Twitter in Russia in April: Twitterrodionovreuters

On April 1, the Russian government announced that Twitter will be blocked within the country, claiming the need to protect its citizens from “fake news” and other harmful content. Supporters of free speech have panned the ruling, and many Russians have taken to Twitter to express their displeasure. Several Twitter users both criticized and defended the social media platform using the hashtag #Twitterrodionov.

April Twitterrodionovreuters for Russia

The debut of “Twitterrodionov,” a new law enforcement officer, on the timelines of Russian Twitter users on April 1 took many off guard. This new “cop” boasted that he was cracking down on “trolling” and “fake news,” and he even added a badge and a Russian flag emoji to his profile to show that he meant business.

Nevertheless, it was revealed that Reuters’ Twitterrodionov was an elaborate April Fools’ Day hoax. By adding the image of a police officer and amending the bio to read: “I track trolls and share the truth on Twitter,” the phony account was formed by editing the profile of genuine Reuters journalist Maxim Rodionov. Send me a private message if you discover anything suspicious.

The new Twitter officer was quickly mocked by Russian media outlets, with some reporting that he could find users up to 3,000 rubles (about $50) for trolling.

Twitter users were divided on whether or not they found the joke funny. Perhaps more surprisingly, one user named @navalny made the connection between the joke and the “Orwellian” reality of life in Russia, where the Kremlin is infamous for stifling dissent and free expression.

Nevertheless, regardless of whether you thought the joke was amusing, Twitterrodionov was an ingenious approach to call attention to the Russian government’s developing tight control over the internet and social media.

Russia influencing the US election by using Twitter

The United States intelligence community has concluded that the Russian government used social media to help elect Donald Trump as president in 2016.

Russia’s government utilises Twitter as a primary tool for disseminating misinformation. It has come to light that the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a group with links to the Russian government, created hundreds of fake Twitter accounts with the express purpose of spreading disinformation and sowing discord during the election.

To add intrigue, the IRA didn’t only make fake accounts; they also bought Twitter adverts. Twitter has been clean about the $274,100 it made off of IRA ads during the election.

There is no question that the Russian government’s social media effort had some influence on the election, even though its precise impact is impossible to determine. Because that Twitter is among the most extensively used social media platforms in the world, it is possible that the Russian government will continue to utilize it in the future to communicate 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 purpose of inflaming rifts in the country. One way they did this was by using Twitter to spread false information and spark protests.

In April 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russia was using Twitter to incite unrest in the United States. The Journal revealed that Russia had exploited Twitter to distribute disinformation and polarising messages to American voters.

It is said in the article that Russia’s goal was to “amplify political turmoil in the United States.”

To do this, Moscow fabricated Twitter accounts for prominent US politicians and institutions. They then used these accounts to tweet to a wide range of political groups.

Some of the messages were designed to cause strife amongst the American people. Sometimes their goal was to make people doubt the integrity of the US government or the news media.

The WSJ claims Russia’s Twitter effort was “extremely effective,” impacting “tens of millions” of Americans.

An assessment from the U.S. intelligence community corroborated the Journal’s findings, concluding that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to sow discord in the United States.

Intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow used social media to “amplify animosity” in the United States.

According to Twitter, it is combatting disinformation on its site. On September 25th, 2018, Twitter said that it has suspended 2,752 accounts that were linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency.

While Twitter’s efforts are encouraging, more has to be done to counter Russia’s efforts to create divisiveness in the United States through the platform.

The reason Twitter let Russia off the hook

Twitter has been criticized for allegedly enabling Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Many who disagree with the social media platform say it did not do enough to prevent Russian hackers from misusing it to sow discord.

Twitter has defended itself, saying it is taking the effort to prevent foreign interference in elections and is always improving its security.

Yet, other professionals claim that Russia was successful in its involvement because Twitter was covert about its defenses.

What must happen to prevent Russia from meddling in elections on Twitter?

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to help Donald Trump win. Twitter has become a key hub for Russian disinformation and propaganda, despite the Kremlin’s denials of responsibility.

As a result of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Twitter has taken measures to restrict Russian-related activity and remove Russian-affiliated accounts. Yet, much more has to be done to prevent Russia (or any other government) from meddling with future elections via Twitter.

Twitter’s content filtering might use some work, especially when it comes to sensitive topics like election interference.

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