Russia's role in promoting conspiracy theories

Critical Thinker

Senior Member
Across the World Russia has sought to destabilize non-allied governments by using bots, trolls, misinformation from their state controlled media (RT & Sputnik). One of the primary tools they have used has been propaganda to create division, distrust and smear campaigns. In another thread I sought to explore the question "Are the conspiracy promoters radicalizing people?", based on what has been exposed by investigators and journalists it appears that they are doing so intentionally and methodically.


From NBCNews: Russian troll accounts purged by Twitter pushed Qanon and other conspiracy theories

From BBC: Russia trolls 'spreading vaccination misinformation' to create discord

Something I had not come across until now, in hindsight it is not surprising.

From the Sydney Morning Herald: Russia's influence campaigns may be more sophisticated than we thought


The Texas Tribune: Hysteria over Jade Helm exercise in Texas was fueled by Russians, former CIA director says

 
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Critical Thinker

Senior Member
From The American Council on Science and Health: How Organic Consumers Association Colludes With Russian Trolls

 

Mendel

Active Member
colludes?
in the same sense that president Trump colludes with Fox News.
Calling "Getting interviewed by a news station, and sharing some of their news items publicly" collusion has the potential to confuse an audience about what the word "collusion" actually means. There is no conspiracy, just a propaganda war.
 

JohnJones

Member
A truther friend of mine in the UK recently wrote to me, excitedly quoting an article in an on-line periodical called "The offGuardian". The article was an enthusiastic review of a truther book, "9/11 Unmasked: An International Review Panel Investigation". Here's the article; note that all the points it makes have been convincingly debunked in various Metabunk threads.

https://off-guardian.org/2018/09/10/the-fakest-fake-news-the-u-s-governments-9-11-conspiracy-theory/

Going to the "offGuardian" website, I noticed that it was designed to resemble the website for "The Guardian", a reputable UK newspaper popular with liberals. For example, it uses the same distinctive typeface. In its "About Us" section, it claims to have been founded by liberals and socialists who became disillusioned with the Guardian.

Reading a few of the offGuardian's other pieces, it consistently takes a pro-Russia stance. This is particularly noticeable in its coverage of Syria, Libya and Ukraine. This rather suggests that it is a Russian mouthpiece.

The striking thing is that, as Critical Thinker observed in his initial post, the offGuardian's writers do not limit themselves to advocating pro-Russia political positions, but promote truther and anti-vaccination viewpoints.
 

Agent K

Active Member
Their motto is (allegedly) "Science. Not hype." :)
View attachment 36096
That's funny. ACSH is one of those industry front groups that borrows from the tobacco industry's playbook. They used to yell "junk science" and "chemophobia", and now they're yelling "Russian collusion," or at least their blogger Alex Berezow is. I'm guessing that he hates Russia because he's Polish, but I wonder how it'll play out with his libertarian and right-wing readers.
 

Critical Thinker

Senior Member
Russian's weaponization of conspiracy theories for consumption in the US is not a new phenomenon.

From The NYTimes:Fingerprints of Russian Disinformation: From AIDS to Fake News

 

Agent K

Active Member
This thread reads like a "Before it's News" homepage.
I'm not familiar with Before it's News, but at first glance it looks like one of those fake news sites that helps Russia spread conspiracy theories.

You deleted my main point that conspiracy theories can be weaponized. Skeptics like Mick West and Michael Shermer talk about the psychology of conspiracy theories, like paranoia and "agenticity", but this doesn't explain why many conspiracy theorists promote anti-America/anti-West conspiracy theories but deny anti-Russia ones.
 

Agent K

Active Member
Russian's weaponization of conspiracy theories for consumption in the US is not a new phenomenon.
That's right, and even before the Soviet Union existed, the Russian Empire's secret police, the Okhrana, fabricated The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and a "White Russian" monarchist immigrant brought it to the U.S.
But that's not all. The KGB distributed The Protocols of the Elders of Zion around the Muslim world, according to a Romanian defector.
 

deirdre

Senior Member
I'm not familiar with Before it's News, but at first glance it looks like one of those fake news sites that helps Russia spread conspiracy theories.
Exactly. This thread and the quotes being used make this thread sound like a CIA propaganda campaign against Russia. Or at least it sounds like Metabunk is a "useful idiot" in the disinformation campaign.


