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The Twitter Files: 'Hamilton 68' was a fraud. Instead of monitoring Russian accounts, it kept track of right-wing ones

The moderators of the social network were aware that the list of Russian bots was not true, but preferred not to say anything.


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Journalist Matt Taibbi published the 15th installment of The Twitter Files on the "great media fraud" that was committed around the website Hamilton 68, which allegedly monitored Russian influence on the social network.

Hamilton 68 is a digital platform that claimed to monitor in real-time some 600 Twitter accounts that were allegedly Russian bots. The page is maintained by the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), an organization of "neoliberal experts" that promised to draw on the expertise of former intelligence officials to identify Russian influence.

The web portal came to be considered an important source for major media outlets. However, the journalist's new thread of posts revealed that in reality the ASD list was used to target legitimate right-wing profiles and accuse them of being Russian bots.

According to Taibbi, the media used the information from Hamilton 68 to spread a false narrative about a lot of the content that was posted on the mostly right-wing social network.

"News outlets for years cited [Clint] Watts and Hamilton 68 when claiming Russian bots were 'amplifying' an endless parade of social media causes – against strikes in Syria, in support of Fox host Laura Ingraham, the campaigns of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders," the journalist said.

However, Taibbi explained that the media was never aware of the truthfulness of the list because Hamilton 68 never published it under the justification that the Russians could close the accounts.

Twitter recreated the list

Following the amount of news based on the platform's data, Twitter decided to recreate the list by "reverse-engineering it from the site’s requests for Twitter data," reported the journalist, and it was then that the social network found that there was no evidence to back up the information that the accounts were part of Russian operations.

"In layman’s terms, the Hamilton 68 barely had any Russians. In fact, apart from a few RT accounts, it’s mostly full of ordinary Americans, Canadians, and British," Taibbi said, stressing that the whole thing was a "scam" that's purpose was to influence Americans.

Although the social network's content moderators were aware that the list was not true, they decided not to criticize it to avoid bad comments from the press, the journalist reported.

Taibbi concluded in his thread of posts that what makes this story important is the "magnitude of the news footprint left by the digital McCarthyism of Hamilton 68," which not only served to defame individuals but also to cause fear and sympathy for political causes.

"The mix of digital McCarthyism and fraud did great damage to American politics and culture. News outlets that don't disavow these stories, or still pay Hamilton vets as analysts, shouldn't be trusted," the journalist said.