After wiping its website clean pending a ‘probe’ into embarrassing leaks, the British state-funded Integrity Initiative (II) has hidden its Twitter account from the public, meaning only ‘approved’ followers can see its activity.
The Scotland-based organization, which received roughly £2 million in government funding over the last 18 months, had fashioned itself as a benign charity fighting “disinformation” online.
That was until a series of leaks, posted online by a group that claimed to be associated with the Anonymous hacker collective, revealed that it had been working with “clusters” of journalists, politicians and academics to engage in shady anti-Russia ‘influence’ campaigns across Europe, as well as a domestic smear campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who it tried to frame as a tool of the Kremlin.
The decision to lock its Twitter account comes just a day after the II announced (via that Twitter account) that it had deleted all content from its website pending an investigation into the “theft” of its data.
A statement posted on the site claimed that some of the leaks had been “falsified” but didn’t include any evidence to back that up, leading to speculation that the organization was simply trying to clean house and prepare a credible excuse in the wake of the disturbing leaks.
That perception has only intensified since it decided to hide its tweets from the public, with some wondering why the group would need to delete all of its content and hide its social media activity from the public if there was nothing questionable in its history.
Academic Tim Hayward tweeted that it was strange that a person now had to be an “accepted” follower in order to see how the II defends them from disinformation. Hayward said the move should force the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to “reconsider” its funding for the sketchy operation.