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Report: Officials from President Barack Obama’s administration Worked to Protect Russia Hacking Intelligence

The report says information came from multiple U.S. allies, including Britain and the Netherlands, describing meetings between Russian officials and Trump associates that took place in European cities

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House, in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. Spicer discussed President Donald Trump's travel ban and other topics. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) VOA
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The New York Times is reporting that some officials from President Barack Obama’s administration made efforts to make information about possible links between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian officials easier for future investigators to find.

The Times based its story on accounts from more than a half-dozen current and former officials, some of whom said they “were speaking to draw attention to the material and ensure proper investigation by Congress,” the newspaper said.

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The report says information came from multiple U.S. allies, including Britain and the Netherlands, describing meetings between Russian officials and Trump associates that took place in European cities. It also cites U.S. intelligence agency intercepts of Russian officials discussing contacts with Trump associates.

Trump rejected an earlier Times report that said U.S. authorities had information about repeated contacts between people associated with the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence officials.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said there is nothing to the new report.

“The only new piece of information that has come to light is that political appointees in the Obama administration have sought to create a false narrative to make an excuse for their own defeat in the election,” the Times quoted Spicer as saying.

An intelligence review ordered by Obama concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the November U.S. presidential election with the goal of helping Trump’s chances of winning.

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The Times said the late days of the Obama administration featured officials working to process raw intelligence information into reports that were kept at a low level of classification to ensure more people could see them, and to pass along reports and sensitive information to members of Congress.

The newspaper said that according to former senior administration officials, Obama himself was not involved in the effort.(VOA)

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Microblogging Site Twitter Releases Tweets Linked to Russia, Iran

"We may also release incremental additions to existing datasets if we believe the additional information could materially impact research findings," Twitter said

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Twitter
Twitter releases data linked to Russian, Iranian info campaigns. Pixabay

With the goal of improving understanding of how foreign influence campings operate on Twitter, the microblogging site has now released massive datasets of accounts linked to potential influence campaigns originating in Russia and Iran.

These large datasets released this week comprise 3,841 accounts affiliated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA), originating in Russia, and 770 other accounts, potentially originating in Iran.

Totalling over 360 gigabytes – including more than 10 million Tweets and more than 2 million images, GIFs, videos, and Periscope broadcasts ?the data store provides a picture of how state-sponsored agencies have used the Twitter platform, technology news website Ars Technica reported on Friday.

IRA allegedly ran information campaigns on several social media platforms to undermine the political process in the 2016 US presidential election.

TWitter
The logo for Twitter is displayed above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. vOA

With Twitter coming under scrutiny for its failure to stop the spread of misinformation during the election, the microblogging site, earlier this year, committed to the US Congress and the public to provide regular updates and information regarding its investigation into foreign interference in political conversations on Twitter.

Since that time, Twitter has shared examples of these types of content posted on Twitter by IRA and provided the public with a direct notice if they interacted with these accounts.

In August this year, Twitter also disclosed details of another attempted influence campaign it identified as potentially located within Iran.

The datasets released this week are aimed at enabling independent academic research and investigation into the nature of foreign influence campaigns, Twitter said.

Twitter
Twitter on a smartphone device. Pixabay

“We are committed to understanding how bad-faith actors use our services. We will continue to proactively combat nefarious attempts to undermine the integrity of Twitter, while partnering with civil society, government, our industry peers, and researchers to improve our collective understanding of coordinated attempts to interfere in the public conversation,” Twitter said.

A preliminary look at the data by Ars Technica revealed that a common tactic used by the IRA was to create “local news” accounts for major US cities, seeding them with posts linking to local news outlets.

The accounts, such as “Atlanta Online,” “Baltimore Online,” “Baton Rouge Voice,” “Chicago Daily News,” and “Dallas Top News” would also include tweet-length news headlines with no link, the report said.

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Twitter said if it identifies additional attempted information operations on Twitter in the future, it will release similar datasets in a timely fashion after completing its investigations.

“We may also release incremental additions to existing datasets if we believe the additional information could materially impact research findings,” Twitter said. (IANS)