social media

Tag Archive

New Zealand: Much awaited report on combatting foreign interference in elections delivered | Charlie Dreaver/Radio New Zealand

Parliament’s Justice Select Committee has released its results of its inquiry into the 2017 General and 2016 Local elections. The report covers a number of areas including allowing spy agencies to vet potential political candidates. Ahead of the 2017 general election the GCSB and the SIS drew up a protocol for managing foreign and cyber-security threats but they didn’t need to use it. But the Justice Select Committee said that was no reason to be complacent. It’s suggesting intelligence agencies should give advice about a particular candidate if the party asks for it. It wanted the agencies to be giving more advice in general about possible foreign interference. The committee’s deputy chairperson, National MP Nick Smith, pointed to the risks of what’s called “astroturfing” on social media.

Full Article: Much awaited report on combatting foreign interference in elections delivered | RNZ News.

United Kingdom: Tech companies rush to fight misinformation ahead of UK vote | David Klepper & Dabica Kirka/Associated Press

Facebook is opening up a war room to quickly respond to election hoaxes. Twitter is banning political ads. Google plans to crack down on bogus videos on YouTube. Social media platforms say they are mounting a vigorous campaign against misinformation in the lead up to next month’s general election in the United Kingdom. But digital misinformation experts believe British voters remain vulnerable to the same type of misleading ads and phony claims that played a role in the vote to leave the European Union three years ago. Government inaction on online misinformation and digital ad regulations have added to the pressure internet companies are under as they face growing criticism for amplifying false claims during the run up to the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2016 election in the U.S. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushed for the snap Dec. 12 election, in which voters will choose 650 representatives to the House of Commons, hoping his Conservative Party will gain enough seats to break a stalemate over his plan to take Britain out of the EU. And with campaigns barely under way, falsehoods are already spreading online.

Full Article: Tech companies rush to fight misinformation ahead of UK vote.

Russia: How Russian operatives also used Google to influence Americans in 2016 | Jeff Stone/CyberScoop

While Russian propagandists relied heavily on Facebook and Twitter to spread disinformation before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a new congressional report elaborates on how they also used Google and YouTube to sway Americans’ public opinion in favor of Donald Trump. The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released a report detailing expansive, and ongoing, information warfare directed against American internet users. The 85-page explanation confirmed much of what was already known about Russian operations: a Kremlin-directed effort utilized an array of social media networks, with their targeted advertising capabilities, to provoke and confuse likely voters ahead of a contentious presidential election. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were the most crucial aspects of this effort, though Russia’s Internet Research Agency also leveraged Google and its subsidiaries for its own gain. “Periodically, particularly in the context of fast breaking news, Google’s algorithm can elevate extremist content or disinformation to the top of certain searches,” the Senate report said. “Days after the 2016 presidential election, a falsified media account of President-elect Donald Trump having won the popular vote briefly ranked higher than stories that accurately reflected the U.S. popular vote result.”

Full Article: How Russian operatives also used Google to influence Americans in 2016.

National: Big Tech Companies Meeting With U.S. Officials on 2020 Election Security | Mike Isaac and Davey Alba/The New York Times

Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft met with government officials in Silicon Valley on Wednesday to discuss and coordinate on how best to help secure the 2020 American election, kicking off what is likely to be a marathon effort to prevent the kind of foreign interference that roiled the 2016 election. The daylong meeting, held at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., included security teams from the tech companies, as well as members of the F.B.I., the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security. The agenda was to build up discussions and strategic collaboration ahead of the November 2020 state, federal and presidential elections, according to Facebook. Tech company representatives and government officials talked about potential threats, as well as how to better share information and detect threats, the social network said. Chief executives from the companies did not attend, said a person briefed on the meeting, who declined to be identified for confidentiality reasons.

Full Article: Big Tech Companies Meeting With U.S. Officials on 2020 Election Security - The New York Times.

