Taylor Grossman (@tgrossman_) is a Research Analyst in the Cyber Policy Initiative at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where her work focuses on capacity-building and financial inclusion. Her other research interests include cyber norm development, ethics of war, and bureaucratic politics in national security decision making. Previously, she held roles in research at the Hoover Institution and in consulting at a small firm in Silicon Valley. She has an MPhil in International Relations from the University of Oxford and a B.A. in Political Science from Stanford University.
Disinformation Campaigns and Norms of Emergency Communication in Cyberspace
How do norms around deception translate into cyber-enabled disinformation campaigns? Particularly as the lines between peace and conflict become blurred, traditional interpretations of disinformation become murkier. This paper investigates norm formation in the realm of disinformation predicated on mimicking or otherwise coopting emergency communication channels. Section I investigates the literature surrounding the formation of conflict-related norms, specifically the translation of norms of kinetic activity into the cyber realm. The paper proposes four primary frames for understanding norm formation: (1) utility maximization; (2) institutional protection; (3) identity resonance; and (4) essentialization. Section II applies these four models to disinformation campaigns predicated on manipulation of emergency and risk communication, focusing on two key case studies: the Columbian Chemicals Hoax and the Ebola outbreak rumor campaign. How are these events being normatively evaluated? Are domain specific understandings proliferating? Or are we seeing continuity across the cyber and kinetic realms? Finally, section III offers concluding thoughts about norm formation in cyberspace and how to adjudicate between appropriate and impermissible deception in cyberspace.