Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Friday, October 13, 2017

Twitter has deleted tweets and other user data of potentially irreplaceable value to investigators probing Russia's suspected manipulation of the social media platform during the 2016 election, according to current and former government cybersecurity officials. Federal investigators now believe Twitter was one of Russia's most potent weapons in its efforts to promote Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, the officials say, speaking on the condition of anonymity. By creating and deploying armies of automated bots, fake users, catchy hashtags and bogus ad campaigns, unidentified operatives launched recurring waves of pro-Trump and anti-Clinton story lines via Twitter that were either false or greatly exaggerated, the officials said.

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Many U.S. investigators believe that their best hope for identifying who was behind these operations, how they collaborated with each other and their suspected links to the Kremlin lies buried within the mountains of data accumulated in recent years by Twitter.

By analyzing Twitter data over time, investigators could establish what one U.S. government cybersecurity consultant described as "pattern of life behavior," determining when Russian influence operations began, and how they "were trying to nudge the narrative in a certain direction."

"So if you have access to all this, you can basically see when botnets appeared and disappeared, and how they shaped narrative around certain events," said the analyst, who could not speak for attribution given company policy.

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"Were Twitter a contractor for the FSB," the Russian intelligence agency involved in the 2016 campaign to meddle in the U.S. election, Rid said, "they could not have built a more effective disinformation platform."

More Democratic over-reaction, you say? Would you be so blasé if we were talking about China, N Korea, Iran or Isil?

#1 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-10-13 10:37 AM | Reply

- Would you be so blasé if we were talking about...

The United States?

#2 | Posted by SheepleSchism at 2017-10-13 10:41 AM | Reply

I'm start to detect a pattern here:

Facebook takes down data and thousands of posts, obscuring reach of Russian disinformation

www.washingtonpost.com

If this stuff could stay up all during the election cycle and for months afterwards, what's the harm in leaving it up now? Seems like CYA in action.

#3 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-10-13 10:42 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Sorry, I'm not jumping on the government control of the media bandwagon. With Trump's attacks on the freedom of the press I'm leery of siding with the government on regulating FB's and Twitter's user accounts.

I know we want to prevent Russia from influencing American elections. But I see a very dangerous road leading to the government regulating what is and is not allowed to be published on social media platforms. These internet sites, FB and Twitter especially, have given more power to the voices of citizens than at any time in our history. Do you want the government involved in regulating the censorship of we the people. I don't. FB and Twitter should do what they can, and I believe they have. Call me a conspiracy nut-job if you want. This doesn't pass the smell test for me. The government wants to regulate the free flow of information into the US. We're becoming China.

#4 | Posted by gavaster at 2017-10-13 11:08 AM | Reply

#4 I am in favor of the government asking these platforms to save the data they have until it can be analyzed,. Then it can be decided what steps, if any and hopefully self-initiated by the platforms, need to be taken.

#5 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-10-13 11:12 AM | Reply

"FB and Twitter should do what they can, and I believe they have."

Then they will have no problem demonstrating that fact.

#6 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-10-13 11:13 AM | Reply

You bet they deleted it. It's evidence of their for profit collusion.

#7 | Posted by SheepleSchism at 2017-10-13 11:26 AM | Reply

#5 - Gal Tuesday

Save the data. Okay. Damage is already done at that point. You're just looking for the culprit, who we already know is Russia. What's the point? Is the government going to tell Twitter how to create algorithms for identifying foreign powers use of fake accounts? It's easy to stand on the sidelines and point a finger and Twitter and say "you're not doing enough". It's much harder to sift through 330 million active users and 500 million tweets a day. Twitter already self censors. They delete some 50 thousands accounts every month. What's the goal?

#8 | Posted by gavaster at 2017-10-13 11:38 AM | Reply

#6 Gal

It's a matter of perspective. FB and Twitter deleted a bunch of posts and tweets and made them inaccessible. They'll say they did it to stop the spread of disinformation. Most people have already made up their mind if they will see it as a cover-up or as being proactive. It's conspiratorial to say it's a cover-up at this point, at least from what I've read.

