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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.

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.

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.

Canada: Elections Canada wants to buy social media ‘listening’ tool to track threats ahead of 2019 election | Globalnews.ca

Twitter, Reddit, Facebook. All three have been accused over the last two years of letting themselves be used by Russian attempts to influence the 2016 American election and as a new procurement posting suggests, they are just a few of the social media sites Elections Canada wants to keep an even closer eye on as it tracks risks and trends ahead of the 2019 Canadian election. To do that, the elections agency plans to buy what it calls a “social media and open source data listening and analytics tool.” In a notice of proposed procurement posted on Tuesday morning, the elections agency writes that it needs the new tool to be able to “listen, in near real time, to key influencers to identify potential issues that may affect the election early on,” as well as to “detect, through timely and accurate notifications, potential incidents and trends affecting the integrity of Canadian electoral events in near real time.”

Full Article: Elections Canada wants to buy social media ‘listening’ tool to track threats ahead of 2019 election - National | Globalnews.ca.

National: From encryption to deepfakes, lawmakers geek out during Facebook and Twitter hearing | The Washington Post

Jack Dorsey and Sheryl Sandberg relentlessly practiced before taking hot seats on Capitol Hill, engaging in role play and panels of questioning with colleagues and consultants. But the tech executives weren’t the only ones who came prepared for class on Wednesday. Senators on the Intelligence Committee clearly did their homework on a wide range of technical topics, and they peppered the executives with questions on issues ranging from doctored videos known as “deepfakes” to encryption. The grilling marked a stark departure from hearings earlier this year with Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, when senators on the Judiciary and Commerce committees were panned for their technical illiteracy. 

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: From encryption to deepfakes, lawmakers geek out during Facebook and Twitter hearing - The Washington Post.

Sweden: The Online Twitter Trolls Are Coming for Sweden | Bloomberg

Twitter bots are proliferating ahead of Sweden’s election next month — and they are 40 percent more likely to support the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats than human users. That’s the finding of the country’s Defense Research Agency, which says the social media platform has moved to suspend many of these malicious accounts. Democracies across the world need to prepare for this threat: Radical parties, with or without external help, are using and perfecting this form of digital propaganda — because it appears to work so well. It’s spreading, too. Sweden didn’t figure in this year’s list of 48 countries where Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Research Project found evidence of social-media manipulation. In 2017, there were only 28 such countries.

Full Article: The Online Twitter Trolls Are Coming for Sweden - Bloomberg.

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.

National: Inside Facebook and Twitter’s secret meetings with Trump aides and conservative leaders who say tech is biased | The Washington Post

Twitter and Facebook are scrambling to assuage conservative leaders who have sounded alarms — and sought to rile voters — with accusations that the country’s tech giants are censoring right-leaning posts, tweets and news. From secret dinners with conservative media elite to private meetings with the Republican National Committee, the new outreach reflects tech giants’ delicate task: satisfying a party in power while defending online platforms against attacks that threaten to undermine the public’s trust in the Web. The complaints have come from the upper echelons of the GOP, including top aides to President Trump, arguably the world’s most prominent Twitter user. The chief executives of Facebook and Twitter, meanwhile, have both admitted in recent months that Silicon Valley’s ranks are dominated by liberals, which has only fed accusations of bias from the right.

Full Article: Inside Facebook and Twitter’s secret meetings with Trump aides and conservative leaders who say tech is biased - The Washington Post.

Turkey: Will spike in fake news have an impact on elections in Turkey? | Al Jazeera

A soft-spoken parliamentarian, it’s easy to overlook Fatma Benli in a busy cafe until she starts recalling the disinformation campaign that nearly derailed her election bid two years ago. The small room we’re in begins to shudder as the sitting MP for the ruling AK Party passionately explains that she could have lost because of fake news and online narratives.  “There was fake news circulating on every major social media platform,” the 44-year-old told Al Jazeera, reeling off a litany of examples where she and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were repeatedly attacked in spurious social media posts.  “Facebook, Twitter, it came from all sides.”

Full Article: Will spike in fake news have an impact on elections in Turkey? | Media | Al Jazeera.

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.

United Kingdom: Russia used a network of 150,000 Twitter accounts to meddle in Brexit | Business Insider

Twitter accounts based in Russia posted 45,000 tweets about Brexit within the space of 48 hours during last year’s referendum on EU membership, an investigation commissioned by The Times has found. Data scientists at the University of Swansea and University of California, Berkeley found that over 150,000 accounts based in Russia posted content relating to Brexit in the days leading up to voting day on June 23, 2016. These accounts had previously focused on issues like Russia’s annexation of Crimea, before focusing their attention on the Brexit referendum, with the majority of tweets seen by the Times encouraging people to vote Leave.

