/>
X

Elections 2018: Is misinformation killing democracy? The enemy is us

We all create a bit of propaganda and misinformation everyday. Is it all that surprising we're so primed to fall for social networking misinformation campaigns?
larry-dignan-eic.jpg
Written by Larry Dignan on

Video: EU to social networks: You'll have one hour to remove terrorism related content

Is it really too late to save the 2018 midterm elections from misinformation, hacking, and propaganda campaigns? Perhaps. But like all cybersecurity issues combating these issues, it really starts with us as individuals.

Also: Fake news spreads faster than real news on Twitter, study shows CNET

Former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos outlined the moving misinformation parts on the Lawfare blog. His conclusion is that there have been so many missteps on thwarting outside interference with US elections that there's nothing you can do to fix the 2018 mid-term elections. If we get serious, 2020 may be better.

Also: How political campaigns use big data to get out the vote TechRepublic

Stamos recounts Microsoft's big reveal that it detected attacks from Russia. Facebook then followed up by noting 650 accounts were being used by Russian and Iranian groups to spread misinformation. The upshot is that the Russian playbook is being used by other countries and it's open season on attacking US democracy.


From there, Stamos spends a lot of time talking about what needs to happen to thwart attacks and misinformation. The latter part is what I doubt can be thwarted. Why? Social networks are built on misinformation. Hell, the internet was the place where no one knew you were a dog.

Here's what I mean. The average social network user willingly accepts some level of misinformation every day. Each of us doles out a bit of personal propaganda every day. Your Facebook life as you portray it is materially different than reality. You never look as good as your Instagram selfie in real life. And your kids aren't as special as you make them on Facebook. We're frauds. And you are the product on FaceFraudbook. Is it all that surprising that we can all be exploited? We are primed to be exploited.

Guides: What is malware? Everything you need to know about viruses, trojans and malicious software | Security 101: Here's how to keep your data private, step by step | What is phishing? Everything you need to know to protect yourself from scam emails and more | What is ransomware? Everything you need to know about one of the biggest menaces on the web

Now technology giants are serious about combating misinformation and cyberattacks, but ultimately, it comes down to us. Most security incidents -- phishing, social engineering, and otherwise -- come down to some gullible human. Algorithms can only do so much. These misinformation campaigns are no different. The difference here is that gullible people get to vote, too.

Toss in the echo chamber that social networks have enabled to scale, and it's clear people are going to believe all sorts of crazy things without a smidge of fact checking.

Add it up and I'm just as pessimistic about combating misinformation as Stamos for different reasons. The fix to these problems starts with us -- way more than some Federal agency, algorithms, and regulation.

How to reduce the amount of information you send to Facebook

Related stories:

    Related

    How to remove bloatware from Windows 10
    bloated-start.png

    How to remove bloatware from Windows 10

    Windows 10
    Tech media giants pledge to maintain online safety in NZ pact
    the-impact-of-social-media-on-enterprise-apps-v1.jpg

    Tech media giants pledge to maintain online safety in NZ pact

    Security
    The US Navy is testing a 3D printer on a ship out at sea
    220709-n-kf697-1041

    The US Navy is testing a 3D printer on a ship out at sea

    Innovation