In an effort to protect its residents from “fake news” and other dangerous information, the Russian government declared on April 1 that Twitter will be barred throughout the nation. Free speech supporters were quite critical of the verdict, and some Russians turned to twitter to express their discontent with it. The hashtag #Twitterrodionov was used by people on both sides of the argument about Twitter’s popularity.
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April Twitterrodionovreuters for Russia
On April 1, Russian Twitter users were shocked to see a new police officer pop up on their feeds, whom they quickly called “Twitterrodionov.” A new “policeman” had arrived, vowing to put an end to online harassment and disinformation campaigns. A badge and the Russian flag emoji next to his name lent credence to his claims.
Nevertheless, Russian news agency Reuters exposed Twitterrodionov as an elaborate April Fool’s Day prank. The genuine Maxim Rodionov, a writer for Reuter’s, had his profile altered to seem like a police officer and said, “I monitor trolls and support the truth on Twitter.” If you notice anything suspicious, please let me know in a personal message.
Russian media sources wasted no time making fun of the new Twitter officer, with some saying he might punish users up to 3,000 rubles (about $50) for trolling.
Opinions on Twitter were split on whether or not the joke was hilarious. Perhaps more surprisingly, a user using by the handle @navalny drew parallels between the joke and the “Orwellian” reality of life in Russia, where the Kremlin is notorious for repressing dissent and free expression.
Whether or not you laughed at the joke, the Russian government’s increased censorship of the internet and social media highlighted by Twitterrodionov was an important issue.
Russia’s use of Twitter to influence the US election
It has been determined by the United States intelligence community that the Russian government used social media to aid in the 2016 election of Donald Trump as president.
When it comes to spreading propaganda, the Russian government relies heavily on Twitter. In order to spread misinformation and sow dissension during the election, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), an organization with ties to the Russian government, was discovered to have established hundreds of false Twitter accounts.
It’s important to remember that the IRA didn’t only make up Twitter handles; they also bought ad space. Twitter has admitted that it made $274,100 from IRA advertisements during the election.
Although the precise effect of the Russian government’s social media campaign on the election remains unclear, it undoubtedly had some kind of bearing. Being one of the most widely used social media sites, Russia’s government will probably keep using Twitter to propagate its propaganda in the years to come.
How Russian meddling on Twitter Deepened American Divisions
The United States’ intelligence agencies have determined that Russia attempted to foment divisiveness by interfering in the 2016 presidential election. They achieved this in a number of ways, one of which was by using Twitter to disseminate disinformation and set up demonstrations.
According to an April 2018 article in the Wall Street Journal, Russia has been using Twitter to inflame tensions in the United States. According to the Journal’s reporting, the Russian government used Twitter to spread propaganda and sow political discord among American voters.
The paper claims that Russian officials are seeking to “amplify political upheaval in the United States.”
Russia was able to achieve this goal by establishing fake Twitter accounts for well-known figures and institutions in the United States. They then utilized these Twitter accounts to tweet at certain political organizations.
These were communications intended to sow discord amongst the American people. Sometimes they wanted to undermine trust in authorities or the media.
According to the WSJ, “tens of millions” of Americans were affected by Russia’s Twitter campaign.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to promote divisiveness in the United States, corroborating the Journal’s conclusions.
U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that Russia intentionally stoked tensions in the United States by spreading hate speech online.
Twitter says it’s trying to stop misinformation from getting out there. The Russian Internet Research Agency was responsible for the suspension of 2,752 Twitter accounts in September 2018, according to a Twitter announcement.
The work Twitter has done to combat Russian efforts to sow discord in the United States via the platform is encouraging, but more needs to be done.
Why Twitter didn’t punish Russia for its election meddling
Several people believe that Twitter helped Russian trolls influence the 2016 US presidential election. Facebook has been accused by its detractors of not doing enough to stop Russian hackers from exploiting the site to sow discord and misinformation.
Twitter has defended itself by claiming the company is actively working to avoid foreign involvement in elections and is constantly upgrading its security.
Some have speculated that Twitter’s lack of transparency about its security measures contributed to Russia’s success in its meddling.
What needs to happen so that Russia doesn’t use Twitter to interfere in elections?
U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that Russian meddling in the 2016 election was a key factor in Trump’s victory. Twitter has become an important platform for Russian propaganda and misinformation despite protestations from the Kremlin.
Twitter has taken steps to curb Russian influence on the platform as a direct reaction to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. To stop future governments like Russia’s from utilizing Twitter to influence elections, however, much more work has to be done.