Full Article: Russia used a network of 150,000 Twitter accounts to meddle in Brexit - Business Insider.

United Kingdom: Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit, data shows | The Guardian

Concern about Russian influence in British politics has intensified as it emerged that more than 400 fake Twitter accounts believed to be run from St Petersburg published posts about Brexit. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh identified 419 accounts operating from the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) attempting to influence UK politics out of 2,752 accounts suspended by Twitter in the US. One of the accounts run from the Kremlin-linked operation attempted to stir anti-Islamic sentiment during the Westminster Bridge terror attack in March in a bogus post claiming a Muslim woman ignored victims – a claim that was highlighted by mainstream media outlets including Mail Online and the Sun.

Full Article: Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit, data shows | World news | The Guardian.

National: Russian Twitter Trolls Stoked Voter Fraud Fear Before Election | NBC

Russian trolls used Twitter to challenge the validity of the U.S. presidential election months before it took place, according to new NBC News analysis. In apparent expectation of a Trump loss, the trolls began sowing seeds of doubt to make voters question a win by Hillary Clinton. But when Donald Trump’s victory began rolling in, they changed their tune and began tweeting about the Trump success. Kremlin propaganda tweets using the “VoterFraud” hashtag first appeared in August 2016 and slowly ramped up to an Election Day blitz, according to the NBC News analysis of some 36,000 archived tweets from a single anonymous source with knowledge of social media data.

Full Article: Russian Twitter Trolls Stoked Voter Fraud Fear Before Election - NBC News.

Virginia: Voter suppression tweets went undetected by Twitter for hours | CNN

A Twitter account misleading Democratic voters in Virginia by telling them they could cast their ballot by text message was active for almost three hours on Tuesday morning before Twitter suspended the account. The account, “MAGA Mike King,” was suspended after it tweeted more than a dozen times a graphic purportedly instructing Virginians on how to vote by text and including the logos of the Democratic Party and its gubernatorial candidate, Ralph Northam. The account doesn’t appear to have had much success spreading its message, with less than a handful of interactions on each of the offending tweets, but to some observers that’s almost beside the point. Their concern is that the account remained active for almost three hours out of the 13 hours that polls are open in Virginia, despite the fact that Twitter knows these sorts of efforts are a potential problem on its platform, and has claimed success in fighting back against them.

Full Article: Virginia voter suppression tweets went undetected by Twitter for hours - Nov. 7, 2017.

National: Fiery exchanges on Capitol Hill as lawmakers scold Facebook, Google and Twitter | The Washington Post

Senators from both parties took tech company officials to task in a hearing Wednesday for failing to better identify, defuse and investigate Russia’s campaign to manipulate American voters over social media during the 2016 presidential campaign. In the second of three Capitol Hill hearings this week on Russian’s online information operation, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee challenged Facebook, Google and Twitter in strikingly direct terms that, at times, seemed to carry the implicit threat of legislation that could rein in the nation’s wildly profitable technology industry. “I don’t think you get it,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), whose home state includes all three companies. “What we’re talking about is a cataclysmic change. What we’re talking about is the beginning of cyberwarfare. What we’re talking about is a major foreign power with sophistication and ability to involve themselves in a presidential election and sow conflict and discontent all over this country. We are not going to go away gentlemen. And this is a very big deal.”

Full Article: Fiery exchanges on Capitol Hill as lawmakers scold Facebook, Google and Twitter - The Washington Post.

National: Russia Fanned Flames With Twitter, Which Faces a Blowback | The New York Times

Fires need fuel. In this era of political rage, a Twitter account that called itself the unofficial voice of Tennessee Republicans provided buckets of gasoline. Its pre-election tweets were a bottomless well of inflammatory misinformation: “Obama wants our children to be converted to Islam! Hillary will continue his mission.” A mysterious explosion in Washington, it said, had killed one of Mrs. Clinton’s aides, raising her “body count” to six. Another proclaimed, “Obama is the founder of ISIS.” The account, @TEN_GOP, eventually reached more than 130,000 followers — 10 times that of the official state Republican Party’s Twitter handle. It was one of the most popular political voices in Tennessee. But its lies, distortions and endorsements came from the other side of the world.

Full Article: Russia Fanned Flames With Twitter, Which Faces a Blowback - The New York Times.