Keywords:  Social Engineering/Disinformation,

2021

Assessing and Developing Online Election Information Infrastructure

Emma Lurie, PhD Student, School of Information, UC Berkeley

In the United States, people are increasingly turning to online sources to find information about elections. Election information includes everything from mail-in ballot instructions to candidate Facebook page posts. In the U.S., as well as around the world, online misinformation threatens democratic systems. Politicians, technology companies, journalists, and voters all understand the importance of high-quality online information to fair and trustworthy democratic processes. This project defines a strong online election information infrastructure as one that is robust to malevolent actors and enables constituents to easily identify important information. This project acknowledges that the current online election infrastructure is intricately related to technology platforms (e.g. social media sites and search engines).

While there are ongoing efforts to understand problems in pieces of this infrastructure, misinformation on Facebook, or Google’s alleged partisan bias, these piecemeal approaches are missing an understanding of the broader ecosystem. Complementing research that shifts the focus from individual pieces of disinformation to the disinformation ecosystem, this project aims to shift the subject of research from a particular technology platform to the broader online election information infrastructure and will look to applying cybersecurity governance strategies, especially abusability testing, to online election information infrastructure.