The Holy Grail of disinformation ( dezinformatsiya,) called Area 51 probably also has Russian support for this latest stunt, recalling their ability to manipulate Facebook from 2016. Or maybe it’s just a promotion for a Brad Pitt movie, or a new Burning Man.
The fact that half a million people have signed up to raid Area 51 in September but we haven't tried to liberate these concentration camps tells me all I need to know about our society.
— Chad Everett Scott (@cescott74) July 13, 2019
More than 440,000 UFO enthusiasts signed up to “storm Area 51” through a Facebook event in efforts to “see them aliens.”
As of Friday afternoon, the event, titled Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us, has over 442,000 people signed up to attend. More than 450,000 others have also indicated interest in the event.
“We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry,” the event description reads. “If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets see them aliens.”
The event is set to take place on Sept. 20 at Area 51, an Air Force base in Nevada where many conspiracy theorists have long believed the U.S. government holds top secret information about extraterrestrial life. They also allege the area to have been the site of frequent UFO sightings.
This is the same day we’re all supposed to Storm Area 51
— Skye •̀.̫•́✨ (@Lionpansies) July 12, 2019
The Russians Just Did A Fly-By Of Area 51 ☄️
Russia's specially equipped Tu-154M Open Skies aircraft is doing a grand tour of America's most sensitive military installations out west.
BY TYLER ROGOWAYMARCH 29, 2019https://t.co/ygKvaiXeDV pic.twitter.com/qOUMPak7lK
— Раттана Женг Марай® (@KittyOwner_Club) July 3, 2019
Our Investments Must Match the Severity of the Problem
Russia is not afraid to make large investments, both monetary and human, into its information operations. The editor-in-chief of RT, Russia’s state-sponsored foreign propaganda outlet, described how after the Russia-Georgia War, in which Tbilisi’s ad hoc international outreach on English-language TV channels such as CNN eclipsed Moscow’s PR efforts, “it became absolutely clear to everyone…why we need such a thing as an international television channel representing the country. This is in itself a lesson. And of course, they began to pay more attention and understand that it costs money.”
That understanding appears to have continued; the planned budget for RT—arguably one of the least effective arms of the Russian government’s information warfare efforts, and certainly only a small part of the overall Russian disinformation ecosystem—is $277 million in 2020. Despite the attention paid to Russian disinformation over the past three years, the United States has not yet had a similar budgetary realization. I am not advocating that the United States match the Russian government’s spending on information warfare, nor am I arguing that we mimic its tactics. Instead, we must invest more in the tools already at our disposal, with an eye on empowering individuals, not endlessly fact-checking or playing whack-a-troll.