THERE’S A MEME on Instagram, circulated by a group called “Born Liberal.” “Born Liberal” was a creation of the Internet Research Agency, the Russian propaganda wing
Conversations around the IRA’s operations traditionally have focused on Facebook and Twitter, but like any hip millennial, the IRA was actually most obsessive about Instagram.
the IRA deployed 3,841 accounts, including several personas that “regularly played hashtag games.” That approach paid off; 1.4 million people engaged with the tweets, leading to nearly 73 million engagements. Most of this work was focused on news, while on Facebook and Instagram, the Russians prioritized “deeper relationships,” according to the researchers. On Facebook, the IRA notched a total of 3.3 million page followers, who engaged with their politically divisive content 76.5 million times. Russia’s most popular pages targeted the right wing and the black community. The trolls also knew their audiences; they deployed Pepe memes at pages intended for right-leaning millennials, but kept them away from posts directed at older conservative Facebook users. Not every attempt was a hit; while 33 of the 81 IRA Facebook pages had over 1,000 followers, dozens had none at all.
The report also points out new links between the IRA’s pages and Wikileaks, which helped disseminate hacked emails from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta
“While many people think of memes as “cat pictures with words,” the Defense Department and DARPA have studied them for years as a powerful tool of cultural influence, capable of reinforcing or even changing values and behavior.
“over the past five years, disinformation has evolved from a nuisance into high-stakes information war.” And yet, rather than fighting back effectively, Americans are battling each other over what to do about it.
A year after the Meme Warfare Center proposal was published, DARPA, the Pentagon agency that develops new military technology, commissioned a four-year study of memetics. The research was led by Dr. Robert Finkelstein, founder of the Robotic Technology Institute, and an academic with a background in physics and cybernetics.
Finkelstein’s study of “Military Memetics” centered on a basic problem in the field, determining “whether memetics can be established as a science with the ability to explain and predict phenomena.” It still had to be proved, in other words, that memes were actual components of reality and not just a nifty concept with great marketing.
Summary This short paper lays out an attempt to measure how much activity from Russian state-operated accounts released in the dataset made available by Twitter in October 2018 was targeted at the United Kingdom. Finding UK-related Tweets is not an easy task. By applying a combination of geographic inference, keyword analysis and classification by algorithm, we identified UK-related Tweets sent by these accounts and subjected them to further qualitative and quantitative analytic techniques.
There were three phases in Russian influence operations : under-the-radar account building, minor Brexit vote visibility, and larger-scale visibility during the London terror attacks.
Russian influence operations linked to the UK were most visible when discussing Islam . Tweets discussing Islam over the period of terror attacks between March and June 2017 were retweeted 25 times more often than their other messages.
The most widely-followed and visible troll account, @TEN_GOP, shared 109 Tweets related to the UK. Of these, 60 percent were related to Islam .
The topology of tweet activity underlines the vulnerability of social media users to disinformation in the wake of a tragedy or outrage.
Focus on the UK was a minor part of wider influence operations in this data . Of the nine million Tweets released by Twitter, 3.1 million were in English (34 percent). Of these 3.1 million, we estimate 83 thousand were in some way linked to the UK (2.7%). Those Tweets were shared 222 thousand times. It is plausible we are therefore seeing how the UK was caught up in Russian operations against the US .
Influence operations captured in this data show attempts to falsely amplify other news sources and to take part in conversations around Islam , and rarely show attempts to spread ‘fake news’ or influence at an electoral level.
On 17 October 2018, Twitter released data about 9 million tweets from 3,841 blocked accounts affiliated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA) – a Russian organisation founded in 2013 and based in St Petersburg, accused of using social media platforms to push pro-Kremlin propaganda and influence nation states beyond their borders, as well as being tasked with spreading pro-Kremlin messaging in Russia. It is one of the first major datasets linked to state-operated accounts engaging in influence operations released by a social media platform.
