Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

IW/IO/Cyber / Social Media Update (3)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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  1. Guardian report, based on leaked documents, describing Manafort’s campaign to trash Tymoshenko in the Ukrainian presidential election that saw pro-Russian Yanukovich elected, describes a campaign strategy that looks like a template for the Russian effort to destabilise the US election of 2016 – put differently it appears Manafort developed and trialled the destabilisation strategy the Russians then applied independently;
  2. Russia is launching a third propaganda platform, to supplement RT and Sputnik, to produce US specific propaganda;
  3. Miscellaneous reports on IW/IO/Cyber, especially Russian cyber;
  4. A deluge of reports on Facebook, notable are essay by Prof Joseph, reports on Messenger privacy violations, Troll Factory accounts, scammer abuse of social media, and crocodile tears from Facebook senior management.


IW/IO/Cyber Reports



Ex-Trump aide Paul Manafort approved ‘black ops’ to help Ukraine president | US news | The Guardian
Exclusive: Paul Manafort authorised secret media operation that sought to discredit key opponent of then Ukrainian president

UAWire – Russia to create news agency ‘to fight American hegemony’
Russia’s Federal News Agency (FAN) has announced that it is creating a new English-language news agency called “USA Really. Wake Up Americans”, …
Russian Review: What is soft power and how to use it correctly? – To Inform is to Influence
This ‘book review’ is being pushed by the ‘soft power’ (information warfare) folks at the Russian Foreign Ministry.   This is not ‘just’ a book review as much as it is also a commentary on soft power and the influence of nations from a Russian perspective of US efforts.  While the author does not outright state…
Combatting Deep Fakes through the Right of Publicity – To Inform is to Influence
By Jesse Lempel Friday, March 30, 2018, 8:00 AM Fake news is bad enough already, but something much nastier is just around the corner: As Evelyn Douek explained, the “next frontier” of fake news will feature machine-learning software that can cheaply produce convincing audio or video of almost anyone saying or doing just about anything. These may be “digital…
Russia Seeks To Block Telegram In Showdown Over Internet Freedom
Russia’s state media regulator has asked a court to block the messaging app Telegram following the company’s refusal to give the Federal Security Service (FSB) access to users’ messaging data.
US Fears Russia’s Intent With Deep Sea Comms Cables
US and Western officials are increasingly troubled by Russia’s interest in the 400 fiber-optic cables that carry most of world’s calls, emails and texts, as well as $10 trillion worth of daily… World News Summaries. | Newser
The Curious Case of David Jewberg, the Fake Senior Pentagon Russia Analyst – To Inform is to Influence
Fascinating case study, a superb Bellingcat investigation.   Thoroughly investigated, well sourced, and it appears many, many knowledgeable people were contacted.  The screenshots in the article are in Russian but are well explained in the accompanying comments.  It’s a long read but worth it.  Where there is no proof, it is presented as such. Good article!  I’ll…
Russian Hacker Suspect Faces U.S. Judge After Moscow Snubbed – Bloomberg
The Czech Republic has extradited to the U.S. Yevgeniy Nikulin, a Russian citizen accused of hacking LinkedIn and Dropbox.
Russian Accused of Hacking U.S. Technology Firms Is Extradited – The New York Times
Yevgeniy A. Nikulin breached the networks of LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring, and may have compromised the information of more than 100 million people.
Russian sent to US on charges he hacked Dropbox, others – ABC News
Get breaking national and world news, broadcast video coverage, and exclusive interviews. Find the top news online at ABC news.
Alleged Russian hacker extradited. Will he help Mueller probe? – To Inform is to Influence
Yevgeniy Nikulin allegedly hacked on behalf of Russian intelligence, dipping into LinkedIn, Dropbox, Formspring and Gmail.  Nikulin was arrested in 2016 and Russia fought his extradition to the US with competing and allegedly fabricated charges for extradition to Russia. If Nikulin talks, he may well reveal much about Russian intelligence capabilities, interests, and history.  This is huge…
Moscow ‘Outraged’ Over Prague’s Decision To Extradite Alleged Russian Hacker To U.S.
Russia says the recent decision to extradite an alleged Russian hacker from the Czech Republic to the United States is aimed at “undermining” bilateral relations between Moscow and Prague.
Two Russian treason suspects, including a former FSB agent, sign partial plea bargains — Meduza
Two of the four suspects in a Russian treason case, including a former agent in the FSB’s Information Security Center, have reportedly signed plea bargains where they confess to transferring data to foreign intelligence agencies. Three sources have confirmed to the magazine RBC that former FSB agent Dmitry Dokuchaev and entrepreneur Georgy Fomchenkov reached deals with prosecutors.
Is “Medium” A Pro-Russian Proxy Site Or Is It Fair And Balanced? – To Inform is to Influence
Today I read an article by Caitlin Johnstone, who is a non-apologetic pro-Russian journalist. She published a story, More Evidence That The UK’s Russia Narrative Is A Verdict In Search Of A Crime. Caitlin has a long history of writing and publishing pro-Russian stories. If you don’t believe my assessment of Caitlin Johnston, I urge you to…
Suspect In YouTube Shooting Angry That Her Videos Had Been ‘De-Monetized’ : The Two-Way : NPR
Police say a female suspect, identified as Nasim Aghdam, 39, died at the scene of the shooting. A San Francisco hospital received three wounded people from the incident, a spokesman says.
Incoming NSA chief has a reputation for winning ‘all the important fights.’ Russia will be his biggest test yet. – The Washington Post
Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, who is widely expected to be confirmed this month, will also take the helm of U.S. Cyber Command.
As Malaysia Moves to Ban ‘Fake News,’ Worries About Who Decides the Truth – The New York Times
The country is widely expected to pass a bill that makes spreading misinformation punishable by six years in jail. Critics say it is intended to stifle dissent before elections.
This Country Said It Would Punish Journalists For Writing Fake News But Changed Its Mind
A plan to suspend the accreditation of journalists who published so-called fake news was scrapped hours after it was introduced, following complaints it amounted to an attack on a free press. Inbox Highlights, 1 April 2018 – To Inform is to Influence
 by Good question:  “Russian diplomats interfered in Canada’s democracy, Ottawa says. Did they meddle in our election?” Vets underwhelmed with QC over medical pot? “…Quebec is without a doubt the most hostile province in Canada against cannabis …” Good luck with that … “The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence invites…

