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16 February, 2021

From Russian With Love: Disinformation Playbook

icon brainwashing,disinformation,media manipulation,whataboutism
Russian disinformation tactics are now widely in use by Republicans and Trump.

The Russians are disinformation grandmasters. Learn how to guard against them by studying how they're being used in American politics.

Learn how these moves are used to dodge questions with counter-accusations, use what-about-ism to justify terrible acts and distract people from real problems by inflaming resentments. This blog reviews nine moves with examples of how these moves have been used to justify the Jan 6th attack on the Capitol and accuse your opponents of being socialists and eating children.

Deflect attention to an unpleasant issue with  “What-aboutism”. The technique is used to respond to an accusation or difficult question by making a counter-accusation or raising a different issue. The goal is to deflect rather than engage in a meaningful dialog.

WHAT-ABOUT-ISM

Deflect attention from an unpleasant issue with “What-aboutism”. The trick is to respond to an accusation or difficult question by making a counter-accusation or raising a different issue. “An old joke 50 years ago was that if you went to a Stalinist and criticized the Soviet slave-labor camps, the Stalinist would say, ‘Well what about the lynchings in the American South?’” said philosopher Noam Chomsky.

“Not only does it help to deflect your original argument but it also throws you off balance,” says Alexey Kovalev, an independent Russian journalist. “You’re expecting to be in a civilized argument that doesn’t use cheap tricks like that. You are playing chess and your opponent — while making a lousy move — he just punches you on the nose.” - WaPo

Russian:
“Russian military shot down a passenger plane? "Well, what about all the aircraft the US has shot down?”
“Demonstrators detained in Russia? "What about the persecution of the participants in the peaceful protests in Washington, January 6?”

Republican
“Putin’s a killer,” Bill O’Reilly. “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think — our country’s so innocent?” Trump.
"Rioters attacked the Capitol on Jan 6th" "Well, what about the ANTIFA protestors" - Matt Gaetz (R-FL)

Russian media prefers pouting and sulking instead of attempting to find a solution to a problem.

RESENTMENT

"Resentment, is a deliberate move to distract the public from current problems. Any excuse for a grievance will do. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) unanimously recommended Russia to be banned for four years from major sports events. The Russian Anti-Doping watch-dog has accepted the claims that Russian athletes have been subject to a systematic state-sponsored doping program. Yet pro-Kremlin media spin the news as a politicized attack on Russia: WADA’s decision is “illegal“; it violates the Olympic charter; it represents “anti-Russian hysteria” and Norwegian athletes are doping too, but never punished. Instead of addressing the issue, the Kremlin prefers expressing umbrage." - EUvsDisinfo

Russia on 'Threatened values'. Russians discredit liberal Western attitudes about the rights of women, ethnic and religious minorities and LGBTI groups. The “effeminate West” is rotting under the onslaught of decadence, feminism, homosexuality and “political correctness”, while Russia defends traditional family values.
Republicans: "Matt Krause (R-TX) promised to introduce a bill in 2021, the next time the state legislature will be in session, to bar minors from using puberty blockers, a gender-affirming medical treatment that allows transgender kids to temporarily postpone puberty so they have more time to explore their gender identity. Rep. Steve Toth (R-TX), vowed to introduce legislation that would criminalize parents who allow their child to transition." - Mother Jones

Claim fraud if you lose an election to question the results and challenge the legitimacy of the winner. This play also works well when used with the 'Resentment' play below.

CLAIM FRAUD

Claim fraud if you lose an election to question the results and challenge the legitimacy of the winner. This play also works well when used with the 'Resentment' play below.

"Russian media accuses zombie voters and rigged processes as an excuse for any losses and challenge the legitimacy of the winner. Russian state TV declares, entirely without foundation, that 1.8 million dead voters took part in the election. Russian state radio notes that the US cannot be called a democracy and that the trade union of US mail employees supported Joe Biden and were hence prone to falsifying votes delivered by mail. RT openly suggest the entire process was “rigged”. - EUvsDisinfo

Russia: "All fakes will be disclosed and the Biden team will be caught cheating, red handed, and Donald Trump triumphantly installed for a second term as president." - EUvsDisinfo

Republicans: "For his entire political life, Mr Trump has used bogus claims of vote rigging and election fraud to explain defeats or anticipated defeats. He has consistently undermined the integrity of American democracy in the service of protecting his ego. During his successful 2016 presidential run he made frequent unsubstantiated claims of vote rigging against his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton and even his rivals in the Republican primaries. “Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified,” Mr Trump wrote following his defeat to the Texas senator in 2016. - Independent

Use insults to attack your opponent and disrupt civil discussion. Russian media will defame critics. Putin's political rival Navalny is demonized and blatant lies are spread about Greta Thunberg being the love-child of a Russian film director and a prostitute.

