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Read the 200,000 Russian Troll tweets Twitter deleted

NBC News asked three sources to retrieve the evidence of foreign election meddling that Twitter deleted

Twitter announced last month that it would email notifications to 677,775 users in the US: that’s how many people it says followed one of the accounts created by the Russian government-linked propaganda factory known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA).
Less than two weeks later, Twitter announced that the number had more than doubled.
The number included those of us who retweeted or liked a tweet from Russian accounts during the 2016 US presidential election. The accounts had already been suspended, Twitter said, meaning that the relevant content is no longer publicly available on the platform.
But it is, in fact, available somewhere: Last week, NBC News published 200,000 Russian troll tweets that Twitter had deleted.
NBC News says that the accounts worked in concert as part of large networks that posted hundreds of thousands of inflammatory tweets, “from fictitious tales of Democrats practicing witchcraft to hardline posts from users masquerading as Black Lives Matter activists.”
The US intelligence community has determined that the IRA is part of a Russian state-run effort to influence the 2016 election, and all signs are pointing to the organization gearing up to do the same to the November mid-term elections.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee last Tuesday that the US is “under attack,” adding that Russia is attempting to “degrade our democratic values and weaken our alliances.”
Coats said that Russian President Vladimir Putin considers Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential elections a success and that he’s targeting the midterms:

There should be no doubt that [Putin] views the past effort as successful and views the 2018 US midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.

Twitter trolls and their seeds of discord are great tools for the Russians, Coats said: they’re cheap, low-risk and effective:

The Russians utilize this tool because it’s relatively cheap, it’s low risk, it offers what they perceive as plausible deniability and it’s proven to be effective at sowing division. We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen, and other means of influence to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States.

Twitter handed over to Congress a list of 3,814 IRA-connected account names and, as is its practice, has since suspended those accounts. That means deletion of the accounts’ tweets from public view, both on Twitter and from third parties. Unfortunately, erasing the evidence of foreign election meddling isn’t helpful for the investigation into that meddling – an investigation that resulted in a federal indictment on Friday, accusing 13 Russians and three Russian companies of conducting a criminal and espionage conspiracy using social media to interfere in the election.
To retrieve the evidence that Twitter deleted, NBC News asked three sources familiar with Twitter’s data systems to cross-reference the partial list of names released by Congress to create a database of tweets that could be recovered. The sources requested anonymity to avoid politicization of their work and to stay out of trouble regarding possible violation of Twitter’s developer policy.

The news outlet said it’s already analyzed the data to expose “how Russian accounts impersonated everyday Americans and drew hundreds of millions of followers, exploiting terrorist attacks, the debates and other breaking news events.”

Our investigations revealed how the accounts pushed graphic, racist and conspiracy theory-filled disinformation, while flattering, arguing and cajoling more than 40 U.S. politicians, media figures and celebrities into interacting with and amplifying their propaganda.

Now, to fend off the continuing onslaught of Russian Twitter trolls and bots, and to “help shine a light on this persistent threat to democracy,” NBC News has open-sourced the 200,000 tweets.


There is an old saying that a lie is only effective if it is whispered in a sympathetic ear. It is unfortunate that our Political system has created so much distrust that we are willing to believe almost anything. It is sad that We have become so disillusioned that we are willing to entertain doubts. Forgive me Miss Vaas but frail is human but not so frail as our belief in Politics.


Twitter is in danger of losing significant business revenue it they allow fake accounts and tweets to run wild. What business wants to be associated with that? Mine included.


More then if they do what they do now, and accuse conservatives of being Russians. In fact, if they are so worried thta Russians are affecting our political tweets, then why are they not on the look out for other foreign tweets? Mexico admittedly spends tons of money trying to influence America to allow immigration, which is a handy release valve for them. Why is Twitter not deleting and looking for posts from Mexican bots? You think Russia is the only foreign country in the world with an interest in American politics? Seems like a with hunt to me. I know far too many Americans with conservative view points who keep on being told they are bots.


How about a link to the tweets?


The link is in the article, in the paragraph which reads, “But it is, in fact, available somewhere: Last week, NBC News published 200,000 Russian troll tweets that Twitter had deleted.”. If you hover your mouse pointer over the link text (“NBC News”, highlighted as a link), the pop-up title includes the words, “Read them here.” On the linked NBC News page, there is information on how to obtain the tweets (or just the metadata about them).
Yeah, there’s a bit of deception there with the link title saying “Read them here”, but that’s NBC’s doing, not Naked Security; the title comes directly from the NBC News page headline.
The misleading headline is not too surprising… it is, after all, NBC News.


It is indeed sad that social media users consider so much of what they read on social media as “truth”, without verification. I know… it’s asking a lot for the actual end user to be discerning about what they read. While I agree that fake accounts need to be exterminated, no posts should be trusted without verification, even from known good accounts. Known good accounts are hijacked all the time and then spew out garbage!


Today Twitter shut down 10’s of thousands of alleged ‘bot’ accounts. It’s now clear that a sizable portion of them were not, in fact, bot accounts, Russian or otherwise. Users have had to provide a phone number in order to regain account access. Users who, I might add, all tended to be conservative and/or Trump supporters. I imagine that in Twitter’s next bot shutdown, users will be to asked to provide their Social Security Numbers. When no one wants to do that, Twitter will publicize how few of the shuttered accounts reactivated, thus ‘proving’ they were Russian bots.
The Russian hysteria we’re seeing today exceeds that that of the 1950’s Red Scare. However, I think the motivation for today’s fear mongering is even far more nefarious and frightening. IMHO, the entire ‘Russian bot” scare is an attempt to de-legitimatize American voters who voted the ‘wrong’ way. The very idea that people voted for one candidate or another based solely on an ad they may have seen on social media is pretty absurd on its face. But it is even more so when you realize we’ve had a series of secret FISA warrants and wiretaps of a presidential candidate’s organization based almost entirely on the work of a known British spy. And yet there’s been no mention of *that* foreign meddling, has there? That’s because his work was to sway people to vote the ‘correct’ way.
The subtext of what the media is pushing is that these people would have voted for Hillary had they not seen some alleged Russian advertisement, and thus their votes and the President himself, is not legitimate. Make no mistake, this sort of political gaming will come back to haunt all Americans, and is in fact the way political coups are incubated and justified.


Besides, if an American liked the comment, then the comment is coming from an American, because they agree with the point. The fact is that American citizens got tired of political correctness, got tired of double standards, reverse racism, divisiveness, immigration, high taxes, too much welfare, too many rules thta regulate businesses and make it hard for them to survive, not strict enough prison sentences, not enough support of local law enforcement, corrupt government agencies like FBI, CIA, IRS..and much much more, and that is why they voted for Trump. None of that has anything to do with Russia.


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