Facebook and Twitter say Russia is at it again with disinformation campaigns ahead of the election
Everything remains horrible.
Back in 2016, the IRA, Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-backed Russian group spread misinformation campaigns on social media platforms regarding the US election. Now, Facebook and Twitter have acknowledged that it is happening again this year. This comes after the FBI alerted Facebook of the news.
According to a report from The New York Times, the IRA is attempting to “push voters away from the Democratic presidential candidate, Joseph R. Biden Jr., to help President Trump.” Researchers have also noted that this echoes the 2016 plan, which looked to divide left-leaning voters in an attempt to bolster Donald Trump’s reelection efforts.
So, how was the IRA doing this? The main way was through fake news sites that looked legitimate. PeaceData.net is the one highlighted, and upon visiting the site, you see that it brands itself as a “global news agency.” Dig a bit deeper and you’ll see that writer images are computer-generated fakes. The NYT report also notes that Peace Data hired American writers to help bolster the credibility of the website.
Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, tells CNN Business that, thankfully, it seems that Peace Data and other similar sites and accounts haven’t had much of a splash on Facebook, but that from their research it is tied to the IRA. Gleicher notes that people associated with the IRA were “actively, aggressively, and creatively trying to target the United States in the run up to the  election.”
All of this comes at a time where the US government is downplaying Russian interference while amplifying potential Chinese interference. On Sunday, Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, went on Fox News to assert as much. The NYT notes that “While people briefed on the intelligence concede that China wants to increase its influence in the United States, they said there was no direct evidence that Beijing had taken direct action to influence the presidential vote this year.”
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