This thesis provides an overview of how the Russian Federation deploys strategic weapons of influence through social media with the intent to weaken the United States. The thesis asserts that these influence weapons are a direct threat to U.S. national security and have not been completely neutralized by present countermeasures. In an effort to improve the U.S. response to this threat, this thesis seeks to answer the following questions: (1) How effective has the U.S. government's response been to countering Russia's strategic weapons of influence on social media from the 2016 U.S. presidential election through the end of 2018? (2) How effective has the social media industry's self-regulation been in preventing further platform exploitation by strategic weapons of influence during the same time frame? It finds that both the present governmental and private sector responses have not completely blunted this threat. The Kremlin's continued propagation of socially corrosive, divisive narratives over social media highlights the need for an improved response capability that includes cognitive defenses and a government-housed alert mechanism.
Wirtz, James J. Jasper, Scott E.
Security Studies (Homeland Security and Defense)
Naval Postgraduate School
Master of Arts in Security Studies (Homeland Security and Defense)
National Security Affairs (NSA)
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