FBI warns on 'foreign actors' spreading disinformation on election results

Disinformation is already happening on a large scale on social media networks like Facebook.

The FBI issued a warning to “raise awareness” of the threat posed by disinformation in the wake of the 2020 elections.

The goal of foreign interlopers and cybercriminals would be to use bogus websites and social media “in an attempt to discredit the electoral process and undermine confidence in U.S. democratic institutions,” the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said in a joint announcement.

Because state and local officials typically require several days to weeks to certify election results, the surge of mail-in ballots could result in incomplete results on election night, paving the way for voter uncertainty, the FBI said.

That’s when foreign actors and cybercriminals would jump into action and try to sow more confusion by spreading disinformation about reports of voter suppression and voter or ballot fraud, the FBI said.

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The FBI specifically cited the increased use of mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 protocols.

A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture.

A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture. (REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Files)

President Trump has warned repeatedly about election result delays, saying that
results may not be known for weeks should many of the voters use mail-in ballots.

“I don’t think you’re going to know anything. I don’t think you’ll know for two weeks, I don’t think you’ll know four weeks later,” Trump said when making remarks at the 2020 Council for National Policy meeting in August.

Disinformation is already happening on a large scale on social media networks like Facebook. The social media giant issued a report this week on coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB).

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One of the networks originated in China and the other in the Philippines, Facebook said.

“We removed 155 accounts, 11 Pages, 9 Groups and 6 Instagram accounts for violating our policy against foreign or government interference which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government entity,” Facebook said.

“It’s quite common for disinformation campaigns to pop up especially when there is an election of major importance. This is not just related to elections and political movements in America, but globally,” Brandon Hoffman, chief information security officer at Netenrich, a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of IT, cloud, and cybersecurity operations, told Fox News.

“Something a little different this time is that the Chinese account network [is using] GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks), an AI technique capable of fabricating faces in an attempt to elude detection,” Hoffman said.  

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“We will almost certainly see an attack [on] any voting equipment used and any mobile apps or websites that have anything to do with campaigns or hosting voter or voting information databases,” Hoffman said.