World Economic Forum: Tech firms must do more on extremism

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Updated 11 November 2017
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World Economic Forum: Tech firms must do more on extremism

WASHINGTON: US tech firms such as Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. should be more aggressive in tackling extremism and political misinformation if they want to avoid government action, a report from the World Economic Forum said on Monday.
The study from the Swiss nonprofit organization adds to a chorus of calls for Silicon Valley to stem the spread of violent material from Daesh militants and the use of their services by alleged Russian propagandists.
Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet Inc’s Google will go under the microscope of US lawmakers on Tuesday and Wednesday when their general counsels will testify before three US congressional committees on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
The report from the World Economic Forum’s human rights council warns that tech companies risk government regulation that would limit freedom of speech unless they “assume a more active self-governance role.”
It recommends that the companies conduct more thorough internal reviews of how their services can be misused and that they put in place more human oversight of content.
The German parliament in June approved a plan to fine social media networks up to 50 million euros if they fail to remove hateful postings promptly, a law that Monday’s study said could potentially lead to the takedown of massive amounts of content.


Twitter publishes tweet trove from ‘clumsy’ Iran regime campaigns

Updated 18 October 2018
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Twitter publishes tweet trove from ‘clumsy’ Iran regime campaigns

  • Twitter found 770 Twitter accounts that it traced back to Iran
  • Nearly 4,000 accounts affiliated with Russian troll farm

WASHINGTON: Twitter published a trove of some 10 million tweets that it said are potentially the product of state-backed operations by Russia and Iran, shedding new light on the scale and nature of misinformation campaigns mounted by the two nations.
Twitter said on Wednesday that it had identified 3,841 accounts affiliated with the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll farm” that has been indicted by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller for attempts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
It found another 770 Twitter accounts that it traced back to Iran.
“We are making this data available with the goal of encouraging open research and investigation of these behaviors from researchers and academics around the world,” Twitter said in a statement on its “elections integrity” site.
In total, the exposed accounts shared more than 10 million tweets and 2 million images and videos, Twitter said, before being taken down.
Twitter had already made public the existence of tweets it believes to be the product of foreign misinformation campaigns, but the release of the tweets themselves on Wednesday will allow researchers to learn much more about Russia and Iran’s disinformation efforts on Twitter since 2016.
It comes less than one month before US Congressional elections which are already the subject of foreign-directed social media campaigns, according to senior US intelligence officials.
The release shows that both the Iranian and Russian operations started out as campaigns to support countries’ governments at home, but the Moscow-based effort expanded into an “offensive weapon” targeted at the United States, said Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, which has seen the tweets.
“The Iranian operation was clumsy. It tried to use social media to draw people toward pro-regime messaging sites,” said Nimmo, whose lab published a detailed analysis of the tweets on Wednesday.
“The Russian operation was much more skilled. It masqueraded as real Americans to turn real Americans against Hillary Clinton, and against each other,” Nimmo added, referring to Donald Trump’s presidential election challenger.