We've entered the age of information war
In August 2014, the world was shocked by a gruesome video of journalist James Foley's brutal murder, broadcast on platforms normally reserved for debating the news and sharing family photos. The information was a weapon, deployed from a small army of coordinated social media accounts, intended to infect western media, manipulate public perception, and impact US counter-terrorism policy.
That same month, the gaming community was rocked by a massive harrassment campaign. Tens of thousands of people coordinated high-volume, ruthless attacks against female game developers -- the campaign was so relentless that it's become synonymous with online abuse. This anonymous, leaderless movement also used information as a weapon to manipulate public perception and impact a $75B industry.
Whether terrorists or culture warriors, it was clear to us that these weren't isolated incidents. From our positions in media, technology, and national security, we knew this was a critical vulnerability in the design of our information ecosystem. Using tactics that are cheap, repeatable, and effective, this vulnerability would be exploited by extremists, governments, and eventually corporations conducting computational propaganda that shape buying behavior and even influence democratic elections.
By 2016 we'd developed the tools to track disinformation operations in real time, and were the first organization outside the US intelligence community to identify Russia's campaign to influence the US presidential election. As the information war escalated, we believed it was our responsibility to provide this solution to national security agencies and corporations.
We formed New Knowledge to defend public discourse.