This report outlines the ways in which accounts linked to the Russian Internet ResearchAgency (IRA) carried out influence operations on social media and the ways their operationsintersected with the UK.The UK plays a reasonably small part in the wider context of this data. We see two possibleexplanations: either influence operations were primarily targeted at the US and British Twitterusers were impacted as collate, or this dataset is limited to US-focused operations whereevents in the UK were highlighted in an attempt to impact US public, rather than a concertedeffort against the UK. It is plausible that such efforts al so existed but are not reflected inthis dataset.Nevertheless, the data offers a highly useful window into how Russian influence operationsare carried out, as well as highlighting the moments when we might be most vulnerable tothem.Between 2011 and 2016, these state-operated accounts were camouflaged. Through manualand automated methods, they were able to quietly build up the trappings of an active andwell-followed Twitter account before eventually pivoting into attempts to influence the widerTwitter ecosystem. Their methods included engaging in unrelated and innocuous topics ofconversation, often through automated methods, and through sharing and engaging withother, more mainstream sources of news.Although this data shows levels of electoral and party-political influence operations to berelatively low, the day of the Brexit referendum results showed how messaging originatingfrom Russian state-controlled accounts might come to be visible – on June 24th 2016, we believe UK Twitter users discussing the Brexit Vote would have encountered messages originating from these accounts.As early as 2014, however, influence operations began taking part in conversations aroundIslam, and these accounts came to the fore during the three months of terror attacks thattook place between March and June 2017. In the immediate wake of these attacks, messagesrelated to Islam and circulated by Russian state-operated Twitter accounts were widelyshared, and would likely have been visible in the UK.The dataset released by Twitter begins to answer some questions about attempts by a foreignstate to interfere in British affairs online. It is notable that overt political or electoralinterference is poorly represented in this dataset: rather, we see attempts at stirring societaldivision, particularly around Islam in the UK, as the messages that resonated the most overthe period.What is perhaps most interesting about this moment is its portrayal of when we as socialmedia users are most vulnerable to the kinds of messages circulated by those looking toinfluence us. In the immediate aftermath of terror attacks, the data suggests, social mediausers were more receptive to this kind of messaging than at any other time.
It is clear that hostile states have identified the growth of online news and social media as aweak spot, and that significant effort has gone into attempting to exploit new media toinfluence its users. Understanding the ways in which these platforms have been used tospread division is an important first step to fighting it.Nevertheless, it is clear that this dataset provides just one window into the ways in whichforeign states have attempted to use online platforms as part of wider information warfare
and influence campaigns. We hope that other platforms will follow Twitter’s lead and release
similar datasets and encourage their users to proactively tackle those who would abuse theirplatforms.
Ubiquitous social media platforms—including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—have created a venue for people to share and connect with others. We use these services by clicking “I Agree” on Terms of Service screens, trading off some of our private and personal data for seemingly free services. While these services say data collection helps create a better user experience, that data is also potentially exploitable.
The news about how third parties obtain and use Facebook users’ data to wage political campaigns and the mounting evidence of election interference have shined a spotlight on just how secure our data is when we share online. Educating youth about data security can fall under the larger umbrella of digital citizenship, such as social media uses and misuses and learning how not to embarrass or endanger oneself while using the internet.
Darvasi’s students in Toronto can pool together 55 faux bitcoins to purchase and launch the BOTTING protocol against an opponent. The student targeted at Fallon’s school in Connecticut would then have 48 hours to record audio of 10 words of Darvasi’s students choosing and send it back to them through an intermediary (Darvasi or Fallon). For a higher price of 65 faux bitcoins, students can launch MORPHLING, which would give the opponent 48 hours to record a one-minute video explaining three ways to stay safe while using Facebook, while making their school mascot (or a close approximation of) appear in the video in some way during the entire minute.
the institution announced it will no longer archive every one of our status updates, opinion threads, and “big if true“s. As of Jan. 1, the library will only acquire tweets “on a very selective basis.”
The library doesn’t say how many tweets it has in its collection now, but in 2013, it said it had already amassed 170 billion tweets, at a rate of half a billion tweets a day.
Tweets can now be longer, too: This fall, Twitter rolled out 280-character tweets to most users across the platform.
Another issue: Twitter only gives the library the text of tweets – not images, videos, or linked content. “Tweets now are often more visual than textual, limiting the value of text-only collecting,” the library says.
The law has been criticized as encouraging censorship.
The companies will also be forced to introduce an official complaint structure, obliging platforms to monitor their content and improve their real-time reporting protocols.
Platforms failing to react within 24-hours face €50 million fines. The challenge to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr, VK, Vimeo, Flickr and the like are facing a major technological challenge which could come with significant costs.
The law adopted in June 2017, went into force in October 2017 and will be enforced from January 2018. The new law implies hiring hundreds of more employees.
For the completely uninitiated, RSS is just a standardized way of presenting text and images in a feed that can be used by a variety of apps and web services. It is just like how Twitter has a standard way of presenting text and images that all the various Twitter clients understand.
As we’ve already alluded to, when you follow the news via social media, you’re relying on other people bringing you the news, unless you’re following individual news stories. RSS is like getting your newspaper of choice delivered to the front door rather than relying on heading down to the local bar to listen in on what everyone’s shouting about.
With only one page to visit rather than dozens to catch up on, you can spend less time aimlessly drifting around and more time catching up on the posts that matter.
