All Eye Overlord by Aswin Behera. (Source: Cyber Visuals)
The world first learned about Russian attempts to manipulate the information environment in 2013. Staff hired by the Internet Research Agency (IRA) posed as Americans online posting divisive comments to social media. Continued activities during the 2016 U.S. presidential election put influence operations on center stage globally. It’s been eight years since the initial IRA operation, but how far has the field working to understand and counter influence operations come in that time? The field has certainly grown apace producing countless case studies highlighting examples of influence operations. Yet in many other ways the field has hit a rut. Scholars of influence operations still quibble over establishing common definitions and frequently come up empty when seeking to access more social media data.