Grand Jury Indicts Thirteen Russian Individuals and Three Russian Companies for Scheme to Interfere in the US Political System

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 16, 2018

The Department of Justice announced that a grand jury in the District of Columbia today returned an indictment presented by the Special Counsel’s Office. The indictment charges thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian companies for committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the United States political system, including the 2016 Presidential election. The defendants allegedly conducted what they called “information warfare against the United States,” with the stated goal of “spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.”

“This indictment serves as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the Internet,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. “The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy. We must not allow them to succeed. The Department of Justice will continue to work cooperatively with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and with the Congress, to defend our nation against similar current and future schemes. I want to thank the federal agents and prosecutors working on this case for their exceptional service.”

https://www.justice.gov/file/1035477/download

According to the allegations in the indictment, twelve of the individual defendants worked at various times for Internet Research Agency LLC, a Russian company based in St. Petersburg, Russia. The other individual defendant, Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, funded the conspiracy through companies known as Concord Management and Consulting LLC, Concord Catering, and many subsidiaries and affiliates. The conspiracy was part of a larger operation called “Project Lakhta.” Project Lakhta included multiple components, some involving domestic audiences within the Russian Federation and others targeting foreign audiences in multiple countries.

Internet Research Agency allegedly operated through Russian shell companies. It employed hundreds of persons for its online operations, ranging from creators of fictitious personas to technical and administrative support, with an annual budget of millions of dollars. Internet Research Agency was a structured organization headed by a management group and arranged in departments, including graphics, search-engine optimization, information technology, and finance departments. In 2014, the agency established a “translator project” to focus on the U.S. population. In July 2016, more than 80 employees were assigned to the translator project.

Two of the defendants allegedly traveled to the United States in 2014 to collect intelligence for their American political influence operations.

To hide the Russian origin of their activities, the defendants allegedly purchased space on computer servers located within the United States in order to set up a virtual private network. The defendants allegedly used that infrastructure to establish hundreds of accounts on social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, making it appear that the accounts were controlled by persons within the United States. They used stolen or fictitious American identities, fraudulent bank accounts, and false identification documents. The defendants posed as politically and socially active Americans, advocating for and against particular political candidates. They established social media pages and groups to communicate with unwitting Americans. They also purchased political advertisements on social media.

The Russians also recruited and paid real Americans to engage in political activities, promote political campaigns, and stage political rallies. The defendants and their co-conspirators pretended to be grassroots activists. According to the indictment, the Americans did not know that they were communicating with Russians.

After the election, the defendants allegedly staged rallies to support the President-elect while simultaneously staging rallies to protest his election. For example, the defendants organized one rally to support the President-elect and another rally to oppose him—both in New York, on the same day.

On September 13, 2017, soon after the news media reported that the Special Counsel’s Office was investigating evidence that Russian operatives had used social media to interfere in the 2016 election, one defendant allegedly wrote, “We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity…. So, I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with my colleagues.”

The indictment includes eight criminal counts. Count One alleges a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States, by all of the defendants. The defendants allegedly conspired to defraud the United States by impairing the lawful functions of the Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of State in administering federal requirements for disclosure of foreign involvement in certain domestic activities.

Count Two charges conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud by Internet Research Agency and two individual defendants.

Counts Three through Eight charge aggravated identity theft by Internet Research Agency and four individuals.

There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.

Everyone charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in court. At trial, prosecutors must introduce credible evidence that is sufficient to prove each defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, to the unanimous satisfaction of a jury of twelve citizens.

The Special Counsel’s investigation is ongoing. There will be no comments from the Special Counsel at this time.

News Sources to Avoid: Junk News Consumption over Social Media in the US

Important takeaway from this study:

These sources deliberately publish misleading, deceptive or incorrect information purporting to be real news about politics, economics or culture. This content includes various forms of propaganda and ideologically extreme, hyper-partisan, or conspiratorial news and information.

