A new report by the Knight Foundation has found that the majority of the Twitter accounts which helped spread disinformation and “fake news” in the run-up to the 2016 election are still active on Twitter today.
“A concentrated ‘fake news’ ecosystem, linking more than 6.6 million tweets to fake news and conspiracy news publishers in the month before the 2016 election,” the Knight Foundation reports. “The problem persisted in the aftermath of the election with 4 million tweets to fake and conspiracy news publishers found from mid-March to mid-April 2017. A large majority of these accounts are still active today.”
The report shows that almost 80 percent of these ‘fake news’ accounts are still actively posting on Twitter, despite the fact that Twitter has said that they are deleting millions of illegitimate accounts daily.
These accounts include those run by the Russian misinformation troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency. It also includes accounts originating in other places around the world for the sole purpose of spreading fake news stories, conspiracy theories and other inaccurate information aimed at influencing the elections in the United States.
Russia is certainly playing a major role, as much of the ‘fake news’ being spread seems to fit right in with Russia’s promotion of bogus narratives which work in their country’s favor. There also seems to be a coordinated effort by those entities who are behind these accounts in order to spread news stories on a specific bunch of fraudulent news sites.
“Segments … associated with Russian propaganda are key participants in these campaigns, and many of these efforts align strongly with Russian goals and interests,” the report suggests.
With the midterm elections just one month away, unfortunately there is very little that can be done to help stop the activity of these accounts in such a short period of time.