The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a joint alert highlighting that foreign countries might try to manipulate information and spread disinformation in an attempt to influence the 2022 midterm elections. The government security agencies did not specify where the threat to democracy might be coming from but believed that foreign adversaries would likely intensify efforts to influence the outcome of the upcoming elections.
FBI and CISA believe that foreign state-sponsored actors might amplify false claims of voter suppression, voter and ballot fraud, and other information that would aim to challenge the legitimacy of the results of the elections. The actors might even try to incite violence by spreading lies and false narratives before, during, or after the elections.
One of the possible scenarios described by the government security agencies includes bad actors providing and amplifying false claims on spoofed websites and dark web media channels. Foreign individuals might try to meddle with the midterm elections by giving fake evidence of “successful” cyber-attacks that “prove” voting inaccuracies.
The security alert urges Americans to critically evaluate the sources of information and trust verified information from reputable media outlets. Unfortunately, the agencies did not provide a list of media outlets that are considered respectable. Instead, the agencies highlighted that sensational content could be created and shared by foreign-sponsored bad actors who wish to promote false information and cause anger and distrust among Americans.
FBI and CISA also used the public services announcement to highlight that, on some occasions, news sites and social media platforms may sound and look authentic. Still, Americans should remember that foreign citizens own them or they own significant stakes in those entities. Social media users might unintentionally spread lies and misinformation if they forget to evaluate the content critically before sharing it with their followers. Security agencies advise users always to question content even if it comes from a reliable source, but it lacks a second reliable source that supports the claim.
Social media companies sometimes offer in-platform tools to help people report elections-elated disinformation or false statements. However, the tools are far from perfect; sometimes, the actual social media companies can be manipulative.
The FBI and CISA strongly encourage Americans to be careful and report anything, they believe is suspicious or criminal, to their local FBI office. FBA locations are available all around the country, and you can find the closest one to you here www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field.