Within hours of the publication of a New York Post article on October 14th, Twitter users began receiving strange messages. If they tried to share the story—a dubious “exposé” of emails supposedly from the laptop of Hunter Biden, son of the Democratic presidential nominee—they were told that their tweet could not be sent, as the link had been identified as harmful. Many Facebook users were not seeing the story at all: the social network had demoted it in the news feed of its 2.7bn users while its fact-checkers reviewed it.
The senior Twitter executive with editorial responsibility for the Middle East is also a part-time officer in the British Army’s psychological warfare unit, Middle East Eye has established.
Gordon MacMillan, who joined the social media company’s UK office six years ago, has for several years also served with the 77th Brigade, a unit formed in 2015 to develop “non-lethal” ways of waging war.
The 77th Brigade uses social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as podcasts, data analysis and audience research to conduct what the head of the UK military, General Nick Carter, describes as “information warfare”.