In Brief

Russian agency behind US election meddling ‘created fake left-wing news site’

Facebook says real reporters were hired by fake editors to write about US corruption

Several left-wing US journalists have unwittingly been working for the Russian intelligence agency that helped to put Donald Trump in power, Facebook has revealed.

The duped reporters were hired by agents masquerading as editors of a news website called Peace Data, which had advertised for “writers for the following topics: anti-war, corruption, abuse of power, human rights violations”.

The website “presented the US as war-mongering and law-breaking abroad while being wracked by racism, Covid-19, and cutthroat capitalism at home”, according to social media analysis company Graphika.

Facebook “learned through a tip from the FBI” that the site was run by “people formerly associated with the Russian Internet Research Agency, which created a number of influential Twitter and Facebook personas to inflame political tensions in the 2016 election”, says NBC News.

The agency - widely regarded as an arm of the Russian state - created “fictitious” editors who offered freelance reporters between $75 (£55) and $250 (£185) per article, The Guardian reports.

Photographs of Peace Data’s non-existent editorial staff “were created using Generative Adversarial Networks, a type of AI that can produce lifelike images of faces”, the newspaper adds.

Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said the discovery of the website confirms that “Russian actors are trying to target the 2020 election”.

However, he added, Peace Data did not attract a large following - illustrating a broader problem for the Russian intelligence services.

“You can run a loud, noisy influence campaign like the one we saw in 2016, and you get caught very quickly, or you can try to run a much more subtle campaign, which is what this looks like,” Gleicher said.

“When you run a subtle influence campaign, you’re sort of working at cross-purposes with yourself. You don’t get a lot of attention for it.”

Recommended

Quiz of The Week: 16 - 22 January
Joe Biden is sworn in as president of the United States
Quizzes and puzzles

Quiz of The Week: 16 - 22 January

Forced labour, virtual bailiffs and Cumbrian coal
Coal-miner
Podcast

Forced labour, virtual bailiffs and Cumbrian coal

Google threatens to pull out of Australia over media payment law
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison
In Focus

Google threatens to pull out of Australia over media payment law

What do Covid vaccines cost - and who is paying over the odds?
People wait to be vaccinated at Salisbury Cathedral
Getting to grips with . . .

What do Covid vaccines cost - and who is paying over the odds?

Popular articles

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 Jan 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 Jan 2021

Who are the richest people in the world?
Elon Musk
In Focus

Who are the richest people in the world?

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
Line of Duty series six returns to BBC One in 2021
In Depth

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021

Free 6 issue trial then continue to