Cybercriminals are weaponizing memes – an idea that spreads, whether that idea is true or false – contributing to state-sponsored disinformation and propaganda (see: 2016 US presidential election). Exacerbating the issue is the rise of artificial intelligence tools, which makes discerning what is authentic or fake that much more difficult. This is only the beginning stages of digital information warfare – new technologies are spreading rapidly and authenticating information is increasingly becoming an issue.
Organizations such as The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are leading the charge to address this issue as they seek to build scalable digital media authentication systems. Further, we are seeing more government regulation that addresses foreign political-propaganda, such as the Honest Ads Act, which seeks to regulate online campaign advertisements hosted on platforms such as Facebook and Google.
As regulators catch up to new technology and tech companies work to weed out bad actors, the onus for digital protection ultimately lies on the user. For the foreseeable future, we we will continue to be responsible for evaluating the truthfulness of the information we consume.