Twitter in Russia in April: Twitterrodionovreuters

On April 1, the Russian government announced that Twitter will be blocked inside the country, claiming the need to protect its citizens from “fake news” and other harmful content. Several Russians took to twitter to voice their displeasure with the ruling, which was roundly criticized by free speech advocates. People on both sides of the social media site’s popularity debate utilized the hashtag #Twitterrodionov to voice their opinions.

April Twitterrodionovreuters for Russia

On April 1, Russian Twitter users were taken aback by the emergence of a new law enforcement officer they dubbed “Twitterrodionov” on their timelines. There was a new “cop” on the block, and he said he was going to crack down on “trolling” and “fake news.” To add to his credibility, he had a badge and the Russian flag emoji next to his name.

Nevertheless, it was revealed that Twitterrodionov was really only a clever April fool’s Day hoax by the Russian news agency Reuters. The fake account was created by changing the profile of real Reuter’s journalist Maxim Rodionov to include a picture of a police officer and the bio “I monitor trolls and promote the truth on Twitter.” Please send me a private message if you see anything fishy.

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

Twitter users were divided on whether or not they found the joke funny. A user with the handle of @navalny even made the connection between the joke and the “Orwellian” reality of life in Russia, where the Kremlin is infamous for stifling dissent and free speech.

Whether or not you found the joke funny, Twitterrodionov was a clever way to highlight the Russian government’s tightening 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.

The Russian government utilizes Twitter as a primary tool for disseminating misinformation. The Internet Research Agency (IRA), a group with links to the Russian government, was found to have created hundreds of fake Twitter accounts in order to disseminate disinformation and sow discord during the election.

It’s worth noting that the IRA didn’t stop at creating fake accounts; they also paid for Twitter advertisements. Twitter has come clean about making $274,100 off of IRA ads during the election.

It is hard to know how much of an impact the Russian government’s social media effort really had on the election, but there is little question that it did have an effect. It seems likely that the Russian government will continue to utilize Twitter to spread its propaganda in the future, since it is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world.

How Russia inflamed rifts in the US through Twitter

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election to sow discord. One way they did this was by using Twitter to spread false information and spark protests.

Russia has been using Twitter to stoke tensions in the United States, according to a Wall Street Journal report from April of 2018. The Russian government used Twitter to promote disinformation and incite political division among American voters, according to the Journal’s investigation.

According to the article, Russian leaders want to “amplify political turmoil in the United States.”

This was accomplished by Russia by creating phony Twitter accounts for prominent US politicians and organizations. They then used those Twitter accounts to send out tweets to certain political groups.

Some of the messages were designed to cause strife amongst the American people. Sometimes their goal was to make people less confident in the government or the media.

The Journal claims that Russia’s Twitter effort was “extremely successful,” 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.

The United States intelligence community has concluded that Moscow used social media to “amplify animosity” in the country.

Twitter claims it is working to reduce the spread of false information. Twitter said in September 2018 that 2,752 accounts were suspended for having ties to Russia’s Internet Research Agency.

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

The reason Twitter let Russia off the hook

Twitter has been criticized for enabling Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Critics of the social media platform say Facebook did not do enough to prevent Russian hackers from using it to spread disinformation and incite unrest.

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

Yet other analysts say Russia was successful in its interference because Twitter hid 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. Despite denials from the Kremlin, Twitter has become a key outlet for Russian propaganda and disinformation.

In response to Russian interference in the 2016 election, Twitter has adopted measures to limit Russian influence on the platform. But much more has to be done to prevent Russia or any other government from using Twitter to interfere in future elections.

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