Social Media is ‘First Tool’ of 21st-Century Warfare, US Lawmaker Says

One lawmaker believes Russia’s use of social media to influence last year’s election demonstrated how warfare has moved away from the battlefield and toward the internet.

And the U.S. has been slow to adjust, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said Thursday.

“We may have in America the best 20th-century military that money can buy, but we’re increasingly in a world where cyber vulnerability, misinformation and disinformation may be the tools of conflict,” Warner said at The Atlantic’s Washington Ideas fest produced by Atlantic Media, which is Nextgov‘s parent company. “What we may have seen are the first tools of 21st-century disinformation.”

As vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Warner has helped lead one of the congressional investigations into the Russian meddling in the 2016 election. During a public interview with The Atlantic’s Steve Clemons, he gave updates on the progress of the investigation and stressed the importance of social media companies helping Congress understand the extent of Russia’s involvement.

According to Warner, there are three things the committee knows to be true: Russia hacked both political parties and used that information in President Donald Trump’s favor; Russia attacked but didn’t fully break into the voter registration systems of 21 states; Russia used paid advertising and fake accounts on social media to disseminate misinformation to voters…


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