social media

Tag Archive

United Kingdom: How social media filter bubbles and algorithms influence the election | The Guardian

One of the most powerful players in the British election is also one of the most opaque. With just over two weeks to go until voters go to the polls, there are two things every election expert agrees on: what happens on social media, and Facebook in particular, will have an enormous effect on how the country votes; and no one has any clue how to measure what’s actually happening there. “Many of us wish we could study Facebook,” said Prof Philip Howard, of the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, “but we can’t, because they really don’t share anything.” Howard is leading a team of researchers studying “computational propaganda” at the university, attempting to shine a light on the ways automated accounts are used to alter debate online. Read More

National: US spies caught Russian officers bragging about causing chaos in the election 6 months before the vote | Time

On March 2, a disturbing report hit the desks of U.S. counterintelligence officials in Washington. For months, American spy hunters had scrambled to uncover details of Russia’s influence operation against the 2016 presidential election. In offices in both D.C. and suburban Virginia, they had created massive wall charts to track the different players in Russia’s multi-pronged scheme. But the report in early March was something new. It described how Russia had already moved on from the rudimentary email hacks against politicians it had used in 2016. Now the Russians were running a more sophisticated hack on Twitter. The report said the Russians had sent expertly tailored messages carrying malware to more than 10,000 Twitter users in the Defense Department. Depending on the interests of the targets, the messages offered links to stories on recent sporting events or the Oscars, which had taken place the previous weekend. When clicked, the links took users to a Russian-controlled server that downloaded a program allowing Moscow’s hackers to take control of the victim’s phone or computer–and Twitter account.

Like many a good spy tale, the story of how the U.S. learned its democracy could be hacked started with loose lips. In May 2016, a Russian military intelligence officer bragged to a colleague that his organization, known as the GRU, was getting ready to pay Clinton back for what President Vladimir Putin believed was an influence operation she had run against him five years earlier as Secretary of State. The GRU, he said, was going to cause chaos in the upcoming U.S. election.

What the officer didn’t know, senior intelligence officials tell TIME, was that U.S. spies were listening. They wrote up the conversation and sent it back to analysts at headquarters, who turned it from raw intelligence into an official report and circulated it. But if the officer’s boast seems like a red flag now, at the time U.S. officials didn’t know what to make of it. “We didn’t really understand the context of it until much later,” says the senior intelligence official. Investigators now realize that the officer’s boast was the first indication U.S. spies had from their sources that Russia wasn’t just hacking email accounts to collect intelligence but was also considering interfering in the vote. Like much of America, many in the U.S. government hadn’t imagined the kind of influence operation that Russia was preparing to unleash on the 2016 election. Fewer still realized it had been five years in the making.

Full Article: Inside Russia’s Social Media War on America | TIME.

Iran: Tinder-like app could sway presidential vote | Fox News

Iranians will be able to learn more about their presidential candidates with a simple swipe of their phone. A California-based NGO has helped to create a Tinder-like app for the Iranian smartphone market to provide unfettered information about the candidates ahead of Friday’s national elections. Creators and supporters of the app say it will help Iranian voters make informed choices away from the regime’s propaganda machine that controls the flow of information in Iran. Read More

United Kingdom: Leave.EU under investigation over EU referendum spending | The Guardian

The Electoral Commission has launched an investigation into “potential offences” by Leave.EU over its spending during last year’s EU referendum campaign. The campaign group, which was headed by Nigel Farage and the businessman Arron Banks, is understood to have worked with the data firm Cambridge Analytica, which uses social media to influence voters. Cambridge Analytica’s involvement was not declared to the election watchdog, which has concluded that Leave.EU has a case to answer. If the commission decides that political spending laws have been breached, it can report the campaign group to the police. Read More

National: Facebook found efforts to sway presidential election, elect Trump | CNBC

Facebook says some groups tried to use its platform to sway the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. In a case study of the 2016 presidential election, the company said it found several instances of “information operations,” its term for governments and organizations who attempt to sway political opinion by spreading fake news and other nefarious tactics. The case study was included in Facebook’s white paper on “information operations.” It also detailed ways it was combating “fake news” and other misinformation spread by adding new technologies and creating more security features. Read More

Voting Blogs: Social Media in Politics-and The Problem of What (or Not) to Do About Fake News | More Soft Money Hard Law

Nate Persily of Stanford Law is emerging as the leading authority on the effect of the internet and social media on political campaigns.  His recent article in the Journal of Democracy displays Persily’s strengths: deep research, clarity of exposition and a grasp of what is significant in the messy world of facts. He is unmistakably alarmed: indeed, in interviews, he has said so.  Persily fears that a ruthless marriage of technology to “fake news” can destroy the prospects for responsible democratic deliberation. Where does this discussion of fake news go from here, and what are the pitfalls? Professor Persily notes that the dominant Internet platforms are moving toward policies to help readers locate the bona fide news items. Facebook now works with traditional media organizations and fact-checking enterprises to “flag” dubious stories. Read More

France: Experts say automated accounts sharing fake news ahead of French election | Reuters

French voters are being deluged with false stories on social media ahead of the country’s presidential election, though the onslaught of “junk news” is not as severe as that during last year’s U.S. presidential campaign, according to a study by Oxford University researchers. The study to be published Friday and another published on Wednesday add evidence to complaints by officials in France, Germany and the United States that Russia is trying to replicate its cyber-powered election meddling in American politics. Just days before France votes in the first round of a presidential election, the study said misinformation at times has accounted for one-quarter of the political links shared on Twitter in France. It defined “junk news” as deliberately false stories and those expressing “ideologically extreme, hyper-partisan or conspiratorial” views with logical flaws and opinions passed along as facts. Read More

France: Facebook targets 30,000 fake France accounts before election | Associated Press

Facebook says it has targeted 30,000 fake accounts linked to France ahead of the country’s presidential election, as part of a worldwide effort against misinformation. The company said Thursday it’s trying to “reduce the spread of material generated through inauthentic activity, including spam, misinformation, or other deceptive content that is often shared by creators of fake accounts.” It said its efforts “enabled us to take action” against the French accounts and that it is removing sites with the highest traffic. Facebook and French media are also running fact-checking programs in France to combat misleading information, especially around the campaign for the two-round April 23-May 7 presidential election. Read More

Netherlands: Mass Twitter Hack as Dutch Election Begins | Handelsblatt

Twitter was hacked on a large scale on Wednesday and swastikas and messages supporting Turkish leaders were posted on accounts around the world. The thousands of accounts affected spanned institutions such as the United Kingdom’s health department and Amnesty International, to media including the BBC in the United States and Forbes to celebrities such as singer Justin Bieber and German soccer club Borussia Dortmund. Read More

Montenegro: Authorities defends election day ban of Viber, WhatsApp | Associated Press

Montenegrin authorities on Wednesday defended a decision to block popular messaging services WhatsApp and Viber during the country’s parliamentary election, saying it was prompted by citizens’ complaints and in line with EU regulations. The state Communications Agency said in a statement that its move on Sunday was designed to prevent the abuse of the services on election day. The agency said a number of users — it did not specify how many — complained of receiving unwanted election propaganda. “The users of mobile communications in Montenegro asked for protection,” the agency said. “The ban of Viber and WhatsApp application turned out to be the only option to prevent the distribution of unwanted communication.” Read More