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Beware New Actors Spreading Disinformation

Historically, disinformation campaigns have been waged against companies by competitors who, looking for a leg up, discretely finance short-sellers who issue scathing reports or feed information to friendly reporters.  Now, a new type of instigator is targeting companies with falsehoods:  hostile state actors looking to sow chaos in the West.

State actors employ fringe media publications and online bots to spread lies about prominent US companies, then watch as these lies make their way into markets. They hope the disinformation causes financial volatility before the lies can be corrected.

Risk assessors - who should not assume a competitor is behind the defamation of their client - need to alter their strategy correspondingly. Make sure your web monitoring is comprehensive and takes into account sites beyond mainstream and “credible” outlets. Take note of rumors about your client found in sketchy outlets:  you never know where they may lead. 


It was only a matter of time before state-linked outfits discovered that targeting Western companies was an easy way of harming Western countries. “Russia can use a company as a convenient target,” said Janis Sarts, the director of NATO’s Strategic Communications Center of Excellence in Riga. “Of course, the company suffers, but it’s not the primary target.”