#9 | Posted by gavaster at 2017-10-13 11:42 AM | Reply

#3 | POSTED BY GAL_TUESDAY

"Facebook confirmed that the posts had been removed. But a spokesman said it was because the company had fixed a glitch in the analytics tool -- called CrowdTangle -- that Albright had used which provided "an unintended way to access information about deleted content."

www.businessinsider.com

#10 | Posted by gavaster at 2017-10-13 11:46 AM | Reply

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#9 "They'll say they did it to stop the spread of disinformation."

That cow left the barn long ago.

#10 Yes, I read that. If they saved what they deleted and make it available for research, no problem.

#11 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-10-13 11:56 AM | Reply

"You're just looking for the culprit, who we already know is Russia. What's the point?"

Without those platforms, Russia could not have done what every it is they did, and we still don't know what they did. That's the point.

#12 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-10-13 11:58 AM | Reply

#11-12 Gal

You want to review their data? Grab a subpoena. There are laws regarding required retention of a business' information. As long as it's within that framework and you have a judge willing to sign it then by all means. Freedom comes with a price though. I'm not for shuttering Twitter. You have US officials equating Twitter to an FSB operation. That's crazy talk and shapes the narrative to justifying clamping down on Twitter and FB as if they were Russian operatives. I'm not okay with that. And with Trump's recent attacks on free speech it makes me equally as nervous.

#13 | Posted by gavaster at 2017-10-13 12:25 PM | Reply

Russia could not have done what every it is they did, and we still don't know what they did.

Lol. Lack of evidence doesn't keep Zed from demanding impeachments and frog marches.

#14 | Posted by SheepleSchism at 2017-10-13 02:00 PM | Reply | Funny: 1 | Newsworthy 1

Nothing crucial had ever been on Twiter.

#15 | Posted by Sully at 2017-10-13 02:39 PM | Reply

- Would you be so blasé if we were talking about...
The United States?

#2 | POSTED BY SHEEPLESCHISM

No, you're right. Since we've done it, we should totally allow others to do it to us, right?

#16 | Posted by Sycophant at 2017-10-13 02:56 PM | Reply

#11-12 Gal
You want to review their data? Grab a subpoena. There are laws regarding required retention of a business' information. As long as it's within that framework and you have a judge willing to sign it then by all means. Freedom comes with a price though. I'm not for shuttering Twitter. You have US officials equating Twitter to an FSB operation. That's crazy talk and shapes the narrative to justifying clamping down on Twitter and FB as if they were Russian operatives. I'm not okay with that. And with Trump's recent attacks on free speech it makes me equally as nervous.

#13 | POSTED BY GAVASTER

Would be illegal to delete the information if it was related to a criminal investigation.

Second, NO US officials have equated Twitter or FB to an FSB operation. Read the article again.

Third, if this makes you equally nervous, you haven't a clue what is going on.

Your best bet is to do a lot more CAREFUL reading before posting anymore nonsense.

#17 | Posted by Sycophant at 2017-10-13 02:58 PM | Reply

"Nothing crucial had ever been on Twiter."

Egypt had a revolution using Twitter.

#18 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-10-13 03:03 PM | Reply

And the resulting government was removed and replaced by a military general in short order.

#19 | Posted by Sully at 2017-10-13 03:19 PM | Reply

But it was an important thing that happened.

I don't know why you're so reluctant to acknowledge the power of social media. You must not be the former Egyptian President. Or the current American President.

#20 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-10-13 03:32 PM | Reply

No, you're right. Since we've done it, we should totally allow others to do it to us, right?
#16 | POSTED BY SYCOPHANT

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If our intelligence arm was simply working from a defensive posture, I'd support it.

But since we seem to meddle in elections all over the world? I don't support it. I also don't find it alarming that other nations spy on us.

