Twitter Files Part 21: Russia, Russia, Russia

Another Twitter Files exposé has dropped and while this one isn’t as salacious as past threads, it serves as a poignant button on a series that has blown the lid off the perverse partnership between Democrat operatives, the Biden administration, and pre-Elon Twitter.


Since Trump’s 2016 win, the left has pursued a full-throated censorship agenda under the guise of “Russia, Russia Russia.” Since the 1960s, the favorite progressive boogeyman has been McCarthyism – the notion that Joseph McCarthy and Republicans made up a Russian threat to dominate and silence liberal-minded Americans. To this day, the term “McCarthyism” is used as a slur against conservatives and Republicans any time anyone even gets close to suggesting Marxist and communistic ideologies might be encroaching on any given circumstance.

With the latest drop from journalist Matt Orfalea, it is ironically obvious that progressives and the Democrat Party have become the butt of their own joke, desperate to connect any thought or information they find unfavorable to Russian interference.

The long and the short of it?

Russia, Russia everywhere.

How to Find Russians Anywhere

Orfalea’s drop begins with the revelation of a Senate Intel Committee project aimed at identifying Russian operative accounts from Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA). There was just one problem. Those pesky Russians were really hard to find.

@0rf 1/#TWITTERFILES 21 How to Find Russians Anywhere Pt.1-PROJECT OSPREY- After the 2016 election, the Senate Intel Committee asked Twitter to identify accounts from Russia’s Internet Research Agency. But both Twitter and 3rd party researchers struggled to find Russian agents.


Twitter came up with a mere 22 IRA accounts, plus 170 IRA “linked” accounts. The Intel Committee was unimpressed, calling the findings “inadequate on every level.” So Twitter regrouped, reframed, and launched Project Osprey to facilitate a deeper dive into discovering Russian accounts. The mission was vague from the start. Twitter had no reliable ways to identify Russian interference accounts, but they had the government on their back and a bone to pick with Donald Trump.

The platform came up with two “types” of Russian accounts in the identifying process.

The first type was “A Priori” Russians – accounts labeled Russian by outside research firms like Qintel. Qintel is a cyber intelligence firm dedicated to deep web sleuthing.

At Qintel we help the world’s most critical government agencies and many Fortune 100 companies uncover the stories hidden in the deep, leaving cyber adversaries nowhere to hide.

The second type of account they called “Inferred” Russians (is_russian in technobabble and communications between Twitter and the government). This designation rested on algorithm tracking of signs like Cyrillic text or Russian IP addresses.

A Rorschach Test

Orfalea calls the strategy a “Rorschach test” that provides whatever picture the viewer longs to see. One “industry insider” told the reporter, “If you just look for that marker, then everything will look Russian.”


The weaknesses of the analysis were quite apparent when the Project Osprey algorithm tagged Green Party candidate Jill Stein as a Russian account. Even Twitter’s own analysts expressed concern that such “overly broad” strategies could continue to flag clearly legitimate accounts. Case in point…even Wikileaks was flagged as Russian. The issue? Wikileaks uses “surveillance-resistant tools” like the Tor browser, an interface popular among those concerned with civil liberties and privacy.

The Project Osprey team was under pressure to “find” more Russian accounts, and continued to widen the parameters. Even some hashtags were used as proof of Russian control. One report from the project labeled the hashtag #WarAgainstDemocrats as a Russian operation, and The New York Times reported its frightening frequency on election day – 1,700 posts with 6,953 impressions, what Orfalea describes as “a hydrogen atom in Twitter’s vast ocean of tweets.”

The Rorschach Test was in full swing and Twitter execs were well aware they were treading on increasingly shaky ground. In 2017, policy chief Colin Crowell said the system was so broken, there was “no realistic way” of identifying an IRA (inferred Russian account). They were basically performing educated guesses at this point.

By this time, left-wing media outlets like MSNBC were reporting on dozens of false Russian interference stories on a daily basis. All of this information came from outside data analysis firms that were accessing Twitter-provided analysis on IRAs and is_russian accounts. This created a disinformation loop that continued to lead the news cycle at least until Musk’s purchase of Twitter and the ensuing Twitter Files reports. The American mainstream media was basing all of their Russian interference reporting on extremely faulty data. Twitter employees knew this, but stayed quiet on the matter. They had numbers to bump up for the government.


Proof by Sleeping Schedule

In perhaps one of the most hilarious examples of Twitter’s malfeasance, a pair of over-enthusiastic outside analysts at Clemson’s Media Hub used one person’s sleep schedule as an IRA flag.

A pair of professors at Clemson has become quite popular in the media on Russian interference stories. Dubbed “The Troll Hunters,” the two men were becoming a go-to analysis team for media. It was clear that Twitter execs did not appreciate that their faulty systems were now being broadcast in the media, but they needn’t have worried. Professors Darren Linvill and Patrick Warren were hailed as hero experts, valiantly hunting down Russian Twitter accounts and saving America from their horrific hashtags. The duo repeatedly admitted the methodology was faulty, but it didn’t matter. The media had decided this was solid proof that Trump was never meant to be President.

In 2020, Linvill was sure he’d found yet another dastardly Russian account when he pinpointed the #BloombergIsRacist hashtag as a “Russian hashtag.” Why would he think that? Orfalea reports that is because it was posted at unusual hours, when most Americans would be asleep.

It started that morning from the account @drkwarlord that “live[s] somewhere in Asia” because it posts when Americans should be sleeping. That was false: It started prior to that morning, and not by @drkwarlord, who is an American living in the U.S., not Asia. When I asked why his sleep schedule seemed off, he laughed, and told me, “I’m a nurse at a hospital in Indiana. In 2020, I worked the night shift.”


Maybe There Is No There There

The Clemson team eventually admitted they thought Twitter was “scraping the barrel” in the search for IRAs, but the damage was done. Tons of American accounts had been suspended based on the information provided to the government by both Twitter and the Clemson team. Much like the FBI “Belly Button” debacle (from an earlier Twitter Files drop), the entire operation had become something Twitter could no longer control. What started as a project to assist the government ended up putting Twitter in the position of having to divert more and more resources to appease the government’s appetite. Even Roth himself could not put the toothpaste back in the tube. Many of his internal communications read like a man struggling to close the hatch of a submarine that had already begun to flood. The tide was taking on a life of its own.

Ironically, Clemson prof Linvill did come somewhat clean to PBS in 2022, admitting “You know, Russian trolls aren’t as common as people think they are.”


Screw the Truth, Get the Numbers

Of course not, but it is a truly disturbing thought that this sickening partnership between government agencies and a private social media company would never have been exposed if Musk hadn’t gone to the significant trouble of purchasing Twitter, thus exposing their dirty deeds and dealings.

The general takeaway from this latest report is this: Twitter was tasked by the government to identify Russian interference on their platform, but there really wasn’t any. Instead of accepting the truth, Twitter employees let themselves be bullied by a ravenous government “disinformation” machine. They wanted it to be true just as much as Trump’s enemies inside the government did…so they devised a way to make it true. They were so eager to please their government overlords that they didn’t stop widening the net until the numbers had jumped by ridiculous amounts. The increases alone should have been enough to alert any thinking person that something was wrong.

Even when they couldn’t help but admit they were traveling down a rocky path, it didn’t stop them from banning accounts based on weak information.

Russians weren’t everywhere, but the Rorschach Test they had developed made them appear everywhere, and it was this pathetically biased data that was used to bully, censor, and deplatform innocent Americans for years.

You can read the entire thread from beginning to end here. Many thanks to reporter Matt Orfalea for his hard work in putting all this together. If you have a Twitter account, please go share this report.



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