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Twitter Suspends Hundreds of Accounts Linked To Russian Operatives (usatoday.com) 235

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: Twitter says it found some 200 accounts linked to the same Russian groups that bought $100,000 worth of ads on Facebook to sow political unrest and manipulate U.S. voters during the presidential election. The Twitter accounts, which were taken down over the last month, were linked to 470 accounts and pages that Facebook traced to the International Research Agency, a Russian troll farm. According to a blog post released by Twitter Thursday after briefing staffers on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, the groups on Facebook had 22 Twitter accounts. Twitter found an additional 179 accounts connected to those 22. Twitter also shared information on Russian news outlet Russia Today, or RT, which has ties to the Kremlin, according to U.S. intelligence agencies.
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Twitter Suspends Hundreds of Accounts Linked To Russian Operatives

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  • "Rise your hand" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @06:12PM (#55272667) Journal

    My favorite Russian Facebook accounts are the ones promoting the secession of Texas. Seriously, they're hysterically funny.

    https://extranewsfeed.com/how-... [extranewsfeed.com]

    They even paid for a pro-secession delegation from Texas to go to Russia, where they could learn about true political freedom.

  • It's like McCarthy is back to switch the lights on and the cockroaches are running for cover. We've got to find and exterminate the Russians!

    Are we SURE we want to do this folks? This kind of thing really doesn't work out so well... The Salem witch trials, McCarthy's search for communists, they all turned into blots on our history. If we are really out there shaming anybody and everybody who has any kind of real or imagined connection to the Russians, we will find that anybody and everybody will be subj

    • No it's illegal to influence elections

      I've had trump loving friends reshare all kinds of weird Facebook pages that seemed to have popped up out of nowhere with stupid names like American Patriot Mom.

      • No it's illegal to influence elections

        I've had trump loving friends reshare all kinds of weird Facebook pages that seemed to have popped up out of nowhere with stupid names like American Patriot Mom.

        Depending on what you actually mean by "influencing elections" this is way too broad to be technically true. It is NOT illegal for them to do exercise influence (you couldn't enforce such a law anyway). Russia could start a conflict or propose a treaty that favored one candidate or another if they wish, the USA could make that illegal but there is no way to enforce that law, so it's worthless.

        What IS illegal is for foreign entities to directly support a candidate, campaign or party or more to the point

        • The Americans only think it's bad if foreigners influence American elections. Those in charge especially feel it's perfectly okay to go around and influence elections in other countries. God forbid if someone does to them what they routinely do to others.

      • No it's illegal to influence elections

        Does that include buying the support of super delegates? Or does the law only apply to normal people?

    • Nice strawman. No, it is against the ToS to create and use fraudulent spam accounts. It may also be illegal to spend (or accept) money in particular ways related to politics, especially without disclosure or while intentionally attempting to obscure or mis-attribute the source. For example, I believe being paid to shill (which typically involves some deceptive aka fraudulent actions) in US national politics by a foreign government has been illegal for quite some time, and twitter has an obligation to do

    • by epine ( 68316 )

      What crazy people moderated this post +5 interesting?

      The Internet Research Agency trades in weaponized speech.

      This is a new road, on a new technology, for a new era.

      New. And bad.

      ET is not going to send a spaceship to demolish our planet. They are merely going to transmit a Breitbart 3K feed (this particular alien 'K' has four zeros) and we're going to do it ourselves.

      We won't all fall for it, but the signal will be extremely powerful, and any boy scout with half a dish will be able to pick it up, to try o

      • The technology used might be new, but the technique is not. It's called propaganda and it's been used since the dawn of time.

        The defense for propaganda is not to suppress it (because you really can't), but to educate the people targeted by it in the truth so they recognize propaganda when they see it. The problem we face is that we've been fighting propaganda with propaganda of our own and now the masses don't understand what the truth is. It's so bad that the media in our country, the very institution

  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @06:19PM (#55272725) Journal
    Although the ability to manipulate public opinion through social media is, on its surface, a disheartening trend, there are some encouraging takeaways. The Russian attempts to influence the election outcome were neither extremely expensive, nor reliant upon technology unavailable to the common man.

    Formerly, winning the hearts and minds of the populace at election time was the prerogative of the wealthy and influential, as powerful media barons and political machines dominated the landscape.

    What we could be witnessing is the democratization of propaganda.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Thursday September 28, 2017 @06:34PM (#55272833) Homepage Journal

      Do we really want our democracies decided by memes and whoever trolls the hardest?

      It's nothing new of course, politics has always been dominated by ignorance, prejudice and bullshit. It's just so much more efficient now.

      • Do we really want our democracies decided by memes and whoever trolls the hardest?

        It's nothing new of course, politics has always been dominated by ignorance, prejudice and bullshit. It's just so much more efficient now.

