Strategies for Combating Adversarial Information Operations: Theory and Practical Applications




Disinformation, Propaganda, Persuasive System Design, Early Warning and Control Systems, Information Operations, Resilience Building


In the contemporary information landscape, the proliferation of disinformation and propaganda poses a significant challenge to societal discourse and democratic processes. This paper proposes a multi-disciplinary approach to combatting adversarial information operations, drawing upon theoretical frameworks and practical applications. Theoretical foundations are established through an examination of the Persuasive System Design (PSD) model (Oinas-Kukkonen, 2013) and its parallels with propaganda tactics. By analyzing the shared flaws and vulnerabilities, insights emerge into the manipulation techniques employed by threat actors in online information spaces. Building upon this theoretical framework, the paper presents a proactive strategy for countering disinformation: the development of Early Warning and Control Systems (EWACS). These systems leverage AI-assisted narrative discovery to monitor the digital information landscape continuously. By identifying emerging threats and inauthentic activity, strategic communicators gain valuable insights for crafting counter-narratives and pre-emptive communication strategies. Key components of the proposed approach include deterrence by denial and resilience-building measures. By shifting the cost-gain calculation of adversaries and enhancing societal resilience, the aim is to create an environment where propagandists face increased challenges in achieving their objectives. This paper emphasizes the importance of collaboration between diverse stakeholders, including governmental organizations, academia, NGOs, and journalists. By harnessing the collective expertise from multiple fields, more effective strategies can be developed to safeguard information integrity and restore public trust. In conclusion, this paper advocates for a convergence of theory and practice in addressing the complex challenges posed by adversarial information operations. By integrating theoretical insights with practical applications, the proposed approach offers a holistic framework for countering disinformation and propaganda in contemporary information environments.

Author Biographies

Alberto Federico Olivieri, University of Oulu

Alberto Federico Olivieri is a Doctoral researcher at the University of Oulu. His current research focuses on disinformation, culture, and digital tools, with a specialization in Russian Information Operations. He previously worked as a Research Assistant for the University of Amsterdam, UMICH, Harvard Kennedy School, and LUISS University.

Rosanna Guadagno, University of Oulu

Rosanna Guadagno, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Persuasive Information Systems at the University of Oulu, Finland. She previously taught at Stanford University and Directed the Information Warfare Working Group. She studies Social Influence Processes in Digital Media. She authored the book Psychological Processes in Social Media: Why We Click