For a source to be labelled as junk news at least three of the following five characteristics must apply:

  • Professionalism: These outlets do not employ the standards and best practices of professional journalism. They refrain from providing clear information about real authors, editors, publishers and owners. They lack transparency, accountability, and do not publish corrections on debunked information.
  • Style: These outlets use emotionally driven language with emotive expressions, hyperbole, ad hominem attacks, misleading headlines, excessive capitalization, unsafe generalizations and fallacies, moving images, graphic pictures and mobilizing memes.
  • Credibility: These outlets rely on false information and conspiracy theories, which they often employ strategically. They report without consulting multiple sources and do not employ fact-checking methods. Their sources are often untrustworthy and their standards of news production lack credibility.
  • Bias: Reporting in these outlets is highly biased and ideologically skewed, which is otherwise described as hyper-partisan reporting. These outlets frequently present opinion and commentary essays as news.
  • Counterfeit: These outlets mimic professional news media. They counterfeit fonts, branding and stylistic content strategies. Commentary and junk content is stylistically disguised as news, with references to news agencies, and credible sources, and headlines written in a news tone, with bylines, date, time and location stamps.

List of Junk News Sources

100percentfedup.com

allenbwest.com

americanthinker.com

anonews.co

barenakedislam.com

beforeitsnews.com

bipartisanreport.com

bizpacreview.com

bredred.com

breitbart.com

campusreform.org

centerforsecuritypolicy.org

clintonemail.com

cnsnews.com

commonsenseconservative.org

concealncarry.stfi.re

conservativedailypost.com

conservativeoutfitters.com

conservativeread.com

conservativereview.com

conservativetribune.com

constitution.com

crooksandliars.com

dailycaller.com

dailynewsbin.com

dangerandplay.com

dcclothesline.com

deepstatenation.com

dennismichaellynch.com

donaldtrumpnews.co

drudgereport.com

endingthefed.com

eutimes.net

floppingaces.net

freebeacon.com

frontpagemag.com

gotnews.com

hannity.com

hotair.com

hotpagenews.com

infowars.com

inquisitr.com

joeforamerica.com

judicialwatch.org

lawnews.tv

lifenews.com

magafeed.com

mediaite.com

mobile.wnd.com

mostdamagingwikileaks.com

mrctv.org

nationalreview.com

naturalnews.com

newsbusters.org

newsmax.com

nydailynews.com

occupydemocrats.com

pamelageller.com

pastebin.com

patdollard.com

patriotpost.us

politopinion.com

puppetstringnews.com

rasmussenreports.com

redstate.com

redstatewatcher.com

scooprocket.com

shareblue.com

silenceisconsent.net

stateofthenation2012.com

theamericanfirst.com

theamericanmirror.com

theblacksphere.net

theconservativetreehouse.com

thefederalist.com

thefederalistpapers.org

thegatewaypundit.com

theodysseyonline.com

thepoliticalinsider.com

therealstrategy.com

therebel.media

truepundit.com

truthfeed.com

ukok.page.tl

usalibertynews.com

vaskal.ca

weaselzippers.us

westernjournalism.com

wnd.com

youngcons.com

yournewswire.com

————————-

Summary of study along with links to supplemental information: 

Polarization, Partisanship and Junk News Consumption over Social Media in the US

Data Memo 2018.1 cover

What kinds of social media users read junk news? We examine the distribution of the most significant sources of junk news in the three months before President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union Address.

Drawing on a list of sources that consistently publish political news and information that is extremist, sensationalist, conspiratorial, masked commentary, fake news and other forms of junk news, we find that the distribution of such content is unevenly spread across the ideological spectrum. We demonstrate that (1) on Twitter, a network of Trump supporters shares the widest range of known junk news sources and circulates more junk news than all the other groups put together; (2) on Facebook, extreme hard right pages—distinct from Republican pages—share the widest range of known junk news sources and circulate more junk news than all the other audiences put together; (3) on average, the audiences for junk news on Twitter share a wider range of known junk news sources than audiences on Facebook’s public pages.

Download here.