#21 | Posted by SheepleSchism at 2017-10-13 03:49 PM | Reply

"I'm willing to justify and rationalize anything since it got me my President Trump"

Trumplesheepskin aka I'm too liberal for my shirt....

#22 | Posted by Reagan58 at 2017-10-13 04:10 PM | Reply

Shut down twitter, end of all sorts of problems.

#23 | Posted by bat4255 at 2017-10-13 04:20 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

#22 | POSTED BY REAGAN58

You know zip, ----------. If my candidate had been elected, he'd be polishing up the Single Payer Plan for a thankful America.

The DNC is how we got Trump.

#24 | Posted by SheepleSchism at 2017-10-13 04:33 PM | Reply

#17 - Sycophant

You talk to yourself in the mirror a lot don't ya?

Every single thing you said is irrelevant, inaccurate, or flat wrong.

#25 | Posted by gavaster at 2017-10-13 05:34 PM | Reply

#14

Russia Flag.

Evidence is produced almost every day. This has been an especially good week for it, tovarish.

#26 | Posted by Zed at 2017-10-13 06:27 PM | Reply

#24

Russia is how we got Trump. Russia and Trump's utter corruption.

#27 | Posted by Zed at 2017-10-13 06:29 PM | Reply

These platforms can take action if they want to. Case in point is the French election:

Facebook helped blunt Russian meddling in French elections

Better automated detection tech and more employees on the case resulted in swift action.

Facebook played a key role in identifying and stopping Russian interference in the recent French election, a US congressman has revealed. During the attack, Russian intelligence operatives attempted to spy on Emmanuel Macron's election campaign by posing as friends of Macron's and attempting to glean information. This was in conjunction with the previously reported Russian interference, where spies also used fake Facebook accounts to spread misinformation about the French election.

Speaking to Reuters, Facebook confirmed that it detected these suspect accounts and shut them down during the first round of the French Presidential elections. With Facebook often coming under fire for not being quick enough to act in matters of fake news, election fraud, and social media manipulation, the networking company claimed that it was able to deal with these accounts swiftly thanks to its improved automated detection tech.

Facebook also reveals that it has stepped up its human efforts to track down sophisticated attacks too, making high-level fraud investigations a priority at the company. In the same conversation with Reuters, the social networking behemoth states that it suspended 70,000 accounts in France for promoting propaganda or spam, with the majority of those cases being related to the election. This is significantly larger than the mere 30,000 French account suspensions that Facebook confirmed just before the end of the election, in April.

www.engadget.com

Facebook could tell us how many accounts they shut down during the US election. They could also tell us how many accounts they failed to shut down but identified after the fact should have been.

#28 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-10-13 06:50 PM | Reply

#28;

The French election was after the US election, i.e., after we learned of the Russian meddling. There was a lot more Facebook could do about it then.

#14 | POSTED BY SHEEPLESCHISM

You silly conservative fools still think impeachment has a legal requirement, huh? If a BJ is impeachable, treason certainly is.

#29 | Posted by IndianaJones at 2017-10-13 07:29 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

#29

Trump's ongoing behavior screams treason.

#30 | Posted by Zed at 2017-10-13 07:38 PM | Reply

#30 | POSTED BY ZED

So does his collusion with Russia in the election.

#31 | Posted by IndianaJones at 2017-10-13 07:51 PM | Reply

Trump's ongoing behavior screams treason.
#30 | POSTED BY ZED

LOL. That's what got him elected. The whole point of Trump's election was to stick it to the establishment.

Russia is how we got Trump. Russia and Trump's utter corruption.
#27 | POSTED BY ZED

Hillary is how 'we' got Trump.

#32 | Posted by Ray at 2017-10-13 07:54 PM | Reply

So does his collusion with Russia in the election.

#31 | POSTED BY INDIANAJONES

LOL. This fish story is growing into a whale.

#33 | Posted by Ray at 2017-10-13 07:55 PM | Reply

If a BJ is impeachable, treason certainly is.

