With social media-driven influence of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election still a hot topic for debate, and with six Latin American countries electing a president in 2018, there is concern that Latin American presidential elections could suffer the same fate as their neighbor to the North.
The FireEye Capstone team researched the landscape of social media driven influence operations (SMDIO) in the three largest Latin American countries: Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia. The case studies for each country included a research driven background section, that highlighted previous cases of SMDIO within that particular country. This was followed by an examination of current SMDIO campaigns targeting 2018 elections, as well as a look at any government or civil society response to these threats. The case studies also included interviews from academics, country specific experts, and journalists.
The Capstone team assessed that Latin America is an established environment for SMDIO and that upcoming elections are currently being targeted by SMDIO campaigns, from both domestic and external actors. While awareness regarding the threat has increased significantly in Latin America, current responses are inadequate and unlikely to hinder SMDIO campaigns in the near future. This is in part due to limited regulation, profits associated with SMDIO as a service, difficulty in attributing SMDIO campaigns, and freedom speech issues concerning any future regulation. While SMDIO is likely to continue affecting Latin America, its impact remains an issue up for debate and is likely to be the focus of future research endeavors.