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Be skeptical of things read online

Very soon after he took office nearly four years ago, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner warned about foreign government attempts to influence U.S. elections and foment divisiveness among Americans.

Since then, Warner on occasion has reminded us of how online evildoers, including but not limited to those based in Moscow, use “social media” to manipulate Americans.

Last week, federal law enforcement and intelligence agency officials revealed such malicious activity has been detected. It originates in Iran and Russia, they noted.

Among tactics the online manipulators have been using is obtaining voter registration lists and targeting those whose names are on them with misinformation and sometimes, threats.

Warner and other state election officials held a press conference on the situation Thursday. West Virginia is not one of the states targeted by the new round of public opinion manipulation, he stressed.

Good. Still, social media is a powerful medium. Some of the false claims being made by Iranian and Russian operatives may trickle down to Mountain State residents.

We take the liberty, then, of offering this advice: If you see it online and are not 100% certain of the source, be very, very skeptical.

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