Online Journals Flagged as Election Threat
Americans were warned today that online journals may be used to spread lies and sow social discord in the buildup to the 2020 presidential election.
The warning was issued in a joint public service announcement by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). It came as part of a series of announcements detailing threats that could impact the election's outcome.
Voters were warned that foreign actors may share articles containing misinformation in journals that appear to have the backing of academia. CISA and the FBI said that such underhanded tactics had been deployed by America's foreign adversaries in the past.
"Foreign intelligence services have used online journals, including some with a global reach, to exacerbate disunity and dysfunction in the United States while also misinforming or misleading readers," stated the warning.
Other potential sources of disinformation designed to incite division and obfuscate the truth could include websites and social media.
"Foreign intelligence services have been known to use websites, including pseudo-academic online journals, to disseminate articles with misleading or unsubstantiated information," states the warning.
"Such sites could be employed during the 2020 election season in an attempt to manipulate public opinion, increase societal divisions, cause widespread confusion, discredit the electoral process, and undermine confidence in US democratic institutions."
Americans were told that disinformation ranging from unverified claims to outright propaganda could be created and laundered through a variety of online sources to damage or boost the reputations of the candidates.
The FBI and CISA mooted several topics that might be targeted with misinformation campaigns that exploit online journals. Specifically, they warned Americans to be wary of pseudo-academic journals "making claims of voter suppression, amplifying reports of real or alleged cyberattacks on election infrastructure, asserting voter or ballot fraud, and spreading other information intended to convince the public of the election's illegitimacy."
To avoid being duped, American internet users were urged to discount content making claims that cannot be substantiated and to seek out information only from verified and trustworthy sources.
CISA and the FBI asked the public to fact check before sharing any content, and to report suspicious content where possible.