Bryce Webster-Jacobsen, Director of Intelligence Operations at digital risk protection / ransomware negotiators GroupSense, was a featured in Axios' article "Activist Movements Drive Misinformation Mayhem. Bryce spoke to Sara Fischer about anti-vaccination conspiracy theories and how they are becoming dangerous spreaders of misinformation.
Bryce Webster-Jacobsen weighed in. Here are a few of our favorite highlights from the article:
Why it matters: Informal movements tend to rely on tactics — like coordinated harassment of health officials, journalists and influencers — that are hard to police without violating individuals' speech freedoms.
The big picture: Loosely organized activist movements, particularly those centered around health conspiracies and politics, have become more prevalent online in recent months amid COVID-19.
"People have become more emotionally and politically charged about vaccine issues," said Bryce Webster-Jacobsen, director of intelligence operations at GroupSense, a threat intelligence firm. "We can trace it back to the increased polarization since the 2016 election," he said.
These types of campaigns, he notes, can be more dangerous than bot-driven campaigns that are often backed by state or government actors with ample resources, because they link real-world people who can encourage each other to take more drastic actions.
In January, believers of online election fraud conspiracies, like QAnon, came together to storm the U.S. Capitol.
Other activist movements also tend to use these tactics.
“We’re seeing this a lot now with online conversations about schools and children,” said Webster-Jacobsen.
About Bryce Webster-Jacobsen
Bryce is the Director of Intelligence Operations at GroupSense, a leading provider in Digital Risk solutions. Bryce leads the day-to-day intelligence activities of GroupSense's Analyst and Research teams producing finished, tailored intelligence for our diverse clients.
Prior to GroupSense, Bryce worked in strategic international education initiatives while pursuing OSINT training and investigations, primarily focused on studying extremist movements, as a passion project.