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Social media for influence operations

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NATO Bi-SC PsyOps and Info Ops Conference, April 2013

NATO Bi-SC PsyOps and Info Ops Conference, April 2013

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  • Thank you all for being here; and thank you for asking me to talk on your conference. The organization I work for is TNO; which stands for the Netherlands organization for applied scientific research, which is a large not-for-profit organization. We do a lot of contract work for the Netherlands Armed Forces. For example, work on psychological cyber operations, sensor integration on weapon platforms, and social media. Currently, I am advising the 43 mechanized brigade on their social media strategy. In my presentation, I will focus on the role of social media for influence operations. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • To start with my conclusion and explain the title of my presentation; in my presentation I will argue that when you want to use SM, or any other media, to influence people, you need an optimal mix of paid, owned and earned media channels for your influence operations to succeed. This model comes from marketing. And it helps us to realize is that you need fans and skeptics starting peer-to-peer discussions to succeed in influencing others. It is generally known in marketing that 1 word-to-mouth conversation has the impact of over 200 paid television commercials. However, nowadays, in my opinion the Defense organisation is still too much focusing on traditional ‘marketing’ strategies when it comes to influence operations. There is not enough attention for earned media, or word-to-mouth advertising. the Defense organisation of course owns media channels, and the Defense organisation pays for media channels. But the Defense organisation is very 'nervous' and anxious about using established SM accounts for influence operations. At the same time, the audience we want to influence is more and more capable of finding their own information. And at the same time is experiencing information overload. Influencing people is no longer realized through push, but through pull media; through experiences of people. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • So, what are influence operations? In my opinion, Influence operations are focused on affecting the perceptions and behaviors of leaders, groups, or entire populations. The military capabilities of influence operations are: psychological operations (PSYOP), military deception (MILDEC), operations security (OPSEC), counterintelligence (CI) operations, counterpropaganda operations and public affairs (PA) operations. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • “ Influence operations are focused on affecting the perceptions and behaviors of leaders, groups, or entire populations” (AFDD 2-5). The military capabilities of influence operations are: psychological operations (PSYOP), military deception (MILDEC), operations security (OPSEC), counterintelligence (CI) operations, counterpropaganda operations and public affairs (PA) operations. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
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  • Before I will discuss how SM may be used for influence operations, I will first talk about SM Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • I define social media as internet-based applications that allow groups of users to create, share, and gather information Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • Here you see a SM landscape, which is spitted into four main usages (expressing, sharing, networking, playing) and is structured around social platforms which ambition is to cover each user’s needs. First, Expressing tools allow users to express themselves, discuss and aggregate their social life. Examples are Publication tools like blogs, forums and wikis Second, sharing tools allow users to publish and share content: examples are Content sharing for videos such as YouTube and slideshare. Third, Networking tools allow users to search, connect and interact with each other’s: such as linkedIN Fourth, you have Playing services that now integrate strong social features: At the center of this landscape we will find former social networks, which have evolved to progressively integrate more and more functionalities and morphed themselves into social platforms. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • You may ask yourself, however, how social social media is. Instead of talking to real people, you sent each other short staccato like messages. The communication medium is, compared to face-to-face communication very poor and probably not the most effective medium in many situations. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • An alternative way of looking at SM is this model presented here. It distinguishes four uses of SM Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • Here I have a picture of a military listening centre, or not? So who thinks this is a military listening centre?/ who thinks that this woman is working for the military? … No, this is the Nvidia social media command center. Nvidia is a visual computing technology company. Social media has potential, however it is hardly used within the military. Why is that? And what are the risks of social media for the comprehensive approach? Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • 2. Inform the public… Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • 3. Ask the crowd: social media may help in assessing the effects of the operation, for example through polls. What is the effect of an influence operation? How is the morale? Am I doing the right things? Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • In stead of doing it all by yourself, you could ask your partners or civilians for help. An nice example of successful crowdsourcing is the Crowd-derived Combat-support Vehicle that was the results of a design challenge among the general public. Last February, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) partnered with Local Motors and announced the Experimental Crowd-derived Combat-support Vehicle (XC2V) Design Challenge. The public was asked to design a military vehicle that could execute two types of missions: Combat Reconnaissance and Combat Delivery & Evacuation. A prototype of the winning design, the XC2V Flypmode, has just recently been constructed Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • Another nice example of crowdsourcing is used by lego. Customers design new products which may eventually become part of the official lego collection. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • A special kind of crowdsourcing is Prosourcing: Crowdsourcing at own troops : china’s backoffice… Closed call (prosourcing, or direct message), anyone or specific individuals or groups are targeted to respond. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • Finally, the 4 th use is for interacting with others. For example in a comprehensive setting, working together with your allies, NGO’s GO’s. However, there are some serious risks involved, as is illustrated in this picture, and NGO’s do not always openly want to collaborate with the military on social media., … The problem has been called the peacebuilding dilemma: Humanitarian organizations have expressed concern about the impact of civil-military cooperation on their ability to remain impartial, neutral, and independent in fulfilling their core tasks. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • Are we using SM already for IO? What are we doing then, are we doing it right? Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • An important question of course is: Do we really need social media? Is there social media for example in Afghanistan? Or better yet; are traditional means of influencing people working? Here you see a picture of Graphic billboards pushing not products but national unity and the path to a better future; to win the hearts and minds of ordinary Afghan people. A positive picture of Afghan government? Nobody is reading the messages! http://bloom.bg/hBkVGG#ooid=13ankxMjp4pG_QTtzINp_GsY7B0ZDdA4&ootime=95s Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • So we see that traditional means are not always that effective, but to use SM there needs to be SM and internet. This graph shows the Afghan Facebook statistics. There are not many users. Due to low literacy rate and high internet fees, about 10% of the 26 million population has internet access. 3G services began in the country in 2012 and are provided by all major telecommunication companies, including Etisalat, MTN Group, Roshan, and Afghan Wireless. Due to low literacy rate and high internet fees, about 10% of the 26 million population has internet access.[7] Services such as Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and others are limited to the upper middle class youth in the major urban areas. In early 2011, Paywast, a local mobile social network was launched. It is based on mobile, and its users connect with their friends and create groups and communities through SMS. With more than half of the Afghan population owning a mobile phone, Paywast is believed to have more than a million users across Afghanistan. The social network is available on the AWCC, Etisalat and MTN GSM networks. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • Retrieved from: Socialbakers.com Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • But what is more interesting is that in Afghanistan the number of users is rapidly increasing. In the last month there was an increase of over 14 percent in facebook users. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • so not only is our target audience increasingly using internet and SM, research also shows that SM influences people. Also interesting is that it are not the traditional channels that influence people, but especially the earned media, or word-to-mouth discussions. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • We are already using SM for influence operations as you can see on this slide Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • Another problem is the use of fake sites, fake persona. How do we know that the person we speak with, is sincere and real. We do it; but of course if we do it, the opponent can do it as well: Opponent is posing as MOD to undermine goodwill locals or partners Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • these are Fake Facebook pages in 2011 of The Commander of the Royal Netherlands Army (C-LAS) Lieutenant General Mart de Kruif. I investigated why people would set up fake accounts in his name. Apart from spying and trying to get useful information from other high ranked officials, It appears that famous people are very much prone of getting their profiles cloned. it seems that a lot of these fake Facebook profiles are created by companies or people to increase the amount of “likes” they can get for their business/fan page, or their clients’ respective Facebook pages. Also, fake accounts are used for so called Western Union scams If you get an urgent instant message from a friend who’s stuck in Tunisia with no money in his pockets and who’s begging you to wire him money ASAP so he can get out of there, think again. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • How are terrorist using social media? Social media is the main platform for terrorist attacks! Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • Now we know how it is done, is Is Lasswell’s model still accurate? The model states that the success of an attempt to influence people is dependent on 4 factors; the message, the source that delivers the message, the channel through which the message is delivered, and characteristics of the receiver. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • With SM, it is very difficult for people the find the right information, assuming of course that they are in control of finding the information they want. The user is in control; they decide what they will read. But will they be able to find us ??? A lot of non-relevant information is circulating on social media, how to filter all this information?
