Reports Reveal Russian Twitter Meddling in Brexit Vote

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It appears as if Russia’s attempts to undermine the political stability of rival nations extended to the EU referendum last year, after two separate reports revealed Kremlin-backed Twitter accounts sought to sway opinion ahead of the Brexit vote.

Over 150,000 accounts based in Russia posted mainly pro-Brexit content in the run-up to the infamous June 23, 2016 vote, according to research from Swansea University and the University of California, Berkeley.

Most notably, they tweeted 45,000 times about Brexit in just a 48-hour period around the vote, according to The Times.

Interestingly, the rabidly pro-Putin accounts had apparently previously tweeted in support of Russian interests in the Crimea and similar, before switching their attention to the referendum.

The paper claims a "massive number of Russian-related tweets were created a few days before the voting day, reached its peak during the voting and the result and then dropped immediately afterwards.”

Co-author, Tho Pam, reportedly added that “the main conclusion is that bots were used on purpose and had influence.”

A similar report from the University of Edinburgh identified a smaller number of Twitter accounts operated by the infamous Russian propaganda arm the Internet Research Agency (IRA), which it claims attempted to sow discord in society and destabilize politics.

It spotted 419 accounts from the 2752 suspended by Twitter in the US for interfering in the presidential election last year.

Damian Collins, chairman of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee — which is investigating fake news — called on Twitter to come clean about possible interference in the June 2016 vote.

“This is information they hold and I can’t see any reason they should be delaying supplying it,” he said, according to the Guardian.

The committee has already written to Facebook for information on any paid-for activity by Russia-linked accounts around the referendum and last general election.

The narrow 'leave' vote was a huge tactical win for Putin, weakening Europe and tying the UK up in wranglings over its departure for years.

Prime Minister, Theresa May, directly criticized the Putin administration in a speech on Monday for using fake news to try and destabilize rival democratic nations.

“It is seeking to weaponize information,” she said. “Deploying its state-run media organizations to plant fake stories and photo-shopped images in an attempt to sow discord in the West and undermine our institutions.”

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