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How Russian disinformation really threatens the USA

31 minute
How Russian disinformation really threatens the USA

The leadup to voting this November will renew fears in the United States about Russian malign influence. That means more paranoia from politicians, more alarming op-eds and white papers from the institutes created and funded to draw attention to foreign disinformation, and more mutual suspicions among ordinary people on social media, where journalists and pundits often draw their anecdotal conclusions about popular opinion.

This week, for a skeptical view of the foreign disinformation threat in America, The Naked Pravda welcomes Gavin Wilde, an adjunct faculty member at the Alperovitch Institute, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a former director for Russia, Baltic, and Caucasus Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council.

Together with Olga Belogolova, Lee Foster, and Thomas Rid, Wilde recently coauthored “Don’t Hype the Disinformation Threat: Downplaying the Risk Helps Foreign Propagandists — but So Does Exaggerating It” in Foreign Affairs. About a month earlier, he also wrote an article in the Texas National Security Review, titled “From Panic to Policy: The Limits of Foreign Propaganda and the Foundations of an Effective Response.” In this week’s episode, Wilde talked about both of these essays.

Timestamps for this episode:

  • (3:51) Talking to those who believe that foreign disinformation threatens to undo U.S. democracy
  • (7:32) The profit incentives behind counter-disinformation work
  • (10:43) Shifting geopolitical adversaries in counter-disinformation work
  • (13:26) Cognitive information threats
  • (16:56) Deconversion from the ‘Period of Panic’
  • (20:12) Hard-science methodologies and ontologies
  • (22:49) When does downplaying foreign disinformation become dangerous?
  • (25:23) The challenges of U.S. partisan subjectivity

Sound editing by Kevin Rothrock

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