A Spanish-language @Facebook page, Alerta Politica, attacked Trump. Another, Politica Veraz, went after Biden. Both had bigger footprints on FB than @BostonGlobe. But behind the partisan news, both pages were run by the same individual politico.com/news/2020/10/1…
Not exactly the type of story that I thought I would be doing ahead of November's election. But since the summer, I had noticed these Spanish-language FB pages were getting massive engagement on FB. I started to dig around.
Couple of things first stood out. The FB pages kinda looked the same in style. They mirrored each other in content, too. Just one was pro-Biden, the other was pro-Trump. Neither page provided much transparency about who was running them.
So I took to the interwebs. First up, the FB pages' associated websites. Interestingly, they were all hosted on the same server. Hmmm. They shared the same Google ad IDs. Double hmmm. The websites' had similar designs & sold merchandise. Triple hmmm.
So yeah, something weird. And as I looked at how these FB pages performed, they rocked up some major engagement. We're talking in the top 20 of Spanish-language posts about Biden/Trump. More engagement than CNN en Espanol/Univision, in some instances.
Love me a CrowdTangle chart. This is a comparison of both FB pages' FB engagements, since July, for likes, comments, shares, etc compared to the @BostonGlobe. Not exact science, but you can see these weren't small footprints we're talking about.
So then it gets weird. I linked these FB pages to an individual in White Plains, NY. I'm not naming him here, though the evidence is pretty overwhelming. This week, after I contacted him & the pages, his personal FB page, the political pages & websites were all taken down. Hmm.
It gets weird, too. The individual used the right-wing FB page & associated website to push eyeballs to his (wait for it) separate coffee bean selling company. Yup, and you thought 2020 couldn't get even weird. It all started to add up.
I can't 100% prove what the intentions of this operation was. But multiple experts who reviewed my worked pointed to it being a clickbait operation, aka to drive eyeballs to websites full of advertising. It's unlikely it was out to change people's minds.
What's interesting is that it targeted Latinos, a community that has seen its fair share of misinformation, like most Americans, in the build up to November election. It's also an area that is, arguably, undercovered from a misinfo perpective (con toda la humildad)
So what we had here, until the operation went dark yesterday, was two opposing FB pages pumping out reams of politicized news, driving people to ad-filled websites, that were all run by the same individual.
We are 3 weeks before the election. FB has taken a lot of steps to reduce clickbait, suppress misinformation & mitigate foreign interference.

But I found this operation, frankly, with little expertise in forensic internet sleuthing. What else, I suggest, is still out there?
Lots more details in the story. More stories to come in coming days. Giddy up.
Rant over. Thoughts appreciated.

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More from @markscott82

28 Aug
So I’ve been away for a while, but finally got my head around major decision from Europe’s top court last month involving @Facebook, @maxschrems & $$ billions in data sent from EU to US.

Stay with me here, this gets weird, real quick.

<<cue thread>>
So the basics: Schrems complained to Ireland’s #privacy watchdog that FB wasn’t protecting his data when it was transferred to US. Why? Because @Snowden revelations showed US govt was tracking FB data (w/o telling anyone).

Naughty, naughty
FB balked, so did the Irish. It all got sent to court, eventually landing w/ EU's highest judges.

Questions in play: 1) Should Irish regulator stop FB from transferring data to US? 2) Does US sufficiently protecting EU citizens’ data? 3) How should data be moved outside of EU?
Read 29 tweets
10 Jun
ICYMI -- This announcement is coming today at noon, Brussels time. But you don't have to wait that long -- we already reported everything that's coming HT: @laurenscerulus @LauKaya 👇
FWIW -- this is the EU trying to get ahead of #misinformation as part of wider push to overhaul online content rules -- a package a proposals that will be outlined by end of year.
Expect lots of chat today about the need to boost resources for official disinformation teams within the EU (ironic b/c those teams have struggled to get funding for their work for year. Me from 2017 nytimes.com/2017/02/20/wor…)
Read 7 tweets
1 Jun
So in last few days, both Russia & China have been flooding the US w/ digital propaganda, looking to hijack the nationwide protests/violence for their own agenda.

There’s a lot to unpack here. Giddy up.

<<cue thread>>
Let’s start off w/ the basics. Since May 30, #GeorgeFloyd #BlackLivesMatter & other US-related hashtags have become a mainstay of official Russian/Chinese @Twitter activity. Here’s the top 10 most-used hashtags. See a trend? Image
@Twitter And it should go without saying that the US has now surpassed China in the country getting the most mentions, collectively, from Chinese/Russian official Twitter users. Image
Read 18 tweets
18 Feb
Right, so @EU_Commission will unveil a bunch of digital proposals in the morning w/ the goal of putting 27-country bloc in competition with US and China on everything from data to artificial intellegience. It’s all a little confusing, here’s what you need to know.
<<cue thread>>
So this is all about power. The new Commission wants to push aggressively into digital, making (the. correct) reasoning that whoever controls the online world will control much of the decade
We can argue if Europe can do that. But the key term is “technological sovereignty,” or the idea of decoupling from foreign (read: US and, increasingly, Chinese firms) and to promote “European champions.” More here: politico.eu/article/europe…
Read 20 tweets
19 Dec 19
Adviser to Europe’s top court made some pretty bold statements today about Europe’s privacy standards, US govt surveillance, @Facebook’s data practices, etc today.

But this stuff is complicated. Here’s what you need to know.

<<Cue thread>>
So let’s start off w/ the basics. This all comes down to whether Europe’s data is sufficiently protected when it’s moved outside the bloc. It forms part of a wider debate about who gets to set the global privacy rules — Europe, China, US or others.

In short, it’s a big deal
Specifically, this case (first filed by @maxschrems in 2013 w/ @DPCIreland over @Facebook’s potential misuse of his data if that information was used illegally by US national security agencies when transferred to the US) has been a long time coming
Read 27 tweets
27 Nov 19
ICYMI — US will publish report on Dec 2 over whether France’s digital tax rules (aimed almost exclusively at US tech firms) represent an unlawful barrier to trade, potentially leading to Washington imposing unilateral sanctions.
Both sides have been at loggerheads about how to tax @Google, @amazon, @facebook etc, with Paris & DC calling for a detente earlier this year as they tried to figure out a compromise
That pact just came to an end, and all eyes are now on @OECD which has promised to publish draft rules on global digital tax rules by next month (more here: politico.eu/pro/oecd-digit…)
Read 11 tweets

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