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Posts Tagged ‘bots’

Yes, I borrowed part of that header from a chapter in Hillary Clinton’s book. Interesting not simply for their historical perspective, a couple of articles that popped up today present cautionary tales.

The first, a report from Time on how Russian hackers attacked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, provides not only a blueprint of how that happened but also implies safeguards to be implemented in the future.

While we, of course, expect that Democratic Party officials and future campaigns will improve security going forward based on this knowledge, there are precautions each of us can and should take as individuals. Cyberspace is where a lot of campaigning and organizing takes place, and in the 2016 cycle most of us here were using the internet in communication with the campaign. Any weak link in the network potentially endangers the community and whole operation. We all have an obligation to keep ourselves and each other secure.

So although this is a long read (save it for weekend brunch perhaps), it is a must read. We all go forward better armed if we are informed.


(WASHINGTON) — It was just before noon in Moscow on March 10, 2016, when the first volley of malicious messages hit the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The first 29 phishing emails were almost all misfires. Addressed to people who worked for Clinton during her first presidential run, the messages bounced back untouched.

Except one.

Within nine days, some of the campaign’s most consequential secrets would be in the hackers’ hands, part of a massive operation aimed at vacuuming up millions of messages from thousands of inboxes across the world.

An Associated Press investigation into the digital break-ins that disrupted the U.S. presidential contest has sketched out an anatomy of the hack that led to months of damaging disclosures about the Democratic Party’s nominee. It wasn’t just a few aides that the hackers went after; it was an all-out blitz across the Democratic Party. They tried to compromise Clinton’s inner circle and more than 130 party employees, supporters and contractors.

While U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind the email thefts, the AP drew on forensic data to report Thursday that the hackers known as Fancy Bear were closely aligned with the interests of the Russian government.

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The second article, from The Daily Beast, is shorter but equally important. A character sketch of a Russian troll who fooled many, some of them very smart, prominent people, it provides some insight into an how an individual online troll profile appears, communicates, and corrals the unsuspecting into its sphere of influence.

Readers here know that I have been on a campaign to warn folks about an eastern European troll I uncovered and the troll characteristics I discovered in tracking down this entity.

Your Facebook Friend Might Be a Troll If …

September 16, 2017

Location, Location, Location

September 21, 2017

Hillary Clinton is Not Your ‘Mama’ – Stop Calling Her That!

October 22, 2017

I was gratified to find that the Daily Beast article portrayed a character more similar to ‘my troll’ than not.


Jenna Abrams had a lot of enemies on Twitter, but she was a very good friend to viral content writers across the world.

Her opinions about everything from manspreading on the subway to Rachel Dolezal to ballistic missiles still linger on news sites all over the web.

One website devoted an entire article to Abrams’ tweet about Kim Kardashian’s clothes. The story was titled “This Tweeter’s PERFECT Response to Kim K’s Naked Selfie Will Crack You Up.”

“Thank goodness, then, that there are people like Twitter user Jenna Abrams to come to the celebrity’s wardrobe-lacking aide,” reads a Brit & Co. article from March of 2016.

Those same users who followed @Jenn_Abrams for her perfect Kim Kardashian jokes would be blasted with her shoddily punctuated ideas on slavery and segregation just one month later.

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Unlike hackers who seek to breach secure gateways and capture guarded information, trolls seek to gather an audience and influence it or elicit a reaction, usually emotional. While you in fact know little to nothing about them – their location for instance, their actual nationality, who they really are  – they learn a lot about you! Your location, your opinions, even your habits.

So much about Jenna Abrams was similar to ‘my troll’ that they could be sisters.

  1. The impersonation of an American;
  2. The range in types of posts/comments (seemingly frivolous to some embedded with a clear political message);
  3. The linguistic variations among posts (indicating more than one person doing the writing);
  4. The familiarity in imparting ‘information’ (or disinformation – both Jenna and my troll like “Did you know…?”);
  5. The trademark of the troll: targeting an emotional response.

These are just a few similarities I noticed.

If you campaigned the way I did, then you probably at least doubled your Facebook friends and those you follow on Twitter in the course of the 19 months of the 2016  election cycle. It was impossible to spend a lot of time checking deeply into friend requests, and we wanted all the friends and followers we could muster to get people involved. It would be foolhardy to try a deep check on every new friend.

When you read the Daily Beast article and also my post about Facebook friends, you get an idea of how a foreign troll impersonating an American can trip an alarm and why it is important to identify them.

 

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This from Daily Beast is interesting.


It was just last week when congressional investigators said they favored more transparency to the general public about exactly which Facebook posts a Kremlin-backed troll farm used to target Americans with anti-immigrant rhetoric—and even rallies on U.S. soil.

The lawmakers who lead the Capitol Hill committees charged with investigating Russia’s election meddling spoke out after Facebook declined to commit to sharing with Congress information about Russian government-backed posts, groups, and paid advertisements—including ones first reported by The Daily Beast.

On Thursday, Facebook announced that it plans to turn over more than 3,000 Russian-linked ads that appeared on the site to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and Congress is keeping information about the process close to the vest—at least for now.

Read more >>>>

Is location a privacy issue? Should it be? We know now that location on social platforms is an issue. Individual users can hide their locations on Facebook.

We can argue two sides to the privacy question as a function of public safety:

I, personally, am safer hiding my location. V. The population is safer when we can identify a user’s location.

We can also argue that what goes for terrorists should not necessarily apply to trolls and bots. Is one more of a threat to public safety than the other?

At the far end of that argument is interference is elections, not only in the United States, and not only presidential elections. Potentially any election anywhere. Is the danger of that less than the dangers posed by terrorists?

Terrorist groups like ISIS operate recruiting efforts via a network of users dispersed over a variety of locations.

Although current evidence indicates that Russian trolls on Facebook operate out of brick-and-mortar “troll farms” like the one we saw on Homeland last season, we also know that the Macedonian trolls operated via a virtual troll farm in our last election. So we know that trolling need not operate from a hard-wired consolidated location in order to succeed.

https://nyoobserver.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/homeland-10.png

So is location a privacy issue? Should Fake Americans have a right to hide their locations from Facebook followers on the basis of the argument that doing so ensures their safety? Should trolls have different rules from those that govern terrorists? Just asking.

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