Influence Operations

How China Uses Social Media in Grey Zone Operations toward Taiwan


The term ‘grey zone’ indicates a state actor’s actions up to the point of armed conflict and is increasingly associated with China’s foreign policy. China has harnessed Western social media to defend its national interests, drawing international attention to its discourse of war and its often-hostile rhetoric. This paper analyses Chinese state-sponsored tweets about Taiwan, a focal point for Chinese grey zone activity. Empirical topic modelling techniques to aggregate narratives in large-scale social media data were leveraged to interpret them from a doctrinal understanding of Chinese influence operations. Additionally, the authors used statistical methods to examine the relationship between China’s information and military operations toward Taiwan. This paper finds that China uses its state-sponsored accounts to coordinate and amplify social media messaging around military campaigns with strategic importance. Additionally, the presence of a multipronged approach using social media to support military campaigns may indicate an escalation in conflict.

Sovereign Citizen Rhetoric as Narrative Warfare


Sovereign Citizen rhetoric is a security issue in Australia, linked to the incitement of violent extremism. Amplifiers of Sovereign Citizen rhetoric argue that government institutions are illegitimate, and individuals are not subject to the law. This article seeks to frame a question for further research in relation to the Sovereign Citizen security threat: can Sovereign Citizen rhetoric be understood as weaponised strategic narrative? If Sovereign Citizen rhetoric is weaponised strategic narrative, should governments of liberal democracies, such as Australia, frame policy responses on a narrative warfare platform? It is argued that anthropological analysis can be applied to address these questions.

Cyber Warfare Evolution and Role in Modern Conflict


With the advent of powered flight came a shift in military tactics. This shift was not sudden or spectacular but evolved slowly over decades. Similarly, the development of the cyber domain and its impact on the information domain is creating a shift in warfare that nation states are adapting to as it evolves. This shift appears to be not only affecting the way international actors interact within the cyber realm but is also having a strong impact on conflict within the information domain. 

Social Cybersecurity: A Policy Framework for Addressing Computational Propaganda


After decades of Internet diffusion, geopolitical and information threats posed by cyberspace have never been greater. While distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks, email hacks, and malware are concerns, nuanced online strategies for psychological influence, including state-sponsored disinformation campaigns and computational propaganda, pose threats that democracies struggle to respond to. Indeed, Western cybersecurity is failing to address the perspective of Russia’s ‘information security,’—manipulation of the user as much as of the network. Based in computational social science, this paper argues for cybersecurity to adopt more proactive social and cognitive (non-kinetic) approaches to cyber and information defense. This protects the cognitive, attitudinal, and behavioral capacities required for a democracy to function by preventing psychological apparatuses, such as confirmation bias and affective polarization, that trigger selective exposure, echo chambers, in-group tribalization, and out-group threat labelling.

Understanding Influence Operations in Social Media: A Cyber Kill Chain Approach


Discussions about recent state-run influence operations in social media often focus only on quantitative elements—the number of people interacting with fake news or how many tweets were sent by bots. This article suggests that understanding how influence operations in social media may affect individuals and groups requires a socio-technical approach to examine what is unique about the social media information environment and people’s interactions in and through these media. A socio-technical understanding emerges through the development of a model based on the Cyber Kill Chain that conceptualises the influence operation process as interlinked stages seeking alternate actions from a target audience.

How Do You Define a Poblem Like Influence


While increasing media coverage is dedicated to how information is used to influencetarget audiences, a common terminology for describing these activities is lacking. This paper offers a literature review of terms currently used by industry, government, and media related to in-fluence  operations;  analyses  the  challenges posed by many of these definitions for use in practical policy development; and ultimately argues for a broader definition of such.

Reflexive Control and Cognitive Vulnerability in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election


This research seeks to uncover the mechanisms of Russian reflexivecontrol by examining its function during 2016 US presidential elections. Security analysts and US government officialhave asserted that Russia used reflexive control to influencethis election; however, there is little discussion on how this technique cognitively interacted with the American public.

Applying Principles of Reflexive Control in Information and Cyber Operations


According to Russian methodologies, the theory of Reflexive Control (RC) allows an initiator to induce an adversary to take a decision advantageous to the initiator through information manipulation. The RC theory encompasses a methodology where specifically prepared information is conveyed to an adversary, which would lead that adversary to make a decision desired by the initiator. The methodology is generally understood by Russian planners to be applicable in a wide variety of situations, and is deeply rooted within Russian Information Warfare concepts. Because theory envelops the Russian understanding of information as both technical data and cognitive content, ‘information resources’ are understood as technological as well as human.

New Technologies: Dissonance, Influence and Radical Behaviours


Increasingly in cyberspace, the targets of influence and propaganda are becoming active participants in the process, as such phenomena such as social web sites allow arguments to be started, reinforced and added to be others within the group. This dynamic multi-channel process of indoctrination enabled by Web 2 tools has brought a new dimension to the development of influence. This speculative paper argues that although conventional access to messages on the Internet will reinforce, and possibly change attitudes, any dissonance caused by the ideas presented will not necessarily end in changing behaviours.

Journal of Information Warfare

The definitive publication for the best and latest research and analysis on information warfare, information operations, and cyber crime. Available in traditional hard copy or online.















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The definitive publication for the best and latest research and analysis on information warfare, information operations, and cyber crime. Available in traditional hard copy or online.


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