Serving in the United States Department of Defense, Geoffrey Tokajer tackles concerns in social media information warfare where attacks from agencies across the globe are a persistent threat. Below, he helps readers understand how social media bots can disseminate harmful information that threatens our democracy.
Geoffrey Tokajer is a native of Long Island, New York and has spent nearly four decades serving the military in a range of capacities. Tokajer enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1992 at the age of 17 and crossed the parade deck at Parris Island as a United States Marine in 1993. Since then, he has served in a number of roles and capacities within combat arms, intelligence, and military law in support of Naval Special Warfare within the United States Special Operations Command.
Today, he holds a critical position in the United States Department of Defense where he focuses on protecting our country through research and development of social media information warfare. In his work, he unveils how malicious human and automated botnet actors in online operations are a threat to our democracy. Through these means, agents can fool people into propagating the harmful and often false information of the attacks, undermining efforts to uphold truth and justice online.
Geoffrey Tokajer’s work in this area has helped the United States Special Operations Command and interagency communities synchronize learning, training and operational focus of Special Operations Forces, the Intelligence and Law Enforcement communities, private industries and academia. Ultimately, Tokajer helps the government understand how to develop and lead a workforce to leverage big data and open media sources toward National Security objectives.
One of the biggest threats to our democracy today, claims Geoffrey Tokajer, is social media manipulation, whether it’s performed through bots or human agents. An internet bot, he says, is an automated software application that executes commands online. They tend to be structurally repetitive and can be used for malicious means, such as spreading false information to the masses.
“Some social media bots can act as a poster or a follower through a fake account and can actually assimilate followers on its own page and produce messages,” says Geoffrey Tokajer. “They are used like spam bots to infiltrate circles and influence people with specific, targeted ideas.”
These bots are used online to influence politics, popular culture, and real people’s overall feelings towards one idea or another. Today, there are no strict legislation or regulations against social bots, and we’ve recently seen how they can have a hand in major decisions, such as the selection of the next President of the United States.
“We have to work diligently in the Department of Defense to combat this growing problem so we can ensure our people act only on their own ideals and beliefs instead of being influenced by outside forces using false and misleading means to corrupt,” says Geoffrey Tokajer. “It’s what we must do to ensure a true free democracy.”