Quartz: Facebook’s latest “effort” to warn people about Russian propaganda is wildly inadequate. “Oh, but where’s the fun in a straightforward advisory that you may have been duped by Russian propaganda? Facebook would rather this be a bit of a challenge! Asked whether the company plans to notify users who have liked or followed Russian content, a Facebook spokesman clarified in an email that ‘they will have to go to the Help Center portal to see the information,’ adding that the company will ‘take significant steps to make users aware of this new tool.’ The tool will also not tell Facebook users if they were exposed to content from the Internet Research Agency that they didn’t personally like or follow. In other words, if a friend shared pages from Russian trolls, or they were promoted into your newsfeed, you may never know. “
Facebook: Continuing Transparency on Russian Activity. “A few weeks ago, we shared our plans to increase the transparency of advertising on Facebook. This is part of our ongoing effort to protect our platforms and the people who use them from bad actors who try to undermine our democracy. As part of that continuing commitment, we will soon be creating a portal to enable people on Facebook to learn which of the Internet Research Agency Facebook Pages or Instagram accounts they may have liked or followed between January 2015 and August 2017. This tool will be available for use by the end of the year in the Facebook Help Center.”
Techdirt: Russia Threatens To Go To War With Google Over Stupid Comments By Eric Schmidt. “To be clear: I have no doubt that RT and Sputnik have engaged in attempts to push anti-US propaganda in the US. That seems fairly obvious at this point. My concern is twofold: first of all, saying that ‘it’s basically RT and Sputnik’ suggests Schmidt thinks that the issue is just those two sites and merely downranking them will solve problems related to propaganda. That’s both wrong and naive. Second, having the executive chair of Google’s parent company directly announce that Google is working on ways to downrank two specific sites is bad. Part of Google’s longstanding position has always been that they don’t interfere to go after specific sites, in part because that creates a massive slippery slope. Of course, Google gave up on part of that position five years ago when it caved in to Hollywood and agreed to start downranking sites based on accusations (not actual convictions) of copyright infringement.”
Council on Foreign Relations: Countering Russian Information Operations in the Age of Social Media. “The organization of Russia’s information-warfare capabilities, which include cyber operators, media outlets, and false flag entities, is shrouded in secrecy. In the West, generally only the intelligence community has a clear picture of how Russian capabilities are directed. Barring the sudden appearance of a Russian counterpart to Edward Snowden, the only view into Russia’s information toolbox is provided by cybersecurity companies and criminal prosecutions. The picture is further muddied because the Russian government keeps many of its cyberwarfare actors at arm’s length by employing contractors and former criminals through middlemen, giving Moscow a degree of deniability if caught. Nevertheless, both Western governments and private industry can take steps to mitigate Russian influence operations.”
Open Democracy: The inside story of Russia’s failed social media revolution. “‘0 days, 0 hours, 0minutes, 0 seconds until the new historical epoch begins’ – this is what the timer on the website of Vyacheslav Maltsev’s Artpodgotovka movement currently reads. Maltsev, leader of the radical populist movement, promised that Russia would experience a revolution on 5 November 2017. Regime change would be heralded by spontaneous protests, with cities occupied across the country. Artpodgotovka would storm the Kremlin, before holding a ‘popular referendum’. Raising their hands, those present would vote for the overthrow of Russian president Vladimir Putin.”
Motherboard: Eric Schmidt Says Google News Will ‘Engineer’ Russian Propaganda Out of the Feed. “Eric Schmidt, Executive Chariman of Alphabet, says the company is working to ferret out Russian propaganda from Google News after facing criticism that Kremlin-owned media sites had been given plum placement on the search giant’s news and advertising platforms. ‘We’re well aware of this one, and we’re working on detecting this kind of scenario you’re describing and deranking those kinds of sites,’ Schmidt said, after being asked why the world’s largest search company continued to classify the Russian sites as news.”
Medium: How A Russian Troll Fooled America . “@TEN_GOP was a masterpiece of disinformation and disguise: a Russian account which masqueraded as an American for over eighteen months, fooling both friends and foes of President Donald Trump in the media, on social media, and even in the Trump campaign. Its success came from its stepwise approach. First, it imitated genuine far-right commentators by posting hyper-partisan tweets, and attracted their attention by mentioning and praising them.” It’s a really long read, but I think worth it.