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    Social Media Activists Mock Project Tracking Sputnik, RT Accounts

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    The Hamilton 68 dashboard, launched on Wednesday by the US-funded German Marshall Fund’s (GMF) Alliance for Securing Democracy with the aim to track alleged Russia-supported "propaganda" on Twitter, is welcomed among social media activists as a source of a "good laugh," experts told Sputnik on Friday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — According to the GMF, the aim of the new platform is to track Russia’s alleged efforts to shape public opinion in the United States in the wake of the 2016 US presidential campaign, purportedly influenced by Moscow. Among others, the dashboard intends to keep tabs on Twitter posts by Sputnik and RT.

    "On behalf of my colleagues, I welcome Hamilton 68 to the Twitter Community and I am looking forward to many hours of exciting Hashtags and Topics – and the occasional good laugh, of course," Marcel Sardo, a media producer and Twitter activist, said.

    Sardo, who defines himself as a "pro-Russian Media Sniper," sardonically added he was "thrilled" with the new platform, which makes Twitter activism much easier.

    "We now have at one glance a resource to check on the current trending topics and sources of news, without having to call the notorious ill humored lady at the switchboard of the Krkrenemlin every morning to get the directions ‘du jour’ ['of the day']," he explained.

    The activist said that he regretted the dashboard has not released the list of the 600 Twitter accounts it claims to monitor.

    "Dashboard's creators are aware that they could potentially get sued if they name specific individuals or accounts guilty of disseminating ‘Russian propaganda,’" Nina Kouprianova, an independent political analyst, added.

    According to the Q&A section of the dashboard, its creators "prefer to focus on the behavior of the overall network rather than get dragged into hundreds of individual debates over which troll fits which role."

    "In other words, the Dashboard's creators get to engage in all these smears with none of the responsibility," Kouprianova said.

    However, despite regretting the fact that by hiding the list of the accounts the dashboard robs "propaganda accounts" of better interaction with one another, Sardo said he was certain that Hamilton 68 will provide more help than cause trouble.

    "The platform has all the potential to improve our workflow such tremendously that I would not be surprised if Hamilton 68 was actually launched as a black ops by the Kremlin itself – just think about the number 68 in Soviet mythology and history! Although I admit that this thought might be a little bit far stretched now," he said.

    The fact that the German Marshal Fund is behind the project gives hope that it will be "run on the highest levels of quality," Saldo added, citing as examples the "historical standards defined by [Adolf] Hitler’s SA [paramilitary wing of the Nazi party, predecessor of the SS] and [Joseph] Goebbel’s Propaganda Ministry."

    Kouprianova compared Hamilton 68 to PropOrNot, an anonymous research group launched in late 2016 to tackle alleged Russian propaganda, calling its methodology "extremely reckless."

    "Any subject, media outlet, or person perceived to benefit Russia in any shape or form — according to its rather biased creators — is deemed guilty of collusion. For instance, in the last 24 hours, the Dashboard repeatedly listed mainstream U.S. media outlets such as Fox News, The Daily Caller, the NY Post, and the Atlantic, among others, in its top media trends as those linked to ‘Russian influence operations,’" she said.

    She drew a bottom line by saying that Hamilton 68 is "yet another project meant to solve domestic problems within the U.S. — primarily, the power struggle related to Trump's presidency — by deferring to an imagined external enemy."

    "Here, Russia plays a convenient scapegoat — with the anti-Trump establishment channeling refurbished Cold War propaganda," Kouprianova said.

    On Thursday, Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Sputnik news agency and the RT broadcaster, also commented on the new online service, saying that "the Alliance for Securing Democracy carefully preserves democracy, thoughtfully protecting the Americans from the influence of RT and Sputnik."

    Russian media outlets broadcasting in the United States and Europe have recently been accused of spreading fake news and Moscow propaganda, allegedly attempting to influence public life in foreign countries. Russian officials have repeatedly denied the accusations, stating that Russia refrains from interfering in internal affairs of foreign countries.

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    social media, Russian propaganda, Dashboard, Sputnik, RT, Russia
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