Online supplement (.pdf)

Seed list (.xlxs)

Vidya Narayanan, Vlad Barash, John Kelly, Bence Kollanyi, Lisa-Maria Neudert, and Philip N. Howard. “Polarization, Partisanship and Junk News Consumption over Social Media in the US.” Data Memo 2018.1. Oxford, UK: Project on Computational Propaganda. comprop.oii.ox.ac.uk

The Computational Propaganda Research Project (COMPROP) investigates the interaction of algorithms, automation and politics. This work includes analysis of how tools like social media bots are used to manipulate public opinion by amplifying or repressing political content, disinformation, hate speech, and junk news.

We use perspectives from organizational sociology, human computer interaction, communication, information science, and political science to interpret and analyze the evidence we are gathering. Our project is based at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.

Fake Julian Assange Account is at it Again: Newsweek Journalist Falls For It

I warned you on January 26, 2018! Now this reporter has fallen prey:

Here is real Julian Assange:

Julian Assange  

@JulianAssange

 


Here is fake Julian Assange:

Julian Assange  

@TheRealJuIian

Yes, it says parody, but it is very difficult to discern the difference in a newsfeed now that Fake Julian Assange has added the little hour glass emblem. This is the same account that previously shared falsified documents saying Hillary has dementia.

Fake “Julian Assange” Says Hillary has Dementia; Retweeted 8500 Times So Far

And since I last wrote this, here’s a new fake account:

Julian Assange  

@JuIianAssagne

 

Wikileaks Plans its Own Global Fake News Awards #fakenewsnom

Fake News: Pope Francis Releases Official Message on “Snake-Tactics”

Booklet of Pope Francis’ World Communications Day message  (Vatican Media @Vatican Media)

Message of his Holiness Pope Francis
For World Communications Day
24 January 2018

“The truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32).
Fake news and journalism for peace

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Communication is part of God’s plan for us and an essential way to experience fellowship.  Made in the image and likeness of our Creator, we are able to express and share all that is true, good, and beautiful.  We are able to describe our own experiences and the world around us, and thus to create historical memory and the understanding of events.  But when we yield to our own pride and selfishness, we can also distort the way we use our ability to communicate.  This can be seen from the earliest times, in the biblical stories of Cain and Abel and the Tower of Babel (cf. Gen 4:4-16; 11:1-9).  The capacity to twist the truth is symptomatic of our condition, both as individuals and communities.  On the other hand, when we are faithful to God’s plan, communication becomes an effective expression of our responsible search for truth and our pursuit of goodness.

In today’s fast-changing world of communications and digital systems, we are witnessing the spread of what has come to be known as “fake news”.  This calls for reflection, which is why I have decided to return in this World Communications Day Message to the issue of truth, which was raised time and time again by my predecessors, beginning with Pope Paul VI, whose 1972 Message took as its theme: “Social Communications at the Service of Truth”.  In this way, I would like to contribute to our shared commitment to stemming the spread of fake news and to rediscovering the dignity of journalism and the personal responsibility of journalists to communicate the truth.

1.   What is “fake” about fake news?

The term “fake news” has been the object of great discussion and debate.  In general, it refers to the spreading of disinformation on line or in the traditional media.  It has to do with false information based on non-existent or distorted data meant to deceive and manipulate the reader.  Spreading fake news can serve to advance specific goals, influence political decisions, and serve economic interests.

The effectiveness of fake news is primarily due to its ability to mimic real news, to seem plausible.  Secondly, this false but believable news is “captious”, inasmuch as it grasps people’s attention by appealing to stereotypes and common social prejudices, and exploiting instantaneous emotions like anxiety, contempt, anger and frustration. The ability to spread such fake news often relies on a manipulative use of the social networks and the way they function.  Untrue stories can spread so quickly that even authoritative denials fail to contain the damage.

The difficulty of unmasking and eliminating fake news is due also to the fact that many people interact in homogeneous digital environments impervious to differing perspectives and opinions.  Disinformation thus thrives on the absence of healthy confrontation with other sources of information that could effectively challenge prejudices and generate constructive dialogue; instead, it risks turning people into unwilling accomplices in spreading biased and baseless ideas.  The tragedy of disinformation is that it discredits others, presenting them as enemies, to the point of demonizing them and fomenting conflict.  Fake news is a sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes, and leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred.  That is the end result of untruth.

