U.S. government indicts Russian social media propagandists

Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday indicted 13 Russians for violating U.S. laws to interfere with the 2016 elections.

The indictment says the Russians acted in favor of Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton — but also says the Trump campaign’s connection to them was “unwitting.”

They also acted against Trump rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and in favor of Clinton rival Bernie Sanders.

Source: 13 Russians charged with interfering in U.S. elections – MarketWatch

Assuming the allegations are true, this does not solve the propaganda problem on social media. Social media propaganda operations are conducted by individuals world-wide, including in the U.S., each with a variety of messaging goals. The alleged Russia-related activities are just one part of global propaganda operations conducted by many actors. If we hyper focus on one actor and ignore the others, we are not solving the social media propaganda problem.

Similarly, election officials are working to improve security of election related information systems. As the NY Times notes, “Experts have warned for years that state and local election equipment and security practices were dangerously out of date…” Until claims of Russia-related hacking came along, officials did not seem concerned about their security deficiencies – which says a lot about the competency of those running election systems.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission issued a set of guidelines for election related technology systems. Sadly, their recommended requirements have been missing in many election related systems up until now.

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