What is Narrative Laundering? Meaning, explanation, definition

The term Narrative Laundering is used to describe the targeted dissemination of false information by state actors or other organisations. Narrative Laundering“ aims to change the way something is told.

The term Narrative Laundering comes from the English language and literally means „narrative laundering“.

What is Narrative Laundering? Meaning, explanation, definition

Narrative Laundering is the spread of manipulated or false information from unverified sources on social media or from proxies. This information is then picked up by state or mainstream media. The aim of Narrative Laundering is to change the narrative. The aim is to change how a process or event is told. (The example of the Russian attack on Ukraine will make this clearer in a moment).

Narrative laundering is thus a form of manipulating public opinion in order to present certain people, governments or political agendas in a certain light and thus profit from it.

Narrative Laundering using the example of the Russian attack against Ukraine

Narrative laundering is currently being discussed above all in connection with the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Russian actors are said to use or have used both orchestrated and opportunistic methods to engage in narrative laundering.

This is specifically about the Russian (dis)information campaign in connection with the war of aggression against Ukraine. For example, there are statements by the British Ministry of Defence according to which the systematic dissemination of disinformation and manipulative content is a central element of the Russian strategy in the war against Ukraine.

Example: It can be said that war is being waged against Russia. That would already be a changed narrative. After all, Ukraine was attacked and is actually „only“ defending itself. There has been no fighting on Russian soil so far (April 2023). Therefore, „war against Russia“ is false.

Through the targeted dissemination of false or manipulated information through so-called proxies or through unverified accounts and sources on social media, this content is subsequently picked up and further disseminated by state or established media and press associations. This enables the Russian state to distance itself from the disseminated message to such an extent that its actual interests are concealed or the public’s opinion can be specifically influenced without making itself vulnerable.

A particularly recent example of Narrative Laundering in the war of aggression against Ukraine is the use of GRU front groups such as Sandworm (also known as FROZENBARENTS) for so-called information operations. These groups are associated with the Russian military unit 74455 and are known for leaking stolen data via Telegram in order to steer sentiment in a certain direction or to spread misinformation in a targeted manner to relevant places. The aim is always to positively change the mood or opinion in individual population groups or even in the population as a whole in the direction of a specific goal. For example, the claim was made that biological weapons were used in Ukraine and that this was done through the instigation of the USA, which is also falsely blamed for the targeted spread of biological weapons throughout the world.

Another example is the Belarusian group Ghostwriter, which the Polish authorities blame for a large-scale propaganda campaign. The group allegedly tried to disrupt relations between Poland and its allies, including Ukraine, the US and other NATO countries, while fomenting social unrest among the Polish population.

The Russian disinformation campaign in the war against Ukraine shows how targeted narrative laundering can be used to influence public opinion while concealing real interests. A fitting example here would also be Trump’s presidential candidacy in 2016, which was significantly influenced by the targeted use of social media and the dismissal of legitimate news as so-called fake news.

However, narrative laundering and its associated actions are not a new phenomenon limited to Trump, Russia and the war against Ukraine. Many intelligence agencies around the world have long used front groups and agents to exert influence on the population. This strategy is specifically facilitated and reinforced by the internet, especially social media, where information can both be spread at breakneck speed and it is also easy to disguise the sources.

What can be done against Narrative Laundering?

One way to curb narrative laundering in this environment would be stronger regulation and monitoring of social media platforms and other digital communication channels, such as Telegram, as well as optimised cooperation between platform operators, independent fact-checkers and government organisations. However, the question arises at what point this control or containment of information dissemination under the guise of population protection could be misused as a method of censorship – which is a separate form of opinion manipulation through information deprivation.

Raising people’s awareness about Narrative Laundering has been shown to be the most effective means in the past. This includes, among other things, teaching people to critically question information and check its accuracy. In this way, the spread of manipulative misinformation can be curbed.

Narrative laundering can also be curbed through improved communication between states. To this end, for example, the East StratCom Task Force of the EU’s European External Action Service (EEAS) for strategic communication was established in 2015. This TaskForce is concerned with ensuring effective communication and promotion of EU activities in Eastern Europe and Russia. This also means supporting non-governmental media in countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus and in Russia itself, thus acting as a counterweight to official Russian communications.

In addition to sanctions against states or organisations that actively engage in narrative laundering, traditional media are also an important factor in combating disinformation. With responsible journalism, transparent reporting and adherence to ethical standards, these media can help counter misinformation and maintain the credibility of news sources.

Autor: Pierre von BedeutungOnline

Hallo, ich bin Autor und Macher von BedeutungOnline. Bei BedeutungOnline dreht sich alles um Worte und Sprache. Denn wie wir sprechen und worüber wir sprechen, formt wie wir die Welt sehen und was uns wichtig ist. Das darzustellen, begeistert mich und deswegen schreibe ich für dich Beiträge über ausgewählte Worte, die in der deutschen Sprache gesprochen werden. Seit 2004 arbeite ich als Journalist. Ich habe Psychologie und Philosophie mit Schwerpunkt Sprache und Bedeutung studiert. Ich arbeite fast täglich an BedeutungOnline und erstelle laufend für dich neue Beiträge.

Gefällt dir BedeutungOnline.de? Wenn du BedeutungOnline.de nützlich findest, dann nimm dir bitte eine Minute Zeit und gib mit einer Spende etwas zurück. Schon eine kleine Spende hilft BedeutungOnline weiter für dich zubetreiben und neue Artikel zu schreiben. Mehr Infos, wie du BedeutungOnline.de unterstützen kannst, findest du hier. Danke! Melde dich für den persönlichen BedeutungOnline.de-Newsletter an. Das geht hier.

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert