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Securing Democracy @SecureDemocracy
, 9 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
1/ Analysis of recently released IRA-linked accounts again reveals that a major pillar of the Kremlin’s social media influence campaigns revolves around the impersonation of local news sources, such as @ChicagoDailyNew, which had more than 19,000 followers in July 2016.
2/ The @ChicagoDailyNew account, which joined Twitter in May 2014, seems to have often tweeted links to legitimate news sources, likely to build credibility and expand its following before it was operationalized for influence.
3/ Given the site’s large following, name, and graphics, users who followed the account likely believed it was a legitimate local news source; however, the real Chicago Daily News closed down in 1978.
4/ Other imitation news accounts used similar graphics and formatting to @ChicagoDailyNew, indicating that IRA employees likely used a template to construct numerous fake accounts. These accounts also accumulated large followings, granting them substantial credibility and reach.
5/ The imitation news accounts targeted a range of communities across the U.S., often focusing on population centers and locations similarly targeted by the IRA’s Facebook ads campaign, such as St. Louis and Cleveland.
6/ Other news accounts focused on specific social or political groups, including African-American communities and right-wing political organizations.
7/ A final and imp. takeaway is that the majority of the IRA’s imitation news accounts were not targeted toward the U.S. at all, but rather focused on the Russian-speaking online community. Similar to with the U.S. accounts, these fake sources targeted Russians on a local level.
8/ Although Western-based analysts and commentators often focus on the Internet Research Agency’s campaigns to undermine democracies abroad, it is prudent to remember that the IRA’s main function was always the manipulation of Russia’s domestic information space.
9/ If Western democracies hope to adequately defend themselves from authoritarian threats via the internet, they should begin by studying the mechanisms by which the Kremlin deceives its citizens at home.
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