By Earnest Jones  |  03-21-2017   News
Photo credit: Rich Girard | Flickr

Internet sites deemed “far-right” are being examined by Federal investigators. The FBI's is investigating whether the sites played any role in a Russian cyber operation to influence the Presidential Election.

The Russian operation is said to have increased the reach of news stories that favored Donald Trump's presidential bid by somehow using conservative internet sites. One sources said that Russian operatives appear to have timed the computer commands to bombard social media with links to the pro-Trump stories. The computer commands are known as bots.

The source also said that the strategy was employed around August when Trump was skeptic of his victory in the election. The source claimed that the commands were millions of Twitter and Facebook posts carrying links to stories on conservative internet sites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars. The investigators are examining whether the far-right news operations assisted Russia's operatives.

It's obvious that Russia's participation wasn't necessary for the bots to amplify their news on Facebook and Twitter. The FBI's Counterintelligence Division is investigating the bot-engineered traffic. They division is expected to reconstruct the nature of the cyberattack and prevent it from occurring in future. The counterintelligence agents have only sought the bots as one piece of the cyber puzzle as they determine the extent of Russia's interference.

The information operation is very crucial. This is because of the sensitivity involved. James Comey confirmed Monday at a House Intelligence Committee hearing that the FBI is investigating possible links between Trump presidential campaign and the Russians. The U.S. intelligence agencies charged in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered the offensive. Tens of thousands of emails were hacked from Democratic National Committee staff, Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta and other Democrats. Investigators have been trying to establish who hacked emails and delivered them to WikiLeaks.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has denied that the Russian government was the source of the email dump. Philip Howard, a professor at the Oxford University Internet Institute who has researched the bot attacks said that the bots carried links not only to news stories but also to Democrat emails posted on WikiLeaks, especially those hacked from Podesta and made public in October.

It is unclear whether the FBI is targeting sites because of their content or evidence that they could possibly be colluding with the Russians.

SOURCE: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article139695453.html

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