        Well, we want our democracies, so we have to give a little bit in the manner they are are administered.

        If you let everyone vote as an equal participant (and that's pretty much the only way to go) you stipulate that a portion of the votes will be significantly influenced by the loudest, most oft-repeated, campaign message.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Seems like a few critical thinking and rhetoric classes at school would make a huge difference.

      • Do we really want our democracies decided by memes and whoever trolls the hardest?.

        That's up to the voters. The real story in all of this is that so many people get their "news" from facebook ads.

    • the democratization of propaganda

      I think you made a brilliant observation. These days, the information flows on the internet through a million streams in blogs, microblogs, social networks, and also lots of news sites you could consider "non-mainstream". No longer the likes of the NYT, Washington Post, and the cable news channels serve as the gatekeepers to the news or information. As a result, the mainstream media loves spinning the stories because "fake news". They're like "beware of getting any news or i

      • After the American media helped to drum up preparation for the war in Iraq, completely spun up and twisted upside down most issues related to say war in Syria, and took decisively the side of the Democratic presidential candidate last year, I sure can certainly trust our mainstream media a whole lot these days.

        I think in the not to distant past, the fourth estate could get away with influence-peddling without too much effort. When the wealthy & powerful began consolidating marginally profitable news outlets, it should've been clear to even the casual observer there was possibly some ulterior benefit.

        Has the 4th estate lost power to the 5th estate [stackexchange.com] because of their complacency? Traditionally successful periodicals seemed slow on the uptake; "This internet thing will never catch on."

        They certainly didn't diver

  • I'm not a fan of the government pressuring companies to do things. But in this case, Twitter does not seem to be "complying with USG desires." Despite the message or the actual groups behind any campaign, they abused Twitter and violated the TOS. It certainly looks shady. However, if you appropriately weigh both sides, twitter isn't acting outside of the scope of their TOS and how they have chosen to enforce it.

    I am interested to see how this pans out.
  • Mindless Citizens (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @06:30PM (#55272803) Homepage
    Unfortunately, as dollars have been ripped away from historical news organizations where educated professionals vetted sources, researched stories and were held accountable; we now throw billions at the immediate gratification "like" without a clue to what's true and false - only what "feels good". Critical reasoning is for the most part a thing of the past...wait, who predicted this?

    oh, ya... this was written in 1995 - 32 years ago:
    “I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...
    The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance”
    ---Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
  • Engadget is calling the accounts "bots". Do you consider a bot to be an operative?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So weak and witless are the Americans that you can get them to change their minds, get them to do your bidding, and get them to completely f*ck up their country and freedoms. All it takes is a few well-placed advertisements and tweets.

  • by Chris Katko ( 2923353 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @06:46PM (#55272917)

    ...do that to all the ISIS ones.

  • Not only do we actively interfere with other democracies, but when propaganda fails, we resort to violent action like funding coups and terrorism. Not just a little bit, either, but on massive scales. And we've been doing it for decades.

    I guess that's not news, though.
  • and 50 thousand dollars just wow.

    Number of active Twitter accounts 328 million
    https://www.statista.com/st [statista.com]...

    Number of tweets per day 500 million. 7700 per second so far today.
    http://www.internetlivestat...... [www.internetlivestat...]

    1 billion in digital political advertising in 2016
    https://www.forbes.com/site [forbes.com]...

    Twitter was deliberately not carrying advertising supporting Trump
    https://www.recode.net/2016 [recode.net]...

    I recall other incidents but ehh

  • If you are defending Russian inteligence operations agains tthe US, you are a fucking traitor. I don't give a shit how republican you are, or how conservative you are or how much you love fucking your woman with American Flag comdoms, you are a god damn traitor who should be shot.
  • So two hundred twitter and facebook accounts swayed the USA presidential election by spending 100,000USD on political ads. This is why Hillary Clinton lost, and not because she forgot to fight in the battleground states or because her discourse did not address the concerns of the worker class Americans. Mmokay.

  • How did Facebook determine that the accounts were associated with the International Research Agency? IP addresses? I can't believe the Russians didn't use tor or some form of VPN to disguise their location. And 179+22 accounts doesn't sound like a lot. I would have expected tens of thousands of accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit.
    Could Facebook visibly flag posts coming from a VPN or tor exit node or known troll farm?
  • by MoarSauce123 ( 3641185 ) on Friday September 29, 2017 @07:06AM (#55275407)
    The biggest troll account is @realdonaldtrump. Long overdue to shut that one down!
  • Meanwhile.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by tinkerton ( 199273 )

    Meanwhile Glenn Greenwald posted an article which explains why BeauHD falls in the category of useful idiots.
    https://theintercept.com/2017/... [theintercept.com]

An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it. -- James Michener, "Space"

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