Defending Elections against Malicious Spread of Misinformation
The integrity of democratic elections depends on voters’ access to accurate information. However, modern media environments, which are dominated by social media, provide malicious actors with unprecedented ability to manipulate elections via misinformation, such as fake news. We study a zerosum game between an attacker, who attempts to subvert an election by propagating a fake new story or other misinformation over a set of advertising channels, and a defender who attempts to limit the attacker’s impact. Computing an equilibrium in this game is challenging as even the pure strategy sets of players are exponential. Nevertheless, we give provable polynomial-time approximation algorithms for computing the defender’s minimax optimal strategy across a range of settings, encompassing different population structures as well as models of the information available to each player. Experimental results confirm that our algorithms provide nearoptimal defender strategies and showcase variations in the difficulty of defending elections depending on the resources and knowledge available to the defender.