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Twitter Communications Databases Social Networks The Internet News

NBC Publishes 200,000 Tweets Tied To Russian Trolls 270

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: NBC News is publishing its database of more than 200,000 tweets that Twitter has tied to "malicious activity" from Russia-linked accounts during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. These accounts, working in concert as part of large networks, pushed hundreds of thousands of inflammatory tweets, from fictitious tales of Democrats practicing witchcraft to hardline posts from users masquerading as Black Lives Matter activists. Investigators have traced the accounts to a Kremlin-linked propaganda outfit founded in 2013 known as the Internet Research Association (IRA). The organization has been assessed by the U.S. Intelligence Community to be part of a Russian state-run effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential race. And they're not done. At the request of NBC News, three sources familiar with Twitter's data systems cross-referenced the partial list of names released by Congress to create a partial database of tweets that could be recovered. You can download the streamlined spreadsheet (29 mb) with just usernames, tweet and timestamps, view the full data for ten influential accounts via Google Sheets, download tweets.csv (50 mb) and users.csv with full underlying data, and/or explore a graph database in Neo4j, whose software powered the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers investigations.

NBC News' partners at Neo4j have put together a "get started" guide to help you explore the database of Russian tweets. "To recreate a link to an individual tweet found in the spreadsheet, replace 'user_key' in https://twitter.com/user_key/status/tweet_id with the screenname from the 'user_key' field and 'tweet_id' with the number in the 'tweet_id' field," reports NBC News. "Following the links will lead to a suspended page on Twitter. But some copies of the tweets as they originally appeared, including images, can be found by entering the links on webcaches like the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine and archive.is."
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NBC Publishes 200,000 Tweets Tied To Russian Trolls

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 17, 2018 @09:07AM (#56141352)
    I'd say the Russians got a better bang for their buck.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 17, 2018 @09:19AM (#56141394)

      That's the scary thing about it, and it doesn't just concern Russia or governments in general. One or two years ago a guy showed how easy it was to get an arbitrary (and obvious) fake story on the top page of reddit with a ridiculously small budget. (200 bucks or so) While this might be a dream for viral marketing agencies, used by the wrong people such ways of influencing a large number of people can wreak quite some havoc. (Not that I think that the traditional ways of propaganda and advertisement/branding are more beneficial.)

       

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Please... The obvious point is that it didn't influence shit.

        If $1.2 billion in Clinton propaganda, 94% favorable domestic media coverage, an army of celebrity shills, a brainwashed electorate hooked on the welfare plantation, and every dirty trick in the book (plus new ones like buying FISA warrants) can't win you a presidency, then Russians tweeting about BLM literally did nothing.

        This is obviously the Democrats and NeverTrumps desperately searching for an excuse so they don't have to admit that they los

        • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Saturday February 17, 2018 @10:07AM (#56141536)

          Please... The obvious point is that it didn't influence shit.

          Very true. For comparison, there were 3.5 Millions Tweets generated in a couple hours during the 2012 VP debate between Biden and Ryan, a debate that didn't mean squat.

          • The relevant metric is how much influence these tweets had. How much they were retweeted, how much they shaped the discourse.

            Just comparing the language in the tweets to some of the posts on Slashdot suggests that some people were heavily influenced. Usually the ones who insist that the Russians had no effect on anything.

            You see the same behaviour with cult members.

            • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Saturday February 17, 2018 @10:43AM (#56141668)
              I think you make the mistake of thinking that the people who read those tweets or follow this accounts were anywhere close to neutral to start with. I do not think you could find many people who had their minds changed.

              Also, why do you assume posts made here are genuine and not also troll accounts, whether Russian or just asshats from wherever? If they would use Twitter, why not other popular sites as well?
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by jader3rd ( 2222716 )

                I think you make the mistake of thinking that the people who read those tweets or follow this accounts were anywhere close to neutral to start with. I do not think you could find many people who had their minds changed.

                True, but it might have riled them up enough to remember to vote; when without the false placed anger, they might have not voted.

              • were anywhere close to neutral

                In American politics there's no such thing. You are blue or red. Any alternative viewpoint or idea that you could meet in the middle is heresy. Any deviation from the party line needs to be punished.

                Democracy at its finest.

                • by ABEND ( 15913 )

                  were anywhere close to neutral

                  In American politics there's no such thing. You are blue or red. Any alternative viewpoint or idea that you could meet in the middle is heresy. Any deviation from the party line needs to be punished.

                  Democracy at its finest.

                  That is red-pilled vs blue-pilled.

              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by Anonymous Coward

                a) yes, it is easiest to whip up furor in and manipulate those that aren't neutral.

                b) There are definitely troll and bot accounts on Slashdot.

            • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Saturday February 17, 2018 @11:09AM (#56141810)

              The relevant metric is how much influence these tweets had.

              Application of common sense tells us very little if any. Do you actually believe someone changed their vote because they read one of these tweets among the tons of other tweets out there?

              I think we need to address Russian meddling, but its not like its made any difference to this point.

              • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
                Re "Do you actually believe someone changed their vote"
                That would be a good quality speech using terms people in each state could relate too.
                Jobs, education, trade, spending.
                Talking up the past and future of the state.
                Talking to the people of that state in a positive way.
                Been able to give a good quality speech in person in that state and the next state.
                A good speaking voice and the duration of the speech is also important. So is an accent.
                Then giving another great speech in the next state.
                Not sta
          • Not much was announced regarding the indictments of these Russians which wasn't already known, i.e. some people from Russia spent some money and effort on what they thought would disrupt things in the U.S., but didn't really accomplish much.

