The Office of Inspector General (OIG) says the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needs a unified strategy to counter disinformation campaigns.
Cyber attacks, intellectual property theft, and state-sponsored disinformation campaigns against the United States have increased significantly in recent years. DHS began internal and external coordination efforts in 2018 when former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen established the Countering Foreign Influence Task Force to focus on election infrastructure disinformation appearing in social media. Also in 2018, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) started notifying social media platforms or appropriate law enforcement officials when voting-related disinformation appeared in social media. These early efforts were predominantly focused on disinformation campaigns that pertained to election infrastructure before also including COVID-19 bogus claims and other mis-, dis- and malinformation (MDM).
Today, internet users can be vulnerable to a wide variety of MDM and propaganda campaigns that appear in social media. False news, such as misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation are used to shape public opinion, undermine trust, amplify division, and sow discord. Mobile devices and smartphones further enable individuals and groups to rapidly share content, including disinformation and misinformation. This content may include hyperlinks to media articles and other web-based content, such as images and videos, that may have been manipulated to spread disinformation and misinformation, referred to as “deepfake” information. Deepfakes could be used to generate inflammatory content such as convincing video of U.S. military personnel engaged in war crimes intended to radicalize populations, recruit terrorists, or incite violence.
Certain countries were far more likely than others to be targeted by foreign disinformation operations. Based on publicly available information from Facebook and Twitter, the three countries most targeted by foreign actors were the United States, the United Kingdom, and Egypt. Disinformation campaigns that targeted the United States include a foreign entity offering to pay social media…