INSULT

Use insults to attack your opponent and disrupt civil discussion. Russian media will defame critics. Putin's political rival Navalny is demonized and blatant lies are spread about Greta Thunberg being the love-child of a Russian film director and a prostitute. - EUvsDisinfo

"One of the defining aspects of President Trump’s tenure in office is his willingness — his eagerness, really — to grab his phone and tweet something insulting about someone he doesn’t like. Twitter is where most of his insults live. I picked out more than 30 of the president’s favorite insults and, using the New York Times’ list of Twitter insults and the comprehensive database at Trump Twitter Archive." - WaPo

Russians: Share blatant lies about Greta Thunberg being the love-child of a Russian film director and a prostitute. - EUvsDisinfo
Republicans: Not only did Trump often refer to Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted” during the primaries, he also falsely accused Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, of being a close associate of John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Trump also had no problem insulting the looks of Cruz’s wife, Heidi. - HuffPo

A big lie is a propaganda technique to spread a lie so “colossal”, no one would believe that anyone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously”. Big lies have big divisive power.

TELL BIG LIES

big lie is a propaganda technique to spread a lie so “colossal”, no one would believe that anyone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously”. Big lies have big divisive power. - EUvsDisinfo

Timothy Snyder reflected on the storming of the Capitol and the power of lies. The scheme starts with sowing distrust of journalism, experts and government agencies including everyone from vote counters, to homeland security and the Supreme Court. Whoever does not support the lie, must be part of the conspiracy. Conspiracy theories on the “Deep State” and “Shadow Government” are presented as facts.

Russia: Russian media called Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as “the monkey vaccine suggesting that the British vaccine will turn people into monkeys.
Republicans: Trump Claimed Election ‘Rigged’ Or ‘Stolen’ Over 100 Times Ahead Of Capitol Riot and whipped up distrust of U.S. democracy, the media and his own vice president in tweets and speeches leading up to the Jan. 6 attack. The Justice Department and election officials nationwide rejected such claims, stating there was no evidence of fraud or irregularities that would have overturned the election results. Nonetheless, Trump falsely declared victory at least 40 times, claiming he won in a “landslide.” - HuffPo

The straw man disinformation technique takes something people hate and falsely claims that your opponent likes it. Straw men let you build rapport with voters and hurts your opponents at the same time. The straw man is made up to be what your voters hate. It's like saying your opponent is against motherhood, apple pie and kicks puppies.

CREATE STRAW MEN

The straw man move is to falsely claim your opponent is for something most people hate, while you are with the people. The straw man is made up to suit the group you are trying to get to vote for you. When in doubt claim that your opponent is against motherhood, apple pie and kicks puppies.

"Republicans believe they have hit on a bold, brand new line of attack. The big plan is to attack Democrats as socialists. Trump made it a central point of his State of the Union. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, promises to bring this fresh hit in his party’s effort to regain control of the House." - HuffPo

Russia: The European Union (EU) is fascist, but Hitler isn't. Russia claims to be heroic and fighting fascism while the EU supports facism. - EUvDisinfo.
Republicans: Senator Kelly Loeffler running for reelection in Georgia falsely claimed that her opponent, Reverend Raphael Warnock, is a socialist. - VietFactCheck

Use hyperboles (crazy stories) “to flood the zone” and shrink the free brain space voters have for the facts. A massive number of stories are released to overload people so they have less time for critical thinking. Use outlandish, emotional content as people are more likely to click on it. This sends people down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and consumes their attention span.

BRAINWASH

Use hyperboles (crazy stories) “to flood the zone” and shrink the free brain space voters have for the facts. A massive number of stories are released to overload people so they have less time for critical thinking. Use outlandish, emotional content as people are more likely to click on it. This sends people down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and consumes their attention span.

Russia: "Just why exactly is Melinda Gates wearing a Satanic upside-down crucifix?" Fort Russ News with a strong pro-Kremlin agenda.
Republicans: "Top Democrats molest children, kill and eat their victims to extract a life-extending chemical called adrenochrome. Trump was recruited by top military generals to run for president in 2016 to break up this criminal conspiracy and bring its members to justice." - According to QAnon lore in NYT.

