A disinformation campaign aimed at Democratic 2020 presidential candidates has already begun, Politico reports, and there are signs that foreign state actors are behind some of the attacks. Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and Sen. Bernie Sanders are reportedly the four candidates taking the brunt of the social-media attacks so far. The campaign is made up of memes, hashtags, misinformation, and distortions aimed at undermining their campaigns in their earliest stages. Politico reports that there have been racially inflammatory memes and messaging involving Harris, O’Rourke, and Warren, including one false story alleging that a blackface doll appeared the background of Warren’s New Year’s Eve Instagram livestream. There are reportedly “clear signs” that the attacks are being coordinated, and in some way similar to the propaganda attacks levied by Russia’s Internet Research Agency in 2016. “As it relates to information warfare in the 2020 cycle, we’re not on the verge of it—we’re already in the third inning,” said Brett Horvath, one of the founders of Guardians.ai, a tech company that works to disrupt cyberattacks. The Daily Beast reported last month that despite all the indictments and tougher defenses, the Russian hackers that breached the Democratic National Committee in 2016 were waging new cyberattacks on the U.S. ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
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