Posts Tagged ‘bots. fake news’

Am I on a campaign? You bet your britches I am! Am I talking a lot about foreign national trolls co-opting Hillary spaces on social media? Yup! Is this a Sisyphean effort? I hope not. Much as I feel affection for Don Quixote, I hope I am not jousting at windmills.

In her chapter on Trolls, Bots, Fake News, and Real Russians, Hillary outlines how she sees outside interference in our electoral politics and the 2016 election.

There is, from what I can glean, a difference between the pro-Trump Russian trolls Hillary analyzes and the “pro-Hillary” Eastern European trolls I have sniffed out. It is cultural and relates to familiarity with American electoral demographics. Trump’s Russian trolls, from Hillary’s point of view, must have had informational support from within our borders and probably within our citizenry. There was cultural and regional sophistication in their messages to targeted audiences.

The trolls impersonating Hillary supporters are still seeking and developing that kind of cultural resource. They are doing this by soliciting friends large-scale on Facebook.  “If you are for Hillary, friend me!” “If you agree with this post, friend me!” “FRIEND ME!”

Many have done so without noticing that these personalities neglect to make public their location (not here) or other personal information that most Facebook friends routinely make public. They are shadowy. Some list questionable background information. “Personal Assistant, Hillary for America.” In Poland? (Well she doesn’t say that is where she is, but that is very likely where she is.) Personal assistant to whom? Is there anyone else here – and I know you all worked hard on the campaign – who would list yourself as a personal assistant? Seriously? It tests one’s limits of credulity if you know what I mean.

What jumps out at me is that those who have accepted these friend invitations tend to be those I never met until 2015 -2016. My  old guard of Hillary friends from 2008 have not succumbed. They are savvy, vigilant, and not easily fooled. You know who you are. Hillary’s tough veterans. It’s the newbies who either didn’t bother in 2008 and 2012 or were Obama voters who knew next to nothing about Hillary going in and still don’t really know her now who succumb. But that is a big group!

Posts from these entities – and I am not that certain they are real people as opposed to “personalities” developed for social media – tend to vary. The personalities tend to be female, and the posts sometimes abound with hero worship and girl crushiness with which most of us can identify, no matter our age, in our personal journeys with Hillary.

Other posts, however, are stylized. Most importantly, perhaps, the language differs. The English is more polished. They tend to be rants on current events. Typically, the information is about 90-95% verifiable, but there is a statement buried in there somewhere, e.g. Trump has “brought us to the verge of civil war,” or “We Hillary voters have been forgotten.”

Both first person pronouns are inappropriate since the person posting this is not part of “us” on the verge of civil war nor “we” Hillary voters. The writer is a foreign national who neither lives nor can vote here, a person impersonating an American and not honest enough to apprise Facebook friends of that crucial personal fact. She doesn’t live here, and we are hardly on the verge of a civil war. The system is at work. Americans have faith in the system even though it screwed us in the election. It’s cultural. Americans have faith in the system even in the worst of times.

If you come from what Helen Mirren refers to as a dark Slavic (or Magyar or post-Soviet) mind set (she is half Russian in case your didn’t know), you might not understand or appreciate that within a single generation, American immigrants are the most optimistic people on earth.

It is hard to know to know what the agenda is with these people.

Experts in foreign policy and Russian politics, as Hillary points out in her book, have put forth a theory that the Russian pro-Trump trolls probably had American assistance in formulating the targeted messages they spread on the social nets leading up to Election Day 2016.

Some Republicans have said, I believe sincerely, that we must uncover exactly what influence Russia exerted over the 2016 election because “next time it could be us.” Right. We all should be concerned.

One thing the pro-Hillary trolls seem not to understand is that only on the extreme fringes of the political spectrum do Americans think the opposition party is the devil. Their posts reflect this misunderstanding. Democrats do nor think all Republicans are evil. Republicans do not think all Democrats are evil. We recognize some degree of common ground and applaud those on the other side of the aisle who voice these shared values. This is lost on the pro-Hillary Eastern European trolls. They are so resistant to this concept that I doubt that they will ever find American informants equal to those the Russians developed in 2015 and 2016. Most American Democrats, and I believe we are the target, do not swing that way.

That is not to say that we should blow them off as insignificant. They are not, and something is up there. They are doing what they do ostensibly under Hillary’s banner, so we should be concerned. I have gone after a few trying to use logic.

Forget that. They are combative. They slap back.

I have a background in applied linguistics.  When I see a statement like “I love the Broadway,” my antennae go up. The Broadway is a theatre. I saw Evita there several times in the early 80s. Hamilton is playing there now. The referenced show was actually at the Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center. The post was written as if the author had been at the performance: “You should have seen….” It was partially a linguistic clue and partially cultural. When I mentioned that Lincoln Center is not actually considered “Broadway” I was immediately slapped back and told to “grab a map of Manhattan” so I could see that “the Broadway is a road in Manhattan.” A clever troll would have looked at my profile and noticed that some of my grad studies were at 120th and Broadway (Columbia Teachers College). Instead, she just attacked. Very combative. And why?

And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo.

I have found a handful of these Eastern European trolls. As I find them, they block me on Facebook. My concerns are these:

They post

1. under a Hillary banner,

2.  erroneous, untrue, and some inflammatory comments,

3.  what seem to be some manufactured posts provided by unknown sources.

That last is the most unsettling. The language of those is markedly different. The English more polished, and those are the posts with one little item that is alarmist, incendiary, dangerous. It is those little items that their American friends pick up, posterize, and spread on Facebook. I cannot help but think – exactly as planned.

To what end? That remains to be seen.

As for me. I have fought too long and hard for Hillary Clinton to let foreign nationals gain another foothold in this country – especially in her name. I intend to keep going.

P.S. Being called a Bernie supporter and then a Trump supporter by these trolls did nothing to endear me to whatever their cause. My history is in the archives here. But it is not about me. It is about how Hillary is portrayed. I no longer trust people who will not say where they live. Screw that!

I will not be silenced on this matter. Keep going? You bet your boots I will!



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