During the 2017 "Unite the Right" white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump blamed "many sides" for the violence, specifically criticizing the "alt-left" — a non-existent group into which right-wing extremists had lumped antifa — for supposedly jumpstarting the chaos. One woman was killed at that rally after a white nationalist drove his car into a crowd of counter protesters. Trump wants to designate antifa as a domestic terror organization, which experts say is dangerous, as it could pressure law enforcement to specifically target Trump's enemies and deprioritize the threat from organized white nationalist groups.

DISTORT

Sometimes facts can be disinformation. Taken out of context, a quote, a number, a statement or a picture can be deceiving, while factually correct. Lies work more effectively, when they are supported by something factual; something real, something true.

Selective, manipulative, reporting can be just as deceptive as blatant lying. For instance, a large-scale vaccination project with hundreds of thousands simultaneously getting an injection will always cause unwanted effects. The pro-Kremlin disinformation ecosystem selects isolated incidents and conjures an image of a major disaster.

Russia: Exaggerates reports on facial paralysis in Israel where the Pfizer vaccine has been give to around 2 million people. They describe the 13 individuals, suffering a mild and temporary side effect as getting the “Shot of Death”. - EUvsDisinfo
Republicans: "Have been quick to condemn antifa as chaos erupts at various protests across the country, despite scant evidence to support their claims. Donald Trump has focused more on the scattered reports of violence and looting among the crowds and has cast blame for the destruction on antifa. It's not the first time Trump has summoned antifa to distract from a major news event." - America Independent

Claim that you are the victim, so you just cannot be the culprit. This self-victimization allows the Kremlin to manipulate the public and evade responsibility for its aggressive foreign policy. This culture of resentment deliberately distracts people from their every day problems.

SELF VICTIMIZATION

Claim that you are the real victim, so you just cannot be the culprit. This self-victimization allows the Kremlin to manipulate the public and evade responsibility for its aggressive foreign policy. This culture of resentment deliberately distracts people from their every day problems. - EUvsDisinfo

Russia: State-sponsored media falsely claims that NATO is preparing a big war and surveys show that 42 percent of Russia’s population is constantly afraid of a world war.
Republicans: Trump warns GOP on immigration: ‘They’re taking your jobs’ - WaPo
"We're all victims," Donald Trump claimed at his first rally after the presidential election, on Dec. 5 in Georgia "We're all victims. Everybody here. All these thousands of people here tonight. They're all victims. Every one of you." - MSN

EU vs DisInfo

Much of the information in this blog is abstracted from EUvsDisinfo, a project of the European External Action Service’s East StratCom Task Force. EUvsDisinfo was established in 2015 to increase public awareness and understanding of the Kremlin’s disinformation operations, and to help citizens in Europe and beyond develop resistance to digital information and media manipulation.

Takeaway: Don't be out-played. Learn Russian disinformation tactics and how to defend against them.

Deepak
DemLabs

Image credits: EON Productions / United Artists and Political Cartoons

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DeSantistan : Crowdsourced news fights the Supreme Leader’s propaganda

How do you fight a propaganda machine? Have volunteers crowdsource the facts and make it easy for the public to see what's really going on. A...

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26 Feb’ 2022

Facebook spreads right wing disinfo ignoring its own policies

Why does Facebook spread right wing disinformation ignoring its own policies? Follow the connections. Popular Info exposed how the DC Enquirer gets so much exposure on...

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23 Feb’ 2022

Google’s lucrative hypocrisy explained

How does Google profit from advertising phony offers targeting seniors without facing any consequence? Google's code of conduct used to be 'Do no evil'. Google has...

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7 Feb’ 2022

Legitimate Political Discourse isn’t mob violence

G.O.P. Declares Jan. 6 Attack ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’ "The Republican National Committee voted to censure Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for participating in the inquiry...

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6 Feb’ 2022

Spotify boycott grows as more artists protest their music being used to fund racism. Follow the money.

Follow the money to see how Spotify exploits musicians by paying them $0.0033 per song streamed while paying Rogan $100 million for a podcast with racism...

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4 Feb’ 2022

Fight disinformation. Demand AdTech platforms stop funding sites that spread racism and hate.

Amazon, Google and Facebook report billions in ad revenues. Right wing websites spread hate, racism and COVID conspiracy theories. What's the connection? Right wing groups use...

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2 Feb’ 2022

Twelve trusted resources on disinformation and other threats to democracy

Fighting the dark side? Trusted guide you will use. Take a trusted guide whether you're fighting Darth Vader destroying galaxies or the dark forces attacking American...

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30 Jan’ 2022

Spotify removes Neil Young over COVID misinfo protest. Follow the money to see why.

