“The companies [Facebook and Twitter] said the F.B.I. had warned them that the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency set up a network of fake user accounts and a website.” S. Frenkel and J. Barnes, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Russians Again Targeting Americans With Disinformation, Facebook and Twitter Warn — S. Frenkel and J. Barnes, The New York Times
“The Russian group that interfered in the 2016 presidential election is at it again, using a network of fake accounts and a website set up to look like a left-wing news site, Facebook and Twitter said on Tuesday.
The disinformation campaign by the Kremlin-backed group, known as the Internet Research Agency, is the first public evidence that the agency is trying to repeat its efforts from four years ago and push voters away from the Democratic presidential candidate, Joseph R. Biden Jr., to help Trump.
Intelligence agencies have warned for months that Russia and other countries were actively trying to disrupt the November election, and that Russian intelligence agencies were feeding conspiracy theories designed to alienate Americans by laundering them through fringe sites and social media.
Now Facebook and Twitter are offering evidence of this meddling… Some American officials are worried about a broad effort by Russian intelligence to use fringe websites, spread conspiracy theories and sow division in the United States.
‘The Russians are trying harder to hide; they are increasingly putting up more and more layers of obfuscation,’ ” said Ben Nimmo, whose firm, Graphika, worked with Facebook to release a report on the fake site… Twitter said on Tuesday that it had suspended five accounts associated with Peace Data for platform manipulation…The accounts were low-quality and engaged in spamming activity, Twitter said, so they did not gain a widespread following or attract much attention.
Researchers are also concerned about homegrown disinformation campaigns, and the latest Russian effort went to some lengths to appear like it was made in the United States.
2020 General Election — Related Articles:
Russian fake news is back. Do these 4 things to help save the election from foreign interference
“Just as our adversaries are launching a powerful and escalating attack on our democracy, we’re letting our guard down. We can and must be more vigilant.” The Boston Globe
Russia Doesn’t Have To Make Fake News’: Biggest Election Threat Is Closer To Home
“…National security officials say the Kremlin is at it again: Just like in 2016, Russia is using social media to try to undermine the U.S. presidential election, only with even more sophisticated tools. But this time around, Russia may not have to try so hard. Social media companies and outside experts say in 2020, the biggest threats to the election may be coming from Americans…” NPR
Yes, Russia is Interfering in the 2020 Election
“…In this charged environment, the fear is that Russians could advance news items or other misleading claims about fraud or problems at polls. This could stop people from voting at all…” — Vox
Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s thoughts on the first presidential debate:
During a campaign stop Wednesday at a train station in Alliance, Ohio, Democratic nominee Joe Biden said he would continue to participate in the debates, telling reporters that he is looking forward to them.
“I just hope there’s a way in which the debate commission can control the ability of us to answer the question without interruption,” Biden said.
The former vice president said it would make sense for the moderator to switch off Trump’s microphone during Biden’s turn and vice versa, providing each candidate with two minutes of uninterrupted speaking time.
Election 2020: What to know
How to vote: Find out the rules in your state. Some states have already started sending out mail ballots; see how to make sure yours counts. Absentee and mail ballots are two terms for the same thing, mostly used interchangeably. Barring a landslide, we may not have a result in the presidential election on Nov. 3.
Electoral college map: Who actually votes, and who do they vote for? Explore how shifts in turnout and voting patterns for key demographic groups could affect the presidential race.
Battlegrounds: Want to understand the swing states? Read about Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania, and sign up for The Trailer and get more states, plus more news and insight from the trail, in your inbox three days a week.
Coming up: Trump and Biden are scheduled to debate three times this fall; here’s what to know about the 2020 presidential debates.
Related: A state-by-state guide to voting in the age of COVID-19 By Nathaniel Rakich and Julia Wolfe
Click on your state in the map to see a lot of the information you need in order to cast a ballot this fall — by whatever method you choose. This page will be updated on a regular basis with the latest developments. https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/how-to-vote-2020/?cid=rrpromo
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.
Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about Russian Fake news interfering in the U.S. elections. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- The Russians are spreading disinformation.
- But the Peace Data site appeared to be a more worrying example of information laundering.
- The writer asked to remain anonymous.
- He said his articles for the website were barely edited.
- Bill Russo, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, said the Russian activity was proof of two immutable facts.
- Both Facebook and Twitter have evidence of fake sites.
- There is proof that the Russians have been meddling in U.S.elections again.
- The Russians are increasingly putting up more and more layers of obfuscation.
- Facebook used the F.B.I. tip to identify the Peace Data accounts.
- The firm, Graphika, worked with Facebook to release a report on the fake site.
Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions
Directions: The following sentences are from the news article. For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.
Some Prepositions: at, as, across, around, by, during, for, from, in, into, of, on, to, over, off, through, up, with, since,
- The Russian group that interfered___ the 2016 presidential election is___ it again.
- The disinformation campaign ___the Kremlin-backed group is known ___the Internet Research Agency.
- Now Facebook and Twitter are offering evidence ___this meddling.
- The group has been a less important part___ Russia’s operations this year, according ___two American intelligence officials, who spoke___ the condition___ anonymity.
Identify The Speakers
Directions: Read the following quotes from speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.
- “The Russians are trying harder to hide; they are increasingly putting up more and more layers of obfuscation.”
- “The goal appeared to be to drive people to the Peace Data site, which billed itself as a global news organization.”
- “The Russian activity was proof of two immutable facts: Russia is attempting to interfere in our elections on behalf of Trump, and Facebook’s platform is a key vector for these efforts.”
Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use theWH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- What are the names of the media social groups the Russians are targeting with false information?
- Why is the Kremlin-backed group trying to push voters away from Democratic Presidential candidate, Joseph R. Biden Jr.,?
- Why is the current administration trying to control the flow of information about foreign threats to November’s election?
- Who did the Russians hire to interfere with the general election this year?
- What is the name of the fake site?
- According to the article, how many fake accounts associated with ‘Peace Data’ has Twitter suspended so far?
- Other than Russia, what other countries were discovered interfering with the U.S. 2020 general elections?
- What new information have you learned from this article?
Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas you’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.