The Russian Connection: The Social Media War


(Ashley ) #1

With all the recent news breaking in regards to the election, Russian disinformation
& social media – it became really clear to me how woefully underinformed the media
is, in comparison to the actual users (i.e. real normal people).
For some background on Trump’s legitimate social media strategy (I use the term legitimate simply because while some of the tatics and resources they employed were ‘deplorable’, as of right now there is no (legitimate) reason to give doubt to this.

Project Alamo – Trump’s social media “camp”: BBC did a excellent interview and that
gave a really good overview what Project Alamo was.

Next, there is Brad Parscale, Trump’s “digital data guru”: if you’ve never heard of him Buzzfeed did a good profile on him back in June.

Brad Parscale once bragged in a Wired interview in November of last year:

‘Facebook and Twitter were the reason we won this thing.’

To see Trump’s social media “bunker” in action, I highly recommend the video in
this article (and the article too!).


Nowwww….for the Russia stuff: I don’t even really know where to start here……
It appears that a lot of news outlets are finally learning about Hamilton 68, since apparently they weren’t aware of the Russian trolls, propaganda, etc STILL on Twitter (which, anyone who uses Twitter somewhat regularly could have told you that months ago.)

PBS Newshour actually interviewed someone who worked for the Petersburg “troll farm” previously! The interview is stunning is literally confirms so much of what has only been speculated.

Now, from here it’s really hard to contextualize all the article from here because we are learning more things by the hour it feels like…so, for now I’m working on sorting through all my links (LOL :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:) and I’m going chronicle all the articles have come out, based on published date.
(update to come soon!)


A Dose of Hope: Can the Michelin Model Fix Fake News?

The best solution for countering the growth and propagation of false news,
preserving free speech and improving the information diet of social media users, then? It comes from rating information producers rather than regulating or removing content.


Suspending Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group from Facebook | Facebook Newsroom
Suspending Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group from Facebook | Facebook Newsroom
Facebook and Cambridge Analytica
(Ashley ) #2

Soo…the Executive Editor of the Daily Beast posted this ominous tweet a short time ago:

But than 12 mins later this dropped:

:scream::scream::scream::scream:


(John) #3

Media Bias/Fact Check grades the political leanings and accuracy/reputation of media outlets and information sources.

It’s a great start and better than nothing, but a large part of the problem is many people often don’t bother to assess/verify/check a source even if an official centralized rating system were to exist.


(John) #4

In addition to impersonating Muslims, Russians also posed as Black Lives Matter activists (“Blacktivists”):

The same twitter accounts tracked by the Hamilton 68 research project also inflamed recent online tensions about the national anthem and Kaepernick’s “take a knee” protest for social justice.

I’ve also seen a ton of fake “antifa” (anti-fascist) social media accounts. I wouldn’t be surprised if those are linked to Russians as well.


(Ashley ) #5

10 MILLION people saw these ads (approximately!). 10 MILLION.

Just released by Facebook: Hard Questions: Russian Ads Delivered to Congress – Facebook Newsroom


(Ashley ) #6

hey @matt @seabass @chrisb @catone & anyone else who may know about using facebook ads!

do you know if someone ‘likes’, ‘reacts’ or shares a sponsored ad - does it still show as sponsored in your friend’s newsfeed?

wasn’t the labeling of sponsored ads more discreet until recently (during the election at some point, early on though)? it was just a globe symbol vs. globe + the words ‘sponsored’. i may be wrong - i tried researching last night with no avail, plus i’ve used facebook 99.9% of the time via iOS for at least the past 5 years and i know mobile newsfeed differences to the web version.

also, anyone know if you can use bitcoin to pay for ads? i found mixed information when i was researching.


(Josh Catone) #7

@mouseam I am relatively sure that if someone likes/reacts to the post, it may show up in a friend’s feed (not always) and it will still show up as sponsored. If they actively share the post, then it might lose the sponsored label. For example, I just clicked on the share button on a sponsored post in my feed and at least on the preview, the sponsored label is gone:

That doesn’t mean it will definitely lose the label (I didn’t go through with actually sharing this post), but it appears that it might.

I don’t think Facebook accepts Bitcoin for ads (they may for things like in-game currency, though). However, you could certainly pay an intermediary in Bitcoin who would then buy the ads on your behalf.


(Chris) #8

I’m not an expert…but in general, if you like something, there is a good chance the algorithms will make it show up on friend’s feeds. That’s why people are always asking you to Like and Share things. I know I do it too.

But to answer the question better your posts can be shown in one of two ways. Organic, and paid. Organic is what I described above, your friends like and or share something, it shows up in your feed, that happened organically and didn’t cost money. Paid is exactly what it sounds like…a page is paying for an ad, and it shows up as a ‘sponsored post’ in a feed. Paid is really funny though, as I will constantly see my own ‘sponsored posts’ in my feed. I don’t know if I am seeing it because it is on a page I manage. I don’t know if people can see the same ad more than once…and I don’t know if these views are taken from your ad balance (I hope not).

No idea on bitcoins.


