At a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Intelligence Wednesday, a cybersecurity expert warned that the Kremlin continues to exploit social media to influence America’s elections.
Renee DiResta, Director of Research at the cybersecurity company New Knowledge, explained how social media has opened a new front in the global propaganda wars.
“Over the past decade, disinformation, misinformation, and social media hoaxes have evolved from a nuisance into high-stakes information war,” she said.
“Our frameworks for dealing with them, however, remain the same — we discuss counter-messaging and counter-narratives, falling into the trap of treating this as a problem of false stories rather than as an attack on our information ecosystem.”
She pointed out that out of date regulatory systems leave too much power in the hands of private companies, which don’t have much incentive to protect the public discourse.
“We find ourselves in the midst of an arms race, in which responsibility for the integrity of public discourse is largely in the hands of private social platforms, and determined adversaries continually find new ways to manipulate evolving feature sets and circumvent new security measures.”
After she finished her opening statement, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) asked DiResta about ongoing Russian efforts to influence American elections.
“Ms. DiResta, your testimony referenced the Russian Facebook pages in 2016 targeting both the right and the left. But you noted it was the pages targeting the left that includes not only content intended to appeal to its audience, but also content intended to suppress the vote and be critical of Secretary Clinton,” he said.
“In your view, does the apparent Russian content released yesterday by Facebook resemble the content the Russians used last time to attract an audience on the left and among racial minorities which the Russians then used to suppress their vote?”
“Yes sir it does,” DiResta replied. “There’s a strong component of cultural posts that appear in communities and pages targeting minority voters. A lot of pride-related content. Less news, more memes. And that reflects what we saw yesterday.”
“Content-targeting is going to be a big part of the challenge and the public’s got to be aware of it because not all Russian propaganda is going to get caught,” Wyden continued.
“And Americans are inevitably going to read something … particularly if it’s consistent with what they already believe.”
“The public has got to be alert to a repeat of the 2016 Russian playbook which was to attract an audience on the Left, discourage them from voting and that could mean attacking Democratic candidates … in effect the Russians are trying to make it possible that our votes don’t matter. Is that essentially your concern?” Wyden asked.
“Yes sir, there’s a lot of efforts to push intra-party divisions on the left.”
New Republican impeachment strategy goes down in flames before first witness is called
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According to Bloomberg, the talking points were distributed by Republican staffers on the House Intelligence Committee.The July 25 summary of the call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy “shows no conditionality or evidence of pressure.”Both Zelenskiy and Trump have said there was no pressure on the call.The Ukraine government was not aware of a hold on U.S. security assistance at the time of the July 25 call.Trump met with Zelenskiy, although not in the Oval Office, and U.S. security assistance flowed to Ukraine in September 2019 -- both of which occurred without Ukraine investigating Trump’s political rivals.
Democrats contend that the call record shows that President Donald Trump did ask Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky for a quid pro quo when he suggested that military aid would flow after Ukraine did a "favor" by investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
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Legendary reporter Carl Bernstein on Tuesday delivered a chilling warning about the state of American politics ahead of President Donald Trump's impeachment hearings.
During a CNN appearance, Bernstein was asked where the country stood just one day before the start of public impeachment hearings -- and he didn't mince words.
"Where we stand as a country in the middle of a cold civil war," he said. "Everything is going to be judged politically in the context of that cold civil war."
Bernstein then laid out how much damning evidence that Democrats have collected so far, which he said in another era would likely lead to the president's conviction in the Senate. Now, however, he said that all the evidence in the world might not be enough to end Trump's presidency.
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Starting Wednesday the House Intelligence Committee will hold open hearings for three administration officials who are expected to testify on live television across major cable news channels and broadcast networks that the President of the United States of America engaged in a systematic and sustained effort of extortion and bribery in an attempt to force a U.S. ally to manufacture false evidence against his top political opponent.