For example an above blurb says:
“The K.G.B. picked up on that, and added a new twist with a specific location: Fort Detrick, Md.,” where military scientists conducted biological weapons experiments in the 1950s and 1960s, said Douglas Selvage, the project director at the Office of the Federal Commissioner for Stasi Records in Berlin.
But the Baltimore Sun in 1992 says
https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1992-02-21-1992052036-story.html


And this paper
"Disinformation squared: Was the HIV-from-Fort-Detrick myth a Stasi success?"
says
https://www.cambridge.org/core/jour...2F6B8FA780208DFAC39DC57A03E#fndtn-information


Now, obviously i'm not saying Russia hasn't partaken in disinformation campaigns. That would be as illogical as saying the United States has never partaken in disinformation campaigns. But this thread isn't offering any proofs, other than some blurbs from very possibly biased sources. That was my point.
 

Critical Thinker

Senior Member
From Politifact: How Russian trolls exploited Parkland mass shooting on social media

 

Critical Thinker

Senior Member
From Yahoo News: Exclusive: The true origins of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. A Yahoo News investigation.

 

Agent K

Active Member
Yet in a graphic example of how fake news infects the internet, those precise details popped up the same day on an obscure website, whatdoesitmean.com, that is a frequent vehicle for Russian propaganda. The website’s article, which attributed its claims to “Russian intelligence,” was the first known instance of Rich’s murder being publicly linked to a political conspiracy.
I was looking at that website, and indeed their articles start with, "A truly mind-blowing new Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) report circulating in the Kremlin today..." and, "A heavily redacted highly classified “Of Special Importance” new Ministry of Defense (MoD) report circulating in the Kremlin today..."

Here's the one about Seth Rich
http://archive.is/RxXMb
About the site's operator
https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Sorcha_Faal
About David Booth
https://www.coasttocoastam.com/guest/booth-david/6298
 
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Agent K

Active Member
I was looking at that website, and indeed their articles start with, "A truly mind-blowing new Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) report circulating in the Kremlin today..." and, "A heavily redacted highly classified “Of Special Importance” new Ministry of Defense (MoD) report circulating in the Kremlin today..."
This whatdoesitmean.com website is not just doing the typical conspiracy theorist anomaly hunting, connecting the dots, or "just asking questions," but it's reporting fabricated events that didn't happen, fake news sourced to SVR reports. It's quite a revelation that their bogus "somber SVR report" about Seth Rich really did come from SVR.
 

Critical Thinker

Senior Member
With another election on the horizon (when isn't one on the horizon?) and after the Mueller report's findings on the Russian propaganda efforts and citing that this is a continuing effort, I think it is worthwhile to keep an eye out for disinformation and contrived conspiracy theories aimed to advance a political agenda. This paper provides extensive references supporting its' findings that:


Link to full paper

 

Critical Thinker

Senior Member
From the BBC: Coronavirus: Russian media hint at US conspiracy


The coronavirus outbreak in China has provided fertile ground for conspiracy theories and misinformation on the web everywhere, but in Russia they are being spread on primetime news programmes.

Russian TV is also unique in having a consistent overall thrust: that shadowy Western elites and especially the US are somehow ultimately to blame.

One of main national TV networks, Channel One, has even launched a regular slot devoted to coronavirus conspiracy theories on its main evening news programme, Vremya ("Time").
Coronavirus conspiracy theories have also featured heavily on Channel One's main political talk show, Vremya Pokazhet (Time Will Tell), only more openly than on news programmes.

The gist is to suggest that various Western actors - pharmaceutical companies, the US or its agencies - are somehow involved in helping to create or spread the virus, or at least in spreading panic about it.

The aim is variously said to be - in the case of "Big Pharma" - to profit from creating a vaccine against the coronavirus or, in the case of the US, to hit the Chinese economy in order to weaken a geopolitical competitor.
 

Pheonix3082

New Member
That's right, and even before the Soviet Union existed, the Russian Empire's secret police, the Okhrana, fabricated The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and a "White Russian" monarchist immigrant brought it to the U.S.
But that's not all. The KGB distributed The Protocols of the Elders of Zion around the Muslim world, according to a Romanian defector.
The protocols of the learned elders of Zion is a rehash of "The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu" by Maurice Joly. The book itself is a valid criticism with regards to Napolean III.

Here's the source as requested.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dialogue_in_Hell_Between_Machiavelli_and_Montesquieu

 
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