WASHINGTON (NEWSnet/AP) — The U.S. may be more vulnerable to foreign disinformation aimed at influencing voters and undermining democracy than it was before the 2020 election, the leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Monday.

Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, based his warning on the following factors:

  • Improved disinformation tactics by Russia and China.
  • Rise of domestic candidates and groups who are willing to spread disinformation.
  • Emergence of artificial intelligence programs that allow the rapid creation of images, audio and video that are difficult to tell from the real thing.

Furthermore, tech companies have pulled back on previous efforts to protect users from misinformation while the government’s attempts to limit the problem are mired in debates about surveillance and censorship.

As a result, the U.S. could face a greater threat of foreign disinformation ahead of the 2024 election than it did in the 2016 or 2020 presidential election cycles, Warner said.

Noting similar campaigns in 2016 and 2020, security officials, democracy activists and disinformation researchers have warned for years that Russia, China, Iran and domestic groups within the U.S. will use online platforms to spread false and polarizing content designed to influence the race between Trump, a Republican, and President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

Warner’s assessment of America’s vulnerability comes after top security officials told the Intelligence Committee that the U.S. has greatly improved its ability to combat foreign disinformation.

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