interests. But the Kremlin will likely still see propaganda, disinformation, and subterfuge as useful tools to undermine America's values and cohesion.

    Apr 26, 2019

  • Elizabeth Bodine-Baron discusses the challenges in combating the threat of Russian influence via disinformation spread on social media.

    Multimedia

    Approaches to Counter Russian Social Media Influence

    In this congressional briefing, RAND information scientist Elizabeth Bodine-Baron discusses the challenges in combating the threat of Russian influence via disinformation spread on social media.

    Mar 15, 2019

  • Members of the Texas Army and Air National Guard support Exercise Cyber Shield 17 at Camp Williams, Utah, May 2, 2017, photo by Col. Wayde Minami/U.S. Air National Guard

    Commentary

    Is It Time to Abandon the Term Information Operations?

    Operations in the information environment will be a critical part of future joint force operations and should be baked in to those operations as a fully valued tool in commanders' combined arms toolboxes. Reaching that goal will require greater acceptance and understanding of information across the joint force, new structures for information forces, and the evolution of how operations in the information environment are handled within the staff.

    Mar 13, 2019