Twitter says it suspends accounts it ‘can reliably attribute to Russian state actors.’
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
The Russian disinformation campaign is again trying to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
The two social media giants, Facebook and Twitter, said that the Russian group that interfered in the 2016 presidential election was again posting fake news by using a network of phony accounts and a website that is designed to look like a left-wing news site, the report said.
The accounts are linked to a Kremlin-backed group called the Internet Research Agency (IRA), which was found pushing American voters to drop support for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and choose President Donald Trump.
On Tuesday both Facebook and Twitter announced that they had shut down accounts linked to Russia that were trying to influence the November vote.
“In total, our team has found and removed about a dozen deceptive campaigns connected to individuals associated with the IRA,” Facebook said in a report. “We began this investigation based on information about this network’s off-platform activity from the FBI.”
Twitter said “we suspended five Twitter accounts for platform manipulation that we can reliably attribute to Russian state actors.”
Peace Data calls itself a “global news organization.” There is no masthead listing the editor or staff, and the copyright message at the bottom of the website has the text “Publishing rights reserved” in Arabic.
A recent headline on the website was: “Overfunding of U.S. Military Is Driving Climate Change and White Supremacist Culture of War Crimes,” issues that feed into two standard left-wing issues, but link them to spending on the U.S. military – a pet peeve of Russia.
Peace Data rejected the allegations, saying “Facebook baselesly (sic) accused us of working with Russia.”
Both Facebook and Twitter have a faced harsh criticism for allowing extremists and hate groups to use their platforms to spread hate messages, especially anti-Semitism.
When the the two companies were slow to react to the disinformation campaigns that were being waged using accounts on their services, the FBI warned them about the Russian effort, the Times reported.
Experts called the Peace Data website an example of “information laundering” by Russia to place articles, including disinformation, into various fringe websites.
“The Russians are trying harder to hide; they are increasingly putting up more and more layers of obfuscation … but they are still getting caught,” said Ben Nimmo, who works for a company that helped Facebook write its report.
In 2017 Russian President Vladimir Putin denied his government was involved in the election interference, but admitted that “Patriotically-minded” Russians may have hacked the 2016 U.S. elections in which Donald Trump narrowly defeated Hillary Clinton.
A year later, Putin was roundly condemned by officials after he alleged that some of those responsible for trying to influence the election were “Jews.”