Title Title
Russia-linked pro-gun bots active in aftermath of Florida shooting Russia-linked pro-gun bots active in aftermath of Florida shooting
Summary Summary
U.S. government is taking a closer look at ties between the NRA and Putin government  Bots flare up and U.S. government reported taking a closer look at ties between the NRA and Putin government
Highlights Highlights
Content Content
<strong>In the aftermath of the fatal shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the connection between Russia and the pro-gun lobby in the United States received heightened interest from communities who track the efforts of hackers.</strong>  <strong>In the aftermath of the fatal shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the connection between Russia and the pro-gun lobby in the United States has gained renewed focus with those who track Russian attempts to spread chaos on social media detecting a sharp rise in pro-gun messages traceable to Russia.</strong>
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In the hours immediately following the shooting “troll and bot-tracking sites reported an immediate uptick in related tweets from political propaganda bots and Russia-linked Twitter accounts,” according to <em><a href="https://www.wired.com/story/pro-gun-russian-bots-flood-twitter-after-parkland-shooting/">Wired</a></em>.  
The<i> </i>report stated misinformation about the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, as well as shooting-related terms, dominated trending hashtags and topics of a site that tracks Twitter activity linked to Russian influence campaigns.  
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  In the hours immediately following the latest school shooting “troll and bot-tracking sites reported an immediate uptick in related tweets from political propaganda bots and Russia-linked Twitter accounts,” according to <em><a href="https://www.wired.com/story/pro-gun-russian-bots-flood-twitter-after-parkland-shooting/">Wired</a></em>.  Misinformation about the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, as well as shooting-related terms, dominated trending hashtags and topics of a site that tracks Twitter activity linked to Russian influence campaigns.
According to <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/pro-gun-russian-bots-flood-twitter-after-parkland-shooting/"><em>Wired</em></a>, the top link shared by Russia-linked accounts following the shooting was a 2014 article that criticized a statistic cited by pro-gun control group <a href="https://everytown.org/">Everytown for Gun Safety</a>. “Twitter accounts tracked by the group have used the old link to try to debunk today’s stats about the frequency of school shootings.”  According to <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/pro-gun-russian-bots-flood-twitter-after-parkland-shooting/"><em>Wired</em></a>, the top link shared by Russia-linked accounts following the shooting was a 2014 article that criticized a statistic cited by pro-gun control group <a href="https://everytown.org/">Everytown for Gun Safety:</a> “Twitter accounts tracked by the group have used the old link to try to debunk today’s stats about the frequency of school shootings.”
It turns out, however, that a statistic from the anti-gun group calling the tragedy the 18th school shooting in the United States so far in 2018, a number widely repeated in reporting of the Florida shooting, may have been misleading. It turns out, however, that a statistic from the anti-gun group calling the tragedy the 18th school shooting in the United States so far in 2018, a number widely repeated in reporting of the Florida shooting, may have been misleading.
"It is a horrifying statistic. And it is wrong," reported the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/no-there-havent-been-18-school-shooting-in-2018-that-number-is-flat-wrong/2018/02/15/65b6cf72-1264-11e8-8ea1-c1d91fcec3fe_story.html?utm_term=.bff65651d6c6"><em>Washington Post</em></a>, explaining that the definition of "school shooting" used by the group was broad enough to include the suicide of a man who had been parked outside a vacant school that had been closed for seven months. "It is a horrifying statistic. And it is wrong," reported the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/no-there-havent-been-18-school-shooting-in-2018-that-number-is-flat-wrong/2018/02/15/65b6cf72-1264-11e8-8ea1-c1d91fcec3fe_story.html?utm_term=.bff65651d6c6"><em>Washington Post</em></a>, explaining that the definition of "school shooting" used by the group was broad enough to include the suicide of a man who had been parked outside a vacant school that had been closed for seven months.
<h2>NRA, Russia links explored</h2>  <h2>Russia and the NRA?</h2>
The activity of "Twitter bots" in the chilling wake of the Florida shooting comes against a backdrop of separate U.S. government inquiries into possible connections between Russian agents, the <a href="https://home.nra.org/">National Rifle Association</a> (NRA), and the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump.  
In January, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/18/trump-nra-fbi-alexander-torshin-russia-investigation"><em>The Guardian</em></a> and other outlets reported the FBI was investigating whether a Russian banker [Alexander Torshin] with close ties to Vladimir Putin funneled money through the National Rifle Association to support Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.  The activity of "Twitter bots" in the wake of the Florida shooting comes against a backdrop of separate U.S. government inquiries into possible connections between Russian agents, the <a href="https://home.nra.org/">National Rifle Association</a> (NRA), and the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump. In January, <a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article195231139.html"><i>McClatchy newspapers </i></a> reported the FBI was investigating whether a Russian banker called Alexander Torshin with close ties to Vladimir Putin may have funneled money through the National Rifle Association to support Trump’s presidential campaign.
Data compiled by the <em><a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/">Open Secrets</a> </em>site of the Center for Responsive Politics investigative nonprofit service in Washington suggest the NRA spent almost $55 million on the 2016 election. However, according to a <em><a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article177312006.html">McClatchy</a></em> news report, it was more than $70 million. Data compiled by the <em><a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/">Open Secrets</a> </em>site of the Center for Responsive Politics investigative nonprofit service in Washington suggest the NRA spent almost $55 million on the 2016 election. However, according to a <em><a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article177312006.html">McClatchy</a></em> news report, it was more than $70 million.
On February 2, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon officially requested information from the NRA and U.S. Treasury Department related to possible Russian contributions to the NRA to support Trump’s campaign (<em><a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/02/wyden-asks-nra-treasury-about-russian-contributions-for-trump-support.html">CNBC</a>)</em>.  
In a letter to the NRA, <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/02/wyden-asks-nra-treasury-about-russian-contributions-for-trump-support.html">Wyden, a Democrat, said</a> he was “specifically troubled by the possibility that Russian-backed shell companies or intermediaries” illegally influenced the U.S. election (CNBC).  
For more than a year, stories about a connection between the NRA’s ties to the Putin government have circulated on various websites, notably a March 2018 a story written by a self-described "advocate for gun violence protection" on Medium titled “<a href="https://medium.com/@LaddEveritt/from-russia-with-love-for-the-nra-ffc69088fe41">From Russia With Love for the NRA</a>.”  
Those hoping the latest mass shooting might bring clarity to what Florida Governor Rick Scott pledged to be a <a href="https://www.flgov.com/2018/02/15/gov-scott-we-must-have-a-real-conversation-about-keeping-students-safe/">"real conversation"</a> about gun control may remain disappointed. The complicated issue of gun violence and gun legislation in the United States appears more tangled than ever. On February 2, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon officially requested information from the NRA and U.S. Treasury Department related to possible Russian contributions to the NRA to support Trump’s campaign (<em><a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/02/wyden-asks-nra-treasury-about-russian-contributions-for-trump-support.html">CNBC</a>)</em>. In a letter to the NRA, <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/02/wyden-asks-nra-treasury-about-russian-contributions-for-trump-support.html">Wyden, a Democrat, said</a> he was “specifically troubled by the possibility that Russian-backed shell companies or intermediaries” illegally influenced the U.S. election (CNBC).
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Categories Categories
Current Affairs, Politics, Russia, Technology, United States, United States Current Affairs, Politics, Russia, Technology, United States, United States
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gun control, National Rifle Association gun control, National Rifle Association
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