Russian influence operations exploit the vulnerabilities of social media platforms to disseminate false narratives and amplify divisive content in order to undermine democracies, divide societies, and weaken Western alliances. In conducting these operations, the Kremlin employs a variety of tools across the social media space, including fake accounts/personas, political advertisements, bot networks, and traditional propaganda outlets. Additionally, Russian influence operations utilize a range of social media platforms, each with a different role, to distract public discussion, foment social unrest, and muddle the truth.
In order to successfully counter the Kremlin’s online offensive, Western policymakers will need to understand and address Moscow’s use of the social media ecosystem as a whole. Further, politicians will need to partner with the private sector and civil society organizations to help construct effective, sustainable, and forward-looking responses to Russian influence efforts.