Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


How Russia turned the internet against America

WASHINGTON — The indictment released Friday by special couns..

WASHINGTON — The indictment released Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller makes plain how prosecutors believe Russia pursued its multiyear scheme to undermine the 2016 presidential election — by wielding the social media-driven internet that the United States itself did so much to create.

They had help, digital experts say, from decades of accepted U.S. policy about how to help the internet thrive: The U.S. government has taken a largely hands-off approach, while the anonymity that protects people’s privacy and liberty online also allowed Russian trolls to deceive overly trusting Americans. And the same freedom to innovate that has made Silicon Valley wealthy and powerful meant that there were few eyes on the ball as Russian actors began figuring out how to manipulate the internet’s few dominant platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and the Google-owned YouTube.

“So many of us thought for so long that the internet was an unbridled force for good, but man, over the last year, the shine has really come off,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy & Technology, a D.C.-based tech advocacy group.

“I’m sort of at a loss right now,” Hall added. “I value anonymity, but it’s really hard to see how this doesn’t lead to some sort of driver’s license for the internet, which makes me feel horrible. There’s needs to be some sort accountability, though I really don’t know what that is. We have a lot of work to do.”

Jonathan Albright, an expert on bots and online propaganda, also found the conclusions of Mueller’s investigators stunning and sobering.

“The indictment is unbelievable,” said Albright, who’s also a research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. He pointed in particular to a section detailing how the major social media companies did not share evidence of Russian spending on political or social ads until September 2017, some 10 months after the presidential election.

“These companies don’t answer to anyone except shareholders” — Jonathan Albright, bots and online propaganda expert

He blames, in part, Silicon Valley’s insularity. “If there was more transparency and accountability into these systems, researchers might have been able to pre-empt some of what happened. But these companies don’t answer to anyone except shareholders,” Albright said.

But there’s plenty more responsibility to go around, argues Albright. Government officials, for example, have failed to pass the sort of campaign finance disclosure or data privacy laws or rules that could make it more difficult to target Americans online.

It was not supposed to happen this way. For years, American tech evangelists and U.S. government leaders alike saw the free-flowing internet as a threat to global strongmen, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who favor tight controls. U.S. policymakers have often espoused the idea that dictators would be so tempted by digital commerce’s economic bounty that they would eventually relent and allow the internet to operate without censorship. It was an article of faith in the Obama administration that, as then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in 2011, “governments who have erected barriers to Internet freedom … will eventually find themselves boxed in.”

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announces the indictment of 13 Russian nationals and 3 Russian organizations for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election | Win McNamee/Getty Images

But Russian authorities, Mueller’s indictment suggests, had other ideas — even as they adopted many of Silicon Valley’s best practices and turned them against U.S. democracy.

The notorious Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency, the document details, has been organized like a well-tuned digital marketing shop. It had a division dedicated to search-engine optimization, the art and science of persuading the algorithms that power Google and other websites to prominently feature certain content. The indictment says the Russian outfit also used data analytics to track which of their posts were proving most successful, sent private social media messages to stir up genuinely American grass-roots activists and registered accounts — with names like “[email protected]” — on PayPal to pay for ads.

The organization even double-checked the content generated by its posting “specialists” to make sure it had the kind of authenticity to make it believable to Americans.

The tech companies have been reluctant to embrace the idea that their actions, or inactions, might have made life easier for the Russian actors. Just last month, Facebook’s product manager for civic engagement, Samidh Chakrabarti, made news by saying of Russian social media meddling, “This was a new kind of threat that was hard to predict, but we should have.”

Renée DiResta, one of the co-founders of the newly launched Center for Humane Technology — a group of tech industry veterans critical of what social media has done to society — tweeted, “While you read the Mueller #Indictment remember the tech CEO mantra: ‘We don’t want to be the arbiters of truth.’ These platforms were used exactly as they were designed to be used. Here we are a year later, and still no accountability or governance.”

