32.1 C
Monday, July 15, 2024

London sounds alarm over ‘Russian bots’ supporting Farage

A deputy PM has backed media claims that suspicious Facebook accounts are boosting the leading rival to the Tories

Five Facebook accounts supposedly spreading “Russian narratives” are a source of grave concern for the British government, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has said.

On Saturday, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) claimed to have detected a Russian disinformation campaign targeting British voters ahead of the July 4 snap election. The messaging is allegedly favorable to the anti-migrant politician Nigel Farage.

Dowden bemoaned the threat “from hostile state actors seeking to influence the outcome of the election campaign” in an interview by Sky News on Sunday. He claimed that “Russia is a prime example of this and this is a classic example from the Russian playbook.”

The Tory politician called the alleged operation “low-level” and involving bots. He stressed, however, that he was not suggesting that there was “some sort of collusion” between Farage’s Reform UK party and the Russian government.

Read more

Reform UK Party leader Nigel Farage speaks at a campaign event in Maidstone on June 24, 2024.
Farage tells Zelensky only peace can save Ukraine

When interviewed shortly afterwards, Farage told Sky News host Trevor Phillips that claims that his campaign enjoys Moscow’s support were a “Russia hoax.” He called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a very-very dangerous, dangerously clever man” and said he “abhorred totally and utterly” Moscow’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict.

“There’s no debate in this general election about foreign policy whatsoever other than the attempt to smear me,” he added.

ABC reported that five specific Facebook accounts with a combined 190,000 followers were posting similar content critical of the UK’s main political parties and criticizing London’s Ukraine policy. The latter fact was used to justify their attribution.

“For me, it’s Russian,” said Salvatore Romano, the head of an NGO that says it “investigates influential and opaque algorithms.”

“Now if you ask Putin, Putin may say ‘no, it’s not us’,” he added. “What is the smoking gun? Do you need to see these people behind their desks with the Russian flag?”

Read more

FILE PHOTO: Democrat activists against US President Donald Trump in front of the White House in Washington, DC.
Key ‘Russian bots’ claim was false – Twitter documents

AI Forensics, the NGO Romano works for, cites as its partners a network of pro-Western funds and intermediaries, including George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, Pierre Omidyar’s Luminate and the Digital Freedom Fund. The firm grew out of Tracking Exposed, an app that was used to visualize the tracking of users by corporate entities online.

Farage was accused of being a Putin sympathizer after he blamed NATO expansion in Europe for the Ukraine conflict during a BBC interview last month. He claims that the US-led military bloc gave the Russian government an excuse to rally domestic support for the operation.

A speech he gave in Walton-on-the-Naze last week was interrupted by a banner showing Putin and with the words “I [heart emoji] Farage.” A campaign group called Led By Donkeys claimed credit for the stunt.

In early June, Russian Ambassador to the UK Andrey Kelin said he expected accusations of election interference even though he believes that no outcome could meaningfully change Britain’s policy towards Russia.

July 01, 2024 at 05:06PM

Most Popular Articles