“We may never know exactly how SPIN info war evolved or who all was involved in developing the techniques. We may never know if hostile foreign intelligence was involved at its inception, but we assuredly know, with the escalated Russian cyber attacks and online troll activities, that they are definitely involved now.”
Thought from my previous blog post, About Information Voids
The weekend viral story of a confrontation of Native American activist and some Catholic high school boys wearing MAGA hats seemed to charge ahead of the Buzzfeed story claiming President Trump told Michael Cohen to lie in testimony to Congress.
Tonight CNN has a report, Twitter suspends account that helped ignite controversy over viral encounter.
According to CNN, the good news is that Rob McDonagh, an assistant editor at Storyful, an online content vetting service, was monitoring Twitter activity and noticed a suspicious account and Twitter investigated and suspended the account:
“The account claimed to belong to a California schoolteacher. Its profile photo was not of a schoolteacher, but of a blogger based in Brazil, CNN Business found. Twitter suspended the account soon after CNN Business asked about it.
The account, with the username @2020fight, was set up in December 2016 and appeared to be the tweets of a woman named Talia living in California. “Teacher & Advocate. Fighting for 2020,” its Twitter bio read. Since the beginning of this year, the account had tweeted on average 130 times a day and had more than 40,000 followers.
Late on Friday, the account posted a minute-long video showing the now-iconic confrontation between a Native American elder and the high school students, with the caption, “This MAGA loser gleefully bothering a Native American protester at the Indigenous Peoples March.”
That version of the video was viewed at least 2.5 million times and was retweeted at least 14,400 times, according to a cached version of the tweet seen by CNN Business.”
The CNN report also quotes Molly McKew, an information warfare researcher (anti-Trumper), even though she admitted she saw the tweet and retweeted it on Saturday, claiming, “she later realized that a network of anonymous accounts were working to amplify the video.”
I wonder if we have people in our national security apparatus paying close attention to this stuff or if America is at the mercy of random civilian cyber peeps to catch this stuff?
Added thought: I’ve wondered for a long time if some of these short-lived viral stories making Americans look too dumb to exist, that burst onto social media, create mass overreaction, and garner news notice, then disappear quickly are the work of hostile foreign information operations. Seeing how this account plucked the video from an Instagram posting and then amplified on Twitter made me think about this again. An example of what I mean, are stories like that viral Teens Eating Tide Pods story. Just one more thing I will continue to ponder about.
Update: January 22, 2019, 5:54 PM
The CNN report cited above was updated this afternoon.
“The source familiar with Twitter’s investigation told CNN Business the company’s initial findings suggested the account was run from the US, but said it can be difficult to determine an account owner’s actual location.Twitter users can try to mask their true location using services like virtual private networks, which can allow users to appear as if they are in a different country.CNN Business has not independently determined where this account was being run from.”