Russian Disinformation Campaigns: The Ancient Art Of Subversive Trolling

How much fact checking do you engage in when forming an opinion?

  • Where is the fun in checking facts? I love spreading outrageous stories based on spurious evidence.

    Votes: 1 7.7%
  • I don't really have the time or the inclination to fact check. I expect journalists to be honest.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • If I read something unusual I make a point of following it up because I am curious.

    Votes: 5 38.5%
  • I am pretty skeptical of what I read. I seldom fact check beyond Snopes or similar sites though

    Votes: 1 7.7%
  • I will not dismiss an odd story out of hand, but I do demand solid proof before I accept it.

    Votes: 4 30.8%
  • I am a bulldog with a bone when it comes to fact checking. I love it.

    Votes: 1 7.7%
  • My fact checking has begun to correlate all the contents and revealed troubling cosmic vistas

    Votes: 1 7.7%

  • Total voters
    13
  • Poll closed .

AlchoPwn

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#1
How many of the conspiracies that have gained traction over the years have actually been based on disinformation planted by the Russians? But hang on, what does Russian have to gain? Plenty as it turns out. When you flood the world with false news, the truth is drowned out and your opponents are in a state of confusion and are unable and unwilling to form a consensus due to lack of trust in their leaders and institutions. This is why everyone who is interested in conspiracies must be careful that they aren't simply aiding a hostile power to disseminate disinformation memes for the purposes of disrupting democracy. Recent Russian successes include Brexit and Trump. How is that working out?

Hors D'Ouvres:
http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/11/o...information-campaign-opinion-weiss/index.html

Kennedy Assasination and AIDS conspiracies traced back to Russia.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39419560

Putin's attack on the EU
https://www.businessinsider.com.au/...isinformation-and-propaganda-2017-8?r=US&IR=T

Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear are just a recent manifestation of Russia trolling the world
https://www.ft.com/content/d8495c86-7b47-11e6-b837-eb4b4333ee43

An early example. The Protocols of the Elders of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Protocols_of_the_Elders_of_Zion

Brexit job
https://www.businessinsider.com.au/...-russian-interference-brexit-2017-2?r=US&IR=T
 

Hyper³

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#2
the idea that lack of trust in leaders and institutions is caused by anything other than a few decades of ramming "neo-liberalism" down the throats of their voters, exporting their jobs, failing to protect their countries from known terrorist threats then rushing off madly and spewing trillions of dollars & hundreds of lives engaging in unwinnable wars ( one on entirely false pretences ) that result in nothing except more global instability whilst - for an encore - slavishly licking the back-sides of bankers as they proceeded to systematically loot & then collapse the entire financial system, then robbing the rest of society to bail out the crooks who precipitated it , along with their general incompetence, arrogance & self interest verging on corruption is frankly rather missing the point.
 

XBergMann

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#3
Um ... not all bankers are evil and working to collapse the system is surely just biting the hand that feeds.

Bankers (by which I mean investment bankers, not retail) have the most opportunity to profit from a vibrant growing economy not one that has failed.

I suspect the next collapse waiting in the wings will be caused by the retail banking sector as house prices fall, interest rates go up, inflation goes up and wages don't keep up with it all. Government mismanagement is at fault here not bankers.
 

AlchoPwn

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#4
the idea that lack of trust in leaders and institutions is caused by anything other than a few decades of ramming "neo-liberalism" down the throats of their voters, exporting their jobs, failing to protect their countries from known terrorist threats then rushing off madly and spewing trillions of dollars & hundreds of lives engaging in unwinnable wars ( one on entirely false pretences ) that result in nothing except more global instability whilst - for an encore - slavishly licking the back-sides of bankers as they proceeded to systematically loot & then collapse the entire financial system, then robbing the rest of society to bail out the crooks who precipitated it , along with their general incompetence, arrogance & self interest verging on corruption is frankly rather missing the point.
Okay, let's take this point by point, because I think you are exaggerating a bit.

1. Not every politician or every political party supports neo-liberalism. It has become an important agenda for corporate interests, and they are giving it the hard sell, and that means plenty of media outlets will support neo-liberalism and that in turn forces a politician's hand if they want to get re-elected. Is this state of affairs ideal? Far from it. What is your answer to the problem?

