Skip to Content
Tech policy

Russians accused of information warfare used tech to whip up controversy and cover their tracks

February 16, 2018

US Special Counsel Robert Mueller (pictured above) has charged 13 Russians and three organizations, including the Internet Research Agency, with alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Misinformation, Inc.: The meddling was widely known, but the indictment provides new insights into how it worked. Russians visited the US in 2014 to conduct research and then built a sophisticated operation that included sizable departments handling search optimization, data analytics, and IT. One project had 80 people working on it.

Purple gain: The Russians concentrated on influencing opinion in so-called “purple states,” such as Colorado, Virginia, and Florida, where the electoral gap between Republicans and Democrats was slim.

Virtual Americans: To hide their origins, the Russians rented space on servers based in the US and set up a virtual private network so that it looked as if messages were coming from within the country.

That’s not all, folks: Mark Weatherford, a former senior official at the Department of Homeland Security, says it’s pretty rare for the US to indict foreign nationals for information warfare. But he thinks we’ll see more such cases as technological advances make it easier to work out who’s behind online propaganda efforts.

Deep Dive

Tech policy

hired guns concept
hired guns concept

The secret police: A private security group regularly sent Minnesota police misinformation about protestors

There are 13 private security guards for every one police officer in downtown Minneapolis, but these groups are far less regulated than police departments.

censorship of online docs concept
censorship of online docs concept

A million-word novel got censored before it was even shared. Now Chinese users want answers.

After a writer was locked out of her novel for including illegal content, Chinese web users are asking questions about just how far the state’s censorship reaches.

security cameraa
security cameraa

The world’s biggest surveillance company you’ve never heard of

Hikvision could be sanctioned for aiding the Chinese government’s human rights violations in Xinjiang. Here’s everything you need to know.

Female worker in the foreground of a room of 1950s era computers
Female worker in the foreground of a room of 1950s era computers

Why can’t tech fix its gender problem?

A new generation of tech activists, organizers, and whistleblowers, most of whom are female, non-white, gender-diverse, or queer, may finally bring change.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.