We now know a significant amount about the functionality of disinformation and what’s called “computational propaganda.”
It’s the “use and spread of false or misleading information to create an action and provoke a desired reaction.” Essentially a weaponised marketing technique, or psyops if you prefer.
This has been used to drive political policy and electorate behaviour, using a ‘big data’ profile to make sure it is targeting the right people in the way.
In many ways it follows the principles of a cyber-attack utilissing malware or a virus, seeking out access to networks which it can infect. The only difference is we are providing a human network through social media.
Some of us have firewalls which mean we are no susceptible to the disinformation itself but, within our networks, are unprotected people. The virus or malware in the disinformation is constantly seeking these people and the sad news is we have been helping it along.
Though we might not fall foul of the information itself, we have all been guilty of helping spread it through our own networks. We talk about the disinformation freely, we disseminate it, we quote it. Even when we are decrying it we are providing access to others who may be affected by it.
One of the crucial things which can be done with a virus or malware is to Sandpit it – put it in a safe place where it can be observed and studied, without it being able to spread.
Operation Sandpit is doing exactly this with people and social media accounts.
We are going to reduce spread of disinformation and human malware through our networks, and we are going to study it safely.
You don’t need to do much (see the infographic below, which can be shared), but practically speaking there are a couple of steps which need to be taken.
On Twitter, create a list with the title “Op Sandpit”. When you come across a suspected disinformation account add them to it. When you have collected a few (no more than ten at a time, export the list to Liberty Stratcom by pasting it into the text on our contact page. We will then study the accounts over time.
You will also be helping your own network identify disinformation accounts more easily by providing a point of reference which will grow organically, allowing people to quickly check for common accounts.
That’s it. This and follow the infographic.
What we are aiming to do is deweaponise the target accounts by reducing their spread, preventing network infection, and also gather intelligence on the messages they are pushing and how their tasking shifts over time.
If you are using Facebook, simply mute the accounts or get rid of them altogether and update your privacy settings to limit your network to friends only. (Sorry but this platform is a carcrash so there is no other way.)
Bit by bit, we will make a difference, and the intelligence we gather will be forwarded to agencies and groups around the world.
#OpSandpit is taking back control by making social media safer for everyone.