(Ashley ) #9

Thank you @catone!! Super helpful! I’m just trying to think through all those things they don’t tell you, even more so now with the news that they targeted Wisconsin & Michigan.

This was the one I was most curious about – especially because I wasn’t event aware until this year that when you comment, like/react and even RSVP to an event that I could show up in your friend’s feed. (I learned when my mother in law (Trump supporter) ‘loved’ that I was attending the Women’s March & I got a notification – I was like WTF?!).

It would be interesting to see, for sure if it shows as sponsored. I know personally, I use to like/react things so it didn’t show up in their feeds - otherwise I would have shared it!

This is what I had thought – which makes sense (from FB/page owner POV, at least).


(Ashley ) #10

The latest Russian social media warfare; PINTEREST. Yes, Pinterest!

If I saw political stuff in my Pinterest feed, I immediately know SOMETHING was up. That’s like 1,000 red flags all at once. Pinterest is just not the place for politics! It’s the hub of all things DIY – my Pinterest boards consist of nail art, braids, origami and art journaling (slightly embarrassing but accurate lol).


#11

Now Cambridge Analytics is under invetigation too. Yes! :pray: Please let there be a Russian connection!!


(John) #12

Russia-based ads were purchased to show up on Google search, Gmail, and YouTube.

Russia propagandists also recruited YouTubers to make videos bashing Hillary.

Snapchat hasn’t found any Russia-backed ads yet (but Google thought so too at one point…) Yahoo hasn’t revealed anything either, but I would be surprised if they weren’t targeted since they’ve been hacked up, down, and sideways by Russia.

Reddit is being looked at too. I don’t know if there has been any official announcement, but I’ve seen analyses shared on Twitter of bot content and sub-reddits with questionable topics.


https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaymcgregor/2017/09/28/reddits-inclusion-in-trump-russia-investigation-makes-perfect-sense/

People have joked Russia wouldn’t touch or bother with ads on Bing :joy:


(Ashley ) #13

So, this is sort of social media adjacent…but it’s sort blowing my mind.


It just brings to mind all the stories from when Pokemon Go came out;



Then there are all the fake stories that came from Cartel Press:

To add to all this: there are tons of websites that give you info on “hot spots” - where to go if you want to this Pokémon, etc. Reddit was big on that too.


#14

@mouseam What the actual fuck?! Pokémon?! This story keeps getting weirder and weirder!


#15

I’ve read somewhere that the Russian strategy is to control all sides of an issue. This strategy is terrifying. They’re… weaponizing every group.


(Ashley ) #16

Twitter is banning advertisements from RT & Sputnik, effective immediately.

They will also be donating $1.9M (their estimated overall profits from these ads) to “support external research into the use of Twitter in civic engagement and elections, including use of malicious automation and misinformation”.


(John) #17

FB says 29 million people were served Russian-sourced posts that may have reached 129 million users total within their shared networks. 11.4 million people saw Russian propaganda ads since 2015, but their organic reach was “more than 10 times higher” than that.

In written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, a copy of which was obtained by CNN, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch says that 29 million people were served content directly from the Internet Research Agency, and that after sharing among users is accounted for, a total of “approximately 126 million people” may have seen it.

Stretch also says in his testimony that Facebook estimates 11.4 million people saw ads purchased by the Internet Research Agency between 2015 and 2017. But the full, organic reach of content posted by the troll farm-linked pages was more than 10 times higher.

“This equals about four-thousandths of one percent (0.004%) of content in News Feed, or approximately 1 out of 23,000 pieces of content,” Stretch writes. “Put another way, if each of these posts were a commercial on television, you’d have to watch more than 600 hours of television to see something from the IRA.”


Twitter reveals what we’ve all suspected: their Russian bot problem is worse than previously disclosed.

“…we identified 36,746 accounts that generated automated, election-related content and had at least one of the characteristics we used to associate an account with Russia,” the testimony continued.

“During the relevant period, those accounts generated approximately 1.4 million automated, election-related Tweets, which collectively received approximately 288 million impressions,” it said. The company emphasized that the 36,000 accounts represented “1/100th of a percent (0.012%) of the total accounts on Twitter at the time.”

Seems like just a tad bit more than the 201 accounts Twitter initially reported… :wink:


(Ashley ) #18

Total Number of Voters: 136 million
Number of Voters “not reached” (assuming all users voted): 7 million
Number of 3rd Party Voters: 6.9 million

This. Is. Huge.


(John) #19

Google has a new report too but with less Russian Internet Research Agency activity than FB or Twitter.

Google reports that in an examination of its ad products, it discovered only two accounts with ties to the Internet Research Agency. The two accounts had invested $4,700 into Google’s ad network (search and display ads) during the timeframe of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Google doesn’t specify how it defined that timeframe in this particular batch of numbers.

Google’s report breaks its YouTube findings into their own category. Here, it found 18 channels it believed to be linked to the Russian government that featured public political videos in English. While that isn’t very many channels, they did create a cumulative 1,108 videos with 309,000 views in the U.S. from June 2015 to November of the following year. The vast majority of videos had fewer than 5,000 views.

Original report:


(Ashley ) #20

America: we got played.