It’s not just for news
Basically anything you might want to keep track of and not miss because of the cacophony of voices on social media,
The always-useful IFTTT (If This Then That) is fluent in RSS, giving you even more ways to make use of RSS. You can build applets to generate tweets or Facebook posts or Instagram updates from a particular feed. Zapier is another service that can take RSS feeds from anywhere in the web and plug them into other apps and platforms.
Throw in LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and region specific social networks like Vkontakte and Sina Weibo and WeChat, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s online but isn’t on social media.
What has led to the rise of these social networks? What kind of people do they attract?
What is their psychology? What kind of content do they like to consume? And most importantly for bloggers and marketers – what works, what doesn’t on social media?
Facebook has become the ‘home base’ for most people online. While they may or may not use other networks, a majority maintain a presence on Facebook.
Popular: Used by 72% of all adult internet users in America.
More women users: 77% of online female users are on Facebook.
Younger audience: 82% of all online users between 18-29 are on Facebook
USA (14%), India (9%) and Brazil (7%) form the three largest markets.
Twitter’s quick flowing ‘info stream’ attracts an audience that swings younger and is mostly urban/semi-urban.
Younger: Used by 37% of all online users between 18 and 29.
Educated: 54% of users have either graduated college, or have some college experience.
Richer: 54% of online adults who make over $50,000+ are on Twitter.
Younger users: 27% of all 16-24 year olds online are active members of Google+. In contrast, only 18% and 14% of 45-54 and 55-64 year olds are active on Google+ at the moment.
Large non-US user base: Only 55% of Google+ users are American. 18% are Indian and 6% are Brazilian. One reason for this international user base is Android’s popularity outside the US (since Google+ is baked right into Android).
Even income distribution: According to GlobalWebIndex.net, 22% of people in bottom 25% of income earners are on Google+. For the top 25% of income earners, this number is 24%, while for the mid 50% earners, this number is 23%. This means that nearly all levels of income earners are nearly equally represented on Google+.
Here’s what you should know about Pinterest demographics:
Overwhelmingly female: 42% of all online female users are on Pinterest, vs. only 13% of men.
Older audience: 72% of Pinterest’s audience are 30 years or older. Only 34% are between 18 and 29. Significantly, 17% are over 65 years old.
Distinctly suburban: Suburban and rural users form the largest share – 29% and 30% respectively. This is distinctly different from other networks where urban users rule.
Higher income: Given the higher average age, Pinterest users also have higher disposable income, with 64% of all adults making $50,000+ on Pinterest.
The professional networking site LinkedIn attracts an older audience that is largely urban, wealthier, and more educated.
Older: Only 23% of users are between 18-29 years old. 21% are over 65 years, and 31% are between 30 and 49 years of age.
Urban: Very limited number of rural users – only 14%. 61% are either urban or suburban.
Wealthier: 75% of users earn over $50,000.
Highly educated: 50% of LinkedIn users are college graduates. Another 22% have some college experience.
Snapchat is the newest social networks on this list, but also one of the fastest growing. Here’s what you need to know about its demographics:
Dominated by women: 70% of Snapchat’s users are females.
Overwhelmingly young: 71% of users are younger than 25.
Limited income: 62% earn under $50,000 – fitting given the average age of Snapchat’s users.
ere’s what you should take away from all these stats:
If you’re targeting younger users, stick to Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
If you’re targeting women with disposable income, head over to Pinterest.
For professionals with better education and income, use LinkedIn.
For everyone, go with Facebook.
The psychology of social media users
Facebook is a ‘closed’ network where your friends list will usually be limited to family, friends and acquaintances you’ve met in real life. Privacy is a big concern for Facebook’s users, and all posts are private by default.
This ultimately affects the way users interact with each other and with businesses on Facebook.
Facebook users are more trusting (since the network is closed).
Facebook users have more close relationships. Pew found that heavy users of the platform are more likely to have a higher number of close relationships.
Facebook users are politically engaged and active.
To understand why people share or follow on Twitter, researchers at Georgia Tech and UMichigan analysed over 500M tweets over 15-months. They found that the three biggest reasons why people share/follow on Twitter are:
Network overlap: Your network is similar to your followers’ network.
User tweet-RT ratio: The number of tweets vs. the number of RTs for a user.
Informational content: The more informative the content, the better.
The default Mastodon web interface is a little more complex than Twitter, but no more than, for instance, TweetDeck. There are, of course, other interfaces you could use with Mastodon, including mobile apps or custom Atom feeds or custom web apps using Mastodon’s rich API. Since everyone starts out with the web UI, however, it’s a good thing to look at to get used to Mastodon’s capabilities.