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2/28/2020
11:50 AM
Jai Vijayan
Jai Vijayan
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6 Truths About Disinformation Campaigns

Disinformation goes far beyond just influencing election outcomes. Here's what security pros need to know.
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Election-Related Disinformation

As in 2016, American voters can expect to be bombarded with disinformation and fake news in the run up to the general elections this November. But it won't be just Russian trolls and other foreign actors disseminating the online lies this time around.

Researchers at New York University's Stern Center for Business and Human Rights are among many who believe that most of the disinformation around the 2020 elections will be domestically generated. Right- and left-wing groups in the US will try to sow confusion, spread propaganda, and exacerbate political and social divisions with false and misleading narratives and imagery about political candidates and parties, according to the NYU researchers. Bad actors will mainly use social media platforms -- in particular, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and WhatsApp -- to disseminate the disinformation and mislead in an effort to influence the outcome of the elections. Some will try to profit from the situation by establishing fake news sites loaded with pay-per-click ads pushing highly sensationalized and exaggerated stories designed to draw traffic to them, security Nisos warned in a report last year.

According to a 2019 study by the University of Oxford there's evidence of organized social media manipulation in at least 70 countries. In each of those countries, at least one political party or government agency is using social media to shape public attitudes.

In addition to domestic actors, state-backed actors from Russia, Iran, China, and other countries are expected to be very active around the 2020 elections. "With the 2020 US election [cycle] well underway, the potential for state actors such as Iran, North Korea, the Russian Federation, and other political groups to get involved in spreading disinformation [will rise]," says Fausto Oliveira, principal security architect at Acceptto. "There is evidence that attacks have already been attempted, and as the campaign progresses, I expect threat actors and white hats to further set up their efforts."

Image Source: Victor Moussa via Shutterstock

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