December 18, 2017

Shaffer Talks with Bloomberg News about Fake Accounts

Instructional technology specialist Kris Shaffer recently commented in an article for Bloomberg Technology.  The article, “How the Kremlin Tried to Pose as American News Sites on Twitter,” detailed how a Kremlin-backed Russian Internet Research Agency operated dozens of Twitter accounts masquerading as local American news sources that garnered more than half-a-million followers.

According to the article, the majority of the imposter news accounts were created more than a year before the 2016 U.S. elections. Shaffer, who is conducting research for UMW and Data for Democracy, told Bloomberg that the history of tweets and engagement with real users improves the placement of the account and its posts in Twitter’s search results. That means that if the account does push major disinformation campaigns, it is less likely to be blocked.

“Shaffer’s analysis of the accounts found that several of the imposter news accounts also tweeted during the French presidential election,” according to the article. “He surfaced about 41 Tweets from accounts including @WorldNewsPoli, @TodayMiami, @DetroitDailyNew, and @ChicagoDailyNew. Most of the posts were retweets of local news articles, but more than a quarter of them included stories from truthfeed.com, a known disinformation site, according to Shaffer. Those stories were mostly attacking Emmanuel Macron, who won the election, and biased toward Marine Le Pen, a far-right politician in France.”

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