Russian electioneering and vote-stealing has opened a new front in cyber-space. Pro-Putin Twitter accounts – most of them bots (controlled remotely)have been generating noise to drown out critical voices. They are doing this by spamming the twitter service with meaningless or misleading messages using the hashtags of the anti-Putin protestors.
“Whether the attack was supported officially or not is not relevant, but we can now see how social media has become the battlefield of a new war for freedom of speech,” Goncharov wrote.
There seems to be a fair amount of organization going into this as well.
A review of the 2,000 Twitter accounts linked above indicates that most of them were created at the beginning of July 2011, and have very few tweets other than those meant to counter the protesters, or to simply fill the hashtag feeds with meaningless garbage. Some of the bot messages include completely unrelated hashtags or keywords, seemingly to pollute the news stream for the protester hashtags.