Russia is back, wilier than ever — and its not alone
Russian operatives are using a sneakier, more sophisticated version of their 2016 playbook to underm..
Russian operatives are using a sneakier, more sophisticated version of their 2016 playbook to undermine the November U.S. election — and this time, groups inside and outside the U.S. are furthering their goal of sowing chaos.
Kremlin-backed operatives are flooding social media with fake accounts and stoking racial divisions around topics like Black Lives Matter. Articles in state-owned Russian media with millions of U.S. readers online seek to dampen Joe Bidens appeal among progressives and echo President Donald Trumps unsupported claims about voting fraud.
At the same time, Russian state-backed hackers are waging cyberattacks against political parties, campaigns, consultants and others tied to the U.S. elections — using more elaborate deceptions than in 2016, Microsoft said last week.
So far, the 2020 race hasnt featured any obvious repeats of the mass hacking and dumping of confidential documents that undermined Hillary Clinton at key moments during the 2016 campaign. U.S. intelligence agencies later blamed that breach on a covert Kremlin effort to torpedo the Democratic nominee and help Trump win.
But security researchers, former intelligence officials and lawmakers now worry that the Russians may still have a hand they havent played.
“The scale, scope and, most importantly, the impact of domestic disinformation is far greater than any foreign government could do to the United States” — Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Councils Digital Forensic Research Lab
“One thing we know that happened in 2016 was Russia, particularly with misinformation and disinformation, tried to exacerbate those divisions that we see play out in real time in America,” Senate Intelligence Vice Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) told an audience at a cybersecurity conference last week. “Im very, very concerned in these last 50-plus days whether Russia could try to exacerbate those kinds of racial divisions again.”
In some ways, Russias job is easier than it was in 2016. American, Chinese and Iranian copycats are now pumping out falsehoods likely to seed the same divisions and doubts about the legitimacy of the election, often mimicking tactics first deployed by the Kremlin.
And the biggest threat this year may be Americans themselves. Many have embraced a deluge of fringe ideas and misinformation to a degree that may dwarf those foreign efforts. Extremists in the U.S. have adopted much of Moscows online strategy, including creating fake online personas to pump out falsehoods. Case in point: The QAnon conspiracy theory, which alleges a plot by elite pedophiles and the “deepstate” to overthrow Trump, has gone so mainstream its poised to send adherents to Congress.
“The scale, scope and, most importantly, the impact of domestic disinformation is far greater than any foreign government could do to the United States,” said Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Councils Digital Forensic Research Lab, which tracks online influence campaigns — and was itself the victim of recent Russian cyberattacks.
“Russia is continuing to evolve its tactics,” he added. “But the playing field has shifted since 2016.”
The question of what exactly Russia is up to has spawned a political brawl in Washington, where congressional Democrats have accused the Trump administration of failing to disclose all it knows about the Kremlins activities. They also say the president is pushing a false narrative that this years most potent election threat comes from China, which Trump contends favors Biden. Intelligence officials have told POLITICO that no evidence backs up those claims.
Still, Trumps top counterintelligence official, William Evanina, has agreed that Moscow is seeking to attack the election. He told lawmakers last month that Russia aims to “denigrate” Biden “and what it sees as an anti-Russia establishment.” Those efforts — plus influence campaigns by China and Iran — are “a direct threat to the fabric of our democracy,” he said in an earlier statement.
Last week, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on four individuals, including Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian lawyer with ties to Trump, accusing them of being active Russian agents. In particular, the U.S. accused Derkach of leaking doctored audiotapes aimed at discrediting Biden.
“The United States will continue to use all the tools at its disposal to counter these Russian disinformation campaigns,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Still, social media posts about those recordings have drawn millions of views among mostly Trump supporters after the president and his allies promoted them, the Associated Press reported Saturday.
Ten U.S. and international national security officials, misinformation experts and tech executives who spoke to POLITICO said their major concerns include a hack of either campaign coming to light only days before November 3. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss national security matters.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said the U.S. will continue to counter misinformation campaigns | Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
That would mirror not only the months of anti-Clinton leaks from 2016, but also the run-up to Frances 2017 presidential election, when Russian hackers released reams of internal documents from Emmanuel Macrons campaign.
No such leaks have yet been made public in this election. Senior U.S. national security and intelligence officials say they also have seen no new Russian efforts to hack the nations election infrastructure, such as voting machines, election device vendors and state voter databases.
