According to a report by the Henry Jackson Society, a right-wing foreign policy think tank, “Activities in cyberspace are intended to attack the territorial legitimacy of the United Kingdom.”
In terms of more recent efforts to sway Scottish politics, the society’s study mentions a Facebook site that was shut down for a “Fake online profile insulting the Scottish Conservatives.”
According to the February 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour Study, this was one of 446 accounts that the social media giant closed for breaking its rules against foreign intervention.
The following month, Facebook took another step against Iranian-controlled pages, claiming that the majority of the violence was directed at Iraq, but also at Israel, Afghanistan, and the United Kingdom.
Following allegations that cyber experts are manipulating Scottish voters by posing as pro-independence users on Twitter and Facebook, Stewart McDonald has called for a new strategy to combat disinformation.
Fake accounts are considered to have encouraged actual users to post pro-independence information and material in the form of memes, graphics, and cartoons with their peers and acquaintances on the sites.
Fake websites have been set up as part of a larger misinformation programme to manipulate the campaign by deceiving internet users.
To deceive internet users, fake websites with domain names selected to manipulate campaigns have been set up. According to the reports, this is part of a larger misinformation operation, comparable to Russia’s, aimed at sowing confusion and discord in order to disrupt their opponents.
Now, the SNP’s defence spokesman has called for a serious anti-disinformation policy.
“Foreign, malign interference in our elections is no surprise – it has become a long-standing issue for almost every nation in Europe, most notably the United States,” Mr McDonald said.
“We will, however, have to go further and develop a comprehensive national strategy to counter-disinformation.”
“Too often we are stuck in a mindset of thinking that this is just a few twitter bots and whilst this might be how it starts, it is rarely how it ends.”
“As events in Washington in January showed us, disinformation only needs to radicalise a relatively small part of the population before it becomes a physical assault on democratic institutions.”
Mr McDonald has officially declared on collaboration between the UK and Scottish governments to address the issue, as well as the appointment of an “Ambassador for hybrid affairs” to collaborate with other nations.
He said: “As the fight against disinformation is a pan-Western concern, Scotland could work in concert with other governments by establishing an annual information resilience strategy summit, hosted here in Scotland, where governments and civil society groups can come together to better learn from each other and also coordinate strategies where this would make sense.”
Study author Dr Paul Stott said in Election Hub Live, “There’s a particular animus towards the UK and an emphasis on what they perceive as an opening to degrade the UK.”
An SNP spokeswoman said: “The SNP will always work to counter the spread of disinformation.
“That is why we led the calls for the Russia report to be published, so work could start sooner rather than later to tackle the threat of foreign interference in UK and Scottish politics.
“However, we have been disappointed by the slow nature of the UK Government’s response.”