We live in an era where the term “fake news” makes up a significant portion of the headlines. The Internet makes it very easy to misinform others and spread false rumors or news, as you can do so relatively anonymously with little fear of consequence. This has become a problem on social media sites like Facebook, which recently shut down a major “troll farm” in response to continued complaints.
This “troll farm,” which was designed to spread false information through ads, was created by a Russian agency that was previously called Internet Research Agency. The agency essentially hires Internet trolls--folks who bother and harass others on the Internet--and paid them to make everyone’s lives miserable. Now, however, a sister company called Federal News Agency has been created. According to Computerworld, this agency employs more than 200 journalists and editors for 16 different propaganda news websites.
These agencies can use automated bots to spread false information--especially on social media, as was the case with Facebook. These troll farms had created 470 fake pages that utilized over $100,000 worth of ads during the 2016 United States presidential election. These ads reached somewhere between 23 million and 70 million Facebook users, and they were meant to stir up trouble with various controversial and political ideologies.
This type of computational propaganda is an emerging issue that could become problematic for any organization that relies on data. Most businesses operate under the assumption that the data they collect is true, factual information. If the information collected by businesses becomes questionable, operations are based on assumed information, which isn’t a safe way to run an organization. When information becomes unreliable, any basis for improvement is skewed. Even more concerning, though, is that uninformed decisions, or decisions based on untrue information, could be detrimental to the future of your organization.
Furthermore, what if a hacker were capable of changing data within the back end of your infrastructure to create opportunities for this type of untrue information to take root? Hackers could even build online campaigns meant to slander and say simply untrue things about your organization in an attempt to demolish its future. Now that bots can be used in the dissemination of information on the Internet, you might be surprised to learn just how your organization can be affected.
Therefore, it’s likely that security will remain important in the future, with a newfound focus on ensuring the truth and legitimacy of data collected by your organization. Furthermore, measures must be taken to limit the damage that these bots can do, as the possibility of Disinformation as a Service becoming a major issue in the future is a very real one.
What are your thoughts on these disturbing developments? Let us know in the comments.