US special counsel Robert Mueller’s recent report which he discussed at a Congress hearing session frankly indicted Russian figures and exposed the depth of Russia’s infiltration of American affairs and not just of American elections.
Mueller’s report accused 13 Russians of involvement in a conspiracy that aims to influence the results of the 2016 presidential elections by using Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Mueller’s report and American media reports have spoken about frantic Russian activity over the past few years to create social media content that serves the Russian scheme all the way from Moscow or Saint Petersburg.
The issue, which is only in the beginning, is alarming. We are before a new chapter of the Russian-American war where Russian youths or American agents who are skilled in software programming are used to manipulate ordinary Americans.
Some parties in our Arab world are doing what the Russian intelligence is doing. Online pages and websites have been created by the Brotherhood and its sympathizers to attack certain states. Countries that sponsor the Brotherhood in the region have also spent a lot of money to create content that serves the Brotherhood’s propaganda – as seen via Qatar’s media platforms and websites.
Fake Twitter and Facebook accounts and YouTube channels are created every hour to confuse the public opinion, particularly that of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAEMashari Althaydi
Al-Jazeera television channel often cites strange websites that are depicted as skilled and professional. Fake Twitter and Facebook accounts and YouTube channels are created every hour to confuse the public opinion, particularly that of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE.
Let’s go back to Russia’s cyberattack on the US and the West as even France was not spared of these attacks. The Russians have been very successful at this new war, and we are all familiar with the story of Russian-American spy Snowden.
Commenting on social media networks which have become an arena for recent Russian operations, like Facebook, Ann Ravel, a former member at the US Federal Election Commission, said internet companies may have to resort to bank practices to identify their customers and periodically exchange information with the authorities.
Meanwhile, Facebook said it will make “major investments” to look out for future cyberattacks and will cooperate with US security apparatuses. The Russians were quick to make use of their youths’ sense of adventure and turned them into global commando operatives.
For example, in 2016, the University of St. Petersburg won a software programming championship for five times in a row. During a ceremony honoring students, the Russian defense minister said: “We must work with these youths, one way or another, because we desperately need them.”
We are truly in a world of deadly illusions.
This article was first published in Arabic.
Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.