"Spotify removes Neil Young following rocker’s protest over COVID-19 misinformation" - PBS “I realized I could not continue to support Spotify’s life-threatening misinformation to the music...

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21 Jan’ 2022

Jan 6 Insurrection Map expands with new information

The Jan 6 Committee has issued more indictments and is questioning more people as the investigation expands. The relationship map has been expanded to include this...

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20 Jan’ 2022

Describe the Jan 6th insurrection and election sabotage clearly with the right messaging frame

Use the right messaging to explain the Jan 6th insurrection and how the people behind it are now passing bills to steal our freedom to vote....

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18 Jan’ 2022

Follow the money Spotify makes streaming COVID misinfo

Over 2,000 Americans die from COVID every day. Yet, Spotify continues to stream COVID misinformation. Why? Follow the money. "Hundreds of scientists, professors and public health...

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16 Jan’ 2022

Jan 6 Insurrection map of the people and money behind the plot to overthrow an election

Follow the money to trace who did what in the Jan 6th insurrection and how they were funded. Get the big picture as the evidence and...

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10 Jan’ 2022

Defund the Jan 6th insurrection profiteers

How do you make money promoting a violent insurrection? Advertising. Conspiracies and disinformation thrive online. Who are the worst culprits? Who funds them? What can be...

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8 Jan’ 2022

Hate has consequences

Hate mongers pay a price when exposed. How do you find out about racists and white supremacists who would rather stay anonymous? One People's Project (OPP) monitors...

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3 Jan’ 2022

Disinformation 101

How to Spot Fake News: A Disinformation Check List Vaccination is a good defense against COVID. Inoculation works similarly and builds your resistance against being infected...

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27 Dec’ 2021

“How to make gazillions spreading misinformation with algorithms like Facebook” — Dr. Evil

Spreading misinformation is a money making scheme. Just ask Dr. Evil* His secret guide explains (along with real examples) how to make gazillions spreading spreading misinformation...

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23 Dec’ 2021

The FCC should hold Facebook accountable for spreading COVID misinfo

The media influences people's decision on whether to get vaccinated. Some media companies make money from COVID misinformation by selling more ads. The FCC regulates TV...

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18 Dec’ 2021

Republican obstruction prevents FCC regulation of COVID misinformation platforms

800,000 Americans dead from COVID. Republicans serve their billionaire media donors and block the FCC from enforcing its mandate to serve the 'public interest'. When do...

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16 Dec’ 2021

Lawsuits punish domestic terrorists and conspiracists

How can domestic terrorists and conspiracists be made to pay for the harm they cause? Law suits that claim damages. This blog shares groups fighting violence...

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11 Dec’ 2021

Follow the dark money funding ELECTION SABOTAGE

Election sabotage isn't cheap. Follow the dark money funding media outlets spreading disinformation and corporate politicians willing to sabotage elections for their billionaire donors. The scheme...

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30 Nov’ 2021

Billionaire owned media outlets distort news to favor the rich

Image: Succession on HBO Unemployment is at all time lows. Working families get more healthcare and money for childcare. Vaccinations save lives. But you'd never know....

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26 Nov’ 2021

Project Veritas agent? Check their identity with free Google facial recognition.

'Project Veritas sting operations employ people who mask their real identities to infiltrate target organizations.' (NYT). Check to see if you're being targeted with free Google...

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23 Nov’ 2021

Use ethnic media outlets to reach minority communities

Ethnic news outlets offer relevant and accurate news coverage to their communities. They counter-balance the negative messages and racist story selection from some large corporate news...

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9 Nov’ 2021

How Google helps spread right wing disinformation

Billionaires get a tax deduction for funding sites spreading disinfo! Google promotes the sites in search rankings getting them more exposure. What gives? Follow the money....

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2 Nov’ 2021

Joel Kaplan: Zuck’s fixer and GOP operative

Facebook spreads Republican disinformation and promotes right-wing conspiracy theories. Meet Joel Kaplan, Republican operative and Zuckerberg fixer. "Kaplan is Facebook's vice president of global public policy. He...

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26 Oct’ 2021

Zuckerberg sings ‘Oops… I did it again’ in spoof of Brittany classic

Funny videos go far on social media. Spread your message with videos created with the free iMovie app. "For Zuckerberg, profit trumps free speech. Zuckerberg frequently deflects...

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24 Oct’ 2021

COVID collateral damage map of politicians ready to sacrifice your life to get re-elected

45 million confirmed COVID cases. Over 735,000 deaths as of 10/24/21. Yet Republican Governors and 24 Attorney Generals oppose vaccinations? Check the facts and decide whose...

