Making such dangers even more worrisome is the difficulty Western governments, and the U.S. in particular, have had when it comes to combating such social media-based influence campaigns
“We have failed in this for a decade now, whether it’s been terrorists or the Russian disinformation, in our counter influence,” said Clint Watts, a former FBI special agent and now a senior fellow at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security.
“You cannot counter back, whether it’s online or on the ground — a counter-influence campaign — unless you know what your nation’s policies are, what your belief systems are, and what you’re going to push back with,” said Watts.
Instead, Watts sees a sure but steady creep, with the Russian tactics being adopted by other countries, friends and adversaries alike.
“I’m not talking about a foreign influence operation. I’m talking about every country in the world saying, you know what I want to happen in America? The following: boom, bots, ads, doing it on scale,” he said.