Russia, Misinformation, and Media

NYC Media Lab
9 min readFeb 26, 2022


Russia, Misinformation, and Media How Social Media has been Weaponized View this email in your browser

Some years ago, I was a college student studying Journalism in Russia. I shared the story here on the TED Stage in 2017. As we traveled, my strongest memory — the one that sticks vividly in my mind — is of Kyiv. A beautiful city. Wonderful people. Warm and inviting. So watching the news, as it unfolds on my devices — is gripping and painful.

How does this vector with the Media Lab and its work? Well, in so many ways. Our partner and member, The New York Times, produced an episode of The Daily that is a must-listen. CNN’s live coverage on Wednesday night was powerful. But Russia’s attacks go beyond Ukraine — and in fact — so we don’t forget — we were targeted in the US Election not long ago. However, we can all play a part in preventing the sharing of Russia- Ukraine misinformation by following these best information-sharing guidelines.

It’s important to remember Russia’s history of cyber-attacks begins long ago, as our partner NBC explains in this piece from 2016. It’s what Russian calls “active measures.” Poynter also has a powerful and timely review of Russian Disinformation published in 2019, but it still feels eerily relevant today.

And that reminds us that we are sure about one thing true innovation requires big tech, academia, and government to work together.

Today, Russia’s concerted attacks on democracy, past — present — and future are at the forefront of our concerns. With technology in our daily lives, our digital media security is critical.

I welcome your thoughts on this topic or any others that you think are relevant.

Steven Rosenbaum
Executive Director
The NYC Media Lab


The Long History of Russian Disinformation Targeting the U.S.

The history of Russia targetting the US is much longer than you might think. In 2018, two cyber-security firms reported that hackers believed to be associated with Russian military intelligence targeted American think tanks, media outlets, and the US military with fake e-mails. They were designed to look like the State Department’s spokeswoman had sent them.

When you hear the term fake news, you probably think about how it’s used often today by President Trump, but it’s actually an old term used by the Soviet Union as a reference to disinformation campaigns that the Soviets and now the Russians have long used to destabilize the West. This article highlights how it worked before, and it’s working again now.

PBS/ 7 min read

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Fact Check US: What Is the Impact of Russian Interference in the US Presidential Election?

Russia has a history of using technology for nefarious purposes. An obvious example is how hackers cut power to 225,000 people in Ukraine, which many believe was a test for future attacks. But recent events are already impacting the entire world, not just Kiev. In fact, they are much closer to home than many realize.

Here in the US, as early as January 2017, a joint report by the CIA, FBI, and NSA confirmed that there had been Russian interference in the 2016 election. According to this document, Russia’s objective was to undermine Americans’ confidence in its electoral system. We all know what happened next, with the aftershocks of polarization and division remaining today. A timely reminder if one was needed.

The Conversation/ 4 min read

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Russia-Ukraine Misinformation Is Running Rampant — Here’s How to Spot It

As the Ukraine-Russia conflict intensifies and the threat of a world war intensifies, social media newsfeeds are increasingly bombarded with videos, images, and information presented as fact. Before hitting the like button and unwittingly share misinformation, here are a few tips on how you can help stop the spread of misinformation online amid the crisis.

Newsweek/ 3 min read

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Tech + Media

How NASA Plans to Take the International Space Station Out of Orbit

NASA previously estimated around 27,000 human-made objects larger than 10 centimeters which we now collectively refer to as space junk. However, NASA recently announced plans to decommission the International Space Station (ISS) piece by piece. The goal is to bring it down into the Pacific Ocean at Point Nemo, the furthest point from all civilization and often referred to as the spacecraft graveyard.

With space junk increasingly capturing the headlines, NASA’s design for demise principle offers a refreshing approach to space infrastructure. Rather than leaving objects floating around earth’s orbit, NASA has designed them to disintegrate into tiny pieces to ensure they don’t pose a danger to people on the ground as they land in the ocean.

Fast Company/ 4 min read

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Inside the Lab Where Intel Tries to Hack Its Own Chips

Five years ago, Intel launched a dedicated hardware hacking group known as Intel Security Threat Analysis and Reverse Engineering (iSTARE). These unsung heroes of tech are challenged to think like the bad guys so they can uncover critical flaws before processors go to production. They analyze and attack Intel’s future generations of chips, looking for soft spots that can be hardened long before they reach your PC or MRI machine.

