Russian hackers used fake accounts disguised as local news: report

Russian hackers used fake accounts disguised as local news: report
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Russian operatives working out of the St. Petersberg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) used fake accounts disguised as local U.S. media outlets to exploit Americans' trust in local news.

An NPR report found that accounts linked to the IRA operated at least 48 social media accounts disguised as U.S.-based local media organizations, including @ElPasoTopNews, @MilwaukeeVoice, @CamdenCityNews and @Seattle_Post.

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None of the accounts reviewed by NPR, some of which had tens of thousands of followers, had been used so far to spread disinformation, according to the report. The link to the IRA suggests that the accounts were to be used in some future operation.

"The Russians are playing a long game. They've developed a presence on social media. They've created these fictitious persons and fictitious organizations that have built up over a period of time a certain trustworthiness among people that follow them," House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSunday shows preview: Trump readies for meeting with Putin Top Democrats request meeting with intel chief over sharing of classified info Schiff: Trump should cancel meeting with Putin since he 'lacks courage to confront him' MORE (D-Calif.) told the news outlet.

The accounts, one of which was opened as early as May of 2014, were shut down by Twitter after years of posting real news stories.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 Overnight Health Care: Watchdog finds Tom Price improperly used funds on flights | Ex-Novartis CEO sent drug pricing proposal to Cohen | HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts MORE (R-Maine), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told NPR that the accounts represented Russia's ongoing effort to interfere in future U.S. political events and elections.

"This effort is not over," she said. "It continues to this very day, where the Russians are trying to sow the seeds of discontent in our society, take advantage of the polarization that exists."

The Trump administration moved to punish the Kremlin's domestic security bureau last month for its involvement in cyberattacks, sanctioning five Russian entities and three Russian nationals accused of aiding the Federal Security Service.