Suspected Russia-related Twitter accounts were used to “extend the impact and evil” four-2017 terrorist attacks in the united KINGDOM, a study says.
The Cardiff University researchers have found hundreds of messages relating to 47 accounts previously linked to Russia.
Some of the posts were anti-Muslim in nature, while others have been critical of those who held these views, they report.
Moscow has not commented, but has denied past claims, it has sought to interfere in the democracies of the West via social media.
Similarly, an influential MEMBER of parliament has condemned the activity.
“It is wrong that any organisation should spread disinformation in the wake of a terrorist attack, with the aim of spreading hatred and making worse an already desperate and confusing situation,” Damian Collins, president of digital, culture, media and sport select committee, told the BBC.
“At a time when victims are still lying on the ground, and the relatives are in need of clear and accurate information on the situation, the deliberate dissemination of misinformation is unforgivable.
“The methods of organizations such as the Russian-backed Research on the Internet of the Agency are increasingly clear. Through our investigation on the fake news, I am determined that they shall be exposed.”
The BBC understands that the researchers did not share the details of Twitter accounts.
The social network was limited to a brief comment: “In each of these attacks, the tweets identified in this research represent less than 0.01% of the total tweets sent in the 24 hours following the attack.”The terrorist attacks
The University of Cardiff, Crime and Security Research Institute has analyzed millions of posts and comments gathered from various social media platforms, before honing on 70 suspected “sock puppet” Twitter accounts.
Forty-seven of them had already been linked to Russia by the Congress of the investigators, the Russian magazine RBK, and other. It was one of those on which the inquiry was then concentrated.
The researchers then determined that, after:
March attack Bridge of Westminster, 35 original messages were posted by accounts
May concert of pop music attack in Manchester, 293 messages have been posted
June from London Bridge, attack, 140 messages have been posted
June Finsbury Park attack, seven messages have been posted
This account of 475 messages were reposted more than 153,000 times in total by the other, the researchers determined.
Among the examples cited: “Another day, another Muslim terrorist attack. Retweet if you think Islam should be banned!”
In one case, an account named @TEN_GOP – which is presented as belonging to a Tennessee-American – has taken issue with a photo of a woman in a hijab so-called ignore the victims of the Westminster Bridge attack.
“She is being judged for his own actions and lack of sympathy. Do you want to simply walk away? Or offer help?”, said the tweet.
But another Russian-linked account, @Crystal1Johnson – which appeared to belong to a civil rights lawyer has taken an opposing position.
“So, this is how a world with the glasses of hate look like [sic] – poor woman, being judged by his clothes,” she posted.
The researchers highlighted that the accounts sometimes tweeted direct messages to celebrities, including the author JK Rowling, in an attempt to get their posts noticed by their followers.
In addition, they note that several messages have been addressed to the English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson and UKIP ex-leader Nigel Farage.
“The evidence suggests systematic strategic policy communications campaign directed towards the united KINGDOM designed to amplify the public harm of terrorist attacks,” concluded the authors.
“The implication is that we… should focus on the speedy establishment of the counter-measures are effective to offset the impact of the ‘soft facts’ propagated by foreign interests that they seek to do the work of terrorist organizations by the amplification of the capacity and the ability of acts of violence.”
The researchers have found that it is difficult to prove the activity has been supported by the Russian authorities, but they have added that, in his opinion, there were probably other accounts that they had not spotted.
Another independent researcher who has also studied suspected Russian social media posts said more work to do.
“Fragmented using games data, we have observed the unusual activity on Twitter – for example an increase in the number of fake accounts, spreading biased information,” commented Professor Sasha Talavera of the University of Swansea.
“But we can’t comment definitively on their scale and influence without a large-scale investigation.”