US officials tracking influence operations on social media from Russia, Iran

US officials tracking influence operations on social media from Russia, Iran
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Officials are currently tracking efforts by nations including Russia and Iran to influence Americans through social media platforms on issues including the 2020 election, a senior intelligence official told reporters on Monday.

The official said during a press conference that agencies are tracking efforts by Russia to “pit Americans against each other” through posting on social media, while China is using social media platforms to “influence the U.S. political environment.”

Iran is taking a similar approach to China, and is utilizing these sites to “promote pro-Iranian interests,” added the official, who talked to the media under the condition they not be identified.

The senior intelligence official spoke during an election security briefing for reporters, which took place on the heels of a week during which the U.S. Senate hotly debated this topic.

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The official emphasized that these efforts are would “not necessarily affect a tally of a vote, but they might influence a voting population.”

The official also noted that while there is activity on social media, there has been no evidence of recent attempts by foreign governments to infiltrate or interfere in voting machines.

The comments comes months after special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE wrote in his report on the 2016 election that the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) “conducted social media operations targeted at large U.S. audiences with the goal of sowing discord in the U.S. political system.”

Mueller reported that as early as 2014, Russia's IRA employees began operating accounts on social media sites that claimed to be controlled by U.S. activists, posting about “divisive U.S. political and social activities.”  

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerKrystal Ball: Is this how Bernie Sanders will break the establishment? TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings, inflaming tensions Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments MORE (D-N.Y.) promised Senate Democrats would try to force a vote on various election security bills, and laid out a plan to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial On The Money: Pelosi, Trump tout deal on new NAFTA | McConnell says no trade vote until impeachment trial wraps up | Lawmakers push spending deadline to Thursday McConnell: Senate impeachment trial will begin in January MORE (R-Ky.) into scheduling floor votes on these bills.

McConnell pushed back against various election security bills in a recent interview with Fox News’s Laura IngrahamLaura Anne IngrahamHouse GOP wants Senate Republicans to do more on impeachment Vindman's lawyer requests Fox News retract guest's allegation about espionage Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul MORE, saying that Democrats are “trying to nationalize everything,” adding that he was “open to considering new legislation, but it has to be directed in a way that doesn’t undermine state and local control of elections.

Another senior administration official involved in the press briefing on Monday seemed to echo this concern. The official told reporters that federal agencies are looking to provide state and local election officials with “good solid guidance” on protecting election systems, but emphasized that they want to “respect our system of federalism.”