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Journalism gets hacked

“A group of hackers and law-enforcement officials ran a simulation of what an Election Day cyberattack might look like. One of the hackers’ first moves? Hacking trusted news websites and social media accounts, allowing the bad guys to spread false narratives quickly.”

We’re all watching for novel ways bad actors might mess with the presidential election. But our own industry is vulnerable, too.

In November, a group of hackers and law-enforcement officials ran a simulation of what an Election Day cyberattack might look like. One of the hackers’ first moves? Hacking trusted news websites and social media accounts, allowing the bad guys to spread false narratives quickly. (The good guys lost horribly, by the way.)

Hacking journalists’ instincts poses a more subtle problem. Ravi Somaiya argues convincingly in CJR that the video of Nancy Pelosi manipulated to make her appear drunk would have languished in extremist internet corners had The Washington Post not reported on its existence.

And deft fact-hackers are already exploiting open microphones and news formats to broadcast disinformation on CNN, NPR, and elsewhere as veteran interviewers scramble to patch breaches of truth in real time.

But you can help mitigate such attacks. For cyber-security and safety, you and your social media team should run through this checklist from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and check out these security guides from the Freedom of the Press Foundation. (Their gift guide for journalists is also great.)

To fortify your crap-detection and misinformation management, First Draft provides fantastic video courses and materials. Even better, get to one of their live simulations. They are excellent, intense, and free.

As for those microphones, think carefully about whether you’re okay airing statements you know are false. If you fear someone might hack your broadcast, record them and report out the story instead. Let’s be careful out there.

John Keefe is the investigations editor at Quartz.

We’re all watching for novel ways bad actors might mess with the presidential election. But our own industry is vulnerable, too.

In November, a group of hackers and law-enforcement officials ran a simulation of what an Election Day cyberattack might look like. One of the hackers’ first moves? Hacking trusted news websites and social media accounts, allowing the bad guys to spread false narratives quickly. (The good guys lost horribly, by the way.)

Hacking journalists’ instincts poses a more subtle problem. Ravi Somaiya argues convincingly in CJR that the video of Nancy Pelosi manipulated to make her appear drunk would have languished in extremist internet corners had The Washington Post not reported on its existence.

And deft fact-hackers are already exploiting open microphones and news formats to broadcast disinformation on CNN, NPR, and elsewhere as veteran interviewers scramble to patch breaches of truth in real time.

But you can help mitigate such attacks. For cyber-security and safety, you and your social media team should run through this checklist from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and check out these security guides from the Freedom of the Press Foundation. (Their gift guide for journalists is also great.)

To fortify your crap-detection and misinformation management, First Draft provides fantastic video courses and materials. Even better, get to one of their live simulations. They are excellent, intense, and free.

As for those microphones, think carefully about whether you’re okay airing statements you know are false. If you fear someone might hack your broadcast, record them and report out the story instead. Let’s be careful out there.

John Keefe is the investigations editor at Quartz.

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