2. Exporting jobs. Well, the fact is that manufacture in the developed world is far more expensive, so the corporations won't keep factories open when there are cheaper overheads elsewhere. It isn't a matter of exporting jobs, its a matter of competitive advantage being higher in poorer countries, on the other hand, they get all the pollution and factory jobs that the developed world doesn't seem to want for the most part anyhow. Would you want to work in a factory? Do we sign on as a nation to pay taxpayers money to keep unprofitable industries open, or let the market do its thing? Sounds like you have a beef with Capitalism more than you have a beef with government on this one.

3. Failing to protect their countries from Terrorist threats. I must disagree entirely on this point. The fact is that while there are occasional terrorist attacks, the vast majority of them are thwarted. Statistically, you are more likely to be struck by lightning than die in a terror attack. Personally, I think that the loss of privacy created by anti-terror legislation is a greater threat than terrorism itself, but I am in a grave minority on this apparently.

4. Trillions of Dollars spent on unwinnable wars. Well it is true that wars are expensive, and it is also clear that there has been a good deal of corruption involved in the war in Iraq specifically. It hardly seems fair to blame both sides of politics for that catastrophe, however; one side is far more at fault than the other. It is also worth pointing out that in the first half of the 20th Century, a war like Iraq would have killed tens of thousands of servicemen, rather than mere hundreds. That is a definite improvement, but nobody talks about that. Nobody also talks about how after a terror attack, everyone is clamoring for action, then a government intervenes and starts a war, then everyone whines about there being a war, thus denying the war the support it needs to be won. The 24hr New Cycle has a lot to answer for imo.
As for winning a war in Afghanistan, the last person who did that was Genghis Khan, who murdered the populace wholesale and built towers out fo the skulls of the slaughtered. Why is nobody touting this as an answer I wonder? It has worked in the past after all...

5. The issue of global instability. Inherently, going to war creates instability, but the alternative is to simply roll over and let your aggressors get away with attacking your country. What are the other options? Deport all Muslims? I'm sure people will just love that, but it would certainly answer the problem.

6. Bailing out the crooks who caused the financial collapse. The crooks who caused the GFC were Goldman Sachs and their short selling. They didn't need to be bailed out, they basically wound up controlling the world. If you are talking about the banks who sold bad derivative stocks, it wasn't just the banks themselves who were bailed out, it was the families who had their deposits with those banks who were bailed out. It is also the government's duty to do exactly that. The rule is that every bank has to maintain a statutory deposit with their nation's central bank, normally about 10% of their assets, as a surety against a run on the bank. Now if the bank is going to fail, the government steps in and covers them against everyone panicking and withdrawing their money. Without this defense mechanism, Capitalism would have failed decades ago and you wouldn't own a computer to complain about things on.

7. Incompetence, arrogance, self interest in politicians. FFS, politicians are people, and having met quite a few on most sides of politics, they are generally better people than the tinfoil hat brigade. Tinfoilers love to accuse and complain but have no answers to the problems they are complaining about and reject all answers offered as unsatisfactory, while literally demonizing anyone who disagrees with them, calling them reptiles and whatnot. The truth of the matter is that most politicians are masochistic idealists. They go into politics hoping they can make a difference, firmly believing in a set of principles and with a plan. Of course, no plan survives contact with the enemy, and very few politicians have the diversity of skill set that they need to solve everything that is thrown at them. If you want incompetence, arrogance and self-interest, you should compare what we have to what goes on in properly authoritarian countries where your right to bitch about everything is curtailed by "Fearless Leader". Is every politician a saint? Hell no, but neither are you. Get some perspective and be an adult about things. Just because you don't agree with someone doesn't mean they worship Satan, or swim in money and pussy while eating babies.

