Countering Russia

Countering Russia
A bipartisan group of researchers from America have launched a new website aimed at tracking Russia-supported dis-information..

A bipartisan group of researchers from America have launched a new website aimed at tracking Russia-supported dis-information and propaganda found on Twitter.

Russia has been accused of tampering with the elections in US and France in the past 12 months. The site was developed by a group called Alliance for Securing Democracy.

Background

The general consensus among the US intelligence agencies is that Russia interfered with the US Presidential elections. The country has been accused of conducting an influence campaign against Hillary Clinton. The servers of the Democratic National Committee were hacked and the contents were reportedly shared with Wikileaks, which published them. The email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta was also hacked. Kremlin has denied any role in the hacking.

Similarly, just days before France’s presidential election took place, hackers leaked emails from then-candidate Emmanuel Macron. The leaks were ultimately not successful as Macron still won the election. However, the director of NSA, Michael Rogers told the US Congress that the agency could see Russia’s handprint in this hacking as well.

Analysis

The Alliance for Securing Democracy is a non-profit bipartisan group aimed at tracking Russian propaganda on Twitter. It has been endorsed by former Deputy Director of the CIA, Michael Morell and Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff.

The main objective of the site, which has been called Hamilton 68, is to provide real-time analysis of Tweets from 600 accounts that the researchers believe advance Russian propaganda. The group hopes to help journalists and ordinary people make informed decisions on the data they receive through Twitter.

Laura Rosenberger, Director of the Alliance said, “The approach we're taking is not about labeling anything as 'real' or 'fake', or exposing particular accounts. We're simply using analytical tools to show what messages this network is promoting.” The group also notes that not all these accounts “take a paycheck from Kremlin.”

Assessment

Our assessment is that websites like Hamilton 68 can provide users with tools to sort through the multitude of content that is available online. However, it remains to be seen if such sites can truly counter the incredible speed in which information and dis-information spread through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. 

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