But officials warned that Moscow is engaging in information warfare through a combination of attempted social media manipulation, old school propaganda and other dirty tricks.
Conspiracy theories like QAnon and racial divisions stoked by right-wing extremists online appear to be making it more difficult for Russias direct campaigns to gain massive followings, with recently exposed Kremlin efforts garnering limited traction with social media users.
But if Moscow still intends to try to weaken the U.S. by generating doubt around the election itself, such homegrown falsehoods would help achieve that goal, according to misinformation experts.
Moscow forced to evolve
Another change from 2016: Tougher oversight by social media companies and increased awareness from U.S. security agencies about Russias tactics have forced the Kremlins operatives to step up their game.
Before the 2016 election, the Internet Research Agency — a St. Petersburg-based propaganda outfit with ties to the Russian government — was able to buy political ads on Facebook, some of them in rubles, and create fake social media profiles that drew widespread followings around posts on both sides of issues like Americas racial divisions and the countrys treatment of immigrants.
But some of those doors have closed.
After receiving widespread criticism for their 2016 failings, Facebook, Twitter and Googles YouTube have spent the past two years removing millions of misleading posts and so-called bot networks of fake accounts controlled by Russian operatives. They have also limited the ways Kremlin-owned media outlets can spread their messages online.
On September 1, Facebook and Twitter announced their latest attempts at curbing Russias influence by removing a handful of accounts and social media pages linked to an Internet Research Agency campaign to target progressive voters with a fake news website that pumped out left-leaning articles.
Seeking to evade the hunt for fake accounts, the IRA used artificial intelligence to create photos of non-existent people, then built social media personas with those images to push news articles to left-minded online groups, the two companies said. Most strikingly, the IRA also hired freelance journalists to write for a bogus online news outlet called PeaceData that promoted causes favored by Russia, such as attacks on Belarus opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, and U.S. foreign policy toward Venezuela.
The elaborate tactics highlight how much harder it has become for Russias misinformation campaigns to reach Americans on social media, said Ben Nimmo, director of investigations at Graphika, an analytics firm that worked with Facebook on the recent takedown.
But even the new methods did not guarantee success. PeaceDatas English-language social media presence, for instance, failed to gain traction in the U.S. before it was outed as a Kremlin front, garnering just 200 followers after creating its Facebook page in mid-May.
“If youre running a fake operation, trying to achieve success when you dont have any real friends is tough,” said Nimmo, who has tracked the IRAs activities for years. “The underlying reality is that its harder to conduct a successful campaign than you may think.”
Russias U.S. targets
Still, misinformation experts and national security officials say Moscow is again targeting the same voters as in both the 2016 presidential race and 2018 midterm elections.
The goal: to suppress turnout among disaffected Democratic voters and galvanize Trump supporters to head to the polls.
Last October, for instance, Facebook removed 50 IRA-linked Read More – Source
Spain’s competition watchdog opens disciplinary case against Google
Spain’s competition watchdog, the ‘Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia’ (CNMC) has opened a disciplinary case against Google for alleged anti-competitive practices affecting publishers and Spanish news agencies, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
CNMC said it was investigating whether Google had abused its dominant position in the Spanish market. The proceedings involve Google LLC, Google Ireland Ltd, Google Spain, SL., and the overall parent company Alphabet Inc.
The alleged practices also include distorting free competition and imposing unfair conditions on press publishers and Spanish news agencies, CNMC said.
The watchdog’s investigation was sparked by a complaint from the Spanish Reproduction Rights Centre (CEDRO).
CNMC will investigate the case over the next 18 months, during which both sides can present their arguments.
According to RTVE, Spain’s national broadcaster, Google will analyse the file and respond to the ‘doubts’ of the CNMC. They said that Google ‘works constructively with publishers in Spain and Europe’ and would ‘need time to analyse the details … as the nature of the claims is still not clear’.
It is not the first action by the Spanish competition regulator against Google, nor the first in which its dominant position in the media sector stands out. In 2021, CNMC already warned that this company and another technology giant, Amazon, monopolised 70% of internet advertising in Spain.
Other lawsuits in the Netherlands and the UK have previously accused the technology company of abusing its dominance in the digital advertising market to harm its competitors. France also fined Google in 2021 for not negotiating in good faith compensation for the media for using its news content.
Read from: https://www.spainenglish.com/2023/03/28/spain-competition-watchdog-opens-disciplinary-case-against-google/
How does technology affect reading and writing?