*************

The fact is that the world has always been in a state of chaos and anarchy. Government in the form we have it in the developed world was created because real (not idealized) anarchy is a squalid state of affairs and tyrannies (read "authoritarian regimes") are a grotesque travesty of a way of life. Given the opportunity to be truly free, people become really awful to one another e.g. Somalia. And for the record, there is no such animal as a benevolent dictator.
For a brief moment in history after WW2, TV managed to homogenize opinion. There were only a few channels, and each of them got their news through Reuters. This meant that there was a manufactured consensus of opinion. Then the internet came along, and we traded that consensus for a staggering access to information. All the care that had been put into trying to create an illusion of stability crumbled like a bad marriage under financial stress.
Is there corruption in politics? Surely. But I didn't hear you suggesting a way of legislating against gerrymandering, and controlling political donations. You say politicians are incompetent, arrogant and self-interested? That just means they're human beings like you. Get off your high horse. If you think you can do better, become a politician. It isn't as hard as all that. Any fool can do it and you have to be a fool to try. Nobody will love you for it, and there is a 99% chance that everyone in the country will despise you by the time you leave office regardless of how little or how much you do for them. Given how much politicans are reviled, I am not surprised some of them become corrupt. People are going to think the worst of you regardless of what you do, so why not do the crime, right? What surprises me is how few politicians actually are corrupt however. So the question is really, whether you are enough of a masochist to pick up that poisonous burden?
 
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Min Bannister

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#6
Alchopwn, how does the Russian Troll theory explain why young people, the heaviest consumers of social media mainly voted Remain while the oldest voters, the least likely to have internet access mainly voted Leave?
 

maximus otter

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#8
The whole Russian interference fantasy is based on one thing: The US left’s outrage that their creature managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the presidential election.

Despite outspending Trump 3:1; despite having ten times more newspapers support her; despite having Obozo’s endorsement; despite the media in her pocket, the press at her feet and Hollywood curled up in her lap purring, the US public saw Clinton for the wretched, unpleasant, corrupt-to-the-core creature that she is.

Obviously (to a Dimocrat!) that cannot have occurred, so cognitive dissonance sets in: Some powerful entity must have intervened to thwart our Empress-in-waiting...

Result? Millions of man-hours and dollars expended in Snark-hunting.

maximus otter
 
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Yithian

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#9
The only people who have time to fact-check everything they read are obsessives and those for whom it constitutes part of their job.

Accordingly, the first thing I do is consider the source: how does the information they are seeking to spread interplay with a) their goals and aims, b) their financial or personal interests, c) their previous words and actions? If few warning lights flash at this stage, I provisionally accept the story.

In effect, authors, publications and sources build-up positive and negative credibility for factual-accuracy and honesty, and only new sources or highly-important stories get the full 'belt-and-braces' treatment.

In general, I will assume any story I read is being spun--perhaps to a greater extent: it is in an attempt to deceive me, perhaps to a lesser extent: somebody wants to flatter me or make me feel more well-disposed to some person or group.This is partly because it's surprisingly hard to remove implicit bias in any story that strays from imparting raw data and into interpretation, and partly because almost everything either is or is seen to be part of a zero-sum game in which nobody wants to lose and all would prefer to win--influencing public opinion with partial stories is a tactical necessity.
 
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AlchoPwn

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#10
Alchopwn, how does the Russian Troll theory explain why young people, the heaviest consumers of social media mainly voted Remain while the oldest voters, the least likely to have internet access mainly voted Leave?
The assumption here is that older people don't use the internet, and that is incorrect. Next to everyone under 75 uses the internet on a daily basis. Young people are the main consumers because they are checking their message feed every 5 min, but in many ways that is a misrepresentation of what is going on.

Older people are more likely to be browsing on search engines and reading their e-mails and so while they lose the internet less often, in some ways it is more qualitative. On the other hand, evidence suggests that older people are far more likely to be taken in by internet scams such as the notorious Nigerian Prince. Psych studies show that older people are also more likely to express antisocial feelings than young people (who are more scared to do so).

What I personally find puzzling about Brexit is why Welsh people hate the EU so profoundly, based on their voting patterns on the issue.
 

AlchoPwn

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#11
The whole Russian interference fantasy is based on one thing: The US left’s outrage that their creature managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the presidential election.
Despite outspending Trump 3:1; despite having ten times more newspapers support her; despite having Obozo’s endorsement; despite the media in her pocket, the press at her feet and Hollywood curled up in her lap purring, the US public saw Clinton for the wretched, unpleasant, corrupt-to-the-core creature that she is.
Obviously (to a Dimocrat!) that cannot have occurred, so cognitive dissonance sets in: Some powerful entity must have intervened to thwart our Empress-in-waiting...
Result? Millions of man-hours and dollars expended in Snark-hunting.
maximus otter
Some of that may be the case, but currently the FBI seems to think that about half a dozen Trump campaign bigwigs have serious charges to face. Now if you are going to tell me the FBI is pro-Democrat, I think I will have to laugh, because it just ain't so. Trump came into office with a lot more enemies in the Republican Party than in the Democrats in any case. It remains a known fact that most sitting Republicans want him out of the picture.

