Democracy Blog.

A blog about democracy.

Elections: Now with Information Warfare!

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This new exposé in the New Yorker by Ronan Farrow and Adam Entous shines a light on how enterprising ex-military operatives are cashing in on the future of Information Warfare. Misinformation campaigns and fake personas are deployed by ex-Mossad agents in a small town’s hospital board race. Is this the new normal?

Russian military and intelligence agencies, on the other hand, didn’t see information warfare as a sideshow. They invested in cyber weapons capable of paralyzing critical infrastructure, from utilities to banks, and refined the use of fake personae and fake news to fuel political and ethnic discord abroad. “We underestimated how significant it was,” Lwin said, of these online influence operations. “We didn’t appreciate it—until it was in our face.”

The 2016 election changed the calculus. In the U.S., investigators pieced together how Russian operatives had carried out a scheme to promote their preferred candidate and to stoke divisions within U.S. society. Senior Israeli officials, like their American counterparts, had been dubious about the effectiveness of influence campaigns. Russia’s operation in the U.S. convinced Tamir Pardo, the former Mossad director, and others in Israel that they, too, had misjudged the threat. “It was the biggest Russian win ever. Without shooting one bullet, American society was torn apart,” Pardo said. “This is a weapon. We should find a way to control it, because it’s a ticking bomb. Otherwise, democracy is in trouble.”

The future of our elections depends on personal involvement to supersede misinformation and bogus networks of bots. A blog like this is just one small step.