FBI indicts 13 Russians for using social media to interfere in 2016 election


What is the role of the U.S. government, and social media platforms, in limiting this kind of interference? Help WikiTribune report on allegations of foreign meddling in U.S. elections.

A U.S. grand jury charged 13 Russian nationals and three organizations for spending money to influence the 2016 elections with the goal of “sowing discord” in the U.S. electoral process. While divisive content was generated to antagonize both liberal and conservative Americans, the indictment says the campaign was aimed at helping the Donald J. Trump campaign before and up to the election, then switched to organizing anti-Trump demonstrations after the election.

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The indictment points to one “Russian organization” that was deeply involved in orchestrating much of the social media mischief: the Internet Research Agency LLC. With a stated goal of  “spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general,” the indictment describes an institution with hundreds of employees who produced fraudulent social media accounts, divisive visual ‘memes,’ and preferable search engine results.

(Read and add to WikiTribune’s coverage of Russian-backed accounts using Facebook to heighten political tensions). 

The charges are based on findings from FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential elections. The defendants are not in the U.S., making an arrest unlikely. But international business systems will be harder for them to access as long as the warrant stands. (New York Times).

There is no evidence that this internet campaign influenced the results of the election. No numbers have been released how many people saw, or engaged with, the fraudulent activity.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed the charges as “blather” at a major security conference in Germany. He would not comment further until he saw “facts.”

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What is the role of the U.S. government, and social media platforms, in limiting this kind of interference? How can WikiTribune report on allegations of foreign meddling in U.S. elections?

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