Counter-Propaganda in the Digital Age: Introduction

December 8, 2014

There’s something wonderfully retro about talking about counter-propaganda but with the appearance of ISIS and the Ukrainian Crisis it seems like proclamations that Russia or ISIS are winning the propaganda /information /ideas war are and that something needs to be done are all over the place. Counter-terrorism messaging needs to be handed to be taken from the State Department and given to the CIA or we need to bring back the Information Research Department.

I’ve been meaning to write about these issues for some time but there are so many interesting aspects to this I always get stuck. So by way of clearing some mental space over the next few days I’m going to address three questions.

  1. How seriously should we take the Russian and ISIS information offensives?
  2. What can we learn from old skool counter-propaganda in the light of a changed media and political environment?
  3. To what extent does digital actually offer a ‘self-correcting market place of ideas’ and to what extent do we need states and international organizations to take address counter-propaganda challenges.

I’m going to argue that our tendency to see these threats in terms of a seamless information space tends to exaggerate the threat of ‘foreign’ information activities but at the same time to overstate the possibilities of our own.


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