Behind the scenes, though, some in tech grumble that they haven’t gotten the kind of government help that the industry might have needed to combat the foreign interference.

“Russian efforts to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election … go against everything we at Twitter believe” — Twitter spokesperson

After the Mueller indictment came out Friday, Joel Kaplan, the vice president of global policy at Facebook, said in a statement that the company was “grateful” that government authorities were taking “aggressive action against those who abused our service and exploited the openness of our democratic process.”

Kaplan, too, emphasized that Facebook now believes it needs to do more to combat whatever attacks might come. “We’re committed to staying ahead of this kind of deceptive and malevolent activity going forward,” he said.

Twitter said in a statement Friday night that it will continue to cooperate with Congress’ and Mueller’s investigations into the election meddling.

“Russian efforts to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election, in part by abusing social media platforms, go against everything we at Twitter believe,” a Twitter spokesperson said. “Any activity of this kind is intolerable, and we all must do more to prevent it.”

Democratic Senator Mark Warner pointed the finger at the American population | Win McNamee/Getty Images

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

But in light of the details laid out in the Mueller materials, the American people are not finding themselves off the hook either. If anonymity has merits on the internet, experts say, users still have the job of making smart decisions about whom to listen to or not.

The indictment describes how the Russian outfit used a made-up persona of “Matt Skiber” to correspond with a Texas grass-roots political group about the organization’s offline rallies. It also cites one Internet Research Agency staffer who in an email to a relative described how she “created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed it was written by their people.”

As Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tsk-tsked during his Friday news conference, “this indictment serves as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the internet.”

“We’re also learning that we each bear some responsibility for exercising good judgment” — Senator Mark Warner

Even perhaps Silicon Valley’s harshest critic of late in Washington, Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), responded to the Mueller indictment in part by pointing the finger at the American population.

“While platforms like Facebook and Twitter are allowing Americans to communicate and share ideas in ways unimaginable just a decade ago,” said the Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman, “we’re also learning that we each bear some responsibility for exercising good judgment and a healthy amount of skepticism when it comes to the things we read and share on social media.”

Darren Samuelsohn and Ashley Gold contributed to this report.

Original Article

[contf] [contfnew]



  1. slot online indonesia

    August 15, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    If you are looking for a game that can provide you with fun, excitement and relaxation, then consider playing a slot machine. There are now a lot of casinos offering online casino games including game slots. Online casinos have become a very popular destination for gamers who desire to have a nice time while playing their favorite casino games. While there are many advantages in playing online games including convenience, you should also be aware of the disadvantages in playing such games. If you want to be a winner and enjoy your casino trips, it is advisable to carefully look at the cons in online casino gambling before deciding if you will take part in the game. This will help you prevent yourself from encountering unpleasant situations and give you more enjoyment while enjoying your online casino trips.

  2. link slot online indonesia

    August 18, 2021 at 7:12 am

    The exact same established of cards can be used to play different kinds of games. These players fail o understand that they are putting themselves at risk if they play with all the hands.

  3. slot game online malaysia

    August 19, 2021 at 9:51 am

    To start with one should always consider that there are a number of online casinos from which one can choose to get the best game slot machine experience. The first thing that any of us would like to do is to find an online casino that has got the best game slots and this can be done by keeping some important points in mind. There are many online casinos from which you can access and take advantage of this golden opportunity but there are some factors that you need to keep in your mind and this will ensure that you find the best experience. These tips and techniques will ensure that you make the right choice and take home the big jackpot.

  4. casino slot online indonesia

    August 20, 2021 at 4:51 am

    When playing you must remain targeted and perform in the moment. Some circles permit replacing four cards if an ace is the one card still left. He even tutored Minh Nguyen and David Pham who occurred to be his cousins.