Sarah Joseph | Why the business model of social media giants like Facebook is incompatible with human rights
Human rights abuses might be embedded in the business model that has evolved for social media companies in their second decade.
Facebook Scans the Photos and Links You Send on Messenger – Bloomberg
Facebook Inc. scans the links and images that people send each other on Facebook Messenger, and reads chats when they’re flagged to moderators, making sure the content abides by the company’s rules. If it doesn’t, it gets blocked or taken down.
Are Facebook’s Latest Privacy Changes Enough?: DealBook Briefing – The New York Times
The tech giant said that user data was more widely accessible than previously thought, as well as changes meant to curb that, as regulators circle.
An Update on Our Plans to Restrict Data Access on Facebook | Facebook Newsroom
Ad Scammers Need Suckers, and Facebook Helps Find Them – Bloomberg
“They go out and find the morons for me.”
Snapchat is mocking Facebook and its Russian political ads controversy with a new April Fools’ Day filter – To Inform is to Influence
Nothing is off-limits in the fight between the two social media companies. By Theodore Schleifer@teddyschleifer  Apr 1, 2018, 1:04pm EDT Snapchat is leaning into its bitter rivalry with Facebook this April Fool’s Day, unveiling a photo filter that pokes Facebook in the eye for its inability to curtail the Russian influence campaign on its site. A new…
Facebook Deletes Accounts, Postings In Russian Linked To ‘Troll Factory’
Facebook says it has deleted dozens of pages linked to a Russian “troll factory” that was indicted in the United States for political activities aimed at influencing the 2016 U.S. presidential elec…
Kremlin ‘Regrets’ Facebook’s Removal Of Russian Media Accounts
The Kremlin says Facebook’s removal of accounts controlled by Russian media was a hostile step that smacked of censorship.
Internet trolls factory – What posts did Facebook block? –
More than 270 pages and profiles of the Russian Internet Research Agency were blocked in the Facebook. Why?
Kremlin Calls Facebook’s Takedown Of Russian Pages And Ads Censorship : The Two-Way : NPR
Facebook is targeting the Russia-based Internet Research Agency — the “troll factory” that’s under indictment for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election.
Russia blasts Facebook scrubbing of “troll factory” content linked to Internet Research Agency – CBS News
Day after social media giant removes mostly-Russian content, Kremlin calls it hostile censorship
Facebook takes down over 200 accounts and pages run by the IRA, a notorious Russian troll farm | Business Insider
Facebook announced Tuesday that it has removed 135 Facebook and Instagram accounts, and 138 Facebook pages, that were linked to the Internet Research Agency, a notorious Russian troll farm that was indicted for trying to meddle in the 2016 US election. Facebook said the 65 Instagram accounts and 138 Facebook pages reached a combined 1.5 million users around the world. It did not offer data on how many users were reached by the 70 IRA-linked Facebook accounts that have been removed. Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos also said Russia-linked actors had spent nearly $US170,000 on Facebook and Instagram ads since the beginning of 2015.
Facebook deleted hundreds of accounts linked to Russia’s ‘troll factory,’ and now the people behind those accounts want Facebook blocked in Russia — Meduza
On April 3, Facebook announced that it deleted 138 Russian-language pages, as well as 70 accounts associated with these pages and another 65 accounts on Instagram. According to the company, all these pages and accounts were controlled by the “Internet Research Agency,” better known as “Russia’s troll factory.”
Facebook COO feels ‘deeply personally responsible’ for data leak
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg echoed CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s rhetoric on Thursday, by taking personal responsibility for letting third parties access Facebook user data without permission.
Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg says company is on the hunt for the next Cambridge Analyticas – CNET
In a series of interviews, Sheryl Sandberg says the company is looking for more bad actors, but hasn’t found any so far.
Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg: “I Take Responsibility For This”
“As we find more Cambridge Analyticas, we’re going to find a comprehensive way to put them out and make sure people see them. So far, we don’t have another clear case to share.”
Facebook Exposed 87 Million Users to Cambridge Analytica | WIRED
Racebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the fixes to Facebook’s data-sharing woes will be a “multi-year” process.
Facebook’s present is as scary as its checkered past – Livemint
Facebook has said it will do a full analysis to root out other outsiders that harvested large volumes of Facebook user data as Cambridge Analytica did
Web giants ‘drive violence’ | News | The Times
Social media sites are driving children to commit violence and murders “within minutes”, Britain’s most senior police officer has warned. Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, said that often- trivial disputes between young people were escalating into murder and stabbings at unprece