By Beatrice B.

Foreign interference is a complicated subject to fully understand. It includes misinformation, disinformation and targeted ads. Foreign countries are messing with the voting system in the United States.

What are Disinformation and Misinformation?

First, what is the difference between misinformation and disinformation? Misinformation is rumors, false news, and lies, while disinformation is a category of misinformation. Disinformation includes conspiracy theories and purposely deceiving and lying to someone.

How do misinformation and disinformation spread so quickly? 

Misinformation and disinformation are spread through apps such as Facebook and Twitter. One way misinformation spreads is how anybody can buy bots to share and repost tweets and Facebook posts. The bots are created by hacker programmers and then are sold to anybody who wants them. The bots are more efficient because they can share and repost much faster than a human. Lots of people use these social media platforms, so once you manage to get people’s attention about what you’re sharing, the bots step away. Why the bots step away is because they are meant to spread disinformation, and make a candidate look more popular on their social media platforms. Once people start to get interested in the candidate, or people start spreading the misinformation, the bots are no longer needed. This is how Russia has managed to interfere with the presidential elections. An example of this is how in the 2016 election, Russia used bots to create targeted advertisements on Facebook to spread false information about the upcoming election.

Why is Russia so interested in our elections? 

Russia and the United States are foes. They disagree on multiple levels about what is currently happening in Ukraine, Syria, ISIS, and in other parts of the world. Some people in Russia feel like the United States is using its system of government and politics to target them, especially the Russian government. Some politicians and others in Russia feel like the politicians of the USA are trying to minimize the influence of the Russian government around the world.

Why should voters be concerned about foreign interference in the 2020 election?

Voters in the United States and all other people should be concerned about foreign interference in the election because if other countries start interfering with the U.S. election, then it could mess up the votes and have a president get elected who was not the most-liked candidate. 

What are people doing to help prevent foreign interference?

To help prevent foreign interference in our elections, people are pressuring their local elected officials to make sure their ballots are secure and that no one can hack the voting machines. Organizations like the Center for Internet Security are helping the United States protect its voting technology from foreign interference. The Brennan Center for Justice has some recommendations for things that local and state governments, as well as the federal government, can do to protect our elections and our democracy from foreign interference.