Est. 1995

Tag: Putin

Social Media is a (Largely) Lawless Cesspool

Governments from Pakistan to Mexico to Washington are woefully unequipped to combat disinformation warfare. Eastern European countries living in Russia’s shadow can teach us how to start fighting back, but only if our politicians decide to stop profiting from these tactics and fight them instead.

 

Suzanne Smalley

Governments from Pakistan to Mexico to Washington are woefully unequipped to combat disinformation warfare. Eastern European countries living in Russia’s shadow can teach us how to start fighting back, but only if our politicians decide to stop profiting from these tactics and fight them instead.

A screenshot from a video shared widely on social media purporting to show a Hamas fighter downing a helicopter, which is actually pulled from the video game Arma 3.

Video game clips purporting to be footage of a Hamas fighter shooting down an Israeli helicopter. Phony X accounts spreading fake news through fictitious BBC and Jerusalem Post “journalists.” An Algerian fireworks celebration is described as Israeli strikes.

These are just a few examples of the disinformation swirling around the conflict between Hamas and Israel, much of which has been enabled by X, formerly known as Twitter, and by platforms like Meta and Telegram.

The platforms have also been used to terrorize. In one instance, a girl found out that a militant had killed her grandmother after he broadcast it on a Facebook livestream. Meta did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

X owner Elon Musk promoted two particularly virulent accounts spreading disinformation in a post that was viewed 11 million times before Musk deleted the tweet a few hours later.

One of those accounts, @sentdefender, was described by Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFR) expert Emerson Brooking as both “absolutely poisonous” and often retweeted “uncritically.”

Read More: Hacktivists take sides in the Israel-Palestinian war

X removed some of the most blatantly fake tweets, often hours after they were posted, but purveyors of disinformation like @sentdefender still operate freely.

A spokesperson for X replied to a request for comment by saying to “check back later.”

The platform announced changes to its public interest policy over the weekend, according to a post on its safety channel. The post said X has seen an increase in “daily active users” based in the conflict area in the past few days and that more than 50 million posts worldwide have discussed the attack.

The use of video game and recycled news footage to spread false information about the conflict is a growing trend, making it even more difficult to root out disinformation, according to Dina Sadek, a Middle East research fellow with the Digital Forensic Research Lab.

“We’re laser-focused and dedicated to protecting the conversation on X and enforcing our rules as we continue to assess the situation on the platform,” they said.

The post said X will remove newly created Hamas-affiliated accounts. It also said it is coordinating with industry peers and the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) “to try and prevent terrorist content from being distributed online.”

X said it is “proactively monitoring” for anti-semitic accounts and has “actioned” tens of thousands of posts sharing graphic media and violent and hateful speech.

On Tuesday, European Commissioner Thierry Breton sent a letter to Musk, cautioning that X is spreading “illegal content and disinformation.” EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) mandates that large online platforms such as X remove illegal content and take steps to quickly address how they impact the public.

“Given the urgency, I also expect you to be in contact with the relevant law enforcement authorities and Europol, and ensure that you respond promptly to their requests,” Breton wrote. He advised Musk that he would be following up on matters related to X’s compliance with DSA.

“I urge you to ensure a prompt, accurate, and complete response to this request within the next 24 hours,” Breton said.

The difficulty of rooting out disinformation is made more difficult by the growing trend of using video games and recycled news footage to promote falsehoods about the conflict, said Dina Sadek, a Middle East research fellow with DFR. Telegram has been a major vehicle for disinformation, she added, likely because it doesn’t restrict how often users can post and because the content is sent as a text message.

List of social platforms with at least 100 million active users

https://guides.stlcc.edu/fakenews/spotfakenews

https://guides.stlcc.edu/fakenews/spotfakenews

“The second that you think something happened you can give them a boost and give them pictures from the incident,” she told The Record. “There’s just the speed of how things happen when on messaging applications and some of those have large numbers of subscribers.”

