election meddling
January 9, 2019

The Israeli government is trying to reassure people it can thwart foreign meddling in the country's upcoming election, The Associated Press reports.

"Israel is braced to foil cyber interference. We are ready for any scenario. There is no country better prepared than us," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday.

Netanyahu's comments come after the state suppressed a speech given by his domestic intelligence chief Nadav Argaman, which accused a foreign power of trying to hack the vote, Reuters reports. A military gag order prevented the media from naming the country that Argaman accused, but fingers immediately pointed to Russia, as Israel's intelligence minister said last month that the Kremlin could try and replicate its alleged meddling in the U.S. 2016 election.

A spokesman for the Kremlin denied the accusations, saying that "Russia has not interfered, does not interfere, and doesn't intend to interfere" in any elections.

Despite facing allegations of corruption, Netanyahu leads the polls for re-election to a fifth term in April, per Reuters. The Israeli prime minister holds a positive relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and President Trump has previously labelled Putin a "fan" of Netanyahu. Marianne Dodson

December 17, 2018

Instagram, not Facebook, may be Russia's most effective tool for spreading propaganda.

A new report prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee shows that posts from the Russian Internet Research Agency, a troll farm, received 187 million interactions on Instagram from 2015 through 2018, and only 77 million interactions on Facebook and 73 million on Twitter, reports Bloomberg.

This suggests Instagram has been a much more significant factor in Russia's attempt to manipulate American politics through social media than previously thought, and the report notes that this is "something that Facebook executives appear to have avoided mentioning in congressional testimony." The researchers also say that Instagram could be "more ideal" for spreading propaganda through memes than other platforms and that it is "likely to be a key battleground on an ongoing basis."

Additionally, the report says that not only did Russian trolls seek to promote President Trump's campaign and damage Hillary Clinton's, but the "most prolific IRA efforts on Facebook and Instagram specifically targeted black American communities," The New York Times reports. While the Russian troll farm targeted some other specific groups with a handful of accounts and pages, "the black community was targeted extensively with dozens," researchers conclude. On Facebook, for instance, among 81 Facebook pages the IRA created, 30 targeted black Americans. Efforts to encourage people to skip voting or vote against Clinton targeted both black Americans and supporters of Clinton's primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Read more at The New York Times. Brendan Morrow

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