            The most telling part of the statement from the Special Counsel's office was:

            “Now, there is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity,” Rosenstein said. “There is no allegation in the indictmen

            • As far as I can see what is known is some people in Russia spent money on clickbait in order to make money. As usual I concur with this guy : http://www.moonofalabama.org/2... [moonofalabama.org]

              Most people will disagree, but then most people aren't able to think for themselves.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by lucm ( 889690 )

          Many of those tweets are about politics but without a clear purpose:

          "How fucked up our country will be if Hillary wins in 2016 and Trump wins in 2020
          Or vise versa"

          What's the angle there? Sow the seeds of common sense?

          • What's the angle there? Sow the seeds of common sense?

            Common sense is what the warmongering cryptocracy establishment fear the most.

          • Equating HRC to Trump. This was incredible effective too - just read this story.

        • I reckon the fact that all the money celebs and media were on one side made people think they were being railroaded.

          If the media is 60:40 in favour of one side, it looks like one side is ahead. If it's 70:30 it looks like one side is more ahead. If it's 94:06 it starts to look dubious.

          It's like those elections in a dictatorship where the dictator gets 99% of the vote. Everyone knows they're fake.

          I.e. a plurality on one side looks like a consensus. Unanimity one side looks like the system is rigged.

          Maybe the

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

            If the media is 60:40 in favour of one side, it looks like one side is ahead. If it's 70:30 it looks like one side is more ahead. If it's 94:06 it starts to look dubious.

            So, if 94% of the media says today is Saturday, do you throw away your calendars?

            You're buying into the "there is no such thing as truth" mindhack, which is how Donald Trump got elected in the first place. Once you can get people to believe nothing is true, then you can get them to do anything. It is the ultimate "Listen and Believe".

            • Donald Trump got elected because as dislikable he is he's less dislikable than Hillary Clinton. And having a bunch of even more dislikable journalists on her side didn't do her any favours.

              • Donald Trump got elected because as dislikable he is he's less dislikable than Hillary Clinton.

                Hillary got 3 million more votes, Hal.

        • by ( 4475953 )

          If it didn't influence shit then you and the rest of the US of A wouldn't talk about it all the time, like e.g. now here. According to the reports they wanted to divide your nation. Well, if that was their goal then they have been tremendously successful (judging from the posts on /.)

        • Please... The obvious point is that it didn't influence shit.

          Oh, Boris. Just wait until yo see just what it influences

    • 200K tweets over a few years might as well be zero when considering the total number of tweets generated of this period of time. Over 500 million tweets are generated per day.
    • They sure did, and it is scary as fuck.

  • What about Canada? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by William Baric ( 256345 ) on Saturday February 17, 2018 @10:36AM (#56141644)

    I'm not American, I live in Canada, and I certainly admit posting a lot of comments on social networks during the last US election. Worse, a lot of prominent Canadian figures made comment after comment on social networks about both Trump and Clinton. I'm sure Canadians posted more than 200,000 tweets. So why not accuse Canada of interfering with the US elections?

    • I'm not American, I live in Canada, and I certainly admit posting a lot of comments on social networks during the last US election. Worse, a lot of prominent Canadian figures made comment after comment on social networks about both Trump and Clinton. I'm sure Canadians posted more than 200,000 tweets. So why not accuse Canada of interfering with the US elections?

      Because I doubt most of them supported the unapproved (by the left) outcome ... that's why Canadian tweets were OK.

    • Because it doesn't fit the narrative? Also because we're only angry at people who don't apologise for their interference ;-)

    • There is a huge difference between individual Canadians trying to influence our election and an organized push by the Canadian government, much as there is a difference between a Canadian citizen committing murder in the US and the Canadian military shooting people in the US.

  • Or maybe you're posting it for guaranteed replies, which would just be sad.

    Here's what really happened: People wanting to influence the election purchased ads through Russia, which happened to be selling for the lowest cost. Also the media, including someone who is paying Slashdot, is STILL trying to push the idea that Trump's presidency is somehow illegitimate because "Russian interference". At the same time claims are being made that Russia is somehow related to the DNC leaks. This is being done to avoid
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Noticed about 2012 how the Internet seems to change. Lots more ranty right-wing stuff, lots of unhinged SJW posts, outburst of trolling designed to annoy or piss off.

    I like looking at conspiracy sites for fun. Similarly around 2012 there's a big change from the usual Ron Paul stuff & general government distrust to progressively more extreme right-wing material. Lots of posts trying to rehabilitate uncle Adolf, lots more racism, not much in the way of conspiracies - RedIce being an obvious example. At th

    • I don't believe for one second that Alex Jones is funding a multimillion dollar empire via Youtube money and the sale of shady vitamins to idiots.

      It's hard to underestimate how much money you can make selling vitamins. According to his former employees, he could see $10,000/hr of vitamins, and is playing 4 hours a day five says a week. That certainly seems plausible.

      Or rather, if Candy Crsuh can sell 2.2 million dollars of digital nonsense a day, it's easy to believe Alex Jones can see overpriced vitamin

    • by ABEND ( 15913 )

      When you type "conspiracy sites" you do mean "vast right-wing conspiracy" sites--don't you?

      I hope you can get the joke.

      If not, Google is your friend.

      Btw, when DJT first announced he was running for POTUS, rational persons, who were unfamiliar with his personal history, thought he was running as a publicity stunt. Remember (or look it up), he was previously a registered Democrat before he switched parties to run in the Republican primary.

  • To figure out the Russian trolls, bots, or their useful idiots here in the states, you just look at the content. Often strange syntax, howaboutism, continued reference to the defeated candidate. As people become more used to the sillieness, it just becomes sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel

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