In order to shield its residents from “fake news” and other damaging information, the Russian government said on April 1 that Twitter will be barred within the nation. The decision was roundly decried by proponents of free expression, and many Russians expressed their displeasure on Twitter. The hashtag #Twitterrodionov was used by people on both sides of the controversy around the social media site’s popularity to express their views.
TwitterRodionovReuter for Russia in April
The introduction of a new law enforcement official they nicknamed “Twitterrodionov” on their feeds as of April 1 surprised Russian Twitter users. This recently hired “policeman” bragged that he was combating “trolling” and “false news,” and to prove his mettle, he even updated his profile with a badge and the Russian flag emoji.
Yet it turned out that Reuters’ Twitterrodionov was a sophisticated April Fools’ Day prank. By adding the photograph of a police officer and modifying the bio to read: “I monitor trolls and convey the truth on Twitter,” the phoney account was made by editing the profile of actual Reuters journalist Maxim Rodionov. Please let me know if you see anything fishy in a private message.
Some Russian media publications even went so far as to claim that the new Twitter officer will issue violators “trolling penalties” of up to 3,000 rubles (about $50).
Whether or whether the joke was hilarious was up for debate among the Twitterati. The joke was related to the “Orwellian” reality of life in Russia, where the Kremlin is notorious for repressing dissent and free expression, by at least one user, @navalny.
Whether or not you thought the joke was humorous, Twitterrodionov was a clever way to draw attention to how tightly the Russian government is controlling social media and the internet.
The Russian government’s use of Twitter to meddle in the US presidential election
The US intelligence community has determined that the Russian government utilized social media to assist Donald Trump in winning the 2016 presidential election.
Twitter is one of Russia’s preferred platforms for disinformation dissemination. Recently, it was discovered that the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a group with connections to the Russian government, set up hundreds of fictitious Twitter accounts specifically for the aim of disseminating false information and stirring unrest during the election.
The IRA not only created false accounts but also spent money on Twitter adverts. Twitter has acknowledged that it earned $274,100 from supporting the IRA with election-related advertising.
Undoubtedly, the Russian government’s social media campaign had an influence on the election, but it is unclear how much. With Twitter’s popularity among the most prominent social media platforms worldwide, there is a significant probability that the Russian government will continue utilizing the service to disseminate propaganda in the future.
Dissension in the United States and how Russians used social media to fan the flames
According to the intelligence community, Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election was intended to sow divisiveness. They used Twitter, among other platforms, to disseminate erroneous information and stir up trouble.
The Wall Street Journal revealed in April 2018 that Russia was using Twitter to ratchet up tensions in the United States. According to the Journal’s findings, the Russian government exploited Twitter to spread misinformation and stir up political dissent among American voters.
Russian authorities allegedly wanted to “amplify political upheaval in the United States,” according to the report.
By creating phony Twitter accounts for influential Americans in politics and American institutions, the Russians were able to achieve their goal. They later tweeted to certain political parties using these accounts.
A few of the messages were obviously intended to incite conflict among Americans. Some of these assaults were intended to undermine public confidence in the US government or the media.
Russian efforts on Twitter, according to The Journal, were “very effective,” reaching “tens of millions” of Americans.
The Journal’s conclusions were supported by an assessment by the U.S. intelligence community, which came to the conclusion that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election to foment dissension in the country.
Russian government agents used social media to “amplify hatred” in the nation, according to American intelligence services.
According to Twitter, steps are being taken to stop the dissemination of misleading information. In September 2018, around 2.7 thousand accounts connected to the Internet Research Agency of Russia were deleted.
While Twitter’s efforts are appreciated, more must be done to thwart Russian attempts to use the site to sow discord in the United States.
Here’s why Twitter let Russia off the hook
For potentially aiding Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, Twitter has come under fire. Facebook was criticized for not doing enough to stop Russian hackers from using it to disseminate false material and stir up unrest, according to the social media platform’s detractors.
In order to defend itself, Twitter claimed that it had taken measures to thwart foreign meddling in elections and that it was constantly enhancing its security.
Others, though, contend that since Twitter was coy about taking protective measures, Russia was effective in its involvement.
What has to change so that Russia doesn’t use Twitter to influence elections?
The US intelligence community claims that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election to give Donald Trump the victory. Despite the Kremlin’s denials, Twitter has grown into a significant hub for Russian propaganda and misinformation.
Twitter has implemented restrictions on Russian-related behavior and account access after the 2016 presidential election. Yet, much more has to be done in the future to stop Russia (or any other nation) from meddling in elections through Twitter.
Twitter has to improve on its content filtering, particularly in light of touchy subjects like election meddling.