Ben Nimmo Profile picture
Oct 9, 2018 6 tweets 4 min read
Thread: just a snapshot of the increasing polarisation of the US Twittersphere ahead of the midterms.

Polarised communities proved to be an easy target for influence operations in 2014-18.

medium.com/dfrlab/electio…
Scanned three sets of paired election-related hashtags: #VoteRed / #VoteBlue, #RedWave2018 / #BlueWave2018, #FlipItRed / #FlipItBlue.

First scan covered 48 hours. Overall, pro-Democratic hashtags got significantly higher traffic (79k posts compared with 47k posts).
On this scan, users of pro-Democratic hashtags were roughly double the number of users on pro-Republican hashtags (40k users compared with 21k users).
User numbers were much closer on this scan of 100k posts on each hashtag, but what's really striking is the surge in traffic on the "red" series.

It generated the highest volume anywhere in the scan.
This was the post: Dinesh D'Souza on the "good guys" and the "evil party."

Clearly, in terms of online traffic, polarisation pays.
This doesn't just apply to one side. The top-performing post on a pro-Democratic hashtag was pretty polarising, too.

It got 11k retweets during the scan, and another 4k afterwards, just beating D'Souza in terms of retweets overall.

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More from @benimmo

Oct 5, 2018
I mentioned the Kremlin's standard response technique of dismiss, distort, distract, dismay.

Quite a few of the elements are here, in the latest Russian MFA responses to the OPCW / GRU hacking story.

mid.ru/en/foreign_pol…
Dismiss: insult the critics. Plenty of that in the statement.

"Anti-Russian spy mania."
"Strong paranoia." (Not just "paranoia", you'll note.)
"Absurd anti-Russian attacks."
Interestingly, they didn't use the word "Russophobia" in this one, though it's been the bulwark of Kremlin defences since 2014.
Read 7 tweets
Oct 4, 2018
#OPCW hacking case: we've already had the Russian government trying to dismiss the latest UK / NL claims about the #GRU. That's tactic number 1.

Up next, expect attempts to distort, distract and dismay.
Distort. We saw this with the Skripal suspects, portrayed as "civilians" and snow-shy tourists.

Expect attempts to say that the photos were faked, the evidence was made up, and / or the men were harmless visitors on a diplomatic visit to fix the Embassy wifi.
Distract. Accuse the accusers.

Expect the arguments, "The West hacks people too," or "You killed civilians in Libya / Afghanistan / Vietnam / insert name here."

Which doesn't justify use of CW on civilians, or attempts to cover it up.
Read 4 tweets
Sep 13, 2018
#TrollTracker: interesting troll spike from the pro-Kremlin / pro-Assad gang against @janinedigi.

Image: @Sysomos scan of traffic over the past 7 days.
For those who don't know @janinedigi, here's a list of her awards as a war correspondent.

She reported from places including Grozny, Kosovo, Palestine, Rwanda, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Source: janinedigiovanni.com/awards-and-rec…
Here's the tweet which triggered the storm: a post saying that RT and Sputnik are not journalists.

That's a hell of a call for a genuine award-winning journalist to make, so let's look at evidence.
Read 11 tweets
Sep 6, 2018
Rare decision from @Ofcom here, finding broadcaster Ausaf UK no longer "fit and proper" to hold a licence.

Note that RT is also under scrutiny against the "fit and proper" criteria, but that Ofcom sets a high bar for these decisions.

ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/…
Particularly striking: Ausaf TV had its licence revoked before it started broadcasting, based on the content of the associated newspaper.

Including glorification of violent jihad and endorsement of listed terrorists.
Rather unwisely, the MD of the TV station initially denied that he was linked to the newspaper, then confirmed that he was.

Making false claims to the regulator is seldom a way to win confidence.
Read 5 tweets
Sep 6, 2018
Looks like someone tried to get hashtag SkripalHoax to trend overnight.

822 mentions. It really didn't do very well.
Let's look at some of the arguments.

Probably the most popular in the pro-Kremlin crowd was the claim that the Met Police photos of the arrival in Gatwick had the same timestamp, and therefore must have been photoshopped.
... unless there's more than one arrival channel at Gatwick, and they were walking together.

(h/t @bleidl for the photo)
Read 10 tweets
Sep 5, 2018
Less traffic on the word "Skripal" than you might think today, given the news.

Per @Sysomos, around 20k mentions.
Most of the 10 most-retweeted posts are breaking news coverage from, inter alia, @AP and @MarkUrban01.

Honourable mention to @RVAWonk, too.
Couple of outliers here: Brian Krassenstein, who's a significant voice among the Trump opposition, and Craig Murray, who's a significant voice in the anti-UK / pro-Kremlin community.
Read 4 tweets

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