FBI Portland
Beth Anne Steele
(503) 460-8099
October 20, 2020

Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Misinformation and Disinformation

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week, reminders from the FBI’s Protected Voices campaign about misinformation and disinformation.

We are just two weeks away from election day, and Oregonians have been receiving their ballots in the mail. As you are doing your research on the issues and the candidates, we encourage you to take a moment to consider whether the campaign information you are seeing online is truthful or the result of a foreign influence campaign.

As foreign actors intensify their efforts to influence the outcome of the 2020 U.S. elections, they could use online journals and other platforms to advance and launder misinformation and disinformation to either denigrate or support specific candidates or political parties. Foreign actors could also target the U.S. elections by making claims of voter suppression, amplifying reports of real or alleged cyberattacks on election infrastructure, asserting voter or ballot fraud, and spreading other information intended to convince the public of the election’s illegitimacy.

One key factor to watch for: Is the information designed to create a strong emotional reaction? If so, that can indicate that the person or group posting the information is trying to manipulate you. Try to verify that information through independent means, such as a non-partisan fact checker. If you’re unable to verify the information, don’t click on the link or share the information further.

Here are some other ways to protect your vote:

  • Verify who produced the content and try to determine what that person’s intent is. Is the content trying to sow division? Erode trust in legitimate authorities? If so, that could be a red flag.
  • You should rely on state and local election officials as authoritative sources about how elections are conducted in their jurisdictions.
  • Make sure you verify through multiple reliable sources any reports about problems in voting or election results before sharing such information via social media or other avenues.
  • If appropriate, make use of in-platform tools offered by social media companies to report suspicious posts that appear to be spreading false or inconsistent information about election-related problems or results.

The FBI is responsible for investigating malign foreign influence operations and malicious cyber activity targeting election infrastructure and other U.S. democratic institutions. Report potential federal election crimes—such as disinformation about the manner, time, or place of voting—to the FBI. In Oregon, you can call us at (503) 224-4181 or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

Finally – learn more about how you can protect your vote with the FBI’s Protected Voices campaign. You can find more resources at www.fbi.gov/protectedvoices.