Analysis of a far-right disinformation campaign aimed at influencing the EU elections

F-Secure Labs used a bot to harvest and analyze high-ranked disinformation tweets aimed at influencing the EU elections; they found that some of the highest-ranked xenophobic/Islamophobic disinformation came from a pair of related accounts: NewsCompact and PartisanDE, both in "the top three most engaged accounts in the EU election conversation space on Twitter two weeks ago."

These accounts tweeted disinformation (for example, a video of someone vandalizing a statue in Algeria, misidentified as "A muslim #migrant destroying a statue in #Italy, because part of the body is showing"), and then got retweeted by vast constellations of semi-plausible, newly created accounts, as well as infamous far-right figures. They were also amplified by accounts identified as belonging to Korean, Japanese, and Arabic-speaking users; as well as a large number of US-based Trump supporter accounts, who appear to have found the disinformation through their attention to the British neo-Nazi Tommy Robinson.

The constellation of suspicious amplification accounts is incredibly diverse (an India-based account that tweets almost exclusively about military hardware, for example). Some of them are obvious "retweet for money" accounts (something readily determined by looking at their tweeting history), who have also retweeted verified users, ecommerce-based accounts, and many other types of content.

NewsCompact and PartisanDE were both in the top three most engaged accounts in the EU election conversation space on Twitter two weeks ago. This blog post conclusively illustrates that these two accounts are heavily fabricating engagement and, at least PartisanDE is also purchasing retweets. “Twitter Marketing” services that allow users to pay for retweets don’t seem to care about the political implications of the services they provide.

Since both accounts post content that is far-right, racist, and highly partisan, one has to wonder what effect they’ve had on the EU election conversation space on Twitter over the past few weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised if what I’ve found is just the tip of the iceberg.

Live Coverage Of A Disinformation Operation Against The 2019 EU Parliamentary Elections [Andy Patel/F-Secure]

(via Four Short Links)