2.   How can we recognize fake news?

None of us can feel exempted from the duty of countering these falsehoods.  This is no easy task, since disinformation is often based on deliberately evasive and subtly misleading rhetoric and at times the use of sophisticated psychological mechanisms.  Praiseworthy efforts are being made to create educational programmes aimed at helping people to interpret and assess information provided by the media, and teaching them to take an active part in unmasking falsehoods, rather than unwittingly contributing to the spread of disinformation.  Praiseworthy too are those institutional and legal initiatives aimed at developing regulations for curbing the phenomenon, to say nothing of the work being done by tech and media companies in coming up with new criteria for verifying the personal identities concealed behind millions of digital profiles.

Yet preventing and identifying the way disinformation works also calls for a profound and careful process of discernment.  We need to unmask what could be called the “snake-tactics” used by those who disguise themselves in order to strike at any time and place.  This was the strategy employed by the “crafty serpent” in the Book of Genesis, who, at the dawn of humanity, created the first fake news (cf. Gen 3:1-15), which began the tragic history of human sin, beginning with the first fratricide (cf. Gen 4) and issuing in the countless other evils committed against God, neighbour, society and creation.  The strategy of this skilled “Father of Lies” (Jn 8:44) is precisely mimicry, that sly and dangerous form of seduction that worms its way into the heart with false and alluring arguments.

In the account of the first sin, the tempter approaches the woman by pretending to be her friend, concerned only for her welfare, and begins by saying something only partly true: “Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” (Gen 3:1).  In fact, God never told Adam not to eat from any tree, but only from the one tree: “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat” (Gen 2:17).  The woman corrects the serpent, but lets herself be taken in by his provocation: “Of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, “You must not eat it nor touch it, under pain of death” (Gen 3:2).  Her answer is couched in legalistic and negative terms; after listening to the deceiver and letting herself be taken in by his version of the facts, the woman is misled.  So she heeds his words of reassurance: “You will not die!” (Gen 3:4).

The tempter’s “deconstruction” then takes on an appearance of truth: “God knows that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5).  God’s paternal command, meant for their good, is discredited by the seductive enticement of the enemy: “The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye and desirable” (Gen 3:6).  This biblical episode brings to light an essential element for our reflection: there is no such thing as harmless disinformation; on the contrary, trusting in falsehood can have dire consequences. Even a seemingly slight distortion of the truth can have dangerous effects.

What is at stake is our greed.  Fake news often goes viral, spreading so fast that it is hard to stop, not because of the sense of sharing that inspires the social media, but because it appeals to the insatiable greed so easily aroused in human beings.  The economic and manipulative aims that feed disinformation are rooted in a thirst for power, a desire to possess and enjoy, which ultimately makes us victims of something much more tragic: the deceptive power of evil that moves from one lie to another in order to rob us of our interior freedom.  That is why education for truth means teaching people how to discern, evaluate and understand our deepest desires and inclinations, lest we lose sight of what is good and yield to every temptation.

3.   “The truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32)

Constant contamination by deceptive language can end up darkening our interior life.  Dostoevsky’s observation is illuminating: “People who lie to themselves and listen to their own lie come to such a pass that they cannot distinguish the truth within them, or around them, and so lose all respect for themselves and for others.  And having no respect, they cease to love, and in order to occupy and distract themselves without love they give way to passions and to coarse pleasures, and sink to bestiality in their vices, all from continual lying to others and to themselves.” (The Brothers Karamazov, II, 2).

So how do we defend ourselves?  The most radical antidote to the virus of falsehood is purification by the truth.  In Christianity, truth is not just a conceptual reality that regards how we judge things, defining them as true or false.  The truth is not just bringing to light things that are concealed, “revealing reality”, as the ancient Greek term aletheia (from a-lethès, “not hidden”) might lead us to believe.  Truth involves our whole life.  In the Bible, it carries with it the sense of support, solidity, and trust, as implied by the root ‘aman, the source of our liturgical expression Amen.  Truth is something you can lean on, so as not to fall.  In this relational sense, the only truly reliable and trustworthy One – the One on whom we can count – is the living God.  Hence, Jesus can say: “I am the truth” (Jn 14:6).  We discover and rediscover the truth when we experience it within ourselves in the loyalty and trustworthiness of the One who loves us.  This alone can liberate us: “The truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32).

