Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Brexit: and bots

The MP for Exeter has been campaigning for an inquiry into possible meddling in the EU referendum vote:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Exeter's MP asking for scrutiny: latest

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has stepped into the fray - with expectations of further action mounting:

Responding to Mrs May's speech, former Labour cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw - who has been raising the issue of Russian interference in UK elections for nearly a year - tweeted: "Asking why May suddenly acknowledging Russian interference now having stonewalled for months."

Theresa May accuses Vladimir Putin of election meddling - BBC News

May did not say on Monday whether she was concerned with Russian intervention in any UK democratic processes, but Ben Bradshaw, a leading Labour MP, is among those to have called for a judge-led inquiry into the possibility that Moscow tried to influence the result of the Brexit referendum. Russia has been accused of running “troll factories” that disseminate fake news and divisive posts on social media.

Theresa May accuses Russia of interfering in elections and fake news | Politics | The Guardian

Theresa May is under increasing pressure to launch an independent inquiry into Russian meddling in the Brexit referendum and British politics. But the Prime Minister's spokesman this morning said Number 10 did not have any evidence of successful interference in British electoral systems.

Labour’s Ben Bradshaw this morning called on ministers to "come clean" about what they know and launch a fully independent inquiry. He said: “In the face of mounting evidence of Kremlin interference in the Referendum we now have several investigations - but none have the power to get to the truth fast.”

Mr Bradshaw added: "Now May has finally acknowledged the problem - probably because something's coming - Ministers must come clean on what they know, not least since Boris Johnson twice last week denied being aware of any Russian interference."

Theresa May under pressure to launch independent inquiry into Russian meddling in Brexit referendum - Mirror Online

The webs do indeed seem to be wide and sticky:
Boris Johnson met ‘London professor’ linked to FBI’s Russia investigation | The Independent
Boris Johnson in spotlight as questions raised over Russian influence on UK | Politics | The Guardian
Brexit, the ministers, the professor and the spy: how Russia pulls strings in UK | Politics | The Guardian

But we have been told otherwise:
No evidence Russia ever meddled in UK democracy – Boris Johnson — RT UK News
Johnson Says He Sees No Evidence of Alleged Russia's Meddling in UK Democracy - Sputnik International

There are nevertheless serious questions to be answered about the use of 'fake people', let alone 'fake news':
Mike Hind: Battling the bots in the war of the web - Latest Brexit news and top stories - The New European
Futures Forum: The explosion of online propaganda and the use of our own data to manipulate us

A total of 13,000 bots (computer-generated people) posted 65,000 social media messages in the run up to the EU referendum – most of which pushed for Brexit. A paper from the University of London published a couple of weeks ago says these “zombie agents” showed a “clear slant towards Leave”: 

As posted in the mainstream media:

There have been further studies from earlier in the summer:

But the evidence has been out there - since June last year:

And over the last couple of days the evidence appears to be mounting:

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