Technology has dramatically changed the way we read and write in the 21st century. From e-books and online articles to social media and instant messaging, technology has made reading and writing more accessible and convenient. However, it has also brought about new challenges and concerns.
One of the biggest benefits of technology is the increased access to information. With just a few clicks, people can access an endless supply of books, articles, and other written materials from all over the world. This has made reading and writing more accessible for people who may not have had the opportunity to do so in the past. It has also allowed for greater collaboration, as people can now share their writing and receive feedback from a global audience.
Technology has also made writing and reading more interactive. Social media and blogs have made it possible for people to engage with written content in real-time, sharing their thoughts, opinions, and experiences with others. This has led to a more dynamic and engaged reading and writing community, with people able to communicate and connect with each other in new and meaningful ways.
However, there are also concerns about how technology is affecting our ability to read and write. One of the biggest concerns is the decline of attention span. With so much information available at our fingertips, it can be difficult to stay focused and absorb what we are reading. Many people find it difficult to concentrate on longer written works, and are instead drawn to shorter, more bite-sized pieces of content.
Additionally, technology has led to an increase in informal writing. The widespread use of text messaging and instant messaging has led to the widespread use of shorthand and abbreviations. This has created concerns about the impact it may have on people’s writing skills, as well as the way they communicate with others.
Another concern is the rise of “fake news.” With the ease of publishing content online, it has become increasingly difficult to differentiate between credible and unreliable sources. This has led to a decline in trust in the media, and has created a need for critical thinking and media literacy skills.
Despite these concerns, technology has also provided new opportunities for writing and reading. E-books and online platforms have made it easier for people to self-publish their work, giving them greater control over the distribution and promotion of their writing. This has created a more democratized publishing industry, and has made it possible for voices and perspectives that may have previously been excluded to be heard.
In conclusion, technology has had a profound impact on reading and writing. While there are certainly challenges and concerns, the increased access to information, the ability to connect and engage with others, and the opportunities for self-publishing have all made reading and writing more accessible and dynamic. As technology continues to evolve, it will be important to address the challenges it presents and embrace the opportunities it provides.
How to measure human intelligence?
Measuring human intelligence is a complex task that has been attempted by many experts and researchers over the years. Intelligence is often defined as an individual’s ability to think, reason, and solve problems. However, this definition is not enough to capture all the aspects of intelligence. In this article, we will look at some of the ways that human intelligence can be measured and evaluated.
- Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Tests: IQ tests are the most commonly used method of measuring intelligence. They are designed to measure an individual’s ability to solve problems, think logically, and understand abstract concepts. The results of an IQ test are expressed as an IQ score, which is a number that represents a person’s intellectual abilities in comparison to the general population.
- Achievement Tests: Achievement tests are designed to evaluate an individual’s knowledge and skills in specific subjects such as mathematics, reading, or science. These tests can be a good indicator of a person’s intelligence in a particular subject area and are often used in schools and colleges to assess students’ abilities.
- Neuropsychological Tests: Neuropsychological tests are used to evaluate the functioning of the brain and nervous system. These tests can be used to diagnose neurological disorders, measure cognitive abilities, and determine the impact of injury or illness on a person’s cognitive abilities.
- Cognitive Ability Tests: Cognitive ability tests are designed to measure an individual’s mental abilities such as memory, reasoning, and problem-solving. These tests can be useful in determining a person’s potential for learning and development.
- Behavioral Assessment: Behavioral assessment involves evaluating an individual’s behavior, including their social skills, emotional regulation, and communication abilities. This type of assessment can be useful in identifying areas where an individual may need support or intervention.
- Performance-Based Tests: Performance-based tests are designed to measure an individual’s abilities in real-world tasks and activities. These tests can be useful in determining a person’s practical intelligence and can be used in a variety of settings, including schools, workplaces, and healthcare facilities.
It is important to note that no single method of measuring intelligence is perfect and each has its own strengths and limitations. Additionally, the results of intelligence tests can be influenced by many factors such as cultural background, education, and experience. As a result, it is important to use a variety of assessment methods to get a more comprehensive understanding of an individual’s intelligence.
In conclusion, measuring human intelligence is a complex task that involves evaluating a variety of cognitive, behavioral, and performance-based abilities. While intelligence tests can provide valuable information about a person’s intellectual abilities, it is important to use a variety of assessment methods to get a more comprehensive understanding of an individual’s intelligence. By using a combination of tests, experts and researchers can get a more complete picture of an individual’s intellectual abilities and potential for learning and development.
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