Sadek said it is too soon to detect patterns in the disinformation being disseminated — both in terms of the amount and which side’s supporters are most active — but she said she has seen it emanate from all sides of the conflict.

Stanford disinformation scholar Herb Lin told Recorded Future News that he predicts the propaganda war will intensify significantly in the coming weeks, citing Russia’s likely support to Hamas due to its friendly relationship with Iran.

“They have a quick reaction disinformation force,” he said. “They have the ability to react promptly to this sort of stuff and the first people to get on the air tend to dominate the messages for a while.”

Learn more: https://guides.stlcc.edu/fakenews/spotfakenews

The New Cold War is Being Fought on Social Media

Russia is not just at war with Ukraine; they’re also in a cold war with us. And last week Putin got a significant victory in that war, which is now being fought on the battleground of social media and the Internet.

Representative Matt Gaetz and Senator Rand Paul helped lead Putin’s victory this week in his cold war with America by stripping aid for Ukraine out of the continuing resolution to keep our government funded for the next 45 days.

It was a clear signal from Republicans in Congress to Putin that if he can just hang on long enough, his propaganda efforts will eventually lead America to drop out and hand Ukraine over to them.

Today’s propaganda battle is primarily being fought on the Internet, principally on social media.

That’s where Russia’s now well-documented targeted efforts in six swing states (using secret, insider information from the 2016 Trump campaign given them by Paul Manafort) succeeded in pulling out a squeaker Electoral College victory for Donald Trump. It’s where they hope to repeat that in 2024.

It was also a signal to China, Japan, Australia, South and North Korea, and Taiwan that America can’t be trusted to defend allied democracies when they’re physically attacked by larger authoritarian states. By increasing the chances of an aggressor’s victory, the GOP’s continuing resolution encourages authoritarian states like Russia and China and, thus, makes the world less safe.

The Putin Republicans are being aided in this by social media companies owned by rightwing billionaire oligarchs — and their fossil fuel oligarch buddies funding the GOP in every state and federally — who are each richer than any king or pharaoh in history.

Given the media power these oligarchs and their monopolies have, it’s hard to offer any easy solutions to this threat now facing our democracy.

The Biden administration is awake to the threat: President Biden’s speech in Arizona last week explicitly called out the MAGA extremists in the GOP, and Democrats in Congress and in regulatory agencies are going after their monopolies.

Those efforts, though, will take years to reach fruition; after all, it was exactly 40 years ago this year that Reagan instructed his SEC, FTC, and DOJ to functionally stop enforcing our nation’s anti-trust laws, so they’ve had four decades to reach astronomical levels of consolidation and wealth.

Any effort to take on the media giants is complicated by five corrupt Republicans on the Supreme Court having legalized political bribery in 2010 with their Citizens United decision.

So now it’s largely up to us to carry the message forward. You and me. People who value democracy and want to see a world safe from tyrants and wannabee tyrants like Putin, Xi, MBS, and Trump.

Source:

Is the New Warfare Battleground on Social Media and the Internet?

Inside Wagner, Russia’s Secret War Company

The Wall Street Journal’s latest documentary “Shadow Men: Inside Russia’s Secret War Company” goes deep inside the lethal global expansion of the Russian private military company Wagner — tracing the group’s evolution from a small, guns-for-hire operation into a sprawling network of businesses that has been active on four continents.

Through interviews with current and former Wagner fighters, government insiders, victims of attacks and war crimes investigators, the film reveals how the group is hiding the flow of riches and resources through a complex network of front companies that ultimately connect to the Kremlin.

0:00 What is Wagner and who is Yevgeny Prigozhin?
3:36 How the Wagner Group operates
6:16 Wagner’s origins
10:36 A new business model in Syria
17:24 Wagner’s expansion into Africa
19:59 Wagner’s Africa playbook: guns and gold
27:13 The war in Ukraine, Wagner steps out of the shadows
36:09 Wagner’s future

 
What is the Wagner Group? (Published 2022)

© 2024 CounterPoint