Ukraine: Poorly regulated and rich in reach: online technologies in Ukraine’s elections | Tetyana Bohdanova/Global Voices

On Sunday July 21, Ukrainian voters went to the polls to vote in a snap parliamentary election, called after President Volodymyr Zelensky, elected in March 2019, announced a controversial decision to dissolve the parliament during his inauguration. Online misinformation, cyber-attacks, and the overall threat of external interference in the election were not last minute concerns; these issues were raised several months before the election. Ultimately, the election passed without major disruptions; Zelensky’s Servant of the People party took a majority of seats in parliament. So while some of these concerns turned out to be unjustified, the role of the internet in Sunday’s elections was more important than ever; according to 2019 data from the country’s State Statistical Service, 26 million Ukrainians are online and at least half that number actively use social networks. Ukrainian social media users have always actively discussed political topics online; the 2014 Euromaidan protests were famously sparked by a single Facebook post. This year, which also included a presidential election in March, was no exception. According to analysis by Internews Ukraine and data analytics company Singularex, Sunday’s elections provoked a tsunami of activity on social networks, with election-related posts surging immediately after the announcement of the parliament’s dissolution.

Full Article: Poorly regulated and rich in reach: online technologies in Ukraine’s elections · Global Voices.

Israel: Twitter suspends accounts spreading fake news to Israelis ahead of election | Haaretz

Twitter suspended 61 accounts linked to foreign fake news manipulation campaigns aimed at the Israeli public, ahead of the April 9 election. The move brings to 343 the number of accounts suspended by Twitter since election was announced last month, Elad Ratson of Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry tweeted on Monday. Ratson is the ministry’s director of research and development. The new group of 61 accounts had a total of more than 28,000 followers, and most of them were in English. Meanwhile, Facebook announced in a statement on Monday that it would launch in various countries, including Israel, “additional tools to help prevent foreign interference and make political and issue advertising on Facebook more transparent.” Advertisers will need to be authorized to purchase political ads; Facebook will give people more information about ads related to politics and issues; and it will create a publicly searchable library of these ads for up to seven years, the statement said.

Full Article: Twitter suspends accounts spreading fake news to Israelis ahead of election - Israel News - Haaretz.com.

Australia: Instagram spreads political misinformation and Australian elections are vulnerable | ABC

In 2016, an Instagram account called @army_of_jesus_ posted an image of the son of God, imploring viewers to “like if you believe” or “keep scrolling if you don’t”. It received almost 88,000 likes. The account, as revealed later by security researchers, was run by Russian internet trolls. While much attention has been paid to attempts to influence the 2016 US presidential election on Facebook and Twitter, the role of the image-based social media platform has been largely overlooked. In fact, according to two recent reports, Instagram became the platform of choice for Russia’s infamous Internet Research Agency (IRA).

Full Article: Instagram spreads political misinformation and Australian elections are vulnerable - Science News - ABC News.

National: Russia’s divisive Instagram memes are still racking up likes | Fast Company

It’s even worse than you think. One of the biggest revelations in Monday’s bombshell reports on Russia’s social media propaganda campaign was that Instagram played a much bigger role than previously known—resulting in 187 million engagements versus 76.5 million engagements on Facebook—at a scale far larger than parent company Facebook has acknowledged. And though the Russian Instagram accounts have since been deleted, they actually have had a greater impact than the new batch of Facebook data suggests: A search of Instagram reveals that at least hundreds of Internet Research Agency (IRA)-linked posts are still alive across the platform through legitimate U.S.-owned Instagram accounts, where they have racked up thousands of likes. Sen. Mark Warner, the Democrat Vice Chair of the Senate committee that commissioned the reports, told Fast Company that the lingering posts were a sign that more investigation is needed. “This is exactly why we thought it was important to release this information to the public—so that we can continue to identify what’s out there, and uncover additional IRA accounts that are still operational,” he said.

Full Article: Russia's divisive Instagram memes are still racking up likes.

Texas: Russian Trolls Successfully Peddled Texas Pride in 2016, Senate Reports Say | Dallas Observer

If you thought Texas’ Facebook fever swamp got especially weird as the 2016 election approached, you were right. According to a couple of new, third-party reports released by the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm behind the country’s fake news campaign to interfere in the 2016 election, specifically targeted Texas with one of its most successful pages. According to one of the reports — from Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project — a page managed by the Russian agency called “Heart of Texas” racked up the third-most likes of any page managed by the group, with 5.5 million. Users shared posts from the page nearly 5 million times and made more than 400,000 comments before Facebook shut it down in September 2017. 

