The Times: Russian fake news accounts tweeted about Brexit

The Times: Russian fake news accounts tweeted about Brexit

4 November 2017 | 07:00 | FOCUS News Agency
London. Several Twitter accounts suspended over their ties to a Russian “troll farm” that tried to undermine the US election also tweeted about Brexit, The Times has established.

Twitter told US senators this week that it had removed more than 2,700 accounts connected to the Internet Research Agency, a secretive Russian technology company linked to the Kremlin. These accounts are thought to have been part of sophisticated efforts to spread “fake news” and sow political division in the West.

British researchers have established that at least four of these accounts used hashtags connected to the 2016 Brexit referendum. The accounts included @tpartynews, an anti-immigrant Donald Trump supporter with 22,000 followers, and @rightnpr, which posted a false image of a Trump rally during the presidential campaign.

The four accounts posted only a small number of tweets about Brexit. Their tweets had a mixture of Leave, Remain and neutral sentiments.

They were identified by Tho Pham of Swansea University, co-author of a forthcoming paper about the impact of Twitter bots on elections in the UK and the US. She cross-checked the 2,752 accounts deleted by Twitter with her own database of people who tweeted Brexit-related hashtags during the campaign.

One of the Russian accounts on the Twitter list, a fake American blogger named Jenna Abrams with 70,000 followers, tweeted occasionally about UK politics including Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU. Her tweets were cited in articles by The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and the BBC.

Last night the chairman of the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee wrote to Jack Dorsey, the Twitter chief executive, demanding details of all suspected Russian troll accounts that tweeted about British politics.

Damian Collins said: “The first hard evidence of Russian political interference in UK elections is emerging. This is shocking and wrong, but no surprise. Twitter must be completely open with us about how their site was used before, during and after the 2016 EU referendum and 2017 general election.”

He added: “We have to recognise that this new threat is one of the greatest challenges our democracy faces.”

Mr Collins also wrote to Facebook last week requesting it search for evidence that Russia-linked accounts were used to interfere in the EU referendum and the last general election.

Twitter did not respond to requests for comment.
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The Times: Brexit deal will only be legal after a vote of MPs

The Times: Brexit deal will only be legal after a vote of MPs

31 October 2017 | 02:48 | FOCUS News Agency
London. A Brexit agreement with the EU would need to be enshrined in law and be subject to scrutiny and a vote by MPs and peers, ministers have conceded, The Times reports.
Until now Theresa May and David Davis, the Brexit secretary, have insisted that parliament will only be given a “take it or leave it” vote on the overall deal, without the need for primary legislation.
But behind the scenes ministers have accepted that their stance is untenable and the government will have to implement key elements of the withdrawal agreement directly into British
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