The study investigates misinformation and disinformation on social media in the context of the rise of ‘fake news’ and the birth of the ‘post-truth’ era. Are these concerns substantiated by facts? What are the consequences of these phenomena for the information environment? Most importantly, do these phenomena pose a threat for our societal security? This study will provide actionable knowledge by answering to these questions.

This introduction is an attempt to position the emergence of ‘fake news’ in a wider societal context. Particular emphasis is placed on the cognitive biases that enable information manipulation. In turn, this will lead to a discussion about the tactics employed by adversarial actors to carry out information activities.

This study provides a look into what can be done to counter the problem of disinformation on social media by analysing more closely the various facets that compose it. The study is organized as follows. Chapter 1 frames the issue of false information on social media in the context of the existing military doctrine on disinformation.

Chapter 2 outlines a conceptual map describing how disinformation differs across various social media platforms. The following chapters take a look at what may be the Achilles’ heel of any strategy involving the use of socalled fake news, i.e. the link between social media and external content. 

Chapter 3 looks at blogs specifically, and how they are used in concert with social media to spread misinformation and disinformation online.

Chapter 4 explores the third-parties tracking user behaviour on internet outlets associated with the spread of false and misleading information. The conclusion brings together the findings of the study, highlighting recommendations and delineating possible counter-strategies. 

The study is complemented by a glossary that incorporates both NATO-approved definitions and, for those terms not currently present in NATO doctrine, definitions developed by subject-matter experts and other sources.