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Massive anti-Russian ‘bot army’ exposed by Australian researcers

An Australian university has unearthed millions of Tweets by fake ‘bot’ accounts pushing disinformation on the Ukraine war. 
 
by Peter Cronau
 
Part 6 - Origins of the Twitter bot accounts
 
The researchers report that the overwhelming level of Twitter disinformation that was anti-Russian was from bots ‘likely [organised] by pro-Ukrainian authorities’.

The researchers asserted no further findings about the origin of the 5-million tweets, but did find that some bots ‘are pushing campaigns specific to certain countries [unnamed], and hence sharing content aligned with those timezones’. The data does show that the peak time for a selection of pro-Ukrainian bot activity corresponded with being between 6pm and 9pm across US timezones.

Some indication of the origin and the target of the messages, could be deduced from the specific languages used in the 5-million tweets. Over 3.5-million tweets, or 67 percent, were in the English language, with fewer that 2 percent in Russian and Ukrainian. 

In May 2022, National Security Agency (NSA) Director and US Cyber Command chief, General Paul Nakasone, revealed that the Cyber Command had been conducting offensive Information Operations in support of Ukraine.

We’ve conducted a series of operations across the full spectrum: offensive, defensive, [and] information operations,” Nakasone said.

Nakasone said the US has been conducting operations aimed at dismantling Russian propaganda. He said the operations were lawful, conducted through policy determined by the US Defense Department and with civilian oversight. Nakasone said the US seeks to tell the truth when conducting an Information Operation, unlike Russia.

US Cyber Command had deployed to Ukraine a ‘hunt forward’ cyber team in December to help shore up Ukraine’s cyber defences and networks against active threats in anticipation of the invasion. A newly formed European Union cyber rapid response team consisting of 12 experts joined the Cyber Command team to look for active cyber threats inside Ukrainian networks and to strengthen the country’s cyber defences.

The US has invested $40 million since 2017 in helping Ukraine buttress its information technology sector. According to US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the investments have helped Ukrainians ‘keep their internet on and information flowing, even in the midst of a brutal Russian invasion’.

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