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Election Disinformation, Misinformation Campaigns - It Happens, Trust Yourself - What To Know

Friday, October 30, 2020

Blog topics:  Archive

By Chetrice Mosley-Romero

In just a few days, as a country and as a state, we'll reach one of the most important destinations within our Democracy -- Election Day.

Right now, it's a very busy intersection; Americans are voting at a potentially, record-setting pace. According to the U.S. Elections Project, more than 83 million Americans will have cast their ballot, either in-person or by mail. Here in Indiana, that figure stood at 1.38 million Hoosiers.

At the same time, the speed, scale, and intensity of cyberattacks are at an all-time high. And chief among those threats is the presence of disinformation and misinformation campaigns that, collectively, pose a threat to the outcomes of our elections by overtaking our minds with blatantly false information.

Think of it as a form of "identity theft" that tries to steal away your ability to be accurately informed about the candidates and issues that are on the ballot in your community.

What is a Disinformation/Misinformation Campaign? provides a great overview of what these campaigns look like and how you can help in not only recognizing what's out there, but what you can do to protect yourself against them.

As the lead federal agency responsible for national election security, is geared up for security in our 2020 elections with #Protect2020 Rumor vs. Reality -- a webpage for people with questions about the security of their vote and where you can learn more about mis- and disinformation and how it stops with you using their Toolkit.

Most of the information that is being used to mislead people falls into 4 categories:

  • False information about the time, place, or manner of voting or registering to vote;
  • False claims about election administration practices, including how ballots are processed, verified, and counted, with the intent to undermine faith in the election process and election results;
  • False or misleading claims about the extent of electoral and voter fraud;
  • Narratives and information (about candidates, their positions, key issues, etc.) presented without context, with the intent to suppress voter turnout.

Protecting Your Social Media Feed

One of the primary sources from which these campaigns get started is on social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, as well as Instagram, Snapchat, and more. Even memes can be used to share information that's not just false but can be misleading or presented in a way that's out of context. According to ProPublica and First Draft nearly half of recent top-performing posts on Facebook related to mail voting "contained false or substantially misleading claims".

What's more, while it's true that these efforts can start with the actions of just ONE person, you can also take a few steps to guard your social media feeds against election misinformation. It can even help when trying to sort out what is news from a credible source.

Another type of misinformation that's out there involves rumors and hoaxes about voting and polling places. There are 6 types of misinformation to beware of on Election Day and what to do if you spot them. A good way to spot misinformation online is to ask yourself how you feel when reading it. In fact, there are 10 questions to ask yourself, your family, even your friends upon seeing something out there.

In addition to knowing what to look for, you can also report misinformation when you see it. To learn more, provides a good overview of how each of the four primary social media platforms offers steps you can take to report it.

Here's to a cybersafe outcome to our elections and for the latest cybersecurity information for all Hoosiers, visit us at the Indiana Cyber Hub page, on Twitter, or on Facebook.