A view shows the state of Russia's flag before a meeting with Russian President Putin with French President Macron in…
By Joseph Men
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Russian actors believed to be linked to the government has been actively involved in spreading fragmented content and promoting extreme themes in the competition to Tuesday’s mid-term, but they work harder to hide their tracks, according to government investigators, academics and security companies.
Researchers studying the dissemination of disinformation on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other platforms say that the new, more subtle tactics have made it possible for most of the so-called information operation campaigns to survive the clean-up of major social media and avoid government review .
“The Russians are definitely not here,” said Graham Brookie, Director of the Atlantic Council Digital Forensic Research Lab. “They have adapted over time to increased focus on influencing operations.”
US. intelligence and law enforcement agencies say that Russia used disinformation and other tactics to support President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. The Russian government has rejected all allegations of election interference.
A clear sign of the continued Russian commitment to disrupting American political life came in charges that were not rejected last month against a Russian woman serving as an accountant at a St. Petersburg company called the Internet Research Agency.
After spending $ 12 million on a project to influence US elections through social media in 2016, the company budgeted $ 12.2 million last year and then proposed spending $ 10 million only in the first half of 2018, showed the court.
The accusation said the Internet Research Office used fake social media to post on both sides of politically charged issues, including race, pistol control and immigration. The instructions were detailed, how to suck special politicians for a certain news cycle.
If the goals for spreading splitting content have remained the same, the methods have been developed in a number of ways, researchers say. For one, it has been less dependent on pure fiction. People have been sensitized to look for completely false stories, and Facebook has used external fact managers to at least slow their spread on their sides.
“We’ve been doing a lot of research on fake news and people are getting better at finding out what it’s like, so it’s less effective as a tactic,” said Priscilla Moriuchi, a former security security officer who is now a hot analyst at cybersecurity company Recorded Future hot manager.
Instead, Russian accounts have enhanced stories and internet memes originally from the United States far to left or to the far right. Such posts appear to be genuine, are more difficult to identify as foreign and are easier to produce than finished stories.
Renee DiResta, research director of security company New Knowledge, said that her company had compiled a list of suspicious Russian accounts on Facebook and Twitter similar to those who were closed after the 2016 campaign.
Some of them agreed to nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to gather conservatives, while others used memes from the left-wing occupied Democrats. Some operators of the accounts in the collection established themselves so far and had accounts for Gab, the social network favored far to the right.
Brookie said that while the Russian accounts could jump on a hot topic, the payment would often cope with related issues.
But it does not have to be necessary when the main subject is broken enough. Take the thought of “Blexit”, a call for black Americans to leave the Democratic Party. Daily Beast said it captured 250,000 tweets with Blexit hashtag during a 15-hour crack last week and found that 40,000 of them came from handles that previously participated in Russian information campaigns.
Although jumping on existing trolleys is easier than Russia did in 2016, other new tactics have been more complex.
The October allegation and a previous operation discovered by Facebook showed records that followers used Facebook’s Messenger service to try to get others to advertise for them and to recruit US radicals to promote real protests.
These features allowed Russians to avoid reinforced detection systems and blend with the audience.
“They bite Americans to push more polarizing and vitriolic content,” Brookie said. “A certain solution must focus on basing our policy on facts, first and foremost, and focusing on what keeps our country closer.”
(Reporting of Joseph Men in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Neil Fullick)