It has become painfully clear as we head toward the 2020 election that our federal government will do nothing to stop cyber interference, hacking or trolling from hostile foreign adversaries, most notably Russia and probably China and Saudi Arabia, as well as North Korea. Trump has turned his back on the dire problem of election interference because he fears that to acknowledge that we are continuing to suffer massive cyber efforts to sow discord and division is to acknowledge that his election may have been illegitimate.
So we’re on our own. It’s up to citizens to police social media and try to discern which of the memes and “articles” that populate our timelines are legitimate and which are bogus.
It’s become a habit that whenever I see something new on social media that seems like outrageously good news, I Google it and check its legitimacy. And whenever conservative friends post something that seems outrageously false, I check their claim against fact-checking sites like Snopes.com and append the link to my friends’ post. Snopes does a decent job of fact checking the latest rumors and fear-mongering memes that infest our information streams.
But as bad as some of the things are that we see on social media, we’re probably not seeing the really divisive, scurrilous stuff that a small segment of our fellow citizens who are deemed “easily influenced” see on their Facebook or Twitter feeds. Here is an extremely informative but nonetheless horrifying TED talk by a British investigative journalist named Carole Cadwaladr who has done extensive reporting on the role of social media in the Brexit vote:
It’s going to be up to activists to help police social media. And activists have to make sure they don’t fall for propaganda in the first place. Keep in mind that our adversaries–including the Republicans–want to divide the Democratic party and turn us against each other. They don’t want the primary to be constructive or courteous. They want chaos. So treat anything that seems unusually harsh or deceptive or divisive or too-good-to-be-true as false until proven true.
Keep resisting and working to “vote his ass out of office.”