The British Army and Misinformation: The 77th Brigade

There are lots of conspiracy theories surrounding the pandemic, the lockdowns, and the vaccination programmes. Some are more plausible than others, and a few are actually interesting enough to possibly be true.

One of the latter concerns the activities of the British Army’s Information and Technology unit, the 77th Brigade. Did any of us know that our own army had a skilled brigade that is targeting social media? Until recently, I had no idea. Add the resources of the government listening centre, GCHQ, and you have a powerful propaganda unit that can be deployed by the government to spread rumours, counter other rumours, and even manipulate message feeds, emails, and online videos.

This is from the Army website.

WHO WE ARE
77th Brigade is an agent of change; through targeted Information Activity and Outreach we contribute to the success of military objectives in support of Commanders, whilst reducing the cost in casualties and resources.
Our outputs are a fundamental part of the Army’s Integrated Action model.
Aside from the delivery and support of Information Activities and Outreach we have a role in planning and advising across the Army and wider Defence.

SOME OF THE WAYS WE HELP
Conducting timely and appropriate audience, actor and adversary analysis
Planning and integrating information activity and outreach (IA&O)
Supporting and delivering IA&O within pre-designated boundaries
Supporting counter-adversarial information activity
Support to partners across Government upstream and post-conflict institutional development/reform
Collecting, creating and disseminating digital and wider media content in support of designated tasks
Monitoring and evaluating the information environment within boundaries or operational area

WHAT WE DO
Audience, Actor and Adversary Analysis
Information Activity and Outreach
Counter-adversarial Information Activity
Support to Partners Across Government
Collecting media content
Disseminating Media
Monitoring the information environment
Evaluating the information environment
Advising and training on Human Security and providing support to current operations.

This is online for anyone to read, so they are not a secret unit. If anything, they seem to be very proud of their role.

I also found this article, by a journalist who visited the unit’s headquarters. It is long, but eye-opening.
https://www.wired.co.uk/article/inside-the-77th-brigade-britains-information-warfare-military

Well, I have just written about them online, so let’s see if they alter my social media profile, or ‘cyber-attack’ me in other ways.

It was nice knowing you… 🙂

33 thoughts on “The British Army and Misinformation: The 77th Brigade

  1. Pete,

    I’d heard of the 77th for a while but had no idea what it was. Like you, I went to their website. The funniest thing was the photo of a squaddie, in the woods, hunched over his laptop! How I laughed! I could only imagine a Regimental Sergeant Major (e.g. Windsor Davies) shouting “Present…..laptops!”

    Having worked with and for GCHQ for 20 years, please believe me when I say that, given the article content on Beetleypete (dogs, weather, favourite films etc) you’re one of the last people the Gov’t or any of its agencies are in the slightest bit interested in intercepting or manipulating! I remember you once mentioned ‘Television Detector Vans’ that used to drive around to frighten people into paying their BBC TV Licences, but couldn’t actually tell who was watching tv without a licence!

    During the ‘Cold War’, and even recently, the Soviets (and now the Russians) always boasted about their military prowess. We now know that they were bankrupt and most of their equipment was rubbish and rusting away and we could have conquered Russia in the 90s! But if you keep telling people that you are strong and prepared for the fight, your adversaries will be wary of you. Does anybody know anybody who owns a Russian-made fridge? No, thought not!

    Sleep well tonight, knowing that you’re not on the hit-list! And neither are all the people who share videos of ‘cats doing funny things’ or photos of their restaurant meals!

    Regards to Julie and Ollie.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope you dont worry about, Pete! All states are having such institutions, very often under the control of the ministeries of defence. In my meaning its very useful. But at least only they who own the server farms and enough money have a certain power, in and over the Internet. Here in Germany some years in the past we got back something like the horribly wellknown “Reichssicherheitshauptamt” of the Nazis. ;-( Its called GTAZ, in English Joint Counter Terrorism Center, resides in Berlin. On the same area are all relevant institutions of the state. They say the separation into different buildings counteracts the impression of a successor institution to the RSHA. Lol I always take it like the “old” Plato: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” :-)) xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am surprised at how they have developed all those skills relatively quickly. Then again, they had the support of GCHQ, and that has been around a long time, Yeti.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

        1. My feelings are based mainly on other knowledge about working in conjunction with Military Intelligence and GCHQ when I worked for the Police in London, and reading about some ‘conspiracy journalists’ who have investigated Facebook accounts. The army is able to bombard social media with thousands of text messages/Facebook comments/ Twitter tweets in a very short time. Most of the accounts they use are fake of course. I don’t buy into all of these theories, but I think that if you add what we already know about GCHQ, it is more cofirmation of what many have suspected has been happening for a long time now.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. As a pacifist, I am not a supporter of the military, and I fundamentally disagree with the existence & activities of an army propaganda unit working on behalf of the the government, of any colour. Cheers, Jon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In their role against other countries and potential enemies, you are right that we need something like this unit. However, it is starting to appear that their main role at the moment is to spread disinformation about Covid-19 and other issues causing embarrassment to the government. I’m not so comfortable with that.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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