  5. slot game online

    August 20, 2021 at 5:44 am

    To increase your bankroll in slot-machine gambling, one of the best ways to do it is to play bonus game slot machines. Although some slot machines give out bonus upon winning, not all of them do. There are also casinos that do not offer winnings with in-game bonuses. In this case, it will be wise for slot players to find these casinos by themselves or through online resources. There are some people who have taken it upon themselves to study all the different types of machines in the casino or online casinos; through this they will know when they should lay down their cash and when they can simply take their chances.

  6. slot game online

    August 20, 2021 at 7:46 am

    To increase your bankroll in slot-machine gambling, one of the best ways to do it is to play bonus game slot machines. Although some slot machines give out bonus upon winning, not all of them do. There are also casinos that do not offer winnings with in-game bonuses. In this case, it will be wise for slot players to find these casinos by themselves or through online resources. There are some people who have taken it upon themselves to study all the different types of machines in the casino or online casinos; through this they will know when they should lay down their cash and when they can simply take their chances.

  7. slot online indonesia

    August 20, 2021 at 10:36 am

    If you are planning to visit an online casino and would like to play your favorite game slot machine, be assured that there are many options for you to choose from. In fact, you will not only have a lot of choices available, but you will also get the opportunity to play for free. Most of these casinos allow players to play their favorite slot machines from the comforts of their own homes, so this means that you do not have to travel to Vegas or Atlantic City if you want to play some of your favorite casino slot games.

  8. agen judi slot online

    August 20, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    This might established the other players on alert. Luckily, this guide is available in all local retailers or, even in the popular online shop now. Loves continuous communication to improve on details.

  9. judi slot online

    August 22, 2021 at 6:21 am

    Many individuals have been enjoying the fun and entertainment received from playing game slots. Even though casino goers have gained most of their pleasure and attention from playing slot machines, there are also many people who have been enjoying the benefits offered by online casinos. While both types of gambling can give you enjoyment and excitement, there are some advantages provided by online casinos that make them popular than other types of gambling. One of the main reasons why online casinos are popular is that there are a wide variety of games offered which allows gamblers to find a game that suits their preferences. Some of the most common types of gambling activities included in online casinos include:

  10. slot game online malaysia

    August 22, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    If you enjoy playing online casino games, perhaps you would enjoy playing in a game slot machine, it is quite exciting especially when you win. This gives you the thrill and excitement that many casino goers crave for when they play in the casinos. You do not have to travel to Las Vegas or Atlantic City to enjoy slot gaming fun. It can be enjoyed just as much wherever you happen to live.

  11. irbsevens

    September 13, 2021 at 4:36 pm

    debut de Los Pumas7s en la ciudad escocesa será el 4 de mayo ante Australia, desde las 6:30 (hora argentina). Luego, el conjunto


    September 15, 2021 at 5:26 am

    The give a boost to of lovers has definitely been crucial to the success. Even when the team was struggling early on the fortify has been Gigantic The total have given the team extra motivation and they know that the enthusiasts are there to women them in every way. Every single home game the Eagles are sold out. That gives the team an enormous enhance and they take it upon themselves to go out and play to the best of their ability.


    September 15, 2021 at 6:27 am

    The Eagles have enjoyed a rich history of triumphing a number of national championships. They have finished in first place in the recent Six nations match held in England. They were also the runners up during the 2021 World Cup. In addition to this they have won the last four Olympic golds. Their run to the gold medal was made possible by a large quantity of financial support from Total sponsors, and the government of the USA.

  14. Biology Bernard

    September 17, 2021 at 6:21 pm

    This is likely one of the reasons that online shopping turned into so ordinary at some stage in the 2021 holiday season. When the store hours started at 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, there were still a good deal of Purchasers They knew that they could start shopping early in the morning on Black Friday. Because retailers started delivering discounts and specials early on, people were in a better position to buy gifts and items at the right price. The income were still slow moving, but not as slow as the following day after Thanksgiving, the official day after the holiday, when millions of buyers tried to beat the crowds to the malls.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.