“In campaign’s closing days, disinformation arrives via text message and email”


A video sent to voters falsely claimed that Joe Biden wants to give “sex changes to second-graders.”

A menacing directive advised Democrats to vote for Trump “or else.”

And a years-old photograph newly circulated with erroneous instructions for how to blow past a purported poll watcher on Election Day.

These deceptive, 11th-hour messages are not finding their way to Americans via the now well-trodden paths of Facebook and Twitter. Instead, they’re arriving in waves of text messages and emails, making use of a more intimate and less heavily scrutinized vector of disinformation than the social networking services manipulated four years ago as part of the Kremlin’s sweeping interference in the 2016 election.

Texts and emails “have the potential to be more believable than social media,” said Darren Linvill, a specialist in social media at Clemson University who has studied millions of tweets sent by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency. “I think people are more ready to accept information that comes through their phone than social media, where we’re trained in many ways to be more on guard.”


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