We've talked a bit about information warfare lately, mostly in the context of the "New Cold War". It's an interesting subject, and I've thought a little about whether a dedicated thread on this would work. First, it's probably hard to treat it factually on an internet forum that is naturally part of the IW battlefield; also, to separate it from legitimate political discourse, editorial bias and honest mistakes in media, where the yardstick of right or wrong is usually the personal opinion.
I'd still like to try, purposefully in the Military Current Affairs forum rather than the Free Fire Zone. I suspect that a lot of the content will come back to current Russian IW efforts, though obviously they're not the only ones engaging in this field, and it's not like the West doesn't, too. 20 years ago I spent three week on a voluntary reserve exercise at the Bundeswehr's Signal Batallion 950 (Operative Information), since disbanded in the eternal renaming and reorganization of that particular branch; part of the time on the staff of "Mirko", a youth magazine distributed by SFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina, containing more-or-less subliminal messages of peace, democracy and tolerance. Even with a straightforward positive cause like that, the officer in charge told me he had his reservations about blowing Western consumerism at kids (this was after all in most respects a bog-standard pop culture youth magazine), only justified for him by the fact that consumerism generally needs a stable, free environment where people don't kill each other to flourish.
That's all little different from the general PR/advertizing business of course, and the West has been criticized as being largely helpless in the face of "negative" propaganda distorting the truth to destroy rather than promote stability. The EU's rather meagre effort in the form of the European External Action Service's weekly Disinformation Review has been cited as an example. The best you can say about it is that it serves nicely to point out current trends and new developments in pro-Russian IW. Open democratic societies with independent media are of course at an inherent disadvantage in this game, though I don't doubt that some governments of same try and sometimes succeed at least temporarily at disinformation. What you can't control is people believing the wrong and disbelieving the right (well, neither can authoritarian regimes, but it helps if you control most of the information channels).
So in this blurry field, what I would like to discuss are the mechanisms and examples of IW, offensive and defensive. Parameters: there should be a better basis for treatment than "this runs counter to my opinion" or "I don't trust this source", and there should be a trans-national reference; or pretty soon we'll be discussing conspiracy sites, media bias and domestic political debate, which is basically every other thread on TankNet. I realize that might be hard to isolate, since in many cases IW is aimed at influencing domestic discourse. Also, if you want to engage in IW yourself, there are of course the threads on Ukraine, Syria, etc.
Just as an example of the murkiness, this week we got sent an IMPORTANT! e-mail from a non-descript address purporting to contain the transcript of a not-yet-authorized interview with French President Hollande the day before, to be published in an unnamed British newspaper the next day but already helpfully translated by a German journalist. The content, naturally, was Hollande criticizing the German refugee policy, couched in diplomatic language while serving all the usual fears and prejudice - quite well made actually, if just a little too obvious for going that way in every single reply. It happened that just afterwards my boss had a visit from a French embassy staffer gauging the political climate before the 13 March state elections, and I mentioned this to him on the way out and forwarded it for appreciation by their press department. Have heard nothing back, and neither have I seen this pop up on the parts of the web that would usually eat it up. Ambitious domestic amateur? Professional IW attempt that didn't catch (yet)? Who knows?
Edited by BansheeOne, 20 February 2016 - 0928 AM.