ODNI Report on 2020 Elections: Russia Pushed Influence Narratives
The National Intelligence Council’s (NIC’s) Intelligence Community Assessment, Foreign Threats to the 2020 US Federal Elections, says there is evidence that foreign actors, most notably Russia, attempted to influence the election and undermine confidence in the electoral process. “A key element of Moscow’s strategy this election cycle was its use of proxies linked to Russian intelligence to push influence narratives … to US media organizations, US officials, and prominent US individuals, some close to [the] former president and his administration.” NIC says that they “have no indications that any foreign actor attempted to alter any technical aspect of the voting process in the 2020 US elections.”
Back in the late 1950’s a faked experiment led to concern over subliminal advertising frames inserted into films shown in movie theaters. In the early 2000s scientific research proved subliminal advertising did lead to unknowing influence and many countries banned it, while in the US the FCC “discouraged” its use. Much of the influence techniques used by nation states and terrorist groups on social media is essentially subliminal advertising and legislation needs to evolve – it is not something market forces will address.
Social engineering, influencing others to act in a fashion that supports your desired outcomes, is not new. Often this manifests itself in advertising, or social media posts where the legitimacy is difficult to discern. Changes in legislation can make it harder or add consequences, but it still falls to the consumer to verify information provided.