Techniques used in Influence Operations

There are many fantastic articles which have been written on disinformation, misinformation, and influence operations. This body of work contains lots of valuable data on how people manipulate others online, but it’s hard to use this data without collating and standardising it first. DisinfoDB does both; articles are gathered and categorised based on the techniques used (and a load of other useful things like platform, or narrative theme).

Technique Spotlights

Threat actors use a variety of different Techniques when conducting an influence operation to achieve Tactical goals. Check out the posts below to learn more about these Techniques, and access aggregated reporting referencing them.

Technique Spotlight: Algospeak
Algospeak is used to make it harder for automated moderation to detect harmful content
Technique Spotlight: Compromise Legitimate Accounts (T0011)
A threat actor can hijack someone's credibility by accessing their social media accounts (for example by using stolen passwords), and posting as them.

See all Technique Spotlights

Technique Assessments

DisinfoDB Analysts associate reporting with Tactics and Techniques. We want our work to be auditable and trustworthy, so in these posts we provide more insight into why a piece of content has been associated with a particular Technique.

Techniques: “These TikTok Accounts Are Hiding Child Sexual Abuse Material In Plain Sight”
On paper, TikTok has strong safety policies protecting minors, but “what happens in practice is the real test,” said McNamara. When it comes to proactively policing the sexualization of kids or trading of child sexual abuse material, she added, “TikTok is behind.”
Tactics & Techniques: “Majority of female journalists have been target of online violence – report”
"Abuse was highly gendered and designed to “humiliate, belittle and discredit” [female journalists] on both a personal and professional level."

See all Technique Assessments

Vulnerability Spotlights

Threat Actors looking to manipulate us can exploit vulnerabilities to increase their probability of success.

Vulnerability Spotlight: Low quality moderation of non-English language content
A former Google leader who worked on trust and safety issues acknowledged that the company focuses heavily on English-language enforcement and is weaker across other languages and smaller markets.
Vulnerability Spotlight: The Illusory Truth Effect
If you see something repeated enough times, it seems more true. Multiple studies show that it works on 85% of people. Worse, it still happens even if the information isn't plausible & even if you know better.

See all Vulnerability Spotlights

Environmental Factors

Environmental Factors are things which passively contribute to the spread of dis/misinformation. One example would be Covid-19; at the start of the pandemic people knew very little about it, but wanted to know very much. This combination meant inauthentic narratives could more easily spread; people trying to learn about Covid could accidentally take in bad information. This situation wasn’t intentionally manufactured to spread dis/misinformation, but it was one that helped achieve that goal.

An Information Void facilitating the spread of misinformation
Information Voids occur when something major happens which people want to know about, but as it's a new thing there's not a good way to learn about it. Threat actors looking to manipulate people may exploit Information Voids to further their cause.
How Facebook’s Algorithm amplifies extremist disinformation to new members of the platform
Facebook’s algorithms actively promote groups dedicated to extremist disinformation narratives (more than you would expect extremist groups to be promoted), which amplifies their reach.


There are steps we can take to reduce the probability that threat actors’ Tactics can successfully manipulate us. These profiles detail some of those steps:

Double checking an image’s source by Reverse Image Searching
One way you can double check the narrative being presented alongside an image is to use one of many free online tools to see if the same image can be found elsewhere on the internet.