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After the 2020 election in the United States, a lot went wrong. But here’s one thing that proved to be true in the meantime: a risk that worries everyone – foreign election interference – mostly a failure.
This showed that when government officials and technology companies focus on a problem, they coordinate effectively and learn from their past mistakes.
But, he False story The election was stolen, culminating in a mob attack on the US Capitol, also pointing to the extent of those efforts. Russians or Chinese did not represent our election. We did it ourselves.
Today, I want to explore the glass half-full view. Considering foreign elections the success of the mass threat was a success that should not be overlooked.
What went wrong last time
Remind me first of what happened around the 2016 election. Russian Hackers Received documents from Democratic national committee And Tried to surround With the state election infrastructure. Digital publicist Information has been banned on the Russian government-backed Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and elsewhere, which try to incite confidence or social divisions in people’s voting.
Powerful American institutions – particularly local, state, and federal government officials as well as large Internet companies – were slow to deal with the problem or were Initially rejected it. Hacking and trolling effect Was not clear, But the concern was that foreign governments would regularly try to disrupt US elections and that Americans’ lack of trust in our systems and with each other would contribute.
What happened in 2020
Some foreign governments, including Russia And Iran tried to disrupt our elections again, but it mostly did not work. The same American institutions and digital defenses that failed four years ago are substantially stronger at this time.
“The progress made between 2016 and 2020 was remarkable,” said Camille FrançoisThe Chief Innovation Officer at Graphica, a firm that analyzes the manipulation of social networks.
What has changed in government and technology
A major shift after 2016 was that federal government officials and state and local officials who run the elections overcame initial distrust to cooperate more effectively on the dangers of voting. Matt masterson, Who was recently a senior adviser on election security for the Department of Homeland Security, said that coordination was the biggest change that helped reduce digital security in election management systems.
“It’s as good as the federal government has worked on any issue in my experience,” Masterson said.
He credited the efforts in the states, notably Georgia, which created Ballot paper trails To be quickly audited and provided More visibility in counting To help increase the confidence of the people in the election process.
The tech companies, François said, shifted to accept their blind spots. For the first time, online powers, including Facebook, specifically wrote policies dealing with foreign government mediation and charged people with curbing it. They too Made it difficult for foreign trolls to use some of their 2016 tactics, Such as purchasing online advertisements to broadcast widespread messages.
Social media companies also started forming Announce publicly When they got campaigns by foreign governments that were used to confuse people online. François said researchers and journalists got better help Assess the techniques of foreign campaigners – And shared knowledge helped Internet companies stop trolling campaigns before they had a major impact.
Cooperation between the government and technology companies also improved. Were there Regular meetings For information sharing between major Internet companies and federal officials responsible for election security. And Internet companies started telling the public when the US government told them about foreign interference on their websites.
Both François and Masterson said Iran’s attempt to intimidate voters during the fall was an “aha” moment. National security officer said Iran had then obtained voter-registration data of some Americans, most of which were publicly available, to send. Misleading message Which puts voters at risk.
Because they were prepared for such threats, officials were able to intimidate voters in many states, identify the source of messaging messages, notify election officials around the country, and tell voters what happened. Been – in about a day.
“It couldn’t happen in 2016, and it was unlikely to happen in 2018,” Masterson said. “That’s what we were all trained for.”
What will happen next
While internet companies and the US government captured the type of intervention they faced in 2016, they Failed to face even the toughest Despite this, the challenge of a campaign led by the President to doubt the election process No strong evidence. And Foreign cyber attack And Online promotion The effort has certainly not stopped.
But it could have been much worse. A lot went right in the election as powerful institutions took the risk of foreign hacking and trolling seriously and gave rise to the challenge. It is a hopeful lesson for future elections, epidemics and other crises.
Before we leave …
This is a strange time to get rich: My colleague Erin Griffith writes that the fast-growing market in tech stocks and IPOs has created an apprehension for newly wealthy technologists. Buying a Ferrari in the midst of an epidemic can be difficult and futile, so instead They are paying Snoop Dogg to lead cooking classes on Zoom Or hoard in luxury vans for road trips.
How online shopping affected these small businesses: Amy Hamrell spoke to owners of a grocery store in Michigan, a fitness studio and other small businesses About shifting its operations to online shops during the pandemic. For some of them, e-commerce helped them stay away, but for others it was more trouble than help.
Children who spend more time online are complex: According to a Washington writer, “screen time to track parents and measure parental value in panic” as a concept, is no longer valid as a valid framework in a pandemic world . said.
Duck cart Snake through an opening in half-frozen water.
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