Fake Twitter accounts targeting EU referendum ‘co-ordinated by Russia’

Code showing the links to tweets with Russian links


Pretend Twitter accounts created by a Russian propaganda unit made a decision, co-ordinated try to intrude in the course of the EU referendum, Sky Information can reveal.

An in-depth evaluation of Twitter accounts recognized by the US Senate as being linked to the Kremlin exhibits this exercise earlier than, throughout and after the Brexit vote in 2016.

Nonetheless, through coordinated, Russian exercise seems to be at a lot decrease degree than within the US presidential elections.

The evaluation was carried out by Yin Yin Lu, a researcher on the Oxford Web Institute.

Ms. Lu cross-referenced a pre-existing database of 22.6 million tweets she created final 12 months with the two,752 accounts recognized as creations of the Russian Web Analysis Company by the US Senate.

She discovered 416 tweets from the Russian usernames from March to July 2016, together within the course of the referendum interval itself.

Oxford researcher Yin Yin Lu analyses the tweets
Oxford researcher Yin Yin Lu analyses the tweets

Ms. Lu advised Sky Information: “To start with the variety of these tweets is essential to focus on. So there are about 400 tweets right here out of 22.6 million. That could be a very infinitesimal fraction. So the phrase interference is maybe a bit exaggerated.”

Nonetheless, these accounts seem to have co-ordinated strategically, retweeting one another to amplify their message and making rather more use of images and movies than regular Twitter customers throughout the identical interval.

“There’s some sort of community taking place right here,” Ms. Lu mentioned.

One of many accounts that almost all incessantly tweeted was @TEN_GOP, or Tennesse GOP. The account had greater than 16,008 followers earlier than it was suspended by Twitter.

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It tweeted persistently pro-Depart tweets, together with:

  • “All Muslims of UK praying to #stay.. #Depart will imply catastrophe for them #Brexit #EURef”
  • “‘Depart’ overperforms ‘Stay’! Winston Churchill can be pleased with you! #EURef: #Brexit…”
  • “Is London completed? Or they’ve likelihood? #BanIslam #Brexit”
Some of the Twitter handles that Russian tweeters were using
Among the Twitter handles that Russian tweeters had been utilizing

Theresa Might publicly warn Russia about election interference in a speech at Mansion Home, saying: “I’ve a quite simple message for Russia. We all know what you might be doing. And you’ll not succeed.”

The Russian embassy made this assertion: “The assertions should not model new, however, the principle frequent level behind them is the irresponsible and groundless nature of accusations towards Russia.”

A Twitter spokesperson mentioned: “Twitter recognizes that the integrity of the election course of itself is integral to the well being of a democracy.

“As such, we are going to proceed to assist formal investigations by authorities into election interference the place required.”

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