Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin watches a display during the MAKS 2017 air show in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow on 18 July. Russian media report he uses the blood from deer antlersReuters

The Alliance for Securing Democracy, a collective dedicated to exposing Russian propaganda, has launched a new web portal - dubbed Hamilton 68 – which aims to provide near real-time analysis of Kremlin-linked "influence operations" and disinformation efforts on Twitter.

The group, which has an advisory board made up of former US government officials, spies, federal agents and technical experts, shows a live feed of "official Russian propaganda outlets in English" and a short paragraph, updated daily, discussing the so-called themes of the day.

"Our objective in providing this dashboard is to help ordinary people, journalists, and other analysts identify Russian messaging themes and detect active disinformation or attack campaigns as soon as they begin," said alliance members Laura Rosenberger and J.M. Berger in a blog post on 2 August 2017.

They continued: "Exposing these messages will make information consumers more resilient and reduce the effectiveness of Russia's attempts to influence Americans' thinking, and deter this activity in the future by making it less effective.

"We are not telling you what to think, but we believe you should know when someone is trying to manipulate you. What you do with that information is up to you."

The dashboard is split into a number of key sections and graphs, including "Top hashtags", "Trending hashtags" and "Trending domains". The objective, the group said, is to prevent campaigns like the one that hit the US during its presidential election last year.

At that time, two hacking units with alleged links to Russian intelligence hacked into a slew of political groups - including the Democratic National Committee (DNC) - before distributing stolen material online via a fake Twitter persona known as "Guccifer 2.0".

"The content this network tweets reflects Russian messaging priorities, but that does not mean every name or link you see on the dashboard is pro-Russian," the blog continued.

"The network sometimes amplifies stories that Russia likes, or people with like-minded views but no formal connection to Russia. Importantly, the network also tweets about stories and people that Russia seeks to discredit or attack."

The alliance said it was able to track disinformation campaigns that aligned with state media outlets, including RT and Sputnik, and also analysed who exactly was promoting, sharing and tweeting such stories. The team also attempted to locate 'bot' accounts being used to amplify messages.

The full analysis is ultimately based on a collective of 600 unnamed Twitter accounts.

The Alliance for Securing Democracy is described on its website as a "transatlantic initiative housed at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF)". It has pledged to "expose Vladimir Putin's ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in the United States and Europe."

But it remains to be seen how the collective operates in practice – or if its dashboard works at all in conveying any sort of coherent message. Despite some scepticism of the strategy, Rosenberger and Berger appear confident, even as similar initiatives in the past have failed spectacularly (looking at you, PropOrNot).

"Since the election, Russia's efforts to shape what Americans think has continued," the blog noted. "Americans deserve to know what messages Russian disinformation networks are pushing."

The advisory board includes US Secretary of Homeland Security Mike Chertoff, acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) between 2012-2013 Michael Morell, and deputy US chief technology officer (CTO) in the Obama administration Nicole Wong.