It is obvious that the US and Russia are at loggerheads in a New Cold War, one which is taking a completely different form than the previous one that lasted almost half of the last century and is being fought in totally new domains. One of these is the global information space, which was naively assumed by many would forever remain a forum of free speech and independent thought but is increasingly becoming ever the more dystopian because of the West’s anti-Russian infowar.
Western governments are indirectly promoting hostile narratives against Russia simultaneously with censoring those that are supposedly “Russian-linked” and go against their own interests in an extensive campaign that’s changing the very nature of how people all across the world receive information and even use the internet. Both of these tactics are being undertaken in a way that allows their true perpetrators to retain the veneer of “plausible deniability” in order to avoid taking responsibility for their actions and risk undermining their own self-professed “values”.
One of the most common modus operandi is for Western governments to fund various think tanks and “NGOs” or have “friendly philanthropists” like George Soros do so in their place. The first-mentioned approach makes any recipient “NGOs” more like “GONGOs”, or “government-organized NGOs”, while the second results in a more “plausibly deniable” connection and seems to be the preferred method nowadays. In any case, the think tanks/”NGOs”/GONGOs oftentimes then go on to invent and/or peddle government-supporting anti-Russian narratives.
Sometimes they even establish “shell” entities (the notorious “matryoskas” that Russia’s always accused of creating) like “new media” outlets and “crowd-sourced” “investigative” ventures. These in turn invent and/or peddle the said weaponized narratives, even directly engaging with Mainstream Media or “legacy media” outlets to amplify them across the world, such as what prominently happened with MH-17 and the Skripal saga. Other times, however, these Western-government-backed actors (think tanks/”NGOs”/GONGOs/”new media”/”crowd-sourced” “investigative” ventures) also participate in censorship schemes.
RT revealed how the “Alliance for Securing Democracy”, part of the American- and –German-financed “German Marshall Fund”, “tipped off” CNN to what it alleged were “Russian-linked” Facebook pages that were later removed from Facebook for supposedly violating the platform’s new unpublished rules that the company says it’s progressively rolling out behind the scenes. The pages were managed by Maffick Media, a company partly owned by RT subsidiary Ruptly, and the fact that this wasn’t prominently mentioned was exploited as the pretext for Facebook to censor them.
It shouldn’t be forgotten how a US government-funded think tank got the ball rolling and ultimately resulted in this outcome, strongly implying that American authorities might have had an indirect hand in orchestrating this entire infowar operation. That’s probably just the proverbial tip of the iceberg, however, since these methods were likely occurring for a while before they were brought to the public’s attention by RT after its popular affiliated pages were scrubbed from the social media site.
Of note, those pages collectively generated over a billion views and had tens of millions of subscribers, suggesting that they were probably targeted in order to send a message to the rest of the world that no one is untouchable and that anyone can fall victim to Facebook’s selective imposition of secret standards for infowar purposes. Despite the US governments’ best efforts to act like it wasn’t involved, the paper trail left by the “Alliance for Securing Democracy” says otherwise.
Altogether, the bigger picture that’s beginning to become more apparent is that Western governments are waging an anti-Russian infowar by hook or by crook, relying more upon proxies in order to retain “plausible deniability” and avoid undermining their self-professed “values” than directly spreading fake news and censoring “politically inconvenient” narratives. This trend can be expected to become more popular in the coming future, but it’s also foreseeable the genuinely independent investigative journalists will continue to expose these connections and shed light on the manipulative game being played on people’s minds.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.