False Claims: Consider the source before sharing online

Very soon after he took office nearly four years ago, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner warned about foreign government attempts to influence U.S. elections and foment divisiveness among Americans.

Since then, Warner on occasion has reminded us of how troublemakers online, including but not limited to those based in Moscow, use social media to manipulate Americans.

Last week, federal law enforcement and intelligence agency officials revealed such malicious activity has been detected. It originates in Iran and Russia, they noted.

Among tactics the online manipulators have been using is obtaining voter registration lists and targeting those whose names are on them with misinformation and sometimes, threats.

Warner and other state election officials held a press conference on the situation Thursday. West Virginia is not one of the states targeted by the latest round of public opinion manipulation, he stressed.

Good. Still, social media is a powerful medium. Some of the false claims being made by Iranian and Russian operatives may spread to Mountain State residents. Any look at the platforms will show there is plenty of it to go around, no matter what the source.

We take the liberty, then, of offering this advice: If you see it online and are not 100 percent certain where it came from, be cautious, skeptical and decide against clicking “share.”


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