Freedom from falsehood and the search for relationship: these two ingredients cannot be lacking if our words and gestures are to be true, authentic, and trustworthy.  To discern the truth, we need to discern everything that encourages communion and promotes goodness from whatever instead tends to isolate, divide, and oppose.  Truth, therefore, is not really grasped when it is imposed from without as something impersonal, but only when it flows from free relationships between persons, from listening to one another.  Nor can we ever stop seeking the truth, because falsehood can always creep in, even when we state things that are true.  An impeccable argument can indeed rest on undeniable facts, but if it is used to hurt another and to discredit that person in the eyes of others, however correct it may appear, it is not truthful.  We can recognize the truth of statements from their fruits: whether they provoke quarrels, foment division, encourage resignation; or, on the other hand, they promote informed and mature reflection leading to constructive dialogue and fruitful results.

4.   Peace is the true news

The best antidotes to falsehoods are not strategies, but people: people who are not greedy but ready to listen, people who make the effort to engage in sincere dialogue so that the truth can emerge; people who are attracted by goodness and take responsibility for how they use language.  If responsibility is the answer to the spread of fake news, then a weighty responsibility rests on the shoulders of those whose job is to provide information, namely, journalists, the protectors of news.  In today’s world, theirs is, in every sense, not just a job; it is a mission.  Amid feeding frenzies and the mad rush for a scoop, they must remember that the heart of information is not the speed with which it is reported or its audience impact, but persons.  Informing others means forming others; it means being in touch with people’s lives.  That is why ensuring the accuracy of sources and protecting communication are real means of promoting goodness, generating trust, and opening the way to communion and peace.

I would like, then, to invite everyone to promote a journalism of peace.  By that, I do not mean the saccharine kind of journalism that refuses to acknowledge the existence of serious problems or smacks of sentimentalism.  On the contrary, I mean a journalism that is truthful and opposed to falsehoods, rhetorical slogans, and sensational headlines.  A journalism created by people for people, one that is at the service of all, especially those – and they are the majority in our world – who have no voice.  A journalism less concentrated on breaking news than on exploring the underlying causes of conflicts, in order to promote deeper understanding and contribute to their resolution by setting in place virtuous processes.  A journalism committed to pointing out alternatives to the escalation of shouting matches and verbal violence.

To this end, drawing inspiration from a Franciscan prayer, we might turn to the Truth in person:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Help us to recognize the evil latent in a communication that does not build communion.
Help us to remove the venom from our judgements.
Help us to speak about others as our brothers and sisters.
You are faithful and trustworthy; may our words be seeds of goodness for the world:
where there is shouting, let us practise listening;
where there is confusion, let us inspire harmony;
where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity;
where there is exclusion, let us offer solidarity;
where there is sensationalism, let us use sobriety;
where there is superficiality, let us raise real questions;
where there is prejudice, let us awaken trust;
where there is hostility, let us bring respect;
where there is falsehood, let us bring truth.
Amen.

Vatican, 24 January 2018

Twitter Updates Info on Propaganda, Internet Research Agency Linked Accounts, Russian Bots

Most user engagement was with a very small number of IRA-associated accounts.  Image above courtesy Twitter, example of Internet Research Agency disinformation campaign.
By Twitter PublicPolicy

Friday, 19 January 2018

When we appeared before the United States Congress last fall, Twitter publicly committed to regularly updating both congressional committees and the public on findings from our ongoing review into events surrounding the 2016 U.S. election.

Twitter is committed to providing a platform that fosters healthy civic discourse and democratic debate.  We have been cooperating with congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. We have committed to be as transparent as possible about sharing what we have learned through our retroactive investigationinto activity related to the election.

