Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘russia’ Category

Facebook’s Teen Problem

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CNBC had a story out yesterday citing data from investor analyst firm Piper Jaffray which indicated that teens are abandoning Facebook “at a staggering rate.”

But went on to say they’re still “flocking to sister app Instagram.”

Palo Alto, we have a problem.

The CNBC article indicated that just over a third of teenagers use the core Facebook platform at least once a month.

I wonder if a third of those are from Russia??

That number is “down significantly from 52 percent of teens two years ago and from close to two-thirds of teens in spring of 2016.”

On the plus side, Instagram “edged out SnapChat as the most-used social platform by teenagers for the first time” since Piper Jaffray started conducting its survey.

So, marketeers everywhere, uh, take more pictures?  

Maybe you can use that newfangled Apple iPhone XR, which is getting rave reviews across the board (and which comes in several hundred dollars less than the iPhone XS).

Speaking of Russians, The New York Times is reporting that the U.S. Cyber Command is now targeting individual Russian operatives “to try to deter them from spreading disinformation in elections.”

The campaign, which includes missions undertaken in recent days, is the first known overseas cyberoperation to protect American elections, including the November midterms.

Senior defense officials said they were not directly threatening the operatives. Still, former officials said anyone singled out would know, based on the United States government’s actions against other Russian operatives, that they could be indicted or targeted with sanctions. Even the unstated threat of sanctions could help deter some Russians from participating in covert disinformation campaigns, said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a former intelligence official now with the Center for a New American Security.

Huh.  That only took a couple of years to get rolling.

Written by turbotodd

October 23, 2018 at 4:38 pm

Russians, Bots, Guns, Rinse, Repeat

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So how long did it take before the Russian Twitter bots kicked into high gear after last week’s tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida?

According to a story in The New York Times, it only took about an hour:

The accounts addressed the news with the speed of a cable news network. Some adopted the hashtag #guncontrolnow. Others used #gunreformnow and #Parklandshooting. Earlier on Wednesday, before the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., many of those accounts had been focused on the investigation by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

If you want to keep a lookout for such bots, the Alliance for Securing Democracy has some recommendations: Look for a high volume of posts or content that conspicuously matches hundred of other accounts.

And this is just the latest example of Russian bots going into action…they were also seen in the Russian election manipulation, as seen in the first major Robert Mueller indictment last week…they were featured in the national anthem NFL boycott (#standforouranthem, #takeaknee)…and now, guns.

Seeing a trend yet?

Any significant issues dividing the American public along partisan lines, there’s an increasingly good chance at least a few Russian bots will be standing smack dab in the middle of the dividing line.

Written by turbotodd

February 20, 2018 at 11:56 am

Special Social Media Counsel

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Friday afternoon is usually the place news goes to die, but apparently not today.

First, indictments are coming out of the Special Counsel’s office (Robert Mueller) in the Russian election interference investigation. 

As reported in The New York Times, 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations were charged with illegally using social media platforms “to sow political discord, including actions that supported the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump and disparaged his opponent, Hillary Clinton.”

More choice details:

The indictment charges that the foreigners falsely posed as American citizens, stole identities and otherwise engaged in fraud and deceit in an effort to influence the U.S. political process, including the 2016 presidential race….

….The Internet Research Agency, operating out of St. Petersburg, was described in the indictment as a hub for a sophisticated operation designed to reach millions of Americans to disrupt the political process in the United States. Its annual budget was millions of dollars; its stated goal was to “spread distrust toward the candidates and the political system in general.”

The U.S president, Donald J. Trump, has already responded via Twitter:

NewImage

On a tangentially related front, the White House Council of Economic Advisers issued a report Friday that indicated malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016. According to a report from Reuters:

The report quoted the U.S. intelligence community as saying the main foreign culprits responsible for much cyber activity against U.S. targets are Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

But the report also suggested malicious cyber activity is not limited to foreign actors, and that corporate competitors, activists seeking to advance a political agenda, and organized crime are also responsible.

Written by turbotodd

February 16, 2018 at 2:36 pm

The Knowledge

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Happy Friday. Or better put, TGIF.

It’s been a whirlwind of a week. Hurricane Maria had her way with Puerto Rico and parts beyond. The earthquake in Mexico City shook the metropolis to its core. The United Nations General Assembly was filled with bombast and bluster, and now “Rocket Man” is threatening to explode a hydrogen bomb somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

It may be time for a cocktail. Okay, not now, at 9:00-something in the morning, but very soon.

There could be plenty of time for cocktails soon for Uber drivers in London. Big news today on that front: Uber has lost its license to operate in London.

No, not because the drivers (or Uber’s AI) couldn’t pass “The Knowledge,” London’s infamous taxi driver test. No, it was said to be because of the firm’s approach to reporting serious driver offenses, its approach to driver medical and safety checks, and the users of its secret “Greyball” software to dodge transport officials.

The firm has 21 days to appeal the decision.

In the meantime, 40,000 Uber drivers and 3.5M Londoners using the app will need to make other arrangements. And you just thought the London Underground is crowded now!

Back across this side of the pond, some exciting news from Facebook that they needed like a hole in the head. They “announced” two weeks ago they had discovered more than 3,000 ads addressing “social and political issues that ran in the US between 2015 and 2017 and that appear to have come from accounts associated with a Russian entity know as the Internet Research Agency.”

Facebook will now “share these ads with congressional investigators,” according to a post by its general counsel, Colin Stretch. Here’s more of Stretch’s comment:

We believe it is vitally important that government authorities have the information they need to deliver to the public a full assessment of what happened in the 2016 election. That is an assessment that can be made only by investigators with access to classified intelligence and information from all relevant companies and industries — and we want to do our part. Congress is best placed to use the information we and others provide to inform the public comprehensively and completely.
– via newsroom.fb.com

My Take: The whole Russian Facebook advertising situation puts Zuckerberg and company between a rock and a hard place.

If they admit any culpability, then hey, Facebook Ads are AWESOME, they work really, really well, as they helped Russia elect an American president. Raise the CPM and let’s party like it’s 1999 on the Facebook Ad exchange!!

If they suggest, on the other hand, that they had no role whatsoever in helping Vlad and his cronies with their mission to bring the Trump Organization into the White House, then wait a minute, those ads are worthless, I want my rubles back!

Like a Facebook relationship status, “it’s complicated.”

Now where’s my Moscow Mule!

Written by turbotodd

September 22, 2017 at 9:38 am

Posted in 2017, facebook, russia, uber

SXSW Interactive 2011: Russia Online

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One of the great opportunities that SXSW affords those attending is a powerful networking nexus from people around the globe.

At this year’s event, I serendipitously met a new friend from Moscow, Julia Neznanova, a client services director with the Moscow-based DigitalZm agency.

After Julia and I got to chatting, I realized our conversation was a podcast waiting to happen, so Scott Laningham and I arranged to capture her insights about the Russian Internet landscape on disk.

The resulting interview can be found here, and I think it would surprise many who aren’t familiar with the Russian online landscape just how vibrant the digital scene is in Moscow and beyond.

Thanks again to Julia for her insight.  Scott and I very much enjoyed and learned a lot from our conversation, and I hope you will, too.

Written by turbotodd

March 17, 2011 at 8:38 pm

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