Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

"Twitter" has published the data about the Russian "trolls"


The company said they were releasing "substantially more information" about the foreign interference operations "to enable independent academic research and investigation".

"They include more than 10 million Tweets and more than 2 million images, GIFs, videos, and Periscope broadcasts, including the earliest on-Twitter activity from accounts connected with these campaigns, dating back to 2009", it wrote.

"One of the big takeaways is just how big these operations were". But researchers said the Iranian operation relied on many identities, and at times bots, to push the preferred messages of the Iranian government over a six-year period.

Russian Federation and Iran have both denied accusations that they attempted to influence United States voters on social media or through other means.

While the Russian op aimed to interfere in the 2016 presidential election it was also "aimed at dividing polarized online communities in the US, unifying support for Russia's worldwide interests, and breaking down trust in USA institutions", Nimmo found.

Even so, the Digital Forensic Research Lab, which had published a guide to spotting bots online, said the trolls were "less effective than may have been feared" and that many "achieved little or no impact".

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One main objective was to prevent a victory by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, with Russian troll accounts amplifying the hashtag #CrookedHillary and claiming voter fraud in favor of Clinton on election day.

However, the hashtag #reasonstoleaveeu was also found to have been included in the text of 1,092 tweets posted on the day of the referendum. RT the hell out of IT!

Nimmo, an information defense fellow at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab whose team was given a preview of the data in order to post their analysis with Twitter's announcement, said that for all the attention given to Russia's online influence in the US ahead of the 2016 presidential election, he was surprised that the data showed that the "first targets and the first victims" were, in fact, Russian users. Another post read, "I'm exhausted of this whole anti-gun thing".

Twitter has taken increasing steps to generate public goodwill over its perceived connection to Russian attempts to sway the 2016 election and its role in the spread of fake news.

For instance, San Francisco-based IFTTT offers software that connects multiple apps to run automated tasks.

"For our part, we are committed to understanding how bad-faith actors use our services", said Twitter. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

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