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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.

Editorials: Will Foreign Activists Sway Ireland’s Abortion Vote? | Jochen Bittner/The New York Times

This Friday, Irish voters will decide whether to change their constitution to legalize abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The debate itself contains few new arguments; instead it circles around a question most other European countries have asked themselves over the past 40 years: What is the proper balance between the mother’s right to self-determination and the unborn child’s right to life? But there’s another question, less about the substance of the issue and more about the campaign around it: In an era of global social media and well-funded foreign activists, what does it mean for a country to hold a vote at all? And if a democracy is no longer insulated from foreign influence, what integrity can any referendum claim? Forget hacking and illegal vote-buying. What’s happening in Ireland is more transparent, but also, for that reason, more troubling.

Full Article: Opinion | Will Foreign Activists Sway Ireland’s Abortion Vote? - The New York Times.

Switzerland: Will Facebook influence the 2019 Swiss elections? | SWI

Online social network Facebook is allegedly planning to deploy its controversial “I’m a voter” button in Switzerland ahead of parliamentary elections next year. The Swiss authorities have not been officially informed by the US company, according to Swiss media reports. Republikexternal link, a Swiss online news magazine, on Wednesday quoted a report in the Schweiz am Wochenendeexternal link newspaper last month that Anika Geisel, manager of Facebook’s politics and government outreach team in Berlin, had met 20 politicians from all parties in Zurich on April 11. “The topic of the meeting was how candidates could benefit from Facebook’s campaign tools. It was intended as a promotional event for the technology company,” Republik.ch wrote. “One participant asked a question that had nothing to do with the marketing tools. Would Facebook be deploying its well-known ‘I’m a voter’ button in Switzerland? Yes, Geisel answered, the company was working on it.” 

Full Article: Will Facebook influence the 2019 Swiss elections? - SWI swissinfo.ch.

Malaysia: This Country’s Election Shows The Complicated Role Twitter Plays In Democracy | HuffPost

When the date of the general election was revealed, the outcry was swift. Tradition in Malaysia is for elections to be held over the weekend, giving the many people who have migrated to the big cities time to return to their towns and villages to vote. But on the morning of April 10, Malaysia’s Election Commission announced voting would take place on May 9 ― a weekday. The last time it was scheduled midweek was the country’s first election in 1959. For a population that has grown frustrated by high-level corruption scandals, the rising cost of living, and what many see as a lack of accountability from the world’s longest-ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, the announcement was a tipping point.

Full Article: This Country’s Election Shows The Complicated Role Twitter Plays In Democracy | HuffPost.

Mexico: As presidential election nears, the dirt flies on social media  | Dallas Morning News

No, President Trump didn’t write a personal letter to Mexico’s leading presidential candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, inquiring about the Mexican presidential plane. Nor did presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya offer to help Trump build a border wall. And Pope Francis hasn’t come out against López Obrador, a Christian. Mexico’s presidential campaign, already dirty, has had its share of fake news headlines. And the campaign is expected to get messier. The election is less than two months away on July 1st, when voters will pick candidates in 3,400 local, state and federal races — with the six-year presidential term being the biggest prize.

Full Article: As Mexico's presidential election nears, the dirt flies on social media  | Mexico Election 2018 | Dallas News.

Europe: EU piles pressure on social media over fake news | Reuters

Tech giants such as Facebook and Google must step up efforts to tackle the spread of fake news online in the next few months or potentially face further EU regulation, as concerns mount over election interference. The European Commission said on Thursday it would draw up a Code of Practice on Disinformation for the 28-nation EU by July with measures to prevent the spread of fake news such as increasing scrutiny of advertisement placements. EU policymakers are particularly worried that the spread of fake news could interfere with European elections next year, after Facebook disclosed that Russia tried to influence U.S. voters through the social network in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. election. Moscow denies such claims.

Full Article: EU piles pressure on social media over fake news | Reuters.