Voters should be wary of deceptive memes that may claim false victories or foreign interference in the 2020 presidential election, a cybersecurity firm said.
In the wake of the defacing of President Trump’s website last week, Check Point said “pithy and shareable units of culture,” aka memes, can mislead voters into believing false narratives on Election Day, according to a research note sent to Fox News.
Memes are often used to deface websites, Check Point added.
President Trump and Joe Biden on Monday as they made their final pitches to voters (Getty Images)
While memes are popular because they succinctly convey beliefs, they also allow bad actors to influence voters “on a mass scale,” according to Check Point.
Two prominent examples include:
- False victory: Memes that falsely claim a candidate has won a state or the presidential election. “Misinformation like this can dissuade voters from going to the polls if they learn a certain candidate is projected to win,” Check Point said.
- False claims of foreign interference. Examples might include bogus memes that claim Russia or Iran interfered on Election Day.
Recently, Facebook took down a network of foreign-based fake accounts for violating its policy against foreign interference. In an Oct. 27 post describing its efforts, Facebook added that “this network …was in the early stages of building an audience … [which] primarily targeted the US.”
“We saw it ahead of the 2018 midterm elections … We saw it again with one of the networks we took action on last week where the Iranian operators emailed people with unsubstantiated claims that they hacked into voting systems in the US – they also tried to spread this claim using an account on Facebook,” the social media giant continued.
Activities like this could “cast doubt on the integrity of the election process,” said Check Point spokesperson Ekram Ahmed.
Other Election Day risks include hacking. Recently, the National Security Agency published a list of the top 25 publicly known vulnerabilities often targeted by state-sponsored attackers linked to China.
The NSA said these vulnerabilities can impact “computer networks …that hold sensitive intellectual property, economic, political and military information.”
“If left unpatched, each of the outlined vulnerabilities has the potential to compromise the upcoming election, as they touch many of the day-to-day technologies people use, such as technologies made by Microsoft and Oracle,” Check Point said.
Censorship is also a concern. Though not part of the Check Point research note, Twitter’s freezing of the New York Post’s account due to the publishing of controversial articles about Hunter Biden infuriated prominent Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz, who denounced Twitter’s action in a scathing rebuke to CEO Jack Dorsey during a Senate hearing.
That freeze was finally lifted on Friday.