TechCrunch: Fake news is an existential crisis for social media . “The claim and counter claim that spread out around ‘fake news’ like an amorphous cloud of meta-fakery, as reams of additional ‘information’ — some of it equally polarizing but a lot of it more subtle in its attempts to mislead (for e.g., the publicly unseen ‘on background’ info routinely sent to reporters to try to invisible shape coverage in a tech firm’s favor) — are applied in equal and opposite directions in the interests of obfuscation; using speech and/or misinformation as a form of censorship to fog the lens of public opinion. This bottomless follow-up fodder generates yet more FUD in the fake news debate. Which is ironic, as well as boring, of course. But it’s also clearly deliberate.” One of those articles that deserves a better headline than it gets. A deep dive with lots of links to other news articles and background. Very good stuff.
Salon: Russian-linked bots join gun debate on Twitter following Parkland shooting: report. “In the aftermath of the shooting on Feb. 14 that claimed 17 lives at a Florida high school, automated bots reportedly jumped on Twitter—some reportedly Russian-linked— to steer the conversation, according to two watchdog organizations. While it’s unclear who the accounts were, and the context of the messages they were promoting, the bots reportedly used the tragic event as an opportunity to join the gun control reform debate on the social media platform.”
CNET: US charges Russian social media trolls over election tampering. “US special counsel Robert Mueller has filed charges against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups for allegedly interfering with the 2016 presidential election. In an indictment released Friday (PDF), Mueller and the Justice Department call out the Internet Research Agency, a group linked to Russian propaganda efforts across social media. Employees for the IRA created troll accounts and used bots to stage arguments and sow political chaos during the 2016 campaign.”
New York Times: To Stir Discord in 2016, Russians Turned Most Often to Facebook. “In 2014, Russians working for a shadowy firm called the Internet Research Agency started gathering American followers in online groups focused on issues like religion and immigration. Around mid-2015, the Russians began buying digital ads to spread their messages. A year later, they tapped their followers to help organize political rallies across the United States. Their digital instrument of choice for all of these actions? Facebook and its photo-sharing site Instagram.”
Los Angeles Times: The goal was espionage. The tactics were social media 101. “If a brand today wants to promote a new product, it would order its social media team to tailor posts that resonate with its audience, buy targeted ads to reach impressionable eyeballs, and closely monitor the performance of its messaging to ensure it reaches, and influences, as many viewers as possible. If a Russian troll farm wanted to disrupt an American election and amplify discord in an open society, it would apparently do the exact same things.”
The Daily Beast: Russian Troll Factory Alum Selling Social Media Mobs for $299 a Month. “Ever wished your personal or corporate Facebook account had the same polish and verve as the legion of fake accounts created by Russia’s election trolls? Then here’s good news. The newly indicted Internet Research Agency, or a former worker at the St. Petersburg troll factory, may be getting into the social media management business.”
BBC: YouTube and Instagram face Russian bans. “YouTube and Instagram face being blocked by Russian internet service providers as a result of a standoff between one of the country’s richest businessmen and an opposition leader. Russia’s internet censor blacklisted material on both services after a court ruled that it violated billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s privacy rights.”