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3 Oct’ 2021

FOX News advertisers fund Tucker Carlson spreading racism and COVID disinfo

Who are FOX's biggest advertisers supporting Tucker Carlson spreading racism? Which FOX directors are connected with Stanford, Georgetown and The Nature Conservancy? How do people and...

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20 Sep’ 2021

Will there be a hospital bed available if you need it?

Ambulances wait for hours to get patients into overcrowded hospitals. Even the vaccinated are denied medical treatment because hospitals are filled with COVID patients - many...

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14 Sep’ 2021

Amazon’s lethal COVID hypocrisy

Amazon Leadership Principles declare "Leaders leave things better than how they found them." At the same time Amazon sells books that cast doubt on COVID vaccinations,...

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30 Aug’ 2021

COVID conspiracy playbook revealed

Conspiracies like COVID are contagious and can be fatal. Learn to spot conspiracy symptoms and how they're spread. Conspiracies manipulate people based on their desire to...

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23 Aug’ 2021

Fight gaslighting. Replay what they said before.

Some people try to rewrite history by denying what they said. Keep them honest by replaying their own words. There's an app for that. The best...

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7 Aug’ 2021

Disinfo kills

Why do people believe fatal lies? How is disinformation cooked up? Who profits from it? What can be done? How are people still falling for disinfo...

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18 Jul’ 2021

Blood on their hands

COVID is an equal opportunity killer. It doesn't care who you voted for, or even if you voted at all. Death isn't a political issue. Should...

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28 Jun’ 2021

Capitol insurrectionists top FBI’s Most Wanted List, while Republicans deny it happened

As rioters from the Capitol Insurrection top the FBI's most wanted list, Republican's deny that the attack even took place. "On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the U.S....

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30 Mar’ 2021

Friends don’t let anti-vaxxer friends stay at risk. Conversation guide shows how to engage.

Friends don't let friends stay at risk. How do you engage with an anti-vaxxer with so much COVID disinformation? Arguing with the facts against disinformation doesn't...

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29 Mar’ 2021

Are you being tricked into funding the spread of disinformation? Check the GDI Index.

Groups spreading disinformation siphon funds meant for legitimate advertising. Ad networks like Google and Facebook are complicit and make money when they direct ads and revenue...

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20 Mar’ 2021

Racism has consequences

Eight people including six Asian women killed in racist shooting spree with a gun bought hours earlier. This isn't a random event. Hate crimes against Asian...

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11 Mar’ 2021

Think different to persuade more people

Polarized voters. People trapped in information bubbles. Corporations making billions spreading disinformation in order to sell more ads. How do you get heard when calling and...

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18 Feb’ 2021

Fighting disinfo? Coordinate a rapid response with shared talking points.

Disinfo requires a rapid, broad spread response. Get talking points to supporters for them to spread the truth and have their messages reinforce each other. A...

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4 Feb’ 2021

How to win friends and influence people — with free internet service

Disinformation kills. It poisons minds with COVID conspiracy theories and distrust of health experts. It is worst in poor, rural communities where people do not have...

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28 Jan’ 2021

Fighting disinformation? Eighteen free weapons for your arsenal.

Fighting disinformation? Use all the tools in your arsenal. Here are eighteen of the best. Disinformation basics Disinformation attacks involve these tactics according to Harmony Square:-...

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17 Jan’ 2021

Stories poisoned to spread disinformation

People love stories and sharing them with others. That's what makes stories poisoned with disinformation so dangerous. Tackle disinformation by training people to spot when they're...

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6 Jan’ 2021

Trumpland? Meet the Republicans and their corporate donors trying to overturn election results.

"Eleven Republican senators and senators-elect said that they would vote to reject President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory ... to defy the unambiguous results of the...

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14 Dec’ 2020

How YouTube spreads COVID Disinformation

290,000 Americans have already died from COVID-19, yet people protest wearing masks and are skeptical of vaccinations. How does disinformation manipulate people into risky behavior? Who...

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6 Dec’ 2020

Vaccinate against disinformation

Foreign interference and domestic politics use disinformation to divide, incite and manipulate. It's cheap, effective and hard to counter. Learn how to spot it and inoculate...

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2 Dec’ 2020

How to spot BS being used to manipulate public opinion

Disinformation often comes as Bullshit (BS) packaged to trick readers with impressive language, graphics and bogus logic. Spot and push back with tips from Calling Bullshit. How...

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28 Nov’ 2020

How to spot a disinformation zombie

Brad Pitt races to save virus infected zombies in World War Z. Back in the real world, disinformation is used to turn people into zombies immune...

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