Scoping Potential for Impact, Inauthentic Amplification, and Foreign Influence
Bottom Line Up Front
This analysis of the online discourse regarding DHS leaks demonstrates the prevalence of Deep State and Accelerationist conspiracy theories and their normalization in public discourse. The DHS leaks have almost been exclusively framed in social media artifacts through this highly conspiratorial language.
The high Believability of this narrative (45 percent of U.S. adults) and the use of highly conspiratorial language to refer to DHS’s efforts on mis-, dis-, and mal-information, shows widespread distrust in government institutions. It is expected that any efforts to mitigate MDM and prevent extremism will be politicized and co-opted by conspiracy theorists such as QAnon adherents.
The oversaturation of the information landscape by the alternative right has shown that news like the DHS leaks can dissipate quickly (in terms of prominence and resonance). However, the quick incorporation of this news in discourse on other developments (e.g., midterms) alludes to the fact that the Overton window shifts towards MDM with each of these instances (e.g., Disinformation Governance Board).
The combination of authentic amplification and likely bot activity demonstrates a complex MDM landscape where homegrown, authentic conspiracy theories are amplified by coordinated activities and foreign state adversaries, including Russia and China.
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