This article describes the activity of the Russian Propaganda machine during the Ukrainian War between 2014 and 2016. They used disinformation to portray themselves as the benevolent protectors of Jews in Ukraine; in reality, it was simply an excuse to (re)claim Crimea. The author utilizes this perspective to analyze the prospective threat of disinformation during the 2020 US elections and other threat vectors for American security.
The ACRL Framework describes Information Creation as a Process as the cycle through which all information flows. Typically, it travels as follows: research, creation of a product/text, revision of that product/text, spread to others, and back to research. Any disruptions, or “short circuits,” may lead to steps being improperly skipped (L.R. Wittkower and D.E. Wittkower, 2020). The result may be incorrect or lacking in value. Research, creation, and spread on their own, for example, are not information creation. Without revision, the researcher is simply taking someone else’s thoughts and rewording them. There is no value added and no information created, thus, the process has failed.
Russia followed a corrupted interpretation of this process in 2014. Rabbi Kapustin’s story, for example, shows Russia researching information on their target, creating an authentic interview, revising said interview to fit their narrative, and facilitating its spread throughout Ukraine (Sokol, 2019). American news and security could similarly be corrupted by a Russian insertion into one of the stages of information creation. For example, Facebook is often attacked for allowing false information to be spread through its ads. Russia could easily pollute the “research” stage by using Facebook ads to reach millions of people, spreading their views in a coordinated attack.
Additionally, according to the ACRL Framework, Information has Value. Depending on the situation, this could refer to its monetary, philosophical, intellectual, or societal value. This frame is why education can be expensive and employers desire educated applicants. This is likely also the reason that governments acknowledge the importance of an intelligence community; information can win (or lose) a war. Consumers of information should also contribute to general knowledge to encourage society’s growth and improvement.
The Russian government understands this frame, and, as we witnessed in 2014, is willing to leverage the influence of false information to achieve its goals. In this way, they keep their own citizens compliant and agreeable and confound the opposition. During the 2016 and 2020 elections, they used the value of information to heighten tensions between the Democratic and Republican parties. They appealed to people’s confirmation bias to disrupt American politics and further polarize our political spectrum. Although Russian interference was the initial threat, national security is becoming more at risk from internal fighting.
Because information has value, it has an impact on everything it touches. Fact-checking and choosing news sources carefully could contribute to an overall more secure America, especially if you plan to discuss a topic with others or use the information as the basis for an argument. Done properly, this could also negate the spread of information corrupted through an improper process. Both frames are vital to information literacy and the societal integrity/security of our country.