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Pro-Gun Russian Bots Flood Twitter After Parkland Shooting ( 705

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: In the wake of Wednesday's Parkland, Florida school shooting, which resulted in 17 deaths, troll and bot-tracking sites reported an immediate uptick in related tweets from political propaganda bots and Russia-linked Twitter accounts. Hamilton 68, a website created by Alliance for Securing Democracy, tracks Twitter activity from accounts it has identified as linked to Russian influence campaigns. On RoBhat Labs', a website created by two Berkeley students to track 1500 political propaganda bots, all of the top two-word phrases used in the last 24 hours -- excluding President Trump's name -- are related to the tragedy: School shooting, gun control, high school, Florida school. The top hashtags from the last 24 hours include Parkland, guncontrol, and guncontrolnow.

While RoBhat Labs tracks general political bots, Hamilton 68 focuses specifically on those linked to the Russian government. According to the group's data, the top link shared by Russia-linked accounts in the last 48 hours is a 2014 Politifact article that looks critically at a statistic cited by pro-gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety. Twitter accounts tracked by the group have used the old link to try to debunk today's stats about the frequency of school shootings. Another top link shared by the network covers the "deranged" Instagram account of the shooter, showing images of him holding guns and knives, wearing army hats, and a screenshot of a Google search of the phrase "Allahu Akbar." Characterizing shooters as deranged lone wolves with potential terrorist connections is a popular strategy of pro-gun groups because of the implication that new gun laws could not have prevented their actions. Meanwhile, some accounts with large bot followings are already spreading misinformation about the shooter's ties to far-left group Antifa, even though the Associated Press reported that he was a member of a local white nationalist group. The Twitter account Education4Libs, which RoBhat Labs shows is one among the top accounts tweeted at by bots, is among the prominent disseminators of that idea.

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Pro-Gun Russian Bots Flood Twitter After Parkland Shooting

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    You ain't seen propaganda until the NRA starts rolling.

  • Doesn't pass the stink test. They have been funding the West Coast Wall for years.

  • Given the success of AI assisted video editing in swapping faces, it would be easy for state actors to create very convincing doctored video and spread them very fast. At some point the entire internet based news would be discredited.

    But there is no alternative news source one can trust outside the net either. We have killed the print newspapers....

    Wonder if Democracy can survive without a reliable news source ...

  • Regulation. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday February 15, 2018 @08:32PM (#56131894)
    What we need is news control laws. When the Constitution was written, there were no high speed presses, no electronic news, no way people could be flooded 24/7 with "news" and commentary.

    It's clear that these school shootings are driven by crazies wanting to "copy-cat" other school shooting they're heard about, sometimes just to get their own 24 hours of fame. Yet, the modern media irresponsibly continues to glorify these events and saturate every media channel with them, just encouraging more copy-cats. That clearly needs to change.

    We have to do something. We already have lots of gun laws. We now need some reasonable, common-sense, media control laws. Just as an private citizen can't get and has no reason to have a machine gun, no media needs a high speed Internet web site - when the "right to a free press" was created, it was in reference to Gutenberg presses. Same with radio/tv/cable. Such powerful methods of communication, so easily abused, should be highly regulated for private use. Only the government is responsible enough to be allowed to use them. Journalists should be licensed, subject to a background check to make sure they're not mentally ill, and don't have a criminal history. Photocopy machines should be registered. Scented magazine inserts should be outlawed. Cheap, Saturday night special, smartphones should be outlawed. A license should be required to carry a concealed smartphone.

    As a bonus, such restrictions would also solve all of this "Russian facebook/twitter" cruft.

    None of these reasonable, common-sense actions would infringe on 1st Amendment or natural rights in any way, but would go a long way to ending the bloodshed. Think of the children.
    • I've made this modest proposal for years, but nobody listens.

      cf. Dean Ing's story "Very Proper Charlies." That posited responsibility on the part of the news media, so it was, of course, science fiction. Or, perhaps, fantasy.

    • Re:Regulation. (Score:5, Informative)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Friday February 16, 2018 @05:56AM (#56133914) Homepage Journal

      It's clear that these school shootings are driven by crazies wanting to "copy-cat" other school shooting they're heard about

      It's already been reported that this guy was trained by supremacists and appears to have been radicalized by them. The chief supremacist confirmed it.

      Maybe he was more vulnerable to their brainwashing because of existing mental illness, but he's just the latest in a long line of radicalized young men to go on murder sprees.

      Just like the young men that are radicalized by Islamists.

      • by RedK ( 112790 )

        It's already been reported that this guy was trained by supremacists and appears to have been radicalized by them. The chief supremacist confirmed it.

        And that was later confirmed to be a hoax, confirming that jumping ahead of the news to be "first to report" is a problem. You wouldn't want to spread fake news now would you ?

        Maybe he was more vulnerable to their brainwashing because of existing mental illness, but he's just the latest in a long line of radicalized young men to go on murder sprees.

        Maybe we should look into this whole "acceptance" and "ableism" virtual signaling then, and start to treat mental illness as mental illness again, instead of "accepting their differences" and just medicating them into compliance.

  • The real question: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Thursday February 15, 2018 @08:48PM (#56131990)

    If they can detect these bots then why isn't Twitter immediately wiping them out?

  • If a Bear shits in the woods and nobody is around to smell it, what difference does it make?
  • Why is it exactly that Russia supposedly has the monopoly on propaganda bots?

    Why is it exactly that Russia's propaganda bots are the only ones supposed to be effective?

    We need to start facing the fact that the leftist side of the population is literally mentally defective. They cannot handle having the same rights as sane people. All that giving them civil liberties does is cheapen the value of liberty for all of us, because the first thing they do with their liberty given a chance is self-destruct it to sa

  • by Sherman Peabody ( 147565 ) on Thursday February 15, 2018 @09:01PM (#56132040)

    Remember the days when it was just linux nerds in here instead of bots and trolls?

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Thursday February 15, 2018 @09:05PM (#56132054) Journal

    The CIA director talked about them 'disrupting' the election.

    I know to those on the Left, this is synonymous with "got Trump elected."
    I don't know that's necessarily what he meant.

    The fact is, whatever they can dump onto American social media to enhance outrage, to enhance division, to gin up anger - that all counts as 'disrupting'.

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Thursday February 15, 2018 @09:11PM (#56132086)

    If you look at Hamilton 68 ( which only tracks the known Russian twitter bots, the very top (i.e most frequent) hashtag is gunreformnow, and at #8 is guncontrol, and there's zero sign of any pro-gun hashtags.
    I'm not seeing anything that actually justifies the Wired article's obviously liberal-biassed claims.

  • by bryanandaimee ( 2454338 ) on Thursday February 15, 2018 @09:20PM (#56132140)

    Looking at the sources linked in the article there were 57 tweets linked to Russian backed accounts with the hashtag #guncontrolnow.

    57 tweets? Seriously?

    All that from only 600 tracked accounts. I hope the bots get a day off because that is some serious tweeting. I think Wired might want to review the definition of the word "flood". The bots have learned the lessons of communism well, Russia pretends to pay the bots and the bots pretend to work.

  • so does this mean my tweets could be tracked as if from Russia?

  • The article Wired seems to be criticizing the politifact article because it's old but the article is still valid. Current articles are also quoting the same source, using the same stats to paint the same misleading picture. Just because Everytown for Gun Safety has published new statistics since the critical article was published does not mean their updated stats are any better.

    From a recent CNBC article on the Florida shooting entitled "17 school shootings in 45 days — Florida massacre is one of ma

Take your work seriously but never take yourself seriously; and do not take what happens either to yourself or your work seriously. -- Booth Tarkington