About the VVF Disinformation Campaign

Over the last four years, domestic agents have also promoted disinformation and conspiracy theories promoted by former President Donald Trump. Groups such as QAnon have created a cult-like internet following that’s leaked into the mainstream, built on the distrust of institutions and depicting opposition to Donald Trump as Satan-worshipping, pedophilic cannibals. 

Veterans are uniquely targeted by these malicious actors because of the elevated role the military plays in American society. Veterans are seen as a respected authority by both sides of the aisle, making their voice a valued amplifier for disinformation and conspiracy theories. Being trained in military tactics and weaponry make veterans appealing to far-right militia groups. Older veterans are especially susceptible to these targeted attacks due to an increasingly widening gap in media literacy. Finally, the veteran community is uniquely connected through shared service. Veterans are active in peer groups on social media, making veteran-to-veteran spread of disinformation rampant if not controlled. 

Over the last year, disinformation has reached a tipping point in the veteran community. Conspiracy theories about election fraud have inspired veterans to take arms against the country they once fought to protect, carrying the banner of “patriot.” Veterans are also at a higher risk of more serious cases of COVID-19 due to preexisting conditions from their time in service. Disinformation about the COVID-19 virus has led to a distrust in the scientific community. This distrust leaves the veteran community less likely to take proper safety precautions, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, leading to the contraction of COVID-19 and potentially deadly consequences. 

Action must be taken in order to curb the spread of disinformation being targeted at these vulnerable Americans and fortify our democracy that veterans fought hard to protect. Prior to the 1/5 Georgia Runoff and the 1/6 Capitol Attack, Vet Voice launched a small group of volunteers on a recon mission to engage with people on far-right sites and attempt to discredit the disinformation being spread. From this exercise, we learned best practices for engaging in these spaces, and an understanding of how these people think and disseminate disinformation.