Full Article: Russian Trolls Targeted Texas in 2016 | Dallas Observer.

Bangladesh: Facebook shuts down fake news sites in Bangladesh ahead of elections | Associated Press

Facebook is shutting down a series of fake news sites spreading false information about the Bangladesh opposition days before national elections, an official from the social media platform told The Associated Press. The sites — nine Facebook pages designed to mimic legitimate news outlets, as well as six fake personal accounts spreading anti-opposition propaganda — were created by Bangladeshis with government ties, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in an exclusive interview. The sites would be shut down “for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior” by Thursday evening at the latest, he said by telephone from California. A threat intelligence company that Facebook worked with determined that the people who created and managed the sites are “associated with the government,” he said, declining to provide further details.

Full Article: AP Exclusive: Facebook removes fake Bangladesh news sites.

National: Voter Suppression and Racial Targeting: In Facebook’s and Twitter’s Words | The New York Times

A report submitted to a Senate committee about Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election says that social media companies made misleading or evasive claims about whether the efforts tried to discourage voting or targeted African-Americans on their platforms. The report, which is based largely on data provided to Congress by companies such as Facebook and Twitter, was produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee by New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company, along with researchers at Columbia University and Canfield Research. It found the Russian campaign focused on influencing African-Americans and also tried to suppress voting.

Full Article: Voter Suppression and Racial Targeting: In Facebook’s and Twitter’s Words - The New York Times.

National: U.S. tech companies impeded Senate probe of Russian meddling, report says | UPI

Facebook, Twitter and Google impeded in the Senate investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a new report said Monday.

The report was compiled by Britain’s University of Oxford and analyzed by the firm New Knowledge. It said the tech companies submitted incomplete data and misled lawmakers about the actions of Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm.

The Computational Propaganda Research Project done by the University of Oxford said the Russian agency used social media to polarize the United States from 2012 to 2018 — including campaigns to encourage African-American voters to boycott elections and Hispanic voters to distrust U.S. institutions. The propaganda, it said, encouraged extreme right-wing voters to be confrontational. The trolls also sent sensationalist, conspiratorial and other forms of junk political news and misinformation to voters across the political spectrum to get spark outrage and division, the report said.

“Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) launched an extended attack on the United States by using computational propaganda to misinform and polarize U.S. voters,” the report states. “In this analysis, we investigate how the IRA exploited the tools and platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to impact U.S. users.”

Full Article: U.S. tech companies impeded Senate probe of Russian meddling, report says – UPI.com.

Full Article: U.S. tech companies impeded Senate probe of Russian meddling, report says - UPI.com.

Thailand: Thai election fight turns to YouTube, Facebook after campaign ban | Bloomberg

The battle to win over millions of first-time and undecided Thai voters is now increasingly being fought online as the military-run government bans campaigning ahead of a general election expected next year. New and established parties and even junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha are vying for attention on platforms ranging from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to the Line messaging service. The contest is set to intensify as the military government that seized power in 2014 prepares to finally hold an election on Feb 24. While the junta in September eased its ban on political activity, allowing parties to raise money and elect leaders, electoral campaigning and political gatherings of more than five people continued to be prohibited.

Full Article: Thai election fight turns to YouTube, Facebook after campaign ban, SE Asia News & Top Stories - The Straits Times.

Cameroon: A tense, long wait for election results as social media claims unverified winners | Quartz

Over the last two years, Cameroon’s government has gained a poor reputation for being repressive when it comes to internet freedoms. It’s had one of the longest-running intermittent internet shutdowns on record of 230 days between January 2017 and March 2018 as it tried to prevent political activists in the English-speaking regions of the country from using social media platforms to share information or organize. Because of this reputation, many watchers expected the government would again block the internet in the run-up to a highly contentious election in which the president, Paul Biya, 85, is looking to extend his 36-year rule by another seven years.

Full Article: Cameroon election unverified results are flooding WhatsApp, Facebook — Quartz Africa.

