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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Russian Disinformation

Freelon, Deen; Lokot, Tetyana (2020). Russian Twitter disinformation campaigns reach across the American political spectrum. The Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Misinformation Review.

  • The IRA is a private company sponsored by the Russian government, which distributes Kremlin-friendly disinformation on social media under false identities (see DiResta et al., 2018; Howard, Ganesh, Liotsiou, Kelly, & Francois, 2018). 
  • The IRA engaged with several distinct communities of authentic users—primarily conservatives, progressives, and Black people—which exhibited only minimal overlap on Twitter.
  • Authentic users primarily engaged with IRA accounts that shared their own ideological and/or racial identities.
  • Racist stereotyping, racial grievances, the scapegoating of political opponents, and outright false statements were four of the most common appeals found among the most replied-to IRA tweets.
  • We conducted a network analysis of 2,057,747 authentic replies to IRA tweets over nine years, generated ideology ratings for a random sample of authentic users, and qualitatively analyzed some of the most replied-to IRA tweets.
  • State-sponsored disinformation agents have demonstrated success in infiltrating distinct online communities. Political content attracts far more engagement than non-political content and appears crafted to exploit intergroup distrust and enmity.  
  • Collaboration between different political groups and communities might be successful in detecting IRA campaigns more effectively.