It amuses me that I picked the election for Trump btw, because like an expert troll he deprived the other candidates, including Hillary, of oxygen. The media talked about nothing else. Trump tuned Hillary masterfully turned Hillary's whole campaign into a footnote to one of his tweets. Also, Hillary creeps me out. There is just something about how she acts that feels massively fake. Now if she is actually as corrupt as has been alleged, I hope she gets caught, but plenty of people have tried and failed to pin things on her, so I am skeptical about those claims. Innocent until proven guilty is the law after all.

As to a powerful entity thwarting Hillary? I actually think it would be hard to prove that Russian hacking had a major effect on the election result. The statistics show that after 8 years of a given party's Presidency it is very rare for the electorate to return another candidate of the same party.

That isn't what is important about the claim, and shouldn't be what concerns you. What concerns me is that the USA may have elected a Russian stooge to be their president. I am surprised that it doesn't concern you more, because I would have assumed you considered yourself a patriot, and it looks to me like the USA just lost the opening round of the new Cold War.
 

AlchoPwn

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#12
In general, I will assume any story I read is being spun--perhaps to a greater extent: it is in an attempt to deceive me, perhaps to a lesser extent: somebody wants to flatter me or make me feel more well-disposed to some person or group.This is partly because it's surprisingly hard to remove implicit bias in any story that strays from imparting raw data and into interpretation, and partly because almost everything either is or is seen to be part of a zero-sum game in which nobody wants to lose and all would prefer to win--influencing public opinion with partial stories is a tactical necessity.
I appreciate the pragmatism and insight of your approach Yithian. Better yet, I like the way you expressed it. I bet you could almost write it as an equation.
 

Coal

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#13
What I personally find puzzling about Brexit is why Welsh people hate the EU so profoundly, based on their voting patterns on the issue.
Perhaps they realise, like us "oldies" that the EU is not a democratic institution. Hate's not required.
 

AlchoPwn

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#14
Perhaps they realize, like us "oldies" that the EU is not a democratic institution. Hate's not required.
I would actually be pleased if that were their reasoning. It seems to have been more of a species of South Park's "They took'r jobs" mentality unfortunately. On the upside, it was a kick in the backside for the globalist agenda.
 
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Min Bannister

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#15
The assumption here is that older people don't use the internet, and that is incorrect.
I didn't make that assumption at all. I know older people use the internet but I also know that all of the people I know who don't, are elderly.

Older people are more likely to be browsing on search engines and reading their e-mails and so while they lose the internet less often, in some ways it is more qualitative.
So in that case how would they be getting Russian troll messages? I can't speak for everyone but I am not on social media and I didn't see any Russian troll messages. They mainly used Twitter didn't they?

I am not doubting that the messages occurred by the way, just that they had any effect. Apparently we are supposed to take this as an, erm, fact!
 

Coal

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#16
I would actually be pleased if that were their reasoning. It seems to have been more of a species of South Park's "They took our jobs" mentality unfortunately. On the upside, it was a kick in the backside for the globalist agenda.
Well, I don't know their reasoning, and tbh it doesn't matter, they're entitled to their vote on any basis!
 

AlchoPwn

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#17
I didn't make that assumption at all. I know older people use the internet but I also know that all of the people I know who don't, are elderly.
So in that case how would they be getting Russian troll messages? I can't speak for everyone but I am not on social media and I didn't see any Russian troll messages. They mainly used Twitter didn't they?
I am not doubting that the messages occurred by the way, just that they had any effect. Apparently we are supposed to take this as an, erm, fact!
I think the bears in question (Cozy and Fancy) tried to target their advertising to US citizens, and from what I understand while they used Twitter extensively, it certainly wasn't the only format. Now I don't pretend to know if you are a US citizen or not, or whether you were in a swing seat electorate in the US election, but if you weren't, then you weren't their target audience. Personally, were I a competent hacker, I would have gone after the voting machines; they seem super vulnerable.
 

