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Russian meddling charges stoke fear that midterms will bring more of the same

February 19, 2018

Indictments against Russia reveal the nation’s skills at creating chaos online, and it’s unclear if Big Tech can yet fight off another onslaught.

David vs. Goliath: On one hand, 13 Russian nationals charged with inflicting “information warfare” on America. On the other, Facebook, with $40 billion of revenue and 25,000 employees.

Fake news redux?  The Wall Street Journal notes Big Tech was unprepared in 2016. The same may be true for the 2018 midterms. “Lots of levers ... get pulled in social media for the sake of manipulation” says Sam Woolley, from the Computational Propaganda research team at Oxford University, to the Journal. “A lot of those levers aren’t even known by the companies themselves.”

Plus: Facebook’s head of advertising, Rob Goldman, says most Russian spending on propaganda came after the election. Dan Coats, director of US national intelligence, warned that America is still vulnerable to meddling.

Enough fixes? Facebook is throwing staff and software at the problem, and has said US mail verification could help ID some users who seek to place political ads on its systems. But David may've learned new tricks, too.

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