According to a
from the ODNI, DOJ, FBI and DHS, the intelligence community is "concerned about ongoing campaigns by Russia, China and
other foreign actors, including Iran, to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment and government policies. These
activities also may seek to influence voter perceptions and decision making in the 2018 and 2020 U.S. elections.”
Foreign influence in US Elections (or the media’s preferred phrase “election meddling”) consists of “using social media to amplify divisive
issues, sponsoring specific content in English-language media like RT and Sputnik, seeding disinformation through sympathetic spokespersons regarding
political candidates and disseminating foreign propaganda.”
According to the FBI
, “Foreign influence operations have taken many
forms and used many tactics over the years. Most widely reported these days are attempts by adversaries—hoping to reach a wide swath of Americans
covertly from outside the United States—to use false personas and fabricated stories on social media platforms to discredit U.S. individuals and
The DNI admits, however, that “we do not have any evidence of a compromise or disruption of infrastructure that would enable adversaries to prevent
voting, change vote counts or disrupt our ability to tally votes in the midterm elections”.
All this propaganda surrounding "election meddling" sounds like a
. Why should we fear any of this? These
"influence campaigns" sound like any other thing on Twitter.
And foreign meddling? The CBC, Canada’s state news agency, was launching anti-Trump documentaries well into the election and beyond, and posting
them to social media where any poor, easily-swayed American could come across them. The BBC, the UK’s state news agency, even portrayed Trump as
someone who was picking fights with babies. Despite ticking off a few of the boxes on the checklist, for some reason the “election meddling” or
“foreign influence” doublespeak did not apply to them. Never mind that nearly every politically active person on Twitter was in someway
"meddling", whether they were directed by some state or not.
But all that’s fine because meddling on social media is not meddling in an election, full stop. Not a single election processes occurs on Twitter,
Facebook or any other global social media platform, full stop. The fallacy inherent in much of the doublespeak describing “foreign influence in the
US elections” and “election meddling” is that none of it involved any election.
As for foreigners, maybe if we reminded the intelligence community that Twitter and facebook are global platforms it wouldn't sound so nefarious.
None of this is stopping the FBI from taking a bureaucratic, three-pronged approach to combatting the “serious threat” of foreign influence,
including private sector partnerships, intelligence gathering, and more investigations, all of which is sure to further limit our privacy and free
speech. None of this is necessary and the danger of it all is egregiously overblown, because the “serious threat”, the “election meddling”,
the “foreign influence”—all of it ends once you log out of Twitter. If this serious threat and attack on our institutions is avoided by logging
out of social media once and a while, maybe foreign influence isn't the problem.
edit on 24-10-2018 by NiNjABackflip because: (no reason given)