#29 | Posted by IndianaJones

Except wasn't Bill Clinton impeached for Perjury?

And Trump could find himself in the same predicament when Mueller calls him to testify. Being as Trump is serial liar it wouldn't take long to trip him up.

#34 | Posted by donnerboy at 2017-10-13 08:09 PM | Reply

Being as Trump is serial liar it wouldn't take long to trip him up.

I'm going to make a bet that nothing will happen to Trump. All Mueller needs is a couple of scapegoats to justify the investigation.

#35 | Posted by Ray at 2017-10-13 08:18 PM | Reply

"The French election was after the US election, i.e., after we learned of the Russian meddling. There was a lot more Facebook could do about it then."

Yes, but the question is could/should they have known earlier:

Facebook reportedly discovered it had been infiltrated by Russian government hackers months before the election

Members of a hacking group connected to Russia's military intelligence unit, the GRU, began creating fake Facebook accounts to amplify stolen emails as early as June 2016, people familiar with the company's investigation into Russia's use of the platform told The Washington Post. . . .

The accounts linked to the GRU's hacking group, called APT28 or Fancy Bear, reportedly set up one account called DCLeaks and one under the moniker Guccifer 2.0 that helped spread the emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee in late 2015.

Cybersecurity experts believe Fancy Bear was also behind the DNC hack.

Facebook contacted the FBI at the time, according to The Post, but determined upon examining the accounts further that they were financially motivated and did not seem linked to a foreign government.

www.businessinsider.com

What made them think the accounts were financially motivated? "Did not seem linked to a foreign government" doesn't seem very convincing. Did they keep monitoring those accounts over the months until the election in November, or just go with their initial, inaccurate assessment? I think those are legitimate questions to ask.

#36 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-10-13 08:40 PM | Reply

Oh wait, never mind, they went with their initial analysis:

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said shortly after Donald Trump won the election that it was "crazy" to think his company had been used as a platform for Russian propaganda. But the company began to look again after Zuckerberg was pulled aside later that month by President Barack Obama, who implored him to take the issue seriously, according to The Post.

#37 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-10-13 08:47 PM | Reply

Facebook reportedly discovered it had been infiltrated by Russian government hackers months before the election

It's a -------- story.
Zucker wants to be presdent some day.

#38 | Posted by Ray at 2017-10-13 09:00 PM | Reply

Well, lookee here, the Russians repurposed some of their US election bots for use in the French election:

1 in 5 election-related tweets weren't from real people, research shows.

The day Donald Trump was elected president, nearly 2,000 Twitter accounts that had pumped out pro-Trump messages in the run-up to the vote suddenly went dark. Then, in spring 2017, these bot-controlled accounts reemerged to campaign en français for Marine Le Pen in the French election, and then once again this fall, to tweet auf Deutsch on behalf of the far-right party in Germany's election.

The bots were part of a larger group tracked over a month-long period before the US election by University of Southern California researchers, who discovered that bots were deeply entwined in political conversation on Twitter -- accounting for 1 in 5 election-related tweets. And the bots were just as effective at spreading messages as human-controlled accounts were, says USC professor and lead researcher Emilio Ferrara, who has studied the influence of bot networks since 2012. "Botnets accrued retweets at the same rate as humans," he says of the pre-election activity. His most recent research explores how bots are particularly effective at getting a message to go viral among authentic human users.

www.motherjones.com

#39 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-10-14 12:25 AM | Reply

The premise that Russia applied more resources to internet propaganda than Trump, the Republican Party or Hillary is utterly ridiculous.

www.cbsnews.com

#40 | Posted by bayviking at 2017-10-14 12:13 PM | Reply

#40 No one said they did.

#41 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-10-14 12:46 PM | Reply

An intern at the Trump campaign data firm, Cambridge Analytica, left sensitive voter targeting tools online for nearly a year

www.businessinsider.com

#42 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-10-14 01:10 PM | Reply

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