  • How to find out where your target audience is ‘hiding’? and how to find the and identify the key influencers? This picture shows us that is probably is a good strategy to use multiple platforms for broadcasting your message or seeking interaction with your target audience. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • at the same time, not only is there a lot of non-relevant information produced, there is also a lot happening at the same time. How to deal with all this information? And make shure that your information stands out. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • So, what’s wrong with Lasswell’s model? As I have showed on the previous slides, with the use of SM, all steps need to be reconsidered. Influence operations are not that simple anymore… Moreover, Lasswell’s model does not consider the interactive nature of social media, but focuses only on sending / broadcasting the message. Lasswell’s model does not reconsider the fact that the receiver may want to interact with the source. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HiY-Ta_MOyo Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
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  • First, and foremost, you need to have a plan on how to use SM for influence operations. This means that you need to think about the Purpose, stakeholders, content, means, etc. For example, what is the purpose or goal or desired effect of influence operations: is it that we want to Influence sentiment and public opinion? Or is it the mind of the enemy commander? Your own personnel? You absolutely must know your audience Hint: It’s not everybody. You need to know who they are so you can talk to them in their language Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • we need to protect ourselves better…. OPSEC is not really a problem of social media, but of the people using them and about educating them in the usage of social media. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • we need to spent money not only on cyber security, but also on educating your personnel on the risks of SM and on how to use SM properly I am willing to raise questions on the amount of money spent on SM training… Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • You need to act as a person, not as an organization. In the words of Andrew Hanelly: Audiences are made of individual people. And when building an audience, you must connect with these people as a person, not as an organization You need to give people/your audience someone they can relate to Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
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  • You need to invest in tools and training. Fortunately, SM are cheap; hardware may be acquired cheap off-the-shelf and the software is freely available. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • however, when using SM you are depending on infrastructure, and as we have seen, for example in Haiti in 2010, the infrastructure may be down, making it impossible to use local internet. Or even the government may decide to shut down internet. Therefore, you need to invest in infrastructure as well. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • you need to have the capacity to be out there 24/7. Social presence & social listening are key to earning media channels. You need to be able to Build credits and connect with your audience & Protect your reputation. You need to be able to react and moderate discussions immediately. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • you should be willing to learn from others And collaborate through social media for example to Co-create NATO social media for influence operations strategy. Which I have already done for you, as I will show on the next slides. Here you see an example of a recent activity that was initiated by NATO Allied command Transformation. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • of course, I participated and asked the crowd their opinions on how to use SM for IO. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • soon, I got interesting reactions, as you can see here. This person agreed with my proposition and added to it that Practitioners of IO (Influence - in all its flavours) must be trained to use SM as a tool to achieve an effect. And that NATO should invest in native language speakers to cope with the language barrier. When you want to influence people via SM you need to speak their language of course. Interesting is that this person makes the distinction between the active use of SM and the passive use, or SM as a sensor. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • More reactions followed. It was addressed or pointed out to me that in order to use social media you are required to build a base of followers, which should only be done by developing a trust relationship between all parties over a long period of time. To then take this account and start using is for a spectrum like PSYOPS or MILDEC would take and destabilize the faith in that account and cast suspicion on any associated account. This may become very difficult to recover from, if not impossible. Happily, there is a work around from this danger.  As PSYOPS has to be attributable and conducted against approved target audiences, SM can (should) be used to disseminate those elements of TRUTH (not the whole truth) that support the PSYOPS message or the deception. If discomfort remains, then proxy accounts or 3rd parties are the obvious solution. Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
  • to conclude and summarize: Word of mouth peer-to-peer discussions are more influential than owned and paid media channels To influence others, you thus need your audience to become your media channel To accomplish this, you need to be out there: Social presence is important. You need to be right on top of discussions. You need to have a social media influence strategy; You need the capacity to Listen & respond and earn your media You always need to act as a person (not like the DoD) … Or train your soldiers in doing so Invest in native language speakers, infrastructure, training, etc. And finally , you need to be willing to Ask others: Co-create for example NATO’s social media for influence operations strategy Titel van de presentatie 16-05-13 14:28
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Social media for influence operations Social media for influence operations Presentation Transcript

  • Social Media for Influence Operations:Paid, owned, but not yet earnedDr. Rick van der KleijNATO Bi-SC PsyOps and Info Ops Conference, April 2013
  • Paid, Owned & (not yet) Earned MediaDr. Rick van der KleijSocial media2
  • Influence OperationsDr. Rick van der KleijSocial media3
  • Influence operations“Influence operations are focused on affecting the perceptions andbehaviors of leaders, groups, or entire populations” (AFDD 2-5).E.g., PSYOPs, MILDEC, CI, PA.“It is a fundamental mistake to see the enemy as a set of targets. The enemy in war is agroup of people. Some of them will have to be killed. Others will have to be captured ordriven into hiding. The overwhelming majority, however, have to be persuaded.”--- Frederick Kagan, "War and Aftermath," Policy Review, Aug 03Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media4
  • Influence Ops 1.0Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media5
  • Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media6
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  • Social Media?Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media10
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  • So what is Social media ?Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media12
  • Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media13How ‘social’ is social media?
  • An alternative way of lookingat social media …1. MonitorSocial media as sensor,Collect Intel1. SendTo influence, informand do "marketing"1. AskAsk the crowd:Crowdsourcing1. InteractCollaboration,co-creationDr. Rick van der KleijSocial media14
  • Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media15Is this a military social media listening center…
  • Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media16
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  • Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media18The crowdsourced Experimental Crowd-derived Combat-support Vehicle
  • Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media19Lego is famous for crowdsourcing new models
  • Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media20Closed call: specific individuals or groups are targeted to respond.
