Conspiracy theories in information warfare


The „Propastop Library“ section, we will be sharing a Vaba Akadeemia (Free Academy) seminar from September 21, 2018 in which Mihhail Lotman, Mari-Liis Madisson ja Andreas Ventsel talk about conspiracy theories. The half-hour seminar can still be viewed on Postimees TV.

The Semiotic, Andreas Ventsel’s presentation (starting at 57 minutes) grapples with Propastop type topics.

Ventsel clarifies the concept of information conflicts and discusses the change in its content. Previously and primarily a military term, in the development of its communication tools it has increasingly changed, to a more democratic content, involving the entire auditorium sphere.

The speaker cannot escape talking about Russia or the details of its special information warfare. When usually the goal of influence activity is mobilizing the audience on a single topic, then the Kremlin’s aim is to infuse information: sowing ambiguity and undermining media credibility. Social media conspiracy theories are good tools for doing so, putting out awkward feeling topics and creating a wider atmosphere of fear.

As an example of a typical conspiracy theory, Ventsil talks about a rumour broadcast in the Russian media in 2017, that the USA military is collecting Russian genetic samples for the purpose of developing a biological weapon to be used against the Russian population.

Picture: Andreas Ventsel. Photo: Ruudu Rahumaru Events/ Vikipeedia / CC