3 ways trolls are trying to spread disinformation on Election Day

3 ways trolls are trying to spread disinformation on Election Day

But this is also the first election since 2016, when operatives both on the ground in the United States and on platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally made efforts to misinform, mislead, and manipulate. Albright carried out an analysis of thousands of posts in dozens of politically leaning Facebook groups and found that they have come to play “a major role in manipulation” and have become “the preferred base for coordinated information influence activities on the [Facebook] platform.” Misinformation has transferred to groups for a number of reasons, including the fact that text, posts, and photos shared within a group aren’t discoverable by a basic Facebook search, and settings can be changed to ensure none of that content appears on your timeline. “Facebook’s Groups offer all of the benefits with none of the downsides. “I’ve seen a pattern of Groups over the past couple weeks without any admins or moderators. These ‘no admin’ groups are a wonderful asset for shadow political organizing on Facebook,” he wrote. “It’s like the worst-case scenario from a hybrid of 2016-era Facebook and an unmoderated Reddit.” The long game hoax Last week, ahead of Election Day, Twitter updated its rules to better deal with fake accounts and started to automate the detection of misinformation and things like fake Twitter profile photos. NBC News witnessed this in action when a propagandist attempted to tell people to vote November 7 instead of November 6. “NBC News witnessed trolls developing new strategies on the fly to circumvent the bans. Classic state actors and methods If you paid any attention to national politics in the United States within the past two years, you know that Russia attempted to meddle in the United States electoral process in 2016. In recent weeks, Facebook also banned more than 80 accounts, Pages, or groups thought to be associated with the Iranian government, one of which had more than one million followers.

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A sign outside of a polling place in San Francisco, California
Above: A sign outside of a polling place in San Francisco, California

It’s Election Day in the United States, so depending on where you live, that means free overcooked coffee, lengthy lines, or an “I VOTED” sticker.

But this is also the first election since 2016, when operatives both on the ground in the United States and on platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally made efforts to misinform, mislead, and manipulate.

National governments and ideologues of ill will are attempting to throw a monkey wrench in the political process again and sow mistrust and doubt in the democratic process.

Here’s a few ways trolls, governments, and generally awful people are attempting to disrupt the democratic process this Election Day.

To follow live updates on misinformation disseminated on Election Day, visit this Wired live blog.

Facebook groups

In the wake of the 2016 election, most attention was paid to Facebook ads and pages, but Jonathan Albright, director of research at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, says misinformation campaigns have shifted to Facebook groups with tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of users.

Albright carried out an analysis of thousands of posts in dozens of politically leaning Facebook groups and found that they have come to play “a major role in manipulation” and have become “the preferred base for coordinated information influence activities on the [Facebook] platform.”

Misinformation has transferred to groups for a number of reasons, including the fact that text, posts, and photos shared within a group aren’t discoverable by a basic Facebook search, and settings can be changed to ensure none of that content appears on your timeline.

For example, Albright found that while misinformation about George Soros funding a migrant caravan walking from Honduras was spread on Facebook and Twitter, the earliest publicly shared seeds of misinformation about the caravan came primarily from Facebook groups.

“As Facebook’s policing of its open platform began to clamp down on the most obvious actors and fake Pages following the last election, it was only a matter of time until the bad actors moved into Groups and started using them to coordinate their political influence operations and information-manipulation campaigns. We’re there now,” he wrote in a Medium post. “Facebook’s Groups offer all of the benefits with none of the downsides. Posts shared to the…

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