Tim Mak Profile picture
Feb 8, 2018 6 tweets 3 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Hamilton 68 has been tracking Russian bots/influence networks now for six months straight -- I sat down with their team to discuss how bot activity has evolved. Here's what they've noticed:

First, Hamilton 68 noticed that Russian bots/influence networks have really upped the 'deep state narrative' to undermine faith in US institutions -- it just 5-10% of bot chatter in October. Last week, it was 38%. npr.org/2018/02/08/584…
Second, Hamilton 68 noticed innocuous hashtags like #WednesdayWisdom and #MondayMotivaton used among Russian propaganda on Ukraine/Syria -- slipping foreign policy among normal-looking tweets: npr.org/2018/02/08/584…
"We look at that as being the recruitment topic," analyst Bret Schafer told NPR. "If they started shouting about Syria and Ukraine... less people would see it, and it would be less effective."

Third, Hamilton 68 found that while the bots do use news sources the alt-right is familiar with, they slip in fringe propaganda outlets among them: that's why you find them tweeting about StalkerZone or the Donbass News Agency or Tsarizm.com

Alarmingly, Sen. Mark Warner, the top Dem on Senate Intel, says that there really isn't a legislative or policy solution that fixes the problem of bots:

"I don't think we have come up with a legislative or policy solution yet that fully gets it right."


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More from @timkmak

Sep 21, 2018
Two exclusives this morning:

NPR, w/outside data firm, sifted through 3 million Russian troll farm tweets to find out how the Internet Research Agency talked about the NRA and guns from 2015-2018


Russia's Twitter influence campaign was strongly pro-gun, pro-NRA, and echoed the NRA's views

The analysis shows that 77% of their content was pro-gun, pro-NRA; and 11% was anti

On every issue from race to healthcare, women's rights to police brutality, gay marriage to global warming, accounts associated with the "Internet Research Agency" amplified controversy by playing up conflict.

Except when it came to guns and the NRA.

Read 18 tweets
Sep 14, 2018
Had an eye-opening interview this week with the CEO of @FireEye, a top cybersecurity firm.

The facts are depressing.

Bottom line is: there's no such thing as a reliable cyberdefense. A dedicated attacker WILL get through eventually.
@FireEye FireEye formed over 300 'Red Teams' where companies/orgs hired them to try and break in. Break in to steal the CEO's email or affect the assembly line.

More the 90% of the time, FireEye was able to do it in five days.

And these are conscientious companies!
@FireEye FireEye's CEO Kevin Mandia says that we are almost entirely blind to what Russia, Iran and other state actors are doing on information operations. He estimates that we are tracking perhaps 3-5% of their activities.
Read 8 tweets
Aug 26, 2018
Sen. John McCain was one of a kind. He was grouchy, hilarious, self-deprecating, passionate, independent.

I was lucky enough to cover him starting in 2011. He was always a good sport.

Rest in peace.
For me my most potent memory of John McCain will be him stepping off the train in the basement of the Capitol.

Half grin and half scowl:

"What do you want, you little jerks?"
McCain once was in a terrible mood. Didn't like one of my questions and got up in my face before walking away.

He later cooled down.

Came back an hour after votes, looking for me to personally apologize.

That was the kind of man he was.
Read 16 tweets
Aug 20, 2018
Democrats on House Oversight Cmte write to White House asking for docs related to whether National Security Adviser John Bolton reported his previous work with Maria Butina, an alleged Russian spy

NPR previously reported on Bolton's work with her group.

Reps. Elijah Cummings and Stephen Lynch:

"We request that you produce documents relating to whether Mr.Bolton reported his previous work with this alleged Russian spy on his security clearance forms or other White House vetting materials."

NPR, March 2018:

"John Bolton's Curious Appearance In A Russian Gun Rights Video...

The Bolton video appears to be another plank in a bridge built by Russia to conservative political organizations inside the United States"

Read 4 tweets
Jul 6, 2018
My first impression on this AP story about the Army discharging immigrant recruits is that there is less than meets the eye here.

What the AP needs to show is evidence of a policy shift in the Army. It hasn't done that.

This AP article is about immigrants who have enlisted but not gone to basic training.

People who enlist but then cannot go to basic for whatever reason are discharged all the time.

I bet I could find 40 recruits discharged bf basic for being too fat.
There are a number of innocuous explanations for these discharges.

Perhaps these immigrant recruits could not pass a background check (by the way there are jobs in the military that don't require clearance)

The AP does not answer the simple question: Did a policy change here?
Read 10 tweets
May 31, 2018
NEW: NPR has decide to publish the audio of Michael Cohen making legal threats against me while I was a Daily Beast reporter in 2015, as part of a larger story on Cohen's history of threats:

Listen here:
What else did we learn?

Michael Avenatti now alleges to NPR that Stormy Daniels was coerced into signing the original Oct 2016 agreement by Michael Cohen.

"In October of 2016, Michael Cohen made threats against my client Stormy Daniels, as it related to pressuring her to enter into the NDA and accept the $130,000 payment," Avenatti told NPR, but he offered no additional details when pressed.

Read 11 tweets

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