The willful and purposeful use of propaganda has most assuredly been resurrected by the Russian Federation. The last several years have seen Russia expand far beyond its post-Soviet borders. The annexation of Crimea by “referendum” and the “non-war” in Eastern Ukraine have been propped up by a swirl and barrage of information has been released upon the world by the Russians. Most of the information that has been released by Russia has been to vilify the Ukrainians. More importantly, the information is not always officially released, it is leaked, and most of the time it is in the form of disinformation.
Disinformation is not misinformation. Disinformation allegedly comes second hand from a reliable source, or is planted to look official. Misinformation can be accidental, or intentional, but it usually comes directly from the source. Instead, disinformation appears legitimate upon first glance. Disinformation is very intentional, often graphic, and can come in the form of “secret”, or clandestine information. Whatever the means by which disinformation is delivered, it is always intentionally designed to deceive.
Russia’s most egregious use of disinformation in their current “non-war” in Ukraine is the use of the altered photo. As social media is often used for the quick dissemination of information (information that is not fact checked and can go “viral” in the matter of moments), it is a prime vehicle for the spreading of disinformation. Once the social media post goes viral, it is very hard to reel in. It lives in perpetuity.
Modern visual disinformation is easily created with a Microsoft Paint program. The headers can modified to fit whatever the needed dialogue is, and can be disseminated in a matter of moments. Pre-digital age disinformation had to work slowly, and often involved co-ordination with agents within newspapers around the world. It was a valuable tool in the Soviet’s active measures toolbox, but it required time and effort. Today’s Russian disinformation works at the speed of light. The volume is overwhelming. Instead of substance, today’s disinformation focuses on simple, and often repeated lies. It overwhelms the viewer’s psyche through constant bombardment. As Hitler said, a lie told often enough becomes the truth.