Narrative Red Teaming – A Conceptualization Approach

During the 2022 TNL Summer Sprint, Khrystyna Holynska and Eddie Lopez worked through more of the Narrative Red Teaming concept, drafting a white paper that you can download and read (below).

What is narrative red teaming?

Narrative red teaming is the process by which one brainstorms how structured (numerical) or unstructured (textual) data can be used to promote various narratives and plans a strategy of defense against emerging narratives.[1] As true with classical red teaming, the process is developed and implemented by acting in place of one’s adversary or competitor and can be played out via scenario (i.e., wargaming). Ultimately, the goal is to develop defenses and preparedness for potential situations and outcomes. 

Why is this relevant?

We find this relevant because of how prevalent narratives have become; they are seemingly everywhere and possess the uncanny ability to be manipulated, misinterpreted, misunderstood, and disseminated. Thus, the ability to dissect one’s own narrative – to understand how an adversary could potentially misuse or misalign it – is crucial. Using the analogy of the ‘white hat’ or ethical hacking, the narrative red team will need to think like a propagandist or a ‘troll’ to find and exploit weaknesses in the targeted narrative. These weaknesses might come in the form of unexplained facts or trends in the data that can be framed to benefit the adversary[2] or in the form of statements (words and sentences) that are ambiguous and/or open to multiple interpretations. Building upon existing research on disinformation, we would like to suggest narrative red teaming as a tool that can amplify the efforts against falsehoods and truth decay.


[1] Todd Richmond, “Democratizing Open Data – a Need for Narrative Red Teaming?” Tech + Narrative Lab (blog), July 7, 2021. As of September 21, 2022: https://technarrativelab.org/democratizing-open-data-a-need-for-narrative-red-teaming/.

[2] Bernardita Calzon, “Misleading Statistics – Real World Examples For Misuse of Data,” The Datapine Blog, December 28, 2021. As of September 28, 2022: https://www.datapine.com/blog/misleading-statistics-and-data/.

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