Aug. 2nd, 2017
A new website is attempting to track the spread of Russian propaganda and themes on Twitter in real time.
- The project is an attempt to undermine Russia's disinformation campaign in the United States and the West more broadly.
- Researchers are continously monitoring roughly 600 Twitter accounts "selected for their relationship to Russian-sponsored influence and disinformation campaigns."
A website launched on Wednesday by a former FBI special agent-turned disinformation expert claims to track Russian propaganda in near-real time, as it spreads via Twitter accounts that have been linked to Russian influence operations.
Clint Watts, who garnered national media attention after testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russia's ongoing cyber and propaganda war against the West, spearheaded the project called Hamilton 68 — a hat tip to the founding father's Federalist Papers No. 68.
"In the Federalist Papers No. 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote of protecting America’s electoral process from foreign meddling," the site reads, alluding to Russia's interference in the 2016 election. "Today, we face foreign interference of a type Hamilton could scarcely have imagined."
Watts worked on Hamilton 68 with JM Berger, a fellow with the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism who studies extremism and propaganda on social media; Andrew Weisburd, a fellow at the Center for Cyber & Homeland Security; and Jonathon Morgan, the CEO of New Knowledge AI and head of Data for Democracy, a volunteer collective of data scientists and technologists.
Laura Rosenberger, the director of the German Marshall Fund's Alliance for Securing Democracy, was brought on by Watts as the project "moved from wish to reality," Berger told Business Insider on Wednesday.
"I love working with all these folks, so it was great fun for me to see them all come together on this project," Berger said. He added that he has been working with Watts and Weisburd on Russian influence operations, and with Morgon on social media influence analysis, for about three years.
The project will attempt to monitor and illustrate the themes that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants Americans to be thinking and talking about — namely, "the break up of the European Union, the dissolution of NATO and the failure of democratic governance in the United States specifically and in the West broadly," the site says.