One of the key part of the MSM narrative on the “Russian propaganda” influencing the Western “democratic” societies is Russian/Kremlin bots.
The US, the UK as well as some EU states have established a number of think tanks and bodies to combat the Russian propaganda and alleged cyber ops, including “bots” in the social media. However, it looks that they face some problems with feeling the difference between real people and fake accounts.
“Russia used trolls and bots to unleash disinformation on to social media in the wake of the Salisbury poisoning, according to fresh Whitehall analysis. Government sources said experts had uncovered an increase of up to 4,000% in the spread of propaganda from Russia-based accounts since the attack,– many of which were identifiable as automated bots.”
“One bot, @Ian56789, was sending 100 posts a day during a 12-day period from 7 April, and reached 23 million users, before the account was suspended. It focused on claims that the chemical weapons attack on Douma had been falsified, using the hashtag #falseflag. Another, @Partisangirl, reached 61 million users with 2,300 posts over the same 12-day period.“
The problem is that @Ian56789 has ;later turned out to be a real person, British citizen. Later, he agreed to make an appearance on Sky News via Skype to dispel the myths that he’s a “Russian troll.”
— Ian56 (@Ian56789) April 20, 2018
Another “Russian bot,” @Partisangirl, appeared to be a widely-known Australian media activist of Syrian descent.
The Guardian’s political editor, Heather Stewart, attempted to clarify the situation with the “Russian-operated” accounts.
It's not my analysis – as the piece makes quite clear – it's the government's. https://t.co/50C7Ozhv8m
— Heather Stewart (@GuardianHeather) April 20, 2018
The US newspaper Times also published a series of articles “exposing” Russian bots, who “had been mobilized to pump up conspiracy theories” over the US-led bloc airstrikes on Syria as well as the Skripal poisoning.
Social media users are openly trolling the MSM over the “Russian bots” story.
Unlike @thetimes lazy UK govt stenographers claim I am not a ‘Russian troll’ but a rebel anti-war grandmother from Finland. Which would have been easily checked as I have been in twitter plus 9 yrs and frequently send snapshots of my life pic.twitter.com/3DhLYp4RDI
— Citizen Halo 🇫🇮🐦 (@haloefekti) 21 April 2018
Greetings from the Finnish rebel grandmother who due to some failed Orwellian Nato Thought Police operation in Atlantic Council and UK media suddenly became an internationally acknowledged cool kid as falsely identified as ' genuine Russian troll' pic.twitter.com/8Aa2b9VwCi
— Citizen Halo 🇫🇮🐦 (@haloefekti) April 24, 2018
On April 16, the UK National Cyber Security Centre [NCSC] together with the FBI and the US Department of Homeland Security issued a joint “technical alert,” setting out the Russian cyber-threat across the public and private sectors.
The UK bafflement was triggered by the previous US allegations over Russian troll campaign. On April 14, Pentagon’s spokeswoman Dana White stated in a press conference:
“There has been a 2,000 percent increase in Russian trolls in the last 24 hours. Therefore, we will keep you all abreast of the facts moving forward.”
Pentagon: “The Russian disinformation campaign has already begun. There has been a 2,000 percent increase in Russian trolls in the last 24 hours.” pic.twitter.com/xVkJzAHOqs
— NBC News (@NBCNews) 14 April 2018
The reveals could take away all the doubts over the Russian “trolling campaign” in the syber space. There is no doubt that bots are a major problem on social media. However, it looks that at least some mainstream experts involved in combating the “Russian propaganda” in social media know about bots less than common Twitter users.