Ultimately, they move fast and break stuff, but for all the right reasons. It’s a move away from the traditional world where security and privacy auditors were seen as nitpicking and finding problems that create more work for everyone. By contrast, this proactive approach could prevent reputational and financial damage that comes from discovering security vulnerabilities when it’s too late.

Wired/ 6 min read

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How Russia’s Disinformation Strategy Is Evolving

A few years ago, the Russian news network RT aired multiple stories
about the dangers of 5G cell phones as part of a disinformation effort to undermine the United States’ comfort with advanced technology. As well as the infamous interference in US politics, there are many examples of Russian efforts to influence the outcome of the European Union parliamentary elections. But this was only the beginning.

Online disinformation and political discourse around divisive issues can be found in every corner of the world and the internet. However, more concerning is that Russia’s disinformation strategy is not just increasing but also evolving into somehting much worse.

Poynter/ 6 min read

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What We’re Watching

PlayStation VR 2 Design Revealed

Gamers got the first look at the new design of PlayStation VR2 and the Sense controller this week. The announcement divided the community who can be found debating the pros and cons of the latest offering still not being wireless like the Oculus Quest headset. However, it looks like a mouth-watering upgrade for PS fans with a resolution of 2000×2040 per eye compared with 960×1080 on VR1.

Eye tracking, 3D sound, and built-in vibration should be enough to ensure to tempt most gamers into the upgrade.

CNET YouTube/ 7 min watch

Watch Here

What We’re Listening To

Tech Won’t Save Us — The The Poorly Paid Workers Powering Automation

Tech Won’t Save Us offers a critical perspective on tech, its worldview, and wider society with the goal of inspiring people to demand better tech and a better world. In this episode, Paris Marx is joined by Phil Jones to discuss the hidden microworkers behind supposedly AI-powered automation from major tech companies, how it differs in the Global North and South, and what it means for how we think about the future.

Apple Podcasts/ 49 min

Listen Here

Virtual Events & Jobs

Director of Partnerships — NYC Media Lab

The Director of Partnerships leads the strategic planning, business development, and programmatic partnerships of the NYC Media Labs. The position is responsible for identifying and launching new programs and initiatives, managing the innovation portfolio for NYC Media Labs. The position will also have direct oversight of the $2 million dollar Verizon 5G Ed Tech Challenge.

Apply HERE.

Afro Future Summit
Monday, February 28, 2022

The Afro Future Summit curates an active network of black futurists, investors, tech entrepreneurs, celebrities, politicians, and business moguls. Each year the program gathers thousands of pioneers from across the USA and around the world to address and tackle challenges that affect people of African descent. The Theme for 2022 is “Creating An Inclusive Reality; How to Live, Work, And Build in the Metaverse.”

Culture Culturally Accountable Summit
Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Given the racial disparities in home investing, funding, financing, etc., Black and Brown entrepreneurs often enter the business arena with a hustle mentality. So what happens when we pivot–re-directing some of our energy and focus away from the constant hustle and become more strategic about deal flow and wealth building? FTC’s second annual Culturally Accountable Summit will focus on cultural accountability as it relates to building wealth within Black and Brown communities.

How No-Code Tools Are Democratizing 3D Design
Thursday, March 03, 2022

As 3D experiences, AR, & other life-like simulations become more regular parts of our culture, there is a push for the democratization of tools for 3D content creation. What can we create collectively when everyone becomes more familiar with these tools? What opportunities could that create for brands working with creators, musicians, & other artists?

Learn from the startups spearheading the public adoption of 3D tools, paving the way for new consumer experiences, more engaging social media content, & entirely new worlds to build upon in the metaverse.

A Deeper Look

True Innovation Requires Big Tech, Academia, and Government to Work Together

In the MIT Technology Review, Shirley Ann Jackson recently wrote that there is no innovation without innovators. She put forward a strong case for why we need to invest more in our human capital. This article explores why we must encourage greater collaboration between big tech, academia, and government to tackle some of the biggest problems in the world together.

The challenge is to build a powerful innovation ecosystem that is both agile and more robust. Learn more about how this joined-up approach from research through manufacturing and distribution will help us all tackle any future crisis more efficiently.

MIT/ 9 min read

Read More Today’s newsletter written in partnership with Neil C. Hughes, the Tech Blogger and host of Tech Talks Daily


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