Australian intelligence and government officials are working on the best means to repel attacks from foreign actors attempting to cause unrest and interfere with the 2019 federal election via the dissemination of fake news of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. A new wave of election interference came into the spotlight following the shock election of Donald Trump as US president in 2016. Russia-linked accounts were discovered to have been circulating false stories over Facebook, Twitter and Google before the election in an attempt to whip up social and political unrest with outlandish claims which many Americans believed.
Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey testified at the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last week, ahead of US mid-term elections, and admitted the fake news problem was not something they can fight on their own.
Sources told The Australian Financial Review there are a number of foreign actors using social media and information operations for covert political campaigning and agenda pushing in Australia.
Intelligence and government authorities are actively discussing how they will combat foreign actors who are spreading fake information. There is understood to be agreement among senior officials that there is a need for Australian authorities to do more and they are currently considering the best way to do this.