Russia had the capacity to influence key precincts in swing states with fake news-disseminating bots during the 2016 presidential election, and could still be disrupting American politics, experts said Thursday in the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s first public Russia hearing.
Russia had every ability to create fake social media accounts by mimicking profiles of voters in key election states and precincts in the 2016 election, and use a mix of bots and real people to push propaganda from state-controlled media outlets like Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, cybersecurity experts told the Senate panel Thursday. Clinton Watts, a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at The George Washington University, said many social accounts during the election pushing questionable news looked just like real voters in states like Wisconsin and Michigan.
“Part of the reason those bios had conservative, Christian, you know, America, all those terms in it, (is) those are the most common ones,” Watts said. “If you inhale all of the accounts of the people in Wisconsin, you identify the most common terms in it, you just recreate accounts that look exactly like people from Wisconsin.”
“So that way, whenever you’re trying to socially engineer them and convince them that the information is true, it’s much more simple, because you see somebody and they look exactly like you,” Watts added. Even down to the pictures. When you look at the pictures, it looks like…