Russia is not the only countryto influence Americans before the 2020 presidential election, author Nina Jankovic told CBSN. Jankovic, who wrote the book How to Lose the Information War, said the United States needed a “joint government response” to the disinformation, which it described as “false or misleading information used with malicious intent.”
There are “insufficient” consequences for Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, Jankovic said. This has partly allowed Russia, as well as other countries, to continue participating in disinformation campaigns, she said.
“China is certainly engaged in such tactics, although they are a little less, I would say, practiced in the exploitation of our public fissures,”
Jankovic was critical of President Donald Trump’s remarks to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“You know, we’ve heard a lot lately about Chinese disinformation and COVID-19. I just wish the Trump administration had been so bullish about Russian disinformation,” she said.
While in the federal government there are entities that deal, there is no joint effort, Jankovic said.
“In terms of a joint government response, we don’t have that, because we haven’t seen President Trump say from the highest levels of government, ‘This is a threat, and I want to increase all our resources to make sure that our internal, democratic processes are not affected, “she said.
Jankovic urged Americans to pay attention to disinformation tactics, such as taking advantage of private Facebook groups that advertise as trusted spaces.
“These audiences are already segmented by vulnerability,” she said, adding that Facebook should not allow groups to be private if they reach a certain membership threshold.
“When you have hundreds of thousands of members or even tens of thousands of members in a group, it’s no longer a private space, it’s just an ideal vector for bad actors to sow misinformation and watch it spread,” she explained.
Jankovic also advised Americans to practice “information distancing.”
“When you feel upset about something you see online or too emotional, there is a good chance you will be manipulated. Disinformation goes to that emotion,” she said. “So when you feel that, just put on your device, close your laptop, go away for a while, and if you’re still worried, then just do some basic fact-checking.”
Jankowicz’s fact-checking tips include searching for information in several places, checking that the source is reliable by searching for a postal address and phone number, and looking for a reverse image to find the original source of an image.