Glossary

Glossary2018-06-13T10:14:51+00:00
TermDefinition
Active MeasuresRussian intelligence term for a broad, diverse toolkit of intelligence operations carried out with a political goal.  Examples range from assassinations to disinformation campaigns.  Although originally a KGB term, Active Measures are an integral part of the modern Russian FSB as well.
Ad hominemAn argument or reaction directed at a person rather their positions or beliefs.  
Ad nauseamHeard and repeated so often as to induce, figuratively speaking, nausea.
AmplificationDissemination or repetition of a message with the aim of increasing its relevancy.  Term often used to describe the use of automated or fake accounts on social media to inorganically spread or draw attention to content.
API (Application Programming Interface)Set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications that specify how software components should interact.
AstroturfingDeliberately hiding the author of a message or sponsor of an organization to create the appearance of a grassroots movement.  Often used online to make a product or message seem more popular than it is.
Black PropagandaDisinformation that identifies with one side of a conflict but in reality is produced by the opposing side.
BotShort for “robot.” Software that can perform a variety of automated tasks, including sending spam, accessing websites,  posting information, or banding together with other bots to form a “botnet.”  Can be used to create thousands of coordinated fake social media accounts.
CDA 230 (Communications Decency Act)Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is a legal provision that shields online platforms from any liability related to content uploaded or generated by its users, including instances of hate speech or harrassment. 
Cyberwarfare The use of cyberspace to disrupt state or organization activities, including deliberate attacks on information security systems for strategic or military gain.
Denial-of-service attackIn this type of cyberattack, the attacker sends an overwhelming number of requests to a targeted website. With the bandwidth of the targeted website monopolized by the attacker, its users are unable to access the targeted website. They are thus “denied service.”
DisinformationFalse information that is deliberately disseminated in order to influence public opinion or obfuscate the truth. Derived from the Russian word дезинформация (Dezinformatsiya). 
Echo ChamberThe amplification and reinforcement of particular information or viewpoints through communication and repetition within a community.  Prevailing opinions and paradigms within echo chambers often go unquestioned.
Fake NewsNews articles misrepresenting themselves as factual, but which actually intentionally use false content to deceive or attract viewers or to elicit an emotional response. 
False EquivalenceA misleading argument used to misrepresent two different things as the same.  Often used to deflect criticism by comparing one things major flaws to another things minor flaws.
False FlagA covert operation in which the actual perpetrator of an act seeks to frame another entity, group, or nation as the responsible party.  Often used by nation-states to create a pretext for dubious actions.
GaslightingA form of psychological manipulation marked by the use of lies, denials, or deception to confuse and disorient a targeted group or individual and to delegitimize their beliefs or perceptions of reality.    
Gray PropagandaPropaganda whose source is never identified; disseminating information of dubious accuracy.
Influence Campaign/OperationCoordinated and deniable activities initiated by a state actor with the intent to influence the behavior political leaders, the public, or particular target groups toward a particular set of policy objectives.
Kompromat Compromising information gathered on a person with the aim of damaging their reputation, or even of blackmailing them.
Machine LearningAn evolving discipline in computer science giving computers the ability to operate and adapt without explicitly being programmed.
MisinformationThe unintentional or accidental spread of inaccurate information, usually due to ignorance or carelessness.
Plausible DeniabilityThe ability of officials to deny knowledge of or responsibility for an action by using subordinates, middlemen, or proxies to carry out the action.  
Red PilledBeing exposed to an often controversial or alternative “truth”, particularly in the context of politically sensitive issues.  A reference to the red pill taken by protagonist Neo in the film The Matrix.
RoskomnadzorThe Federal Service for Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media, the executive body responsible for censorship of media and telecommunications in Russia  
RT (Russia Today)The Kremlin’s international broadcast network.  Established in 2005 as Russia Today (later rebranded RT), the channel broadcasts 24-hour news in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic.
Seed AccountInfluential accounts that create talking points that are amplified by a network of followers.
SputnikRussian government-owned news agency and broadcast service established by Rossiya Segodnya in 2014.
Straw manDeliberately misrepresenting an argument in order to make it easier to argue against.
Transactional JournalismThe exchange of information for particular reporting on an issue, including but not limited to favorable coverage or the exclusion of certain details.  Quid pro quo in journalism.
TrollA person who posts deliberately provocative messages or harasses other users online in an attempt to disrupt an argument or derail a conversation.
Troll FactoryOrganization paying people to aggressively spread a particular politcal view online, especially on social media.
Useful IdiotA person manipulated into arguing for a cause, the goals of which they are not fully aware. 
VPNA Virtual Private Network allows users to securely access a private network and share data remotely through public networks. Used for greater security and anonymity as well as to bypass regional restrictions and censors.
WhataboutismA rhetorical technique where an accusation is flipped on the accuser via a counteraccusation.  These counteraccusations are often false equivalencies.
White PropagandaPropaganda that openly identifies a source, using persuasion and other overt, public relations techniques to sway opinion.