(ConservativeInsider.org) – Since social media networks entered the internet world, there have been enormous platforms for bad actors to spread misinformation and disinformation. These people, just like hackers, prey on vulnerable people they hope to emotionally manipulate into believing a false narrative. Officials in the US military believe American troops are the target of much of this fake news and are moving to retrain them to spot it.
DOD Warns of Disinformation Campaigns
According to National Defense Magazine, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict Christopher Maier spoke at a panel discussion about this issue and said enemies of the United States have been targeting “the most junior aspects of our force” rather than top security officials. If an adversary can cripple the military from the bottom up through emotional manipulation and false narratives, they could take troops down without ever firing a shot.
With this in mind, the DOD began publishing material to help educate troops in the summer of 2022. In the Army’s series on How to Spot Disinformation Actors, it outlines five steps for soldiers to follow:
- Independently verify sources and information
- Reflect on the information and second-guess anything that evokes emotional reactions
- Choose reputable news sources
- Seek out longer articles that detail the full situation
- Do not share information unless you are confident it is true and helpful
The Troops are Learning About Fake News
In the Army’s series on Fake News, it seeks to teach soldiers about the various types of writing found on the internet these days. This includes deep fakes, which are fabricated pictures or videos that look real but are not, and state-sponsored news, such as Russian state television, which often spews propaganda to influence its citizens and the world. The training also points out some people are misled by satire, which uses humor and irony to bring attention to events and different points of view.
Marine Corps major Jennifer Giles, who has studied misinformation and military readiness, told the Military Times troops must “be able to make good decisions in stressful environments,” and one way to ensure the ability is to protect one’s thoughts and emotions, which is precisely what misinformation is designed to accomplish.
Who Is Deciding What Information Is Viable?
Few people would deny it is essential for soldiers and sailors to be on the same page, mentally and physically, in order for them to carry out orders successfully. This means protecting both their bodies and their minds. However, as the military continues to roll out new training to combat fake news and conspiracy theories, it begs the question: Who will be deciding what constitutes these items moving forward?
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