US Officials Are More Worried About The Media Being Hacked Than The Ballot Box (BuzzFeed News)



By Sheera Frenkel

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov 7, 2016) — Despite cataclysmic headlines warning of hacked voting machines and systems on November 8, election monitoring experts and government officials told BuzzFeed News that their greatest concern is rumors spreading on social media sites and the undermining of unofficial results the night of the vote, both of which can color how the US will see the election of the next president.

It’s much more likely (and plausible) that a foreign government such as Russia would try to influence the public discourse around the vote by publishing false articles, spreading rumors of rigged results on Twitter, and attempting to corrupt the unofficial results reported by national media outlets, said national security experts who spoke to BuzzFeed News.

“Disinformation campaigns, creating doubt around elections results, this is something we’ve seen Russia do in the past. There is a pattern of Russia targeting the soft underbelly of the voting system,” said one US security official based in DC. He asked to speak anonymously as he wasn’t authorized to speak to the press. “Why go through all the work of changing official voting results when you can get a news agency to misreport the results of a key swing state, or create a viral fake news story claiming that a swing state has had its system rigged?” ...

“Something election officials will be doing, will be paying close attention to this year, is what is happening on social media sites,” Merle King, executive director at the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University, told BuzzFeed News. “The rumors that get started, the accusations, those can be very damaging. If, for instance, a false rumor is spread that a certain voting station is closed and then people don’t go vote there, that is something we will be watching for.” ...

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