[ti:Rights Group: Governments Increasing Social Media Use to Influence Elections]
[00:00.04]A rights group reports that governments and individuals
[00:05.22]have sought to influence elections online in 26 of 30 national elections it studied.
[00:15.76]Freedom House released the report about online influence on Monday
[00:22.09]– one day before elections in many parts of the United States.
[00:29.24]Some of the group's financing comes from the U.S. government.
[00:35.92]The new report warns that internet-based election interference
[00:42.16]has become an important method for those seeking to attack democracy.
[00:50.76]It found that disinformation and propaganda
[00:55.48]were the most popular tools used to influence elections.
[01:03.00]Freedom House studied how domestic governments have tried to influence their citizens.
[01:12.28]It also examined partisan actors who use online networks to spread misleading ideas.
[01:23.88]It said that such individuals often work with popular media personalities and business leaders.
[01:35.12]"Many governments are finding that on social media,
[01:40.03]propaganda works better than censorship,"
[01:44.42]said Mike Abramowitz, the president of Freedom House.
[01:51.24]He added that "authoritarians and populists around the globe"
[01:57.73]are using human nature and computer programs to harm free and fair elections.
[02:09.56]Some of those seeking to influence elections had developed methods to defeat efforts
[02:17.63]by technology companies to fight false or misleading information, the report said.
[02:28.12]For example, it noted that in the Philippines, candidates paid people on social media
[02:37.01]to support their campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
[02:46.04]The report noted that online disinformation was widely used
[02:52.75]during several political events in the United States, such as the 2018 elections.
[03:02.24]Another example was the U.S. Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
[03:13.32]Freedom House noted a rise in the number of governments using bots
[03:19.75]and false accounts to shape online opinions and hurt opponents.
[03:28.32]Such behavior was noted in 38 out of 65 countries that the report discussed.
[03:39.04]Social media was also being increasingly used to watch citizens.
[03:47.84]The report said at least 40 countries have set up high-level social media monitoring programs.
[03:59.88]Allie Funk is one of the writers of the report, called "Freedom on the Net 2019."
[04:10.08]She said the report had two main themes.
[04:15.08]One is efforts by governments to influence their own elections.
[04:22.88]The other is their efforts to "monitor their citizens."
[04:29.48]But Funk added that government efforts to block the opposition sometimes have unexpected results.
[04:40.04]She said in Russia, online efforts to limit opposition candidates
[04:46.72]led to protesters' use of social media to organize.
[04:54.32]I'm Mario Ritter Jr.