Julian Barnes, reporting for The New York Times:

The threat against U.S. elections by Russia and other foreign powers is far greater today than it was in 2020, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said on Tuesday.

Senator Mark Warner, the Virginia Democrat who leads the committee, said the danger had grown for multiple reasons: Adversarial countries have become more adept at spreading disinformation, Americans are more vulnerable to propaganda, communication between the government and social media companies has become more difficult and artificial intelligence is giving foreign powers new abilities…

“With polarization in this country, and the lack of faith in institutions, people will believe anything or not believe things that come from what used to be viewed as trusted sources of information,” Mr. Warner said. “So there’s a much greater willingness to accept conspiracy theories.”

Vulnerability to influence operations, Mr. Warner said, is not confined to the United States. In Slovakia, for example, Russian information operations influenced views of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“Slovakia was 80 percent pro-Ukraine,” he said. “Two years later, with massive amounts of Russian misinformation and disinformation, you have a pro-Russian government and 55 percent of Slovaks think America started the war in Ukraine.”

These statements from Warner aren’t shocking even in the slightest. If you look at social media now, it’s filled with disinformation from self-proclaimed Americans, both on the left and right of the political spectrum. Left-wing nuts continue to push pro-China, pro-Iran propaganda in the name of “progressivism,” while right-wingers brazenly post pro-Kremlin, anti-Ukraine rhetoric. As I’ve written before, I don’t think these are actually Americans, but rather, I surmise the ideas from Russian and Chinese bots have entirely taken over the minds of Americans, including those in Congress. Young Americans are more likely than ever to distrust institutions and their government — and rightfully so — but they are also more likely to subscribe to foreign propaganda that advances flawed ideologies.

Russia and China continue to flood social media websites with fictitious misinformation to influence the 2024 election. The two countries employ bots, and sometimes even human labor, to publish websites full of wrong information, social media posts expressing dissatisfaction with the current administration, and launch advertising campaigns to create distrust in the U.S. government. These tactics prove themselves every day to be overwhelmingly successful; a message disguised as an “America First” endorsement is much more likely to be listened to than one directly opposing American military efforts overseas. A Russian operative asking “Why are we sending our money to Ukraine when we should be securing our southern border?” has a more striking effect on right-leaning Americans than “We should stop sending money to Ukraine because it’s none of our business.”

These operations are not covert or minuscule in scale — they’re entirely widespread on the internet today, on social media websites like X and Threads. People with “radical” political views might not actually be expressing any beliefs at all — instead, they are probably just a Russian asset. My advice is not to interact with these foreign influence accounts whatsoever, and I further demand that social networks like Meta take more action to combat misinformation and perform a mass deletion of spam accounts with outrageous beliefs. This is happening in the United States, in Europe, and in many Asian countries, and internet citizens must be more vigilant in reporting it and combating the spread of dangerous propaganda that has the power to threaten our respective democracies.