Troll Watch: How Tech Is Cracking Down On Election Disinformation

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Years ago, Fake news loomed large over the U. S. Presidential election troll farms linked to Russia turned out fictitious stories online and completely made up articles written Well, maybe bite. Macedonian teenagers went viral. It's impossible to know exactly what effect has had on the results, but it certainly was big news. So what is the picture looked like this time around. BBC Trending Sze Sam Jr has been investigating, starting with a chat with a struggling writer from New York State. My name is Colin Munro. Would I work as a freelance writer? I read news all day constantly. Collinwood was delighted to be writing about politics for a new website called Peace Data ahead of this year's U. S election, even though he wasn't getting paid, and the editors of the site were enthusiastic about what he was sending in. They loved it. They were very accepting of my writing who you're dealing with is it was the same person. He has an odd name, but he said he was a no assistant editor to the organization. He had his own linked and things of that nature. It looked legit. But one day recently, he found out the whole thing was a sham. Colin had been writing for a far left new site created and run by Russians. To put all of this in context. Let's roll back the clock For years. Fake news can have really world consequences. Facebook was paid at least $100,000 by Russian troll farms for advertising. The 2016 election was beset by fake news. Completely made up stories apparently produced by Russian organizations and amplified on social media. But this time US citizens have become unwitting foot soldiers in the battle. Recruited by small scale websites run the authorities and Facebook say from Russia. The legitimate looking editors behind the site weren't even really people. So, says disinformation expert Camille Francois Grafica. So if you look very closely add those faces. You realize they're not exactly symmetrical. So sometimes one of the editor would have one earring and then the other earring just didn't match. Those air old Council signs that the picture could have been generated with the technology that a century creates a new face from scratch. The peace data editors were completely made up. They're photos were computer generated constructions. Back in 2016 so called fake news ran rampant with fictional headlines like Pope Endorses Donald Trump. This time around the big social media companies thwarted this operation before it could really pick up steam. But there's a new problem coordinated disinformation campaigns that are entirely homegrown. Isaac Stanley Becker is a reporter for The Washington Post, and over the summer he got a tip off from a concerned relative. Someone got in touch and said that they're teenage nephew in Arizona had been posting really curious messages on social media messages that led them to believe that their family member might have been hacked by the Russians. In fact, the teenager along with many others, was posting on behalf of a right wing American lobby group Turning Point USA for a fee. The messages cast doubt on the severity of the Corona virus pandemic on even spread myths about voter fraud. Money was changing hands. It was nowhere disclosed that this was part of a highly organized but secret is operation. Run by a very well heeled pro charm organization, the marketing firm running the operation was banned from Facebook but turning point themselves avoided punishment. Some point to the discovery of these campaigns as a good news story. Social media firms caught sleeping in 2016 have stepped up their game. But others, including Isaac Stanley, Becca think the spread of falsehoods has become absolutely endemic in American politics. The way we campaign and the way we discussed politics, it's just infuse with disinformation. It's become normal. As one expert put it to me in 2016. We saw Macedonian teenagers being paid to coordinate and conduct. This sort of activity and now patrol farm is in Phoenix. It's right here at home. There's

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