Russia's online disinformation efforts have been reenergized ahead of Tuesday's midterm elections, particularly in influencing results against President Joe Biden and Democrats and damaging public support for Ukraine aid, according to researchers.
"It's clear they are trying to get them to cut off aid and money to Ukraine," Providence Consulting Group's Alex Plitsas, an Army veteran and former Pentagon information official, told The New York Times.
Russian online disinformation efforts are designed to sow discord in American democracy, experts have long warned. The FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency have also warned of the use of "dark web media channels, online journals, messaging applications, spoofed websites, emails, text messages, and fake online personas."
Researchers told the Times they fear the efforts on smaller, conservative social media networks like Gab, Parler, or Gettr. Former President Donald Trump's Truth Social was not mentioned in the Times' report.
"The audiences are much, much smaller than on your other traditional social media networks," Recorded Future senior intelligence analyst Brian Liston told the Times. "But you can engage the audiences in much more targeted influence ops because those on these platforms are generally U.S. conservatives who are maybe more accepting of conspiratorial claims."
Graham Brookie, senior director of the Digital Forensics Lab at the Atlantic Council, told the Times the renewed Russian disinformation efforts is "recidivist behavior."
"Since 2016, it appears that foreign states can afford to take some of the foot off the gas, because they have already created such sufficient division that there are many domestic actors to carry the water of disinformation for them," OSET Institute board member Edward P. Perez told the Times.
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