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Photo: Lisa Forster/picture alliance via Getty Images

Researchers have used "allforusa@yahoo.com," a single email address listed in one of special prosecutor Robert Mueller's indictments, as a key to trace new details of the inner workings of social media disinformation campaigns.

Why it matters: The "allforusa" account was a real email address that had been abandoned by its creator and then compromised and reused, a tactic that allows hackers to evade detection and legitimize deceptive activity — in this case, including thousands of comments posted on the FCC's site about net neutrality rules.

The report from the cyberintelligence firm GroupSense, released Monday, follows a trail of password-based clues connecting the "allforusa" account to 9.5 million other email addresses and related social media accounts, many used to distribute inflammatory content and inauthentic messages, including 40,041 postings on the FCC site.

"Allforusa" wound up in the Mueller indictment after the Russian-intelligence-backed Internet Research Agency likely purchased access to a group of hijacked accounts, according to the GroupSense report. Mueller linked the email address with fraudulent Paypal accounts that the IRA used to pay for pro-Trump, anti-Clinton ads during the 2016 election.

What they're saying:

Compromised email accounts are being used to influence public opinion on important topics... The availability and sheer volume of these compromised accounts enables threat actors to conduct campaigns under the guise of actual citizens.
— GroupSense's report

Allegations have previously come from both sides of the net neutrality debate that people are gaming the system, such as using other people’s identities to post comments, including those of people who have died, per the WSJ.

  • This isn’t entirely a new game. The WSJ found there have been allegations of falsified or fraudulent postings related to comments with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Go deeper

10 hours ago - World

Over 170 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem

An injured man is carried away as Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

At least 178 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem, Reuters reported late Friday.

The big picture: The clashes come amid growing anger over the threatened eviction of Palestinians from their homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem. Tensions have also escalated in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low — Majority back vaccine proof requirements for travel, schools and work — The race to avoid a possible "monster" COVID variant.
  2. Politics: Oklahoma secures $2.6 million refund for hydroxychloroquine purchase — Why Biden's latest vaccine goal is his hardest yet.
  3. Vaccines: Pfizer begins application for full FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccine — Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants.
  4. Economy: U.S. adds just 266,000 jobs in April, far below expectations — Americans' return to the skies could benefit smaller airlines.
  5. World: WHO authorizes China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use — Mixed response in Europe to Biden's vaccine patents bombshell.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Ohio GOP censures Rep. Anthony Gonzalez over Trump impeachment vote

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Ohio Republican Party on Friday censured Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) and called for him to resign for voting to impeach former President Trump in January, Reuters reports.

The big picture: Gonzalez is the latest Republican lawmaker to be punished for voting to impeach the former president on a charge of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.