  • 4. Social media for better collaboration; or not?Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media21The peacebuilding dilemma: UN headquarters in Baghdad lies inruins after a massive suicide bomb explosion in August, 2003
  • Social Media for InfluenceOperations?Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media22
  • Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media23
  • Social networking in Afghanistan?Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media24
  • …As compared to The NetherlandsDr. Rick van der KleijSocial media25Retrieved from: Socialbakers.com
  • Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media26
  • Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media27Source: The Conversation - An Introduction to Social Media, Tactica Interactive
  • Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media28
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  • YouTube WarTerrorist attack is itself often designed and intended for thecameras. Terrorist attacks are designed for an audience.Their true target is not that which is blown up—that item, orthose people—for that is merely a stage prop. What is reallybeing targeted are those watching at home.The goal is to have a psychological effect (to terrorize).Videos play a large role in bringing in recruits from larger Arabworld.Cori E. Dauber, 2009Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media31
  • Lasswell’s model of ‘behavioural influence’Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media32Lasswell (1948)Who (says) What (to) Whom (in) What Channel (with) What Effect
  • “The crowd produces mostly crap.“ – JeffHoweDr. Rick van der KleijSocial media33
  • Where is my audience hiding?Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media34
  • Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media35
  • What’s wrong with Lasswell’s formula?It’s not that simple anymore…Social media/ internet changes all steps in the model…and thereforethe outcome of Lasswell’s formula.All steps in Lasswell’s formula should be reconsideredThus, not just change the medium, but reconsider all stepsLasswell’s model does not consider the interactive nature of socialmedia, but focuses only on sending / broadcastingDr. Rick van der KleijSocial media36
  • How to earn mediachannels and increaseinfluence?Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media37
  • Social media influence strategyYou need to have a strategy: make a planPurpose, stakeholders, content, means, etc.Influence sentiment and public opinion?“One cannot wage war under present conditions without the support of public opinion, whichis tremendously molded by the press and other forms of propaganda.”--- General Douglas MacArthurThe mind of the enemy commander?Your own personnel?You absolutely must know your audienceHint: It’s not everybody. You need to know who they are so you can talk tothem in their languageDr. Rick van der KleijSocial media38
  • Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media39We need to protect ourselves better against cyber operations
  • Cybersecurity? What about social media training?Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media40
  • Act like a personEvery soldier a spokesperson;Give people/your audience someone they can relate toSpeak like yourself, not a communications shill or press secretary;Build a relationship based on trust;Be able to nail down the “why” of your business, not just the “what”.“Audiences are made of individual people. And when building an audience, youmust connect with these people as a person, not as an organization.”Andrew HanellyDr. Rick van der KleijSocial media41
  • Invest in resourcesDr. Rick van der KleijSocial media42Source: The Conversation - An Introduction to Social Media, Tactica Interactive
  • Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media43
  • Dr. Rick van der KleijSocial media44Egypt shut down the Internet forfive days starting from January 28…
  • Social Media Presence is a 24/7 jobSocial presence & social listening are key to earning mediachannelsBuild credits and connect with your audience & Protect reputationWord of mouth peer-to-peer discussions are more influentialthan owned and paid media channelsDr. Rick van der KleijSocial media45
  • NATO- SACT Innovation Hub SM online workshopDr. Rick van der KleijSocial media46
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  • Results: Crowdsourced issues/ answers“To use SM you are required to build a base of followers, which shouldonly be done by developing a trust relationship.To then take this account and start using is for a spectrum likePSYOPS or MILDEC would take and destabilize the faith in thataccount and cast suspicion on any associated account”Denny Brown, Public Affairs Officer, Canada“As PSYOPS has to be attributable and conducted against approvedtarget audiences, SM can (should) be used to disseminate thoseelements of TRUTH (not the whole truth) that support the PSYOPSmessage or the deception.If discomfort remains, proxy accounts or 3rd parties are the solution.”Ric Cole, Maj (UK), Info Activities and Joint Effects, Land Warfare Centre, WarminsterDr. Rick van der KleijSocial media49
  • Take home messagesBe out there: Social presence is importantListen & respond and earn your mediaHave a social media influence strategyTo influence others, you need your audience to become your media channelAct like a person (not like the DoD)Every soldier a spokesperson (…and train them in doing so)Invest in resources/ personnel/ …Invest in native language speakers, infrastructure, training, etc.Ask others: Co-create NATO social media for influenceoperations strategySee NATO- SACT Innovation Hub SM online workshopDr. Rick van der KleijSocial media50
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  • QuestionsMore information:Dr. Rick van der Kleij,Research Scientist Behavioural and SocietalSciences at TNORick.vanderKleij@tno.nlDr. Rick van der KleijSocial media53Thanks for your attention