Since we presented our findings to Congress last fall, we have updated our analysis and continue to look for patterns and signals in data. Today, we are sharing an update on several aspects of that ongoing work, as well as steps we are taking to continue to make progress against potential manipulation of our platform.

Informing People of Malicious Activity in the 2016 Election

As previously announced, we identified and suspended a number of accounts that were potentially connected to a propaganda effort by a Russian government-linked organization known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA).

Consistent with our commitment to transparency, we are emailing notifications to 677,775 people in the United States who followed one of these accounts or retweeted or liked a Tweet from these accounts during the election period. Because we have already suspended these accounts, the relevant content on Twitter is no longer publicly available.

Examples of IRA Content

Most user engagement was with a very small number of IRA-associated accounts.  Some examples of content which received significant engagement are:

Updated Numbers of IRA Accounts

As part of our ongoing review, we have identified both more IRA and automated Russia-based accounts. The results of this supplemental analysis are consistent with the results of our previous work: automated election-related content associated with Russian signals represented a very small fraction of the overall activity on Twitter in the ten-week period preceding the 2016 election.

We have identified an additional 1,062 accounts associated with the IRA. We have suspended all of these accounts for Terms of Service violations, primarily spam, and all but a few accounts, which were restored to legitimate users, remain suspended.  At the request of congressional investigators, we are also sharing those account handles with Congress. In total, during the time period we investigated, the 3,814 identified IRA-linked accounts posted 175,993 Tweets, approximately 8.4% of which were election-related.

We have also provided Congress with the results of our supplemental analysis into activity believed to be automated, election-related activity originating out of Russia during the election period. Through our supplemental analysis, we have identified 13,512 additional accounts, for a total of 50,258 automated accounts that we identified as Russian-linked and Tweeting election-related content during the election period, representing approximately two one-hundredths of a percent (0.016%) of the total accounts on Twitter at the time.  However any such activity represents a challenge to democratic societies everywhere, and we’re committed to continuing to work on this important issue.

Enhancing Information Quality

After the 2016 election, we launched our Information Quality initiative to further develop strategies to detect and prevent bad actors from abusing our platform. We have since made significant improvements, while recognizing that we have more to do as these patterns of activity develop and shift over time.

With our current capabilities, we detect and block approximately 523,000 suspicious logins daily for being generated through automation. In December 2017, our systems identified and challenged more than 6.4 million suspicious accounts globally per week— a 60% increase in our detection rate from October 2017. We have developed new techniques for identifying malicious automation (such as near-instantaneous replies to Tweets, non-random Tweet timing, and coordinated engagement). We have improved our phone verification process and introduced new challenges, including reCAPTCHAs to validate that a human is in control of an account.

Alongside these improvements, we’re continuing to expand enforcement of our developer and automation rules. Since June 2017, we’ve removed more than 220,000 applications in violation of our rules, collectively responsible for more than 2.2 billion low-quality Tweets.

In 2018, we will build upon our existing improvements. Our plans include:

  • Investing further in machine-learning capabilities that help us detect and mitigate the effect on users of fake, coordinated, and automated account activity;
  • Limiting the ability of users to perform coordinated actions across multiple accounts in Tweetdeck and via the Twitter API;
  • Continuing the expansion of our new developer onboarding process to better manage the use cases for developers building on Twitter’s API. This will help us improve how we enforce our policies on restricted uses of our developer products, including rules on the appropriate use of bots and automation.

Media Literacy and Partnerships

We recognize that Twitter is an important part of a larger ecosystem of how news and information spreads online, and that we have a responsibility to support external programs that empower our users, connecting them with resources to give them control over their online experience.

Our partners Common Sense Media, the National Association for Media Literacy, the Family Online Safety Institute and Connect Safely, amongst others, have helped us to craft materials and conduct workshops to help our users learn how to process online information and understand which sources of news have integrity. We focus on elements like verification of sources, critical thinking, active citizenship online and the breaking down of digital divides.

Learn more about our most recent efforts for Media Literacy Week in countries like the U.S., Canada and Ireland, and follow our partners @MediaLiteracyEd@CommonSenseEdu and @ConnectSafely for new initiatives like the Teachers Institute at Twitter HQ.

