US cybersecurity agency uses pineapple pizza to warn Americans about election meddling

Photo: Mustang_79 (iStock)

What does Hawaiian pizza have in common with election security? Sorry, there’s no punchline.

Using the controversy over whether pineapple belongs on a pizza to explain foreign meddling in U.S. elections might seem silly, but the United States Department Of Homeland Security Cybersecurity And Infrastructure Security Agency says it’s anything but.

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Last Thursday, the agency tweeted “With pineapple or without? Which way is the right way to have your pizza?” Naturally, the tweet created heated responses and was shared by everyone from the executive director of the South Carolina Election Commission to regular citizens.

Linked above the photo of a Hawaiian and a pepperoni slice is a PDF titled “THE WAR ON PINEAPPLE: Understanding Foreign Interference in 5 Steps.” The fact sheet illustrates how foreign meddlers seeking to disrupt U.S. elections use divisive topics—like pineapple on pizza—to further their aims. (The sheets notes that “To date, we have no evidence of Russia (or any nation) actively carrying out information operations against pizza toppings.”)

After identifying a controversial issue, foreign bots or accounts will then seek to exploit and inflame tensions between Americans on those issues, the agency says.

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So what are Americans to do? One of several tips offered by the Cybersecurity And Infrastructure Security Agency is to look at an account’s prior tweets and follows: “Genuine accounts usually have several interests and post content from a variety of sources.”

The Takeout sincerely hopes foreign governments never seek to meddle in our elections, our pizzas, or our hot-dog sandwich debates. Stay vigilante, Twitter.

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About the author

Kate Bernot

Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.