Cyber Policy Center

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On June 12, 2020, Twitter removed 1,152 accounts attributed to Current Policy, “a media website engaging in state-backed political propaganda within Russia.” These accounts were taken down because they violated Twitter’s policy on platform manipulation. Our latest white paper analyzes their activities and motivations.

China has been shipping medical supplies to countries battling the coronavirus pandemic, an effort dubbed “mask diplomacy.” It remains to be seen if China will be able to tailor its messages effectively to win hearts and minds of people around the world.

On June 3, 2020 Twitter shared with the Stanford Internet Observatory three distinct takedown datasets from China, Turkey and Russia. In this post and in the attached white papers on the China and Turkey operations, we look at the topics and tactics of these operations.

As the coronavirus pandemic spread around the world, RT’s English-language branches worked to undermine lockdown measures in Western countries while extolling the Russian and Chinese governments’ success in containing the virus’s spread.

Blogs

A survey of spam, state and covert activities in the U.S. during domestic unrest.

In the June 2020 Sabin-Aspen Vaccine Science Policy Report, "Meeting the Challenge of Vaccination Hesitancy," Stanford Internet Observatory research manager Renée DiResta and First Draft lead strategist Claire Wardle write about how anti-vaccination movements' effective storytelling helps spread misinformation online.

We identify hundreds of scam social media accounts across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok targeting individuals in Nigeria. These accounts post on compromised accounts claiming to have earned money through a fake investment scheme, and encourage others to “invest”. The potential for harm is high: by one estimate thousands have been scammed.

On May 28th, President Trump signed an executive order threatening to revoke CDA 230 protections, which would expose social media companies to increased liability for content that is posted on their sites. The Cyber Policy Center team responded on June 1 in a public webinar. The event was recorded.

Alex Feerst, one of the great thinkers about Internet content moderation, has a revealing metaphor about the real-world work involved. “You might go into it thinking that online information flows are best managed by someone with the equivalent of a PhD in hydrology,” he says. “But you quickly discover that what you really need are plumbers.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the effects could be potentially devastating to global democracy and the upcoming U.S. election. On the World Class podcast, Larry Diamond and Nathaniel Persily discuss what needs to be done to ensure a healthy election in November with host Michael McFaul.

The Stanford Internet Observatory's Virality Project is a new global study aimed at understanding disinformation dynamics specific to the COVID-19 crisis. As the pandemic became the primary concern of almost every nation on the planet, the virus significantly shifted the landscape for viral mis- and disinformation.

Amid increasing political turmoil and a potential constitutional crisis, Poland was recently targeted by an elaborate disinformation operation. We studied the tactics used by the attackers and discovered a previously unknown connection to the website Niezależny Dziennik Polityczny, which has previously been accused of having ties to Russian intelligence.
A cluster of pro-Saif Gaddafi Facebook Pages suspended for inauthentic behavior worked to create the impression that Saif has broad support among Libyans, and tried to undermine the recognized government, including by pushing COVID-19 conspiracies.
Attribution.news provides journalists with tools to effectively cover the origins of both cyber incidents and information operations online. It unpacks some of these complexities through case studies and recommended best practices for covering this topic.
With a month to go until the planned election date, neither the final date of the election nor the mechanism for voting has been established. To comply with social distancing, the campaign has moved almost entirely to social media. The government also announced further shelter-in place restrictions thereby making traditional voting impossible.