How Social Media Could be Used for Midterm Election Meddling


SPRINGFIELD, Mo.–With the 2018 midterm election primaries steadily approaching, KOLR10 is taking a look at the highly contested senate race in Missouri.

With the high stakes of the race, comes the possibility of election interference. 

While Drury Political Science Professor, Dr. Daniel Ponder tells KOLR10 he hasn’t seen any signs of interference yet, he says that could change in August after the primaries. That’s when we’ll find out who will face off against incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill.

“You already have a lot of attention being played and so if there’s going to be an attempt to manipulate the election, my guess it would be at the level of the United States Senate,” says Dr. Ponder. 

Ponder believes the two most likely Senate candidates Missouri voters will see this August are Attorney General Josh Hawley and current Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.

“A lot of money is going to come into the state for the senate race. It’s one of the states that the Republicans have targeted as having a vulnerable Democrat that they’d like to turn that seat back to Republican,” says Dr. Ponder. 

With so much emphasis on the senate race, Dr. Ponder thinks hackers will use social media to influence your beliefs about particular candidates with a focus on undecided voters.

“Trying to depress voter turnout for one aspect or another, one party or another as opposed to trying to change somebody’s mind,” says Dr. Ponder. 

Ponder says one of the ways hackers will attempt that is through spreading sensational stories or fake news.

“Be aware of the surroundings in the sense of knowing what kind of information they’re taking in particularly if it seems unduly bias either for your opinion or against your opinion. Not letting social media be your primary source,” says Dr. Ponder. 

Instead, he says to look at other sources like newspapers, CNN, or a candidate’s website.

“Believe it or not, CNN tends to be fairly down the middle. It’s one of the reasons they always get killed in the ratings is because they do tend to play it down the middle,” says Dr. Ponder. 

Election Day for the Midterms is November 6th so you have plenty of time to do your homework on all of the candidates and issues before the big vote.

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