FBI issues warning, tips to voters about election security

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BOSTON (WPRI) — Some of the nation’s top intelligence leaders are urging you not to let your guard down online ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

While the FBI has been investigating and guarding against various election crimes and foreign influence campaigns for years, leaders say what’s changed now are the ways in which outside influences can spread misinformation.

Joseph Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division, says wide-reaching social media platforms have changed everything.

“Foreign adversaries will utilize social media to put out false information with respect to polling sites, dates, and times,” Bonavolonta said.

The FBI says there are three common foreign influence methods, including cyberattacks against political campaigns, secret funding operations to help or harm a person or cause, and disinformation campaigns on social media platforms aimed to confuse or upset the public.

What can you do?

  • Seek out information from trustworthy sources, verify who produced the content, and consider their intent.
  • Be aware of social media deception: Know your contacts and followers before forming a relationship with them virtually.
  • Rely on state and local government election officials: Before election day, ensure the information you receive about your ballot, polling location, or other general information are sourced to official government websites.
  • Beware of “deep fakes”: Emerging technology used to generate “deep fakes”—advanced synthetic audio and video generated through artificial intelligence—may mimic authentic communications in a manner that is hard to detect and to counter. “Deep fakes” may be able to elicit a range of responses that can compromise election security.
  • Report suspicious activity to social media platforms: Many social media platforms provide users a means to report suspicious behavior/content. Check the respective site for reporting procedures.
  • Report suspicious activity to the FBI: If you have information about allegations of election crime or voter fraud, please call the FBI Boston Division at (857) 386-2000 or email tips.fbi.gov.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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