Tags: Media Bias | alabama | election | meddling | social media | twitter | facebook

NY Times: 'False Flag Operation' Tested in '17 Ala. Senate Race

alabama democratic senator doug jones celebrates his special election victory with his wife in a sea of confetti
Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala. (John Bazemore/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 19 December 2018 10:07 PM

A group funded by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman spent $100,000 on a social media effort in 2017 designed to mimic how Russians use Facebook and Twitter to sway U.S. elections.

The New York Times reported Wednesday the experiment involved setting up a Facebook page for the contentious Alabama Senate special election last year. Using tactics Russia is accused of doing during the 2016 presidential election, the group sought to determine how a social media campaign could impact an election using a few tricks.

The group supported Democrat and eventual winner Doug Jones, so it set up a Facebook page claiming to be conservative voters in Alabama who did not want to vote for Republican Roy Moore — who was accused of sexual misconduct decades prior. The page tried to divide GOP voters and also appeared to work in tandem with Russian bots on Twitter.

"We orchestrated an elaborate 'false flag' operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet," an internal report about the effort written by cybersecurity firm New Knowledge reads.

The Times obtained a copy of the report.

"The research project was intended to help us understand how these kind of campaigns operated," New Knowledge chief executive Jonathon Morgan told the Times. "We thought it was useful to work in the context of a real election but design it to have almost no impact."

It is unclear whether the social media effort had any impact on how Alabamans voted.

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Designed to mimic how Russians use Facebook and Twitter to sway U.S. elections, a group funded by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman spent $100,000 on a social media campaign to meddle in the 2017 special election ultimately won by Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala.
alabama, election, meddling, social media, twitter, facebook, linkedin
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2018-07-19
Wednesday, 19 December 2018 10:07 PM
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