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.

  • 3D illustration of a conceptual maze. Shortcut between points A and B or finding the shortest path concept, photo by livier Le Moal/Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Report

    Leveraging Complexity in Great-Power Competition and Warfare: Volume I

    Aug 26, 2021

    The United States should aim to minimize the element of complexity for itself while maximizing it for its adversary in great-power competition and warfare. But what does complexity mean in an Air Force context? And how can it be used as a method of attack?

  • TV news anchor obscured by screen of interference over a Russian flag, images by namussi/Getty Images and Piotr Krzeslak/Adobe Stock; design by Rick Penn-Kraus/RAND Corporation

    Report

    Countering Russia's Malign and Subversive Information Efforts

    Aug 16, 2021

    Information aggression is increasing in frequency and intensity. Russia, in particular, uses messaging and intimidation in its efforts to influence multiple actors and countries. As frequent targets, how can the United States and its European allies defend themselves?

Explore Information Operations

  • Report

    Report

    Counter-Radicalization Bot Research: Using Social Bots to Fight Violent Extremism

    As the online recruitment of violent extremist organizations grows, the U.S. government may benefit from promising emerging technology tools to rapidly detect targets of such recruitment efforts and deliver counter-radicalization content to them.

    Oct 8, 2020

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    Report

    Foreign Actors Are Again Using Twitter to Interfere with the U.S. Election

    After the 2016 U.S. election it became clear that Russian agents had engaged in online efforts to sow chaos and inflame partisan divides among Americans. Interference is happening again now. It includes posts from trolls—fake personas spreading hyper-partisan themes—and superconnectors designed to spread messages quickly.

    Oct 8, 2020

  • Blog

    How Russia Targets U.S. Elections, Black Workers and COVID-19, TikTok: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how Russia targets U.S. elections, Americans' increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic, Black workers and COVID-19, and more.

    Oct 2, 2020

  • Russian Interference in the 2020 U.S. Election (Crop)

    Multimedia

    Russian Interference in the 2020 U.S. Election

    RAND military sociologist Marek Posard describes several broad risks of foreign interference in American democracy and explains how Russia may use reflexive control theory to cause disruption in the 2020 U.S. Election.

    Oct 1, 2020

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a video conference call with officials and public representatives of the region of Dagestan amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia May 18, 2020, photo by Alexei Nikolsky/Reuters

    Report

    How Russia Targets U.S. Elections

    In this campaign season, Russia might try to manipulate U.S. voters through social media as it did in 2016. New technologies have made these efforts easier. Russia's tactics aim to polarize Americans, create distrust, and paralyze the political process. What is the best defense against them?

    Oct 1, 2020

  • Twitter logo and binary cyber codes, November 26, 2019, photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Commentary

    Insider Threat at Twitter Is a Risk to Everyone

    Three young hackers were charged in the hijacking of dozens of high-profile Twitter accounts. Their tactics point out how vulnerabilities at tech platforms can pose a risk to national security.

    Aug 7, 2020

  • Blog

    COVID Learning Loss, Russian Trolls, Artificial Intelligence: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on helping students recover learning losses, fighting Russian trolls, racial disparity in unemployment benefits, the race for AI leadership, and more.

    Jul 17, 2020

  • Examples of Facebook pages displayed during a House Intelligence Committee meeting on Russian use of social media to influence U.S. elections in Washington, D.C., November 1, 2017, photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    Commentary

    How You Can Fight Russia's Plans to Troll Americans During Campaign 2020

    The goal of Russian interference is to trigger emotional reactions and drive people to ideological extremes, making it nearly impossible to build a consensus. But Americans are less likely to have their emotions manipulated if they are aware that manipulation is the goal.

    Jul 14, 2020

  • U.S. Army 1st Lt. Shaun Lawson, Cpl. Marvin Carson and Sgt. John Delgado, assigned to Charlie Company, 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 2nd Theater Signal Brigade, manage the company network operations (NETOPS) cell monitoring the networks at exercise Allied Spirit VIII, Jan. 30, 2018 at the Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, photo by William B. King/U.S. Army

    Report

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

    Campaigns to inform, influence, and persuade a range of foreign audiences are critical to achieving key U.S. national security objectives, but it can be challenging to assess the effectiveness of these efforts. How can assessment design and planning support U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) efforts?

    Jul 2, 2020

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    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. This type of malign information and high-tech “deepfake” imagery 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

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

    Report

    Machine Learning Can Help Detect Misinformation Online

    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?

    Jun 23, 2020

  • 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

    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.

    May 11, 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

    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 4, 2019