National: Technology giants face big test in midterm elections | The Washington Post

With less than a month before the midterm elections, technology companies are fighting to prove they can adequately shore up their platforms and products against foreign influence. Their success may mean the difference between getting to police their own house and having lawmakers do it for them. Election Day could be a tipping point for Silicon Valley titans, who are increasingly in Washington’s harsh glare following revelations that disinformation campaigns linked to Russia were widely disseminated on their platforms ahead of the 2016 elections. Tech moguls like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey were dragged to Capitol Hill to give mea culpas for their past practices and publicly pledge to do better next time. The companies contend they have learned from their missteps during the 2016 election and are improving their election-integrity efforts as other elections have taken place around the world. They’ve promised to do more to identify and stamp out fake accounts, and they have increased transparency around political ads. Facebook opened a 20-person war room on its Menlo Park campus aimed at quashing disinformation and deleting fake accounts. 

Full Article: The Daily 202: Technology giants face big test in midterm elections - The Washington Post.

Bangladesh: Cybercrimes through social media to influence upcoming polls | Dhaka Tribune

Citing cybercrimes as a threat in the upcoming national polls, the ruling party apprehends that there may be violent consequences due to use of information technology in the country. Criminals may use social media to demoralize country’s democratic atmosphere. Cyberwar can be a crucial issue during the poll time period, as anti-democratic forces, militant groups and religious fundamentalists may misuse the social media to operate cyber war, warned law enforcement agencies. Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) high officials also said militant groups may use social media and online platforms to obstruct the 11th parliamentary election, scheduled at the end of 2018.

Full Article: Cybercrimes through social media to influence upcoming polls | Dhaka Tribune.

Africa: Twitter bots in Kenya, Lesotho, Senegal, Equatorial Guinea elections | Quartz

Automated bots are increasingly muddying election cycles in Africa, disrupting conversations, distorting facts, and bringing into focus the changing dynamics of politics in the continent. Bots on social media became an influential voice during crucial Africa polls over the last year, claims a report called How Africa Tweets from communications consultancy Portland. These bots, defined by some as a new form of media, are software programs that combine artificial intelligence with communication skills and intimate human behavior. Using them, one could amplify a specific conversation on social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook by posting videos, photos, and biased statements targeting particular hashtags and wordings.

Full Article: Twitter bots in Kenya, Lesotho, Senegal, Equatorial Guinea elections — Quartz.

National: White House uses Twitter account to push back at Democrats | Associated Press

The White House is using its official Twitter handle to target Democratic lawmakers who have criticized President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, drawing complaints that government resources are being used to undercut potential 2020 presidential rivals. The White House Twitter handle, which has more than 17.3 million followers, falsely accused California Sen. Kamala Harris on Monday of “supporting the animals of MS-13,” a violent gang that the president has sought to eradicate. In a separate tweet, the White House account erroneously asserted Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was “supporting criminals moving weapons, drugs, and victims” across the border.

Full Article: White House uses Twitter account to push back at Democrats - ABC News.

Zimbabwe: Social media introduces new dimension to 2018 polls | The Zimbabwe Mail

The shadowy Facebook character was an instant hit as a result of the mostly believable bits of whistleblowing, entailing what happened in exclusive closed door meetings among political stalwarts in a manner which at the time could lead to incarceration or abduction. Phrases like “Bhora musango” became common lingo in politics and there was a feeling that the publication of such dirty secrets would precipitate the ruling party’s collapse. A landslide victory for Zanu PF, however, was attributed to what was now considered misguidance from Baba Jukwa, and ironically that was almost the same time the account became inactive. Fast-forward to 2018, with only six weeks left before this year’s watershed polls, social media is playing a significantly influential role.

Full Article: Social media introduces new dimension to Zimbabwe 2018 polls – The Zimbabwe Mail.

Washington: State sues Facebook, Google over political ads | Associated Press

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Monday sued Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOG), saying the companies failed to maintain information about political advertising as required by state law. Washington law requires the companies to maintain information about buyers of political ads, the cost, how they pay for it and the candidate or ballot measure at issue, according to the lawsuits, filed in King County Superior Court on Monday. The companies also must make that information available to the public upon request. Ferguson said neither Facebook nor Google did so, even though Washington candidates and political committees have spent nearly $5 million to advertise on those platforms in the past decade.

Full Article: Washington state sues Facebook, Google over political ads - CBS News.