Social Media Weaknesses Include Far More than Russian Interference

“They are doing it while we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign,” Robert Mueller said.

In testimony before Congress in July, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller warned against election interference by foreign governments in 2020. And unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two years, you have heard plenty about how Russian operatives affected the 2016 Presidential Election. Now a New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights report released recently (PDF) warns that several other countries will try and interfere, as well.

The report, called “Disinformation and the 2020 Election: How the Social Media Industry Should Prepare,” focuses on Iran and China and their use of Instagram, WhatsApp and other platforms. With the trade war and the tariffs being used between China and the U.S. and the hostility that’s been brewing with Iran, sources say it’s likely these two players will offer the most to fear in the upcoming election. But it’s not just foreign “trolls” as fake posters are called, but homegrown fakers as well.

“While foreign election interference has dominated discussion of contemporary disinformation, most purposely false content in the U.S. is generated by domestic sources. That’s the consensus of social media executives, cybersecurity sleuths, and academic researchers,” the report reads.

Khari Johnson of writes in a chilling article: “Among specific recommendations, the report suggests Facebook limit WhatsApp message forwarding to a single group at a time, following misuse of the app in recent elections in Brazil and India. It also recommends that disinformation on Instagram be addressed immediately and urges more cross-platform communication between other social media platforms known for trafficking in misinformation, like Twitter and YouTube. Last week, Facebook said all social and political ads on Facebook or Instagram must also share their contact information.”

Many observers say it’s a case of too little too late, particularly after the 2016 election interference that was well documented in the Mueller Report.

But it’s not only politics that’s been impacted by AI-powered interference. Video clips have been released online using AI to edit in famous faces onto pornography movie actressess’s faces. Some are using AI voice simulators to bilk companies out of cash.

“If an information consumer does not know what to believe, they can’t tell fact from fiction, then they will either believe everything or they will believe nothing at all. If they believe nothing at all, that leads to long-term apathy, and that is destructive for the United States,” Foreign Policy Research Institute fellow Clint Watts told the Congressional committee in June.

According to an article found on, several major tech and social media companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft met with government intelligence agencies last week to discuss the 2020 election, according to a new report. Bloomberg, citing a source, reports that the meeting took place at Facebook’s headquarters. The companies met with officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.