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Russian Hackers Reportedly Made Fake Facebook Profiles to Influence 2016 Election

Although a number of accounts is still being discovered, the New York Times reports that large amounts of fake social media profiles were used to share damaging information about Hillary Clinton and other Democrats during the 2016 election. And the impact was huge.

Yes, people actually made fake accounts on Twitter and Facebook to share false or stolen information from a website called DCLeaks. If you’re wondering if the hacking is real, just ask the CIA. In January, they concluded that President Vladimir Putin of Russia ordered an operation to influence and help President Donald Trump’s campaign while damaging then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

That includes some pretty believable social media accounts. 

One of the first was “Melvin Redick,” a supposed graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. But, the New York Times reports that most of the claims on his account were false: The school has no record of him attending and his pictures appear to be posted from Brazil. All of his posts were “news articles reflecting a pro-Russian worldview.”

The language they used was awkward, but not obvious. Another fake account named “Katherine Fulton” had a post titled “Hey truth seekers! Who can tell me who are #DCLeaks? Some kind of Wikileaks? You should visit their website, it contains confidential information about our leaders such as Hillary Clinton, and others,” with a link to DCLeaks. 

The New York Times also reports that on Wednesday, “Facebook officials disclosed that they had shut down several hundred accounts that they believe were created by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin and used to buy $100,000 in ads pushing divisive issues during and after the American election campaign.”

Twitter wasn’t doing so well with the random accounts, since they don’t require a full name to sign up. Plus “bots” or automated accounts can even create fake trends to grab the attention of real users. 

At first, the accounts were few and far between, but research from The New York Times and FireEye has uncovered a wealth of information. This new age of hacking had a bigger impact than some thought, and eyes are on President Trump to see if further insights into these activities confirm allegations of collusion between his campaign and the Russian government. 

Morgan is a sophomore at St. John's University in Queens, New York. She is a journalism major with a passion for news and culture, and a staff writer for St. John's independent student newspaper The Torch. Aside from writing for Her Campus, she is a spoken word poet and pianist. Her past work can be found at morgancmullings.wordpress.com. Twitter & Instagram: @morgancmullings
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