Towards Norms for State Responsibilities regarding Online Disinformation and Influence Operations




Cyber diplomacy, Cyber norms, Disinformation, Influence operations, Information warfare


The Internet has provided a global mass communication system, and in particular social media technologies began a social revolution for the public sphere. However, these platforms have been exploited for the purposes of influence operations and disinformation campaigns to hinder or subvert national decision-making processes by affecting the policy makers, voters, or swaying general public opinion. Often this is achieved through manipulative means falling within a grey area of international and constitutional systems. Existing proposed normative frameworks for responsible state behaviour in Cyberspace have tended to focus on cyber operations. While online influence operations are recognised as a concern, they were not explicitly discussed in the frameworks, resulting in knowledge gaps related to countering influence operations and disinformation. There is a growing narrative that influence operations and disinformation campaigns are a cyber security issue and nations sometimes include legislation related to disinformation in cyber security. This indicates that existing cyber norms can be used to guide the development of norms for addressing disinformation and influence operations. This paper aims to propose a normative framework for state responsibility relating to influence operations emerging from thematic analysis of existing cyber norms and research on mitigating influence operations.