The ever-growing threat of digital threats to nations from enemies both within and beyond one’s borders is a global phenomenon and one that must be addressed by policymakers.

While the news media and governments tend to focus on nation-states or international terror groups using cyber warfare, in an age where most get their news on social media, consumers are extremely susceptible to manipulations and the threats posed by intra-state actors who aim to wreak havoc on society.

Fake News has become a major concern to democratic societies going through election campaigns where in order to win, the public must be influenced in favor of one party or leader over another.

And political parties who are intent on winning the election are using social media as the latest battleground as the production and dissemination of fake news has become easier with the networked environment and the use of social networks by the majority of the population.

The use of bots, which allow for greater coverage on social media networks, can create realistic posts and chats in real-time, mimicking a real person. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can also be harnessed by intra-state actors to create Deepfake videos, falsely showing people doing or saying things, which in truth, never occurred.

The use of bots and other cyber tools in the hope of winning an election may break the bond of trust between societies and their governments and even further polarize the discourse which could lead to violence and even death.

In Indonesia’s West Papua New Guinea region, 32 people have been killed after a fake news story went viral claiming that a teacher in a school in the city of Wamena used racial slurs against a student. The rumor, which quickly spread through text messages, quickly angered the local population leading to deadly clashes with police and the military.

Cybersecurity efforts and tools like open-source intelligence and artificial intelligence are critical for maintaining and safeguarding society against threats such as Fake News and other threats posed by intra-state actors.

In addition to using OSINT to verify the authenticity of a news story, harnessing artificial intelligence which can be leveraged to find words and patterns and analyze what is being disseminated on social media and news outlets can be done at a fraction of the time a human analyst might take.

Machine learning tools are also able to identify articles or videos flagged as inaccurate by others in a pool of data, which continues to grow exponentially. Artificial intelligence and OSINT can also verify the facts being reported in possible fake news stories, weighing them against reputable media sources.

As the volume of Fake News stories grows bigger by the day, so are the chances of individuals falling for the story. But by using OSINT tools  and AI capabilities, authorities can act as a safeguard against the threats posed by intra-state actors.

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