The Federal Bureau of Investigation has released a public service announcement warning the American public about foreign actors and cybercriminals that could spread misinformation about the results of the upcoming presidential election.
"Foreign actors and cybercriminals could create new websites, change existing websites, and create or share corresponding social media content to spread false information in an attempt to discredit the electoral process and undermine confidence in US democratic institutions", the agency wrote in a statement.
Due to the severe situation with the coronavirus, an estimated 80 million Americans are expected to vote by mail in the upcoming election. The FBI stressed that mail-in voting could leave officials with "incomplete results on election night" and foreign actors could exploit this to disseminate information about alleged voter suppression, voter or ballot fraud, as well as carry out cyberattacks targeting election infrastructure in order to undermine legitimacy of elections. The agency urged the public to critically evaluate the information they see on Election Day.
The agency also published a list of recommendations, which advise people to:
- rely on state and local officials about the final results of the vote.
- report potential crimes such as disinformation to the FBI.
- use tools offered by social media platforms to report suspicious posts.
In recent months, both sides of the political aisle in the United States have warned of attempts by foreign actors to influence the upcoming presidential election. The Democrats have claimed that President Trump may collude with the Kremlin to tip the scales in his favour.
Trump, in his turn, has spoken against mail-in voting, saying "foreign actors or others" could print "millions of mail-in ballots" to influence the result of the vote. Neither Trump nor the Democrats has provided evidence to support their claims.