Twitter is proud to partner with journalistic NGOs for trainings and outreach initiatives, including Reporters without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. We will keep working with reporters, journalism NGOs, and media organizations to ensure that Twitter’s full capabilities are built into newsrooms and established media outlets worldwide.

Moving Forward

Even as we continue to learn from the events of the 2016 U.S. election, we are taking steps every day to improve the security of our platform and stay one step ahead of those who would abuse it. As part of our preparations for the U.S. midterm elections, our teams are organizing to:

  • Verify major party candidates for all statewide and federal elective offices, and major national party accounts, as a hedge against impersonation;
  • Maintain open lines of communication to federal and state election officials to quickly escalate issues that arise;
  • Address escalations of account issues with respect to violations of Twitter Rules or applicable laws;
  • Continually improve and apply our anti-spam technology to address networks of malicious automation targeting election-related matters; and
  • Monitor trends and spikes in conversations relating to the 2018 elections for potential manipulation activity.

We are committed to ensuring that Twitter is safe and secure for all users and serves to advance healthy civic discussion and engagement. Our work on these issues will never be done, and we will continue in our efforts to protect Twitter against bad actors and networks of malicious automation and manipulation.

Facebook Tool Shows if You Followed or Liked Russian Internet Research Agency Pages

How can I see if I’ve liked or followed a Facebook Page or Instagram account created by the Internet Research Agency?

Click here to see if you liked or followed any of these accounts (you must be logged in to your Facebook account for it to work):

https://www.facebook.com/help/817246628445509?helpref=faq_content

Hopefully, you will see this message: You haven’t liked or followed any pages or accounts from the IRA (Internet Research Agency).
Login with your Instagram account to see if you’ve followed an IRA Instagram account.
——————————–http://skepticreview.com/2017/11/03/propaganda-samples-released-us-house-intelligence-commitee/

September 21, 2017

Facebook to Provide Congress With Ads Linked to Internet Research Agency

By Colin Stretch, General Counsel

Two weeks ago, we announced we had found more than 3,000 ads addressing social and political issues that ran in the US between 2015 and 2017 and that appear to have come from accounts associated with a Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency. We subsequently made clear that we are providing information related to those ads, including the ad content itself, to the Special Counsel investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Since then, some people have asked why we aren’t sharing the content of the ads more broadly.

After an extensive legal and policy review, today we are announcing that we will also share these ads with congressional investigators. We believe it is vitally important that government authorities have the information they need to deliver to the public a full assessment of what happened in the 2016 election. That is an assessment that can be made only by investigators with access to classified intelligence and information from all relevant companies and industries — and we want to do our part. Congress is best placed to use the information we and others provide to inform the public comprehensively and completely.

This has been a difficult decision. Disclosing content is not something we do lightly under any circumstances. We are deeply committed to safeguarding user content, regardless of the user’s nationality, and ads are user content. Federal law also places strict limitations on the disclosure of account information. As our biannual transparency reports make clear, we carefully scrutinize all government data requests, from here and abroad, and we push back where they do not adhere to those legal limitations. And, of course, we also recognize and support the important work of government investigations and take care not to take steps, like public disclosures, that might undermine them.

Over recent weeks, we have grappled with the extraordinary nature of this particular investigation through this lens. The questions that have arisen go to the integrity of US elections. And the limited information Congress and the intelligence community have shared with us to date suggests that efforts to compromise the 2016 election were varied and sophisticated — and that understanding those efforts requires a united effort, from across the technology, intelligence and political communities. We believe the public deserves a full accounting of what happened in the 2016 election, and we’ve concluded that sharing the ads we’ve discovered, in a manner that is consistent with our obligations to protect user information, can help.

That’s why we have reached out to congressional leadership to agree on a process and schedule to provide the content of these ads, along with related information, to congressional investigators. At the same time, we will continue our own review and investigation, and to do our part to make sure investigators have the information they need. We look forward to their comprehensive assessment, and to a greater public understanding of what took place.