SEVERAL WEEKS AGO, senior U.S. intelligence officials repeated a warning that Russia wants to sow discord in the American electorate to benefit the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. The officials admitted they had no solid proof, but they were certain it is happening.

At the same time, it was reported in the national media that Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign had hired more than 500 deputy digital organizers to work 20 to 30 hours a week and receive $2,500 a month to blitz Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users with posts in support of the candidate who would then send text messages to their friends.

A day later, Twitter said the novel strategy violated their rules against platform manipulation and spam and they were taking action to shut down some of the suspect accounts. How is this social media strategy any different than what many believe has been foreign interference that has maligned our elections which threatens our democracy?

Large-scale campaigns have encouraged supporters to post on social media. It’s a new era. But this time was different because, in this case, Bloomberg was paying the posters.

President Trump’s re-election campaign includes staff dedicated to digital media, but doesn’t compensate people to post on their social media accounts. When told of Russia’s alleged assistance, Sanders said “I don’t care who Vladimir Putin wants to be president. My message is clear ‘Stay out of American elections and as president, I will make sure that you do.’ ”

Foreign election interference is not new. It has been going on for decades. In recent years, many believe no one has done more to advance the Russian narrative resulting in chaos than Congressman Adam Schiff, Sen. Chuck Schumer, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News.

A Bloomberg spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal that the social media strategy represents the future of political organizing.

This new effort is a modern-day extension of strategy that saw a combination of volunteers and paid workers doing things like running phone banks, knocking on doors, handing out flyers, and putting signs along the roads and in the front yards of homes.

Most people want to safeguard the sanctity of your vote. How can that be accomplished, while stopping cyber criminals and foreign actors from Russia, China and Iran from flooding social media when it’s easy to do? It’s one of the unintended consequences of social media and internet technology.

Based on 2018 midterm strategies, Democrats alone sent more than 350 million text messages. Voters can expect that number to exceed 1 billion this election season. Bloomberg has said he will saturate the airwaves with ads if he makes it past Super Tuesday. He is determined to be the alternative candidate to Sanders’ radical socialism.

Voters must be alert. They must not fall prey to disinformation about the elections. How are we to know what information is trustworthy? Because of the ease of social media, information can and often is false, even when it appears to come from close friends and associates.

We seem to be saying a tidal wave of disinformation from within the country is acceptable. How are we to distinguish that from questionable behavior from foreign actors? Many of those texts will ask for campaign donations. Don’t let these devious characters take advantage of unsuspecting candidate supporters.

Foreign actors dump private campaign and candidate information on the internet, and spread disinformation and divisive messages without fear of reprisals. Algorithms make it easy for sinister actors to target partisan tribal groups.

We have no idea if this misinformation is coming from foreign actors or domestic sources that are now being paid to undermine our trust and confidence in each other, the democratic society and democracy itself.

Foreign interference is just a convenient excuse. Don’t fall for it.