Manufacturing a Tactical Infodemic to make true information harder to find

What is an Infodemic?

When there’s a large amount of conflicting information around a topic, it’s hard to figure out what is true. If lots of people want to learn about that topic at once, this disorganised collection of accurate and inaccurate information propagates, further increasing the difficulty of figuring out the truth. This is known as an infodemic; infodemics can spread misinformation, disinformation and rumours during a health emergency, hampering effective public health responses and create confusion and distrust among people.

A naturally occurring infodemic needs a trigger for many people to become interested in a topic at once. A deadly plague which we knew nothing about and changing the way that everyone everywhere lives is a good example of a topic that lots of people wanted to learn about at once; in the early days of the pandemic you probably found it more difficult to get accurate information about Coronavirus than you do about other topics you are interested in.

What is a Tactical Infodemic?

Let’s say there’s someone who wants to find out about a topic, but you don’t want them to succeed. One way you could make it harder for them is to intentionally flood the pool of information surrounding said topic with false data, thus manufacturing a tactical infodemic.

This differs from a standard infodemic where people seeking out information may unintentionally create or share inaccurate content about a topic, which can go on to be shared again and again. In a tactical infodemic the propagation of inauthentic content is intentional, with the clear objective of hindering access to information for a target user or group.

For example, in December 2021 the Kelloggs company advertised new roles online to replace 1,400 workers striking for fair pay. Users from Reddit’s Anti-Work community sent in a flood of inauthentic applications for the job, making the strategy of replacing strikers instead of negotiating with them much more difficult (because they could no longer find real applicants to hire).

A thread calling for Coordinated User Action against Kelloggs in the AntiWork subreddit

For a Tactical Infodemic to succeed, aggressors need to be able to add inauthentic information to the same source from which true information would be gathered. If Kelloggs’ recruiters had a list of viable candidates in their area as well as opening up online job applications, they could simply disregard the newly unreliable source of their job portal and succeed in replacing strikers.

This differs from an organic infodemic in which there are lots of people checking a variety of sources for information about the catalytic topic; early in the Covid-19 pandemic misinformation spread “from individual to individual, group to group“. Anti-Work users would have had much less of an impact if they advertising their readiness to work at Kelloggs’ cereal factories to their friends and family on WhatsApp; while the strikers’ plight captured the hearts of any who heard their tale, there wasn’t the need for information about the topic that existed in the pandemic’s infodemic.

Other real-world examples:

This tactic has often been used by Mind-Hacktivists like the aforementioned Anti-Work users (online activists who use disinformation to achieve their goals). For example:

Mind-Hacktivists on TikTok participating in coordinated user action to generate a Tactical Infodemic in separate campaigns.


Objective: Create an infodemic targeting an individual or group to hinder their ability to access or identify accurate information about a specific topic
Tactic: Create lots of false information about a topic, and disperse it amongst true content.
Associated Method(s): Coordinated User Action; Automation via Bots
Associated Persona(s): Mind-Hacktivist

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