Specializing in “behavior change”, a unit of the British Army has been deployed to wage an “information war” against anti-vaccine propaganda. Defense Ministry says not targeting UK population
While the first vaccines against Covid-19 will soon be available, the British army has mobilized an elite unit to wage “information warfare” with the aim of fighting against what it considers to be “ online vaccine propaganda ”.
A devolved task, according to information from the Sunday Times, to the 77th Army Brigade. Created in 2010 in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda, this unit specializes in psychological operations, studying the behavior of the civilian population to give cultural and linguistic advice to troops on the ground. The motto of the 77th Brigade, according to a plaque installed on a wall at its Berkshire base, is to create nothing more than “behavior change.” Notable fact, according to an article by Newsweek published in 2019, a brigade reservist was reportedly hired to a responsible position within Twitter.
As part of its mission, the unit “is already monitoring cyberspace regarding Covid-19 related content, and analyzing how UK citizens are being targeted online,” the Sunday Times. In its article, however, the weekly does not give details on the means used by the brigade to fight against “anti-vaccine propaganda”, nor does it provide information on the type of content targeted by the latter.
Asked by the weekly, a Defense Ministry spokesperson argued that the unit’s efforts were “not directed against the British people”, adding that the leaked documents suggested its strategy included “the collection of evidence of vaccine misinformation from hostile states, including Russia ”. A strategy that would challenge, given that Russia was the first country in the world to approve a Covid-19 vaccine, and that a second Russian-made vaccine will be made available to the public next month.
In the UK, anger is brewing at the restrictive measures taken by the government to fight the epidemic. On November 29, during yet another anti-restriction demonstration in London, which brought together several hundred people, the police carried out more than 150 arrests. Clashes also erupted between police officers and protesters, who chanted “Freedom” and brandished placards on which were written slogans such as “Stop controlling us”, “Unmask the truth” or “No more confinements”.