What We’re Following
Hacking Back? In an NPR interview, President Obama said definitively that the U.S. would retaliate against Russian cyberattacks interfering with the presidential election. He didn’t, however, explain what that retaliation would look like—a tit-for-tat cyberattack, or more traditional sanctions—or how public it would be. In a subsequent press conference this afternoon, Obama defended his decision not to release news of the suspected interference before the election, citing worries that in a hyperpartisan environment, such news would undermine public trust in the vote. Still, some cyberwar experts worry that a response now would come too late—though at this point, one part of Obama’s strategy may be to hold Trump back from reaching out to Russia.
Fake News: One tactic of which the Kremlin stands accused is promoting the spread of misinformation with the help of social-media trolls. Facebook is now taking steps to prevent that spread, with a tool that will flag certain links as “Disputed by 3rd Party Fact-Checkers.” The new feature will likely help to contain false stories spread by unwitting users—yet for those most suspicious of media, it might only confirm their belief that mainstream institutions are conspiring against them. Elsewhere in the social-media world, Trump’s Twitter feed has become a powerful platform—and not only for the president-elect himself. Each time he tweets, bots and fact-checkers alike compete to be the first to reply—because true or false, the information spread in that space will have an extraordinary reach and influence.