Twitter in Russia in April: Twitterrodionovreuters
To shield its residents from “fake news” and other damaging content, the Russian government announced on April 1 that Twitter will be barred in Russia. Several Russians took to social media to express their displeasure with the decision, which infuriated advocates of free expression. The hashtag #Twitterrodionov has been used by people on both sides of the argument over Twitter’s meteoric climb to fame.
TwitterRodionovReuter for Russia in April
On April 1, Russian Twitter users were taken aback when a new law enforcement officer called “Twitterrodionov” started appearing in their feeds. This newly hired “policeman” talked about combating “trolling” and “false news,” and he updated his profile with a badge and the Russian flag emoji to illustrate his authority.
Nevertheless, it was discovered that Reuters’ Twitterrodionov was a complicated April Fools’ Day scam. By modifying the profile of actual Reuters journalist Maxim Rodionov and inserting a photograph of a police officer and changing the bio to read: “I monitor trolls and speak the truth on Twitter,” the phony account was created. Please notify me if you see anything suspect in an email.
According to certain Russian media sites, the new Twitter officer would levy “trolling penalties” of up to 3,000 rubles (approximately $50) on violators.
The Twitterati were split on whether the joke was hilarious or not. In their interpretation of the joke, at least one user, @navalny, alluded to the “Orwellian” reality of life in Russia, where the Kremlin is notorious for repressing dissent and free expression.
Even if you didn’t laugh at the joke, you have to acknowledge that Twitterrodionov’s approach of getting people talking about how the Russian government is suppressing free expression on the internet and social media was quite clever.
The Russian government’s use of Twitter to meddle in the US presidential election
U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government used social media to aid in Trump’s 2016 presidential victory.
Disinformation is often disseminated by Russian accounts on Twitter. Recently, it came to light that the Internet Research Agency (IRA), which has links to the Russian government, had established hundreds of false Twitter accounts with the intention of sowing discord and chaos in the lead-up to the election.
The IRA did more than just create fake Twitter accounts; they also promoted themselves there with real money. Advertising on Twitter during the IRA’s 2016 presidential campaign generated $274,100, as verified by the company.
It is unclear how much influence the Russian government’s use of social media had on the election. Given Twitter’s status as one of the most widely used social media platforms, it is likely that the Russian government will continue to use the platform for propaganda purposes in the years to come.
Dissension in the United States and how Russians used social media to fan the flames
Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to U.S. intelligence services, was driven by a desire to sow dissension. On Twitter and other platforms, they caused a commotion by spreading bogus information.
Russia was using Twitter to inflame tensions in the United States, according to a Wall Street Journal article from April 2018. According to the Journal, the Russian government used Twitter to spread fake news and stir political strife among American voters.
Seeking to “amplify political upheaval in the United States,” Russian authorities apparently organized this operation.
The Russians achieved their goal by creating false Twitter accounts purporting to belong to influential figures in American politics and institutions. They tweeted to certain political groups using these accounts.
It’s clear that some of the messages were intended to sow discord between Americans. Some of these assaults were made in an effort to undermine the public’s faith in the government or the media in the United States.
According to the WSJ, the Russians’ Twitter effort was “very effective,” reaching “tens of millions” of Americans.
Russian meddling in the 2016 election was an attempt to foment dissension in the United States, as found by the Journal and confirmed by an analysis undertaken by the United States intelligence community.
Russian government agents reportedly used social media to “amplify animosity” in the United States.
Twitter says it is working to reduce the circulation of false information. In September of 2018, around 2,700 accounts affiliated with Russia’s Internet Research Agency were deleted.
It’s great that Twitter is taking steps to thwart Russian attempts to sow discord in the US via the platform, but more has to be done.
Here’s why Twitter let Russia off the hook
The social media platform has come under fire for its alleged complicity in allowing Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. Critics of Facebook have said that the company has not done enough to stop Russian hackers from exploiting the platform to sow discord and misinformation.
Twitter has responded by stating it is upgrading its security measures and taking measures to avoid foreign involvement in elections.
Others have argued that Russia’s cooperation was fruitful because Twitter was slow to implement safeguards.
What has to change so that Russia doesn’t use Twitter to influence elections?
Intelligence services in the US have concluded that Russian meddling contributed to Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election. Twitter, despite Kremlin claims to the contrary, has become a key hub for Russian propaganda and misinformation.
Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Twitter took steps to restrict Russian participation and access. To prevent Russia or any other government from using Twitter to sway elections, obviously more effort has to be done in the future.
Twitter has to improve its content filters, especially when it comes to delicate issues like election meddling.