The Russian government declared on April 1 that it would block Twitter inside of its borders, citing the need to shield its residents from “false news” and other dangerous material. The judgement was sharply attacked by proponents of free expression, and many Russians vented their anger about it on Twitter. Many people used the hashtag #Twitterrodionov to express their opposition to the social media site and their support for it.
April Twitterrodionovreuters for Russia
The appearance of “Twitterrodionov,” a new law enforcement official, on the timelines of Russian Twitter users on April 1 caught them off guard. This new “policeman” claimed to be putting a stop to “trolling” and “false news,” and to further establish his authority, he even had a badge and a Russian flag emoji next to his name.
But, it transpires that Twitterrodionov was only a deft April 1st joke by Russian news organisation Reuters. By adding the photograph of a police officer and modifying the bio to read: “I track trolls and disseminate the truth on Twitter,” the phoney account was made by editing the profile of actual Reuters journalist Maxim Rodionov. PM me if you spot anything shady.
Russian media sources instantly picked up on the joke; some even claimed that the new Twitter cop would be issuing “trolling penalties” of up to 3,000 rubles (about $50).
Some Twitter users thought the joke was amusing, but others weren’t as amused. The joke was even linked by one user, @navalny, to the “Orwellian” reality of life in Russia, where the government is notorious for repressing dissent and free expression.
Yet, regardless of whether you thought the joke was amusing, Twitterrodionov was an ingenious method to draw attention to the Russian government’s growing tight control over the internet and social media.
Russia influencing the US election by using Twitter
The intelligence community in the United States has come to the conclusion that the Russian government exploited social media to sway the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump’s favour.
One of the key channels the Russian government uses to spread its propaganda is Twitter. In order to spread misinformation and sow dissension during the election, it was discovered that the Internet Research Agency (IRA), an organisation with ties to the Russian government, had made thousands of fictitious Twitter accounts.
It’s interesting to note that the IRA didn’t simply create phoney accounts; they also bought Twitter ads. In fact, Twitter has admitted that during the election, it sold the IRA advertisements for $274,100.
There is no doubt that the Russian government’s social media campaign had some influence on the election, even though its precise impact is impossible to measure. Since that Twitter is among the most widely used social media sites in the world, it is probable that the Russian government will continue to use it in the future to disseminate its propaganda.
How Russia inflamed rifts in the US through Twitter
According to the U.S. intelligence community, Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election with the intention of inflaming rifts in the country. They used Twitter to propagate misinformation and cause unrest as one method of doing this.
The Wall Street Journal revealed in April 2018 that Russia has used Twitter to inflame tensions in the United States. The Journal discovered that Russia had exploited Twitter to spread misinformation and polarising messages to American voters.
The Newspaper claims that Russia wanted to “amplify political unrest in the United States.”
Russia created fake Twitter accounts for American political figures and organisations in order to do this. Afterwards, they employed these accounts to tweet messages that catered to various political constituencies.
Several of the communications aimed to divide Americans from one another. In other instances, they were intended to erode trust in American institutions like the government or the media.
Russia’s Twitter campaign, according to The Journal, was “very effective” and reached “tens of millions” of Americans.
The conclusions of the Journal are supported by a report from the U.S. intelligence community, which found that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election with the intention of igniting dissent in the country.
According to the findings of the intelligence community, Russia utilised social media to “amplify tension” in the United States.
According to Twitter, it is battling misinformation on its platform. In September 2018, Twitter declared that 2,752 accounts connected to Russia’s Internet Research Agency had been deleted.
While Twitter’s initiatives are a positive move, it is obvious that more has to be done to stop Russia from using social media to sow discord in the United States.
The reason Twitter let Russia off the hook
By allowing Russia to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election, Twitter has come under fire. Opponents claim that the social media site did not go far enough to stop Russian hackers from using it to disseminate false information and foment unrest.
Twitter has defended its actions, claiming that it has taken measures to stop foreign meddling in elections and that it is constantly enhancing its security.
Yet, some experts assert that because Twitter was secretive about its countermeasures, Russia was able to get away with its meddling.
What must happen to prevent Russia from meddling in elections on Twitter?
Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election in an effort to assist Donald Trump win, according to the U.S. intelligence community. Although the Kremlin has denied any involvement, Twitter has emerged as a major hub for Russian misinformation and propaganda.
Twitter has taken some action to crack down on behaviour and accounts related to Russia in the wake of the 2016 election. But much more must be done to stop Russia (or any other nation) from interfering with elections in the future via Twitter.
Twitter needs to improve its content moderation, particularly when it comes to delicate subjects like election meddling.