Earlier today the House Intelligence Committee formally released a full list of Twitter accounts believed to belong to Russian state actors. Following the logic of these hearings, Democrats on the committee believe that these accounts were used by Russian actors to either disseminate political propaganda in the months leading up to the 2016 Presidential elections or were used to post highly controversial comments online in order to get Americans riled up, fighting and belligerently arguing with one another over important social issues and events.
Browse Though Full List Here: https://democrats-intelligence.house.gov/uploadedfiles/exhibit_b.pdf
Browsing through the list for myself, one of the things I found most interesting was that it did not include any of the Twitter handles of “news outlets” and websites previously accused of disseminating fake news on Facebook on behalf of the Kremlin in the past. This is interesting because all of these Facebook pages also have matching Twitter accounts for their websites, used for literally the same purpose; to get information out to as many people in the viewing public as possible.
I am not exactly sure what this means or why at least some of these sites were not included on today’s list, but it might mean that people put too much stock into the infamous “ProporNot” list released by The Washington Post in November of 2016, allegedly exposing dozens of “fake news” websites used by Russian actors to manipulate headlines throughout 2015 and 2016. Ironically for The Washington Post, the House Intelligence Committee may have just proven that the Posts reporting on these matters was fake news unto itself. Considering that I was highly critical of the list at the time, I feel as though my convictions are now justified.
Perhaps why I put more “stock” into the House Intelligence Committee’s announcement today is the fact that Wikileaks, a website believed to have helped the Russians complete their goals, also released the same Twitter list through their website. This is significant because in the past Wikileaks has adamantly denied that they worked for the Russians and they have also condemned other leaks, such as the Trump Dossier, as being completely fabricated. Whether you love them or hate them, the fact of the matter is that, regardless of the material they publish, Wikileaks has a 100% track record of credibility. Therefore, in my estimation, the House’s list should be embraced by all sides of the political isle as “legitimate.”
Another thing I wonder about out loud, or at least typing here on my computer, is how many of these “accounts” were really just “bots” and not real people. As I reported in an article this past March, Twitter had just come out with an announcement that 15% of all the accounts on their service were actually Twitter bot accounts. In case you were curious, that figure translates to roughly 48 million fake accounts on Twitters services, that they were even aware of at that time.
As I also explained, it is not uncommon for a single person or hacker to create and control thousands of bots themselves. What I am trying to say here is that the House may have indeed uncovered thousands of accounts used by Russians, but perhaps only 100’s or dozens of real life people created/controlled all of those accounts from Russia – get it? I think this would be impossible for the House or anyone else to ever quantify, but it is just something to keep in the back of your mind while digesting all this information nonetheless.