Twitter’s Disinformation Data Dumps Are Helpfulto a Point

In October 2017, Twitter general counsel Sean Edgett faced difficult questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee about foreign interference in the 2016 election. Flanked by representatives from Facebook and Google, Edgett explained how Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) had systematically spread fake news and stoked partisan sentiment through a carefully coordinated, years-long social media campaign. A year later, Twitter released an archive of more than 10 million tweets, from 3,841 accounts it said were affiliated with the IRA, hoping to encourage “open research and investigation of these behaviors from researchers and academics.” The company has followed with additional data dumps, most recently last month when it released details of accounts linked to Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and the Catalan independence movement …

Alphabet-Owned Jigsaw Bought a Russian Troll Campaign as an Experiment

For more than two years, the notion of social media disinformation campaigns has conjured up images of Russia's Internet Research Agency, an entire company housed on multiple floors of a corporate building in St. Petersburg, concocting propaganda at the Kremlin's bidding. But a targeted troll campaign today can come much cheaper—as little as $250, says Andrew Gully, a research manager at Alphabet subsidiary Jigsaw. He knows because that's the price Jigsaw paid for one last year. As part of research into state-sponsored disinformation that it undertook in the spring of 2018, Jigsaw set out to test just how easily and cheaply social media disinformation campaigns, or "influence operations," could be bought in the shadier corners of the Russian-speaking web. In …

A Wild Plan to Crowdsource the Fight Against Misinformation

Claire Wardle fights zombies. Not the dead human kind, but rather the fake “facts” that have been debunked and disproven but refuse to die online. You know the kind. No need to reanimate them here. Wardle has taken to calling them “zombie rumors,” and it’s her life work to eradicate them in their many forms—misinformation posted by individuals in their personal Facebook feeds; massive disinformation campaigns coordinated by nation-state-backed propagandists; fake information perpetuated by persistent algorithms. Maybe you've never heard of Wardle, but she’s one of the leading misinformation experts in the world, formerly of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center and a founder of First Draft News, a nonprofit that fights misinformation around the globe. She’s currently the director of a new …