NATO and its members are facing a growing threat in the form of disinformation campaigns that can be traced back to authoritarian regimes and their proxies. Much of this “weaponized” information is aimed at weakening confidence in member state governments and in the alliance itself. While Russia poses the most immediate threat, China and others are also engaged in such campaigns.
The most important step in countering disinformation is measuring the public’s awareness of the threat. In addition, NATO and its members must communicate NATO’s importance and pursue forward-looking policymaking.
This project was made possible by a grant from the U.S. mission to NATO.
In partnership with Bakamo Social, the McCain Institute has created an interactive dashboard displaying unique data on public perception of NATO and mis- and disinformation.
The dashboard analyzes millions of sources (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news sites and other social media) to measure the volume and trend of the conversations around NATO. The tool also measures when NATO is mentioned together with Russia, China, or the topic of disinformation; essentially determining the level of association of the aforementioned threats with NATO.
The analysis of disinformation is based on explicit discussions on disinformation to shed light on the level of awareness of the threat, not the presence of adversarial narratives. The analysis discriminates between discussion in the media and peoples’ organic discourse and also displays the evolution of the conversation over time.
We use proprietary filters to find out people’s organic discourse which they define as authentic voices without the motivation of financial gain. The number of followers is a factor in the determination if a user handle is counted as media vs people using a cut-off at 3,000. Below is counted as a regular user, and above as a handle likely to belong to a media space, i.e. influencers, opinion leaders, journalists, and media outlets themselves.