Disclaimer: The opinions of the columnists are their own and not necessarily those of their employer.
Kenneth F. Belva

Could SPAM Sway the US Presidential Election?

Might the power of SPAM be able to change the course of US political elections? Could a SPAM disinformation campaign sway voters?

This scenario occurred to me after I received SPAM with the following headlines:

McCain suffers heart attack
Obama suffers setback in polls due to sex secrets

The process to create disinformation would be fairly easy. First, create a fake news website. The goal is to mix a small amount of fake news with a large amount of legitimate news. On the fake news website, the real news stories should come directly from the AP wires as the primary source. The fake news would be properly embedded in the site to make it seem legitimate. Next, the site should also be branded with a local small town flavor so as not to arouse suspicion. Finally, the disinformation (i.e., the fake news story buried in the AP stories) is SPAMmed to millions of people.

This process would continue unabated until the election ends. It would be a genuine disinformation campaign aimed at the opposite party. If one of these stories was accidentally picked up by the mainstream media and reported as accurate, it would multiply the effect.

One assumes that the US presidential candidates would be the most likely to be engaged in this sort of activity: one may also include foreign governments or rogue groups as people who may engage in this behavior as well. It would be easy to do for any organized group with a vested political interest and small amount of capital.

To be fair to the skeptics: it’s a question of numbers. How many people would these stories reach? How may people would be duped? And, would it be enough to significantly change the outcome of the election? While I cannot definitively answer these questions, it’s an interesting scenario.

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