This month’s primaries mark the official kickoff of an election cycle that will carry major consequences for America and the world. Yet questions loom over whether voters can or should have confidence in the information that will drive their decisions this fall.
During the 2016 presidential election, the intelligence community determined conclusively that at the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian government engaged in simple yet sophisticated influence operations targeting U.S. voters. By leveraging social media platforms, exploiting grassroots movements, and planting false narratives in online news forums, the Russians sought to intensify America’s existing political, social and cultural tensions.
We also learned recently that Cambridge Analytica — the British firm associated with former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon — actively pursued tactics to suppress voter turnout during the 2016 presidential campaign. And of course there was the notorious role of WikiLeaks in circulating hacked emails from the Democratic Party.
It remains unclear whether the widespread efforts to stoke America's ideological and political divisions influenced the outcome of the election. What is clear is that virtually nothing has been done to prevent Russia or firms like Cambridge Analytica from repeating the same behavior during the 2018 election cycle.
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