Small Wars Journal

The Russian "Firehose of Falsehood" Propaganda Model: Why It Might Work and Options to Counter It

Fri, 11/25/2016 - 9:55am

The Russian "Firehose of Falsehood" Propaganda Model: Why It Might Work and Options to Counter It by Christopher Paul and Miriam Matthews, RAND Corporation

Since its 2008 incursion into Georgia (if not before), there has been a remarkable evolution in Russia's approach to propaganda. The country has effectively employed new dissemination channels and messages in support of its 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula, its ongoing involvement in the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, and its antagonism of NATO allies. The Russian propaganda model is high-volume and multichannel, and it disseminates messages without regard for the truth. It is also rapid, continuous, and repetitive, and it lacks commitment to consistency. Although these techniques would seem to run counter to the received wisdom for successful information campaigns, research in psychology supports many of the most successful aspects of the model. Furthermore, the very factors that make the firehose of falsehood effective also make it difficult to counter. Traditional counterpropaganda approaches will likely be inadequate in this context. More effective solutions can be found in the same psychology literature that explains the surprising success of the Russian propaganda model and its messages.


  • Forewarn audiences of misinformation, or merely reach them first with the truth, rather than retracting or refuting false "facts."
  • Prioritize efforts to counter the effects of Russian propaganda, and focus on guiding the propaganda's target audience in more productive directions.
  • Compete with Russian propaganda. Both the United States and NATO have the potential to prevent Russia from dominating the information environment.
  • Increase the flow of information that diminishes the effectiveness of propaganda, and, in the context of active hostilities, attack the means of dissemination.

Read the RAND Perspective here.


Outlaw 09

Sat, 11/26/2016 - 1:47pm

This is an interesting Russian exercise in power politics and depicts just how even eastern Ukraine fits in and then tie in all Russian info warfare since 2014....

According to Montenegrin press, Moscow lobbied hard for naval maintenance facilities at the ports of Bar & Kotor.… 

Very interesting: after failing to gain access to naval facilities, #Russia attempted to overthrow democracy in #Montenegro.

Serbia captured the entire Russian coup group...their leader was a Russian who had fought as a Russian mercenary in eastern Ukraine......only after social media leaked the details then Serbia went public.

As events in #Montenegro show, #Russia's intel svcs see selves as wartime active measures agencies …