Russians fight Twitter and Facebook battles over Putin election

Miriam Elder in Moscow
Friday 9 December 2011

Protests against president’s party escalate across social media with flood of automated counterattacks and alleged hacking

Protest against Vladimir Putin United party over elections have escalated across social media, including Twitter and Facebook, with a flood of automated counterattacks.

Russians have flooded Facebook and Twitter as they organise unprecedented protests against Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party. But they are not alone. Thousands of Twitter accounts appear to have been created with the sole purpose of drowning out opposition voices by flooding the service’s hashtag search function.

The automated attacks have dumped a blizzard of meaningless tweets with hashtags such as #Navalny, on which tweets about Alexei Navalny are collated, making it impossible to follow the flow of news about the arrested opposition leader. Many of the so-called “Twitter bots” have now been shut down.

The flood of fake tweets came after liberal websites, including the LiveJournal blogging platform, the website for radio station Ekho Moskvy and weekly journal Bolshoi Gorod , were shut down by distributed denial of service attacks on Sunday, the day of Russia’s disputed parliamentary vote.

The website for Golos, an independent election monitor, was also shut down. Golos employees complained this week that their email had been hacked and inaccessible for several days. On Friday, tabloid Life News published employees’ private emails, detailing correspondence with the US development agency – presented as “proof” that the group was acting on foreign orders to disrupt the Russian election.

The most interesting hack attack, however, came via a more antiquated instrument – the telephone. On Thursday, the liberal Yabloko party and newspaper Novaya Gazeta said their telephone lines had been paralysed by endless calls featuring a recorded female voice: “Putin is very good. Putin loves you. Putin makes your life happy. Love Putin and your life will fill with meaning. Putin does everything for you. Remember, Putin does everything just for you. Putin is life. Putin is light. Without Putin, life has no meaning. Putin is your protector. Putin is your saviour.” Over and over again.

  1. #1 by monsterball on Saturday, 10 December 2011 - 1:13 am

    It seems that internet blogging….discussing…commenting…twitting..have become the power source in influence over Russians citizens….and it will also be the powerful instrument in Malaysia too..where there is no way…for our corrupted government to shut of news.
    The truths will always be known.

  2. #2 by k1980 on Saturday, 10 December 2011 - 7:56 am

    Soon malaysians will be getting endless calls featuring a recorded seductive female voice (think ummi hafilda the self-professed virgin): “Jbbi is very good. Jbbi loves you. Jbbi makes your life happy. Love Jbbi and your life will fill with meaning. Jbbi does everything for you. Remember, Jbbi does everything just for you. Jbbi is life. Jbbi is light. Without Jbbi, life has no meaning. Jbbi is your protector. Jbbi is your saviour.” Over and over again.

  3. #3 by yhsiew on Saturday, 10 December 2011 - 7:56 am

    The emergence of political battles over the Internet following the advent of the cyber-age is inevitable.

  4. #4 by Dipoh Bous on Saturday, 10 December 2011 - 9:31 am

    Just can’t wait for “the mother of all election” to be held. I am sure something will be done to ‘slow’ aka to ‘control’ this site.

    Pls be ready with other alternatives…just in case.

    The rakyat must be constantly updated on the current issues to especially during the crucial short campaigning period. The outcome of the election depends very much on that.

    Are we ready?

  5. #5 by Dipoh Bous on Saturday, 10 December 2011 - 9:35 am

    ….”issues to especially” should be “issues especially”…… :)

  6. #6 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 10 December 2011 - 9:57 am

    Gorbachev ‘ glasnost’ gave Russians – and East European satellite states- freedom and impetus to break up and breakaway from Totalitarian Soviet Union. Putin was reformer : he backed Yeltsin who backed Gorbachev when reactionary forces tried to overthrow him. But human nature is such one time reformer, now in power, refuses to give it up and out to put the Russian answer to Malaysian RPK (Alexei Navalny) down. Different countries, systems, societies but same dynamics: No permanent democrat, the moment a person ensconced in power, he makes money, hides it through dummy companies, Swiss & offshore banks, and use state power against those who threaten the vested interest. As in every other place no set of citizens, especially the young, will trust govt or leader for long. They yearn or better life and hate disparities between the few rich – from corruption that power enables- and the many ordinary and poor. They oppose, nowadays enabled by technology – whether satellite TV(CNN/ Al Jazeera) they communicate/connect via blogs, twitters, facebook and assemble with aid of sms. Everywhere regimes’ control over the flow of information via traditional printed/controlled media has rapidly eroded under the pressures of Internet and everywhere from Russia to here, those in power think of how to fight back dissent through same medium- social media & internet- by cybertroopers, spam, virus and what have you..

  7. #7 by dagen on Saturday, 10 December 2011 - 10:34 am

    Sorry. Another diversion. Saw this in MT.

    /// A new law now being considered proposes to turn computing into a closed shop, where only those registered with the federal government can work, and it would be illegal for others to offer any kind of computing services.

    A draft of the Bill, now being circulated in the industry, is provoking unrest among computer techies.

    Potentially, it could turn into an outlaw any boy genius who learned computer programming on his own and does freelance work while studying — or a journalist who learned PHP programming and offers to create and design web sites.

    The draft Computing Professionals Bill proposes to create two classes of people with computer skills:

    A lower class of “Registered Computing Practitioner” — people without degrees in computing; and
    An upper class of “Registered Computing Professional” — graduates in computing
    Companies would be registered as computing services providers.

    Only “registered computing professionals” — computing graduates — would be allowed to offer services or work in areas defined by the government’s Critical National Information Infrastructure guidelines.

    Furthermore, they must declare their areas of specialisation, and can only work within these areas — another bureaucratic and regulatory obstacle for computing people as new specialisations crop up or programming projects get “forked” into new branches.

    The unrest among computer techies is reflected in a blog article by writer Erna Mahyuni » Killing techies the Malaysian way in which she said:

    “In other words, if I don’t register, it is technically illegal for me to even email ANY MALAYSIAN with even an IDEA for a tech-related project. It would be against the law for me to even sketch, on a napkin, my idea for a new app while having coffee with someone.
    Want to know the hilarious part? The country with a bill nearly identical to ours is…Nigeria. So we’re taking a leaf out of their book? Brilliant, Malaysia, totally brilliant. ///

    The internet is full of technical forums where members (novice as well as experts) post all sorts of technical questions on programing and applications; and offering new ideas and solutions. Now how is it possible for umno to moniter all of these activities? In fact online forum etc are the lifeline of the open source movement. Of course umno could very well cut malaysia out of that movement but passing such a law – it would not matter much to the entire movement (which is a global effort), in any event. The movement will not lose much but malaysians would stand to lose that is for sure.

    Jib’s got tower power.
    Jib Jib Boleh.

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