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OPINION

Covert Influence Operations, by Americans Against Other Americans

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

How easy is it to get Trump supporters all fired up and fighting against other Republicans? It’s an easy piece of cake.  Just plant a distorted or even a wholly fabricated story on social media that is even mildly critical of former President Trump or anything associated with him, and imply that it was said by someone at the RNC or some other member of the Republican leadership is the originator, or even the news media, and watch it get a life of its own. As Mark Twain once said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

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Rarely does anyone ever investigate to see the truth or legitimacy of something they see on social media.  If it coincides with their own opinion or preconceived notions, they just hit the “Share” button and let it fly. Regardless of whether it’s true or not. How’s the current joke going, “Well, I saw it on Facebook, so it must be true”? Fact Checkers, ya know….

It’s called Covert Influence Operations, and our enemies have in the past been. Still, they are using it against us constantly, especially now in the Internet and social media age.  They look to influence our political environment, our governmental policy, and our elections and weaken our country.

Foreign adversaries, and in some cases, friendly nations, use misinformation and disinformation campaigns to create chaos and confusion, along with dissension and division among their target audience. These adversaries are seeking to interfere with and undermine our democratic institutions and national cohesiveness.  Break America apart from the inside.  Divide and conquer.  An enemy that is at war with itself is much easier to defeat.

Western Democracies, including the United States, are especially vulnerable to foreign influence due to a number of factors that make us unique from more restricted and totalitarian governments. The freedoms of speech and expression, the reliance on social media platforms, and the decreasing trust in traditional news media sources are just the three primary ones.

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Indeed, journalism merits some distrust and criticism, but not everything reported on by the media is “fake news.”  In fact, anyone wanting to claim their innocence of something that they really are guilty of can use the “fake news” claim now to get their followers to leap to their defense and not believe the truth.  Sadly their own political biases helped create this environment we’re now living in with the American news media.  It’s going to take a complete overhaul of journalism and the news outlets and their editorial staffs to fix the problem and regain even a smidgen of Americans’ trust. 

Social media also dramatically increases the ability for high-speed, large-scale, and targeted spreading of conspiracy theories and disinformation/misinformation to audiences which would take much more effort and be much more costly without social media. Using social media doesn’t cost a nickel and can reach tens, even hundreds of millions of people. Many even provide their own tin foil hats.

Users are automatically fed information, often confirming their preexisting biases. It leads to polarization and high-strung and very emotional debates often conducted by ‘Keyboard Commandos’ who raise the temperature of any discussion with insults, personal attacks, name-calling, and even veiled or outright open threats of violence. If their account gets suspended, they just open up a new one under a different name and are back in business.

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But our foreign enemies are not alone in conducting these types of operations against Americans. The Democrats are also using it like a Maestro conducting a fine orchestra. They have become masters of the craft. How do you keep your political adversaries off balance and infighting instead of focusing their energies against their political opponents? Plant phony stories on social media and watch it circle cyberspace a gazillion times before someone actually takes the time to check it out for legitimacy.  

By then, the damage is done. There’s no calling it back and undoing what has happened. In this current political environment, many have their minds made up and won’t believe you anyway if it goes against what they ‘want’ to believe.

There are Democrat operatives working behind the scenes spreading false information to the news media (some willing accomplices) and using social media to conduct covert influence operations against political opponents inside America.  Watching what they have created and what is now going on inside the Republican Party must be a hoot for the Democrats!

They have got Republicans fighting among themselves to the point that Democrats are actually beginning to feel confident that the Republican Party may indeed fracture to the point of being unrepairable. Certainly not capable of putting up a slate of candidates that can win in the 2024 elections.  All are going according to the plan to “fundamentally transform” the United States of America.

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SO WAKE UP PEOPLE! Check things out and investigate before you hit the “Share” button!  Take the time to look beyond the headlines (which are often more sensational and crafted that way to attract your attention, the originator knowing full well that many won’t read past the headline if it goes along with what they already believe).  Actually, read the material that’s provided, and then check other sources to confirm that there aren’t variations to the story.  Oftentimes the content of the article differs significantly from what the headline implies.  Don’t assume that anyone is innocent or guilty of what you already believe based solely on what your social media sources are telling you.

Don’t make our enemies and our political adversaries' jobs any more accessible than it already is.

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