Min Bannister

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#18
I think the bears in question (Cozy and Fancy) tried to target their advertising to US citizens, and from what I understand while they used Twitter extensively, it certainly wasn't the only format. Now I don't pretend to know if you are a US citizen or not, or whether you were in a swing seat electorate in the US election, but if you weren't, then you weren't their target audience. Personally, were I a competent hacker, I would have gone after the voting machines; they seem super vulnerable.
I am not a US citizen and am not sure of the demographics of the Trump vote or whether older people favoured him. I was talking about the EU vote in the UK. The older people were, the more likely they were to vote Leave. The oldest people were pretty heavily in favour of Leave. But they are the least likely to use Twitter or social media in general. Young people, the most likely to use social media, were in favour of Remain. How could the Twitter trolls have affected the result?

I agree about the voting machines though. They are surely wide open to hacking.
 

kamalktk

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#20
I think the bears in question (Cozy and Fancy) tried to target their advertising to US citizens, and from what I understand while they used Twitter extensively, it certainly wasn't the only format. Now I don't pretend to know if you are a US citizen or not, or whether you were in a swing seat electorate in the US election, but if you weren't, then you weren't their target audience. Personally, were I a competent hacker, I would have gone after the voting machines; they seem super vulnerable.
As seen in the thread in the elections, they did go after the voting machines.
 

Mythopoeika

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#21
Alchopwn, how does the Russian Troll theory explain why young people, the heaviest consumers of social media mainly voted Remain while the oldest voters, the least likely to have internet access mainly voted Leave?
That is an excellent point.
Oldies don't use social media (much).
 

Coal

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#22
The older people were, the more likely they were to vote Leave. The oldest people were pretty heavily in favour of Leave. But they are the least likely to use Twitter or social media in general. Young people, the most likely to use social media, were in favour of Remain. How could the Twitter trolls have affected the result?
Maybe because the older peoples' turn-out at the polling booths was twice that of the young. Fun fact.
 

Min Bannister

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#23
Maybe because the older peoples' turn-out at the polling booths was twice that of the young. Fun fact.
Were the trolls telling people not to vote then? Would make more sense to put out anti-EU stuff rather than tell young people to stay away from the polling booths in the hope that olduns Leave votes would out weigh them.
 

GNC

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#24
Actually, I seem to recall the over-70s, least likely to use the internet or not, were more likely to vote remain, possibly because they remembered the effects of the Second World War the EU was established to prevent ever happening again.
 

Min Bannister

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#25

GNC

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#26
Funny, the over-70s I know voted remain. Mind you, they are in an area of high education, which might explain that.
 

Min Bannister

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#27
Funny, the over-70s I know voted remain. Mind you, they are in an area of high education, which might explain that.
Yes, it is a bit difficult to extrapolate people you know to the whole country as the likelihood is that they are of a similar demographic as you say. I believe Edinburgh was the most heavily pro-remain area in the UK so I rely on graphs!
 

Coal

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#28
Were the trolls telling people not to vote then? Would make more sense to put out anti-EU stuff rather than tell young people to stay away from the polling booths in the hope that olduns Leave votes would out weigh them.
I suspect it was simply naivety on the part of the younger generation, who haven't yet understood that the privilege of living in a (near) democratic country means you have a responsibility to vote.

But in broad terms I think the trolling notion is bunk, the notion is a product of cognitive dissonance on the part of remainers because over half the country didn't vote the 'correct' way.

It's probably why, early on, there were suggestions that "leaver's must be racist or stupid".
 

Min Bannister

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#29
But in broad terms I think the trolling notion is bunk, the notion is a product of cognitive dissonance on the part of remainers because over half the country didn't vote the 'correct' way.
That is the point I am trying to get across! The thought that a hostile power is trying to influence votes is pretty chilling but I don't see the evidence that they actually did.
 

Coal

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#30
That is the point I am trying to get across! The thought that a hostile power is trying to influence votes is pretty chilling but I don't see the evidence that they actually did.
Quite. If one were to do it, then Facebook would be your best bet, as they have the data that could facilitate targeted adverts or messages, as Trump did in the US election.
 
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