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ElectionWatch H4D 2020 Lessons Learned

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ElectionWatch H4D 2020 Lessons Learned

  1. Katie Jonsson IR 21’ Dylan Junkin IR 21’ Will Buchanan CS 21’ Sally Egan IR + MCS 22’ ElectionWatch 138 Interviews Sponsor Problem Statement: US allies and partners need a tool to improve the resiliency of their information environment and to protect the integrity of their political elections from outside interference. Current Problem Statement: SOCPAC PsyOps analysts need an open-source tool to improve the transparency of the information environment and track the Chinese Communist Party’s political influence campaigns.
  2. We interviewed 138 people across government, industry, and academia 71 Interviews 38 Interviews 29 Interviews
  3. “Disinformation is the next wave of confrontation between authoritarian regimes and the United States.” Senior Official, Cyber Command
  4. But, we had a false start and tackled the solution before the problem VALUE PROP Identify, attribute, map, and respond BENEFICIARIES ● SOCPAC ● Cyber Command ● Social media platforms ● Southeast Asian governments ● Focused on solution rather than problem ● Trouble finding analysts. Too many ‘high level’ interviews “We need to identify malign influence in elections” “We need a tool to directly combat false information coming from China and Russia” -Senior U.S. Government Officials
  5. So we restarted and tried to understand the problem Week 1 Week 5 Week 9+ Too focused on solution instead of problem Morale New Strategy: Find the subject matter experts while we schedule to meet with our beneficiaries!
  6. Learning how and why adversaries spread information Adversaries promote their own image and undermine democracy, using inauthentic and authentic tactics. “Policy decisions are made at the highest levels. This allows [adversaries] to give broad goals but no specific implementation requirements.” - Glenn Tiffert, Hoover Institution 15 Subject Matter Experts Media Messaging Academia Social Media Politics Business Rest of Society Rest of Society Adversary Government
  7. Week 1 Week 5 Week 9+ Too focused on solution instead of problem Pivot! We pivoted after learning that influence campaigns target non-election events and contain truthful elements We understood the problem, but not who owns it What’s Next? Election disinformation → political influence
  8. Identifying our Beneficiary Insights: Overlapping network of responsibility Differing approaches SOCPAC is the Center of the Spiderweb Special Operations Command Pacific Psychological Operations Analysts State Department National Security Council Intelligence Agencies CIA, FBI, NSA J39: Information Operations Psychological Operations Analysts J3: Operations SOCPA C INDOPACOM Department of Defense CYBERCOM
  9. We mapped out the workflow of J39 analysts monitoring and countering influence Attribute “Where did it come from?” Pain Point: Data sharing between classification levels Goal: Finding the nation/group behind the narrative Identify “Have we been attacked? Goal: Spotting narratives targeting US and allies before they gain traction Pain Point: Identifying narratives on social media Respond “What should we do about it?” Pain Point: Counter messaging is too slow Goal: Publishing truthful messages via embassies to counter the threat
  10. We made an MVP to speed up counter messaging
  11. KEY PARTNERS ● Policy and Security specialists at Facebook, Twitter, Google, BlackBird, Primer,ai ● SOCPAC ● Cyber Command ● Southeast Asian governments ● Cyber policy research initiatives (DFRL, SIO) ● Civil Society ● Ambassadors and PAOs at US Embassies ● Global Engagement Center ● State Department 7th Floor (S, P, or R) KEY RESOURCES ● Twitter APIs ● Election security experts with understanding of targeting tactics ● Mass link/photo/post scanning/tracking algorithm ● Student engineers KEY ACTIVITIES ● Identify and map Chinese to increase political transparency and allow faster ingestion of large quantities of data data MISSION ACHIEVEMENT/IMPACT FACTORS ● Improved transparency on social media platforms regarding disinformation and influence campaigns ● Ensure allies in Southeast Asia are aware of current Chinese influence DEPLOYMENT BUY-IN & SUPPORT MISSION BUDGET/COST ● Fixed: software design and engineering, ● Variable: content moderators, cooperation with technology/social media companies Once Mission-Fit was achieved, we shifted to deployment VALUE PROPOSITIONS Create pre- approved messages so analysts can respond quicker BENEFICIARIES J-39 Psychological Operations Analysts
  12. Potential deployment plan in Southeast Asia Testing our tool where the adversary is testing their tactics Demo with Special Operations analysts Initial testing with US Embassies in region Engage with foreign governments and society Demo with Special Operations analysts
  13. 13 After pursuing counter messaging for weeks, we learned it needs a policy solution, not a tech solution “Not sure anyone can solve bureaucratic problems. Getting messaging out is strategic, but this seems like an impossible task” US Embassies Policy Directives Messaging
  14. We can add value through counter-messaging!Morale Week 1 Week 5 Week 9+ Counter messaging was unrealistic. We asked ourselves: Where can we add value? Went back to analyst workflow to find pain points to address Too focused on solution instead of problem Pivot!
  15. Pivoted from sending counter messages to identifying narratives 15 Respond Identify “Our biggest challenge is the initial assessment of disinformation… Everything we have requires having keywords in order to be searching for information.” -SOCPAC Analyst
  16. Our final MVP helps analysts identify narratives earlier “The concept we are talking about is unique... at the moment we have nothing that mirrors its functions…” - SOCPAC Analyst
  17. Identify narratives and accounts before they generate significant attention What’s Next? 138 Here is where we are now We can add value through counter-messaging! Too focused on solution instead of problem Pivot!
  18. We are building our narrative tracking tool and we have support ● Developing partnerships ● Seeking initial grant funding ● Addressing data access and competitors
  19. We are applying for H4X Funding The team is pursuing H4X funding and will be hiring software engineers this summer A big thank you to Major Morton, Lt. Col Liebreich, MG Hager, MG Braga, Capt. Brunson, Lt. Col Waters, Reece Smyth, Robert Locke, Nini Moorhead, Daniel Bardenstein, Valeria Rincon, and the teaching team. The team can be contacted at: djunkin@stanford.edu kjonsson@stanford.edu wbuchan@stanford.edu egansj18@stanford.edu
  20. Appendix
  21. Reduces time to identify narratives Runs in background 24/7 Dynamic ability to add/delete actors Unclassified and open-source Coordination across analysts Our MVP addresses key challenges and integrates with existing workflow:

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