Read Local, Influence Global

As local news outlets contract, it creates opportunities for outlets that often have the appearance of traditional local news outlets, to move in and sow misinformation in a variety of ways.

Phil Napoli, public policy professor, Duke University

An article is actively being circulated on a popular Reddit forum today regarding alleged election-related fraud in the U.S. state of Nevada. (link to mirror)

At first glance, the site “360NewsLasVegas[.]com” raises suspicions about its legitimacy with respect to journalism and I quickly recalled multiple recent articles discussing a potential vulnerability associated with an individual’s likelihood to place more trust in a “local” news source versus a mainstream or national-level source of news. This site’s domain and title indicate that it is a local-focused news site for its readers, and thus may fit the profile of these aforementioned misinformation campaigns.

A quick lookup of the site’s domain name found that it’s registered through GoDaddy and was created in May 2018. Additionally, a reverse lookup of the domain name found that the hosting source of the site, too, is maintained by GoDaddy (IP address:

A review of the site’s HTML code finds that it operates on an instance of WordPress:

WordPress version 5.5.3 is the most recent release at the time of this writing

At this point, there aren’t any strong indicators that this site is part of a foreign-operated misinformation campaign. One item of interest on the site is the prominent Facebook “button” located on the site’s right sidebar, which links the user to a “360Daily[.]net” Facebook page (link to mirror). Side note: 360Daily[.]net, created in 2017 per the domain’s whois data, is also registered at GoDaddy and shares both the same whois data and host IP address. Something of interest about this link, though, is that the page indicated in the URL: “Newsmaxtvvegas.”

A quick once-over of the linked Facebook page leads me to believe that both the page and the 360NewsLasVegas[.]com and 360Daily[.]net pages are all linked to Newsmax Media.

One additional detail noticed about the 360NewsLasVegas[.]com posts was that all of the examined posts on the site list Rob Lauer as the author. An image search for “rob lauer vegas” yielded two top-ranked results including an image of the individual, connecting the identity of the anchor seen in the Facebook page’s header video to the author listed on the aforementioned news articles/posts. Also, these image results also include a stillframe from what appears to be a NewsmaxTV broadcast or stream, including Rob Lauer as the anchor.

Top image results from DuckDuckGo[.]com

Perhaps this discovered site isn’t some foreign-run misinformation operation after all, or at least that’s the feeling I have after this more in-depth research. I wouldn’t consider this a reputable news source, however, since it seems that the news articles on the 360NewsLasVegas[.]com are written solely by this one individual. I’m also gauging this based on the content of some of these news articles, where the platform is seemingly used at times as a vehicle for personal motives–not for news.


Strange Times

Foreign interference in 2020 U.S. general election doesn’t blatantly occur on Election Day, but will manifest as additional tension and civil unrest in the following days.

U.S. election interference was postulated to be a concerning matter in November 3, 2020. No flagrant indicators that such activity is occurring or has occurred at this point in time.

In response to public concern surrounding potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (“COVID-19”) by means of community spread in polling places, many municipalities around the U.S. have expanded and encouraged absentee voting (“mail-in voting”). As a result, there is postulated to be a significant amount of yet-to-be-counted votes remaining at the end of Election Day–November 3, 2020.

Municipality- and state-level election agencies operate within a wide array of policy regarding the handling early/by-mail/absentee ballots. As such, there are variances in when state-level election results are finalized, and published. There is potential that a firm victor for some states will not be known, or announced, for days to weeks. Not to say that this is a matter of concern, for efforts placed in ensuring accurate and equitable tallying of ballots is critical to ensuring a fair election. But tensions will fester and expand per-state as the time elongates between the close of polls in a state and the announcement of a winner for said state.

With this in mind, it is predicted that these almost certain tensions and frustrations in this year’s election period will be prime for foreign influence to insert some sort of manipulation. Social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, already show how misinformation and emotional-catering messaging can sow division and mistrust, in both fellow citizens and institutions (government or otherwise). Tensions from not knowing election results will result in capricious activity from outside entities seeking to do harm to the United States.

This prediction forecasts that external influence(s) will seek to fan the flames via social media and other free-wheeling communication vehicles to sow and foster division and mistrust. There is a potential for election outcomes to be manipulated not directly by external malicious actors, but by means of instilling intra-national pressure on election bodies and government organizations to “count the ballots faster” and possibly even prematurely announce a winner or end a ballot counting effort.

The current U.S. election cycle is subject to numerous societal pressures and tensions, and the ongoing pandemic situation only magnifies peoples’ frustrations and anxiety surrounding the process. Foreign ne’er-do-wells may capitalize on domestic-based divisions to push an election result in a desired direction, not by direct manipulation of the election itself, but by manipulating the represented bodies of the U.S. via expounding of already high-running emotions among the nation’s populous.

Pressure/manipulate the electorateelectorate pressures the election institutions institutions act with partiality or unequally resulting from influence