At that time, as U.S. lawmakers call on Twitter and Facebook to strengthen the protection of their platforms from the Russian “trolls” and consider the possibility of introducing tougher sanctions against Moscow, the American voter, according to experts, is still exposed to risks related to propaganda and misinformation, on the eve of the November midterm elections.
“All of us – right and left – susceptible to misinformation,” notes Clare Wardle, project Director of Harvard University First Draft News, which develops tools to combat false content on the Internet and social networks.
“There are many people who are trying to spread false information. We all need much more skeptical of consumed information and to be wary of, especially if we are talking about content that triggers an emotional response,” says Wardle.
Last month Facebook closed 32 account that published papers on racial and gender issues and to invoke the contradictions in society. In 2016, the Russian trolls have flooded Facebook, Twitter and other platforms like content that was seen by millions of Americans.
Now the blocked user 4MYSQUAD10, presumably linked to Russia, wrote: “White America does the crime black America is paying the price for it. What the hell?”
In the account TEN_GOP 2545 there is such a post: “the Driver is a Muslim kicks all the passengers off the bus to pray.”
“Human nature reaction to fear, says Wardle. – The basis of misinformation often lies fears: people should be afraid of, and then seek to protect them from themselves, their family and society”.
Last week experts on the social networks told the Senate intelligence Committee, that Russian efforts to foment conflicts in American society, malicious as ever.
“Russian manipulation did not stop after 2016. After the elections, the Russian government has only increased gas,” – said the head of the new York Graphika John Kelly.
“Foreign agents, will continue disinformation campaign aimed at African Americans, Muslims, white nationalists, told senators a researcher from Oxford University, Philip Howard. – I think the strategy remains the same: to spread misinformation on acute social issues and try to prevent certain groups of voters go to the polls”.
The analyst Kenesh of Grant had a chance to deal with the ongoing social media campaign to incite racial tensions in the United States before the election of 2016. She believes that American voters are still vulnerable to malicious propaganda.
“One of the objects of the minority. I am convinced that these efforts continue and eventually become more sophisticated,” notes Grant, lecturer at Howard University, where study and work are predominantly African American.
According to Grant, in 2016, she noticed that her Twitter account suddenly appeared a group of mysterious and silent subscribers. She suspects that these users learned to create posts for effective impact on African Americans.
“It was 20-30 accounts-the trolls who have followed my posts, apparently, prepology to use this information in order to ingratiate himself to others-blacks, – has told the Grant. – I was among those who received the Twitter from the administration a letter stating that I had somehow interacted with the accounts which can be fake”.
The social network has stepped up efforts to fight fake accounts and dishonest users. However, according to Grant, though these efforts are laudable, they are not enough.
“The Americans should know that Russia is trying to interfere in elections, and then to take additional measures to understand where it comes from the information they consume. Not just to consume it, but think about it,” she said.
Wards shares this view, but notes that Internet trolls use the tendency of people to trust the information that coincides with their own point of view.
“People want to believe information that reinforces their views, whether views about gun control or immigration, or preferences for Pets,” she says, adding that to counter this trend it is necessary to provide responsibility for the deliberate or accidental spread of false information.
“If we want to drive on roads, not filled with debris, need to take responsibility and not to throw out the window of cans of Coca-Cola. I want people to understand that when they share their posts in social networks, they are responsible for disseminating information – emphasizes Words. – So when uncle Bob been spreading false information, instead of thinking, “it’s just crazy uncle Bob”, we need to point out to him that, because it is an unhealthy situation when people are spreading false information.”
The researcher also notes that in other regions such as Eastern Europe – with the propaganda companies face for much longer time than in the United States.
“After the 2016 election when Americans suddenly realized the problem of misinformation, the rest of the world thought: welcome to our world, America,” she says.
In some American schools have introduced programs designed to teach students more critical of the information received and to recognize propaganda. According to one of the members of the Senate intelligence Committee, these lessons should be standard.
“We are disproportionately vulnerable to disinformation campaigns because of the First amendment and democracy. Our entire system is based on the information, says independent Senator from Maine Angus king. – Our children are growing up with all these gadgets, but not always, they are taught how these gadgets can manipulate them. I think in high school should be standardised courses on digital literacy to convey to people that they are misled.”