Washington Post forced to issue several corrections on 'Russian bot' stories following Twitter Files

Posted 18 days ago


The Washington Post issued a series of corrections on stories published during the Russiagate saga, a direct result of reporting from the Twitter Files by independent journalist Matt Taibbi.

In January, Taibbi drew attention to Hamilton 68, a "dashboard" that purportedly monitored Russian bot activity and was frequently cited by top Democrats and the media in the height of the Trump-Russia collusion investigation. But behind the scenes, Twitter executives trashed Hamilton 68 and deliberated over whether they should publicly rebuke the program.

"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 wrote at the time. "It was a scam. Instead of tracking how 'Russia' influenced American attitudes, Hamilton 68 simply collected a handful of mostly real, mostly American accounts, and described their organic conversations as Russian scheming."

On Thursday, The Post told readers it had revisited several pieces that cited Hamilton 68's faulty research and issued "minor" corrections.

"In 2017 and 2018, The Washington Post published multiple articles that cited data from Hamilton 68, an online tool created by the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, to detect Russian influence online. Media coverage of this tool has come under scrutiny in recent months from critics questioning the validity of Hamilton 68’s research methods," The Post wrote.

The Post continued, "In light of these questions, The Post reviewed its articles and concluded that they appropriately reported on emerging research, including Hamilton 68, to offer insights into the nature of Russian influence operations in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. But the review also found some imprecision in how seven Washington Post articles and a Post newsletter described Hamilton 68 and its findings. Today, The Post has corrected and revised those articles and the newsletter to make these descriptions clearer to readers."

In addition to individual changes that apply to certain articles, each of the corrected articles inform readers with a note that "A previous version of this article incorrectly implied that the Twitter accounts tracked by the Hamilton 68 online dashboard were controlled by the Russian government or its agents. The Hamilton 68 researchers said the accounts echoed Russian propaganda but did not reveal the identities of the Twitter accounts they monitored or who controlled them. The article has been corrected."

Taibbi, however, asserts their corrections don't go far enough.

"I really want to be gracious and thank whoever at the  @washingtonpost⁩ insisted on a review of their Hamilton 68 reports, but they needed to make more than ‘minor’ changes and seem to have compounded the problem," Taibbi began in a Twitter thread Friday.

The Substack writer knocked how The Post's "fixes" preserved language that described Hamilton 68 as a tracker of "Russia-linked Twitter accounts."... (Read more)