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If this is found to be the case, what is the solution?


By Joe Rothstein

Donald Trump spent much of the 2016 campaign warning us that the result of the presidential election would be rigged. Events of the last few weeks suggest he may have been right and that his presidency is illegitimate.

Here’s what we have learned in those last few weeks:

1. The Republican and Democratic co-chairs of the Senate Intelligence Committee endorsed the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Putin’s government engaged in propaganda and hacking campaigns to influence the outcome of 2016 U.S. election. The use of “hacking” in their assessment is significant for reasons I’ll discuss in a moment.

2. The Russian propaganda campaign mirrored the way the Trump campaign itself used Facebook advertising to target voters, strongly suggesting collusion.

3. The National Security Agency and Equifax, two of the most secure data repositories in the world, reported that they were successfully hacked, undermining claims that state and county voting systems, many built on consumer software, were impenetrable to outside manipulation.

Let’s first consider the propaganda question.

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For the record, here are some of the Facebook and Twitter posts that Russian accounts disguised as Americans used to attack Hillary Clinton during the campaign. Please regard it as a public service announcement.

This is not over. They still are doing it. November is around the corner. Stay vigilant.

thinkprogress.org

These are the Facebook posts Russia used to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign – ThinkProgress

Casey Michel Twitter

An anti-Clinton bias coursed through Facebook pages secretly run by Russian actors (CREDIT: AP/ANDREW HA


By meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Moscow appears to have initially aimed to plant Donald Trump in the White House. But as signs toward the end of the campaign pointed to Trump’s defeat, actors in Russia were primarily trying to hamstring Hillary Clinton’s perceived ascension to the presidency. That theme ThinkProgress detailed earlier this week by analyzing Russia’s creation of hundreds of fake Facebook accounts, pumped via ads and promotion into Americans’ feeds.

For part 1 of this series, click here.

We’ve also learned that certain pages called for followers to vote for Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders, as opposed to Clinton — although those posts, especially as pertaining to Sanders, haven’t yet been revealed publicly.

SNIP

… while nominally pro-Clinton material existed on certain of these fake accounts, it was explicitly targeted at those opposed to the groups said to support Clinton.

And it’s within that paradox that we can parse the primary contour of Russia’s Facebook operations. Because where pro-Trump and anti-Clinton material have dominated the accounts that have thus far come to light, a key theme emerges throughout: The Russian operations also targeted the cultural schisms and tensions coursing through the U.S., muddying messages and exacerbating tensions to the point of nearly breaking.

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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.

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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?w=500

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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I remain buried in Hillary’s Trolls, Bots, Fake News, and Real Russians chapter. The more I read there, the more certain I am that the Hillary Clinton coalition on Facebook has not only been infiltrated, but that the incursion is effective. A few points.

In this chapter, quoting a Time article she refers to “soft” Clinton supporters. I think that is what I was trying to articulate yesterday in this post. I referred to the “old guard” Hillary supporters that I met and friended in 2008 as opposed to the “new friends” that I accepted in the course of the last campaign and afterwards. That old guard consists of hard core, seasoned Hillary supporters who went through a great deal in 2008 and never had any impulse or intention of hiding their support in secret groups. They are the ones who waited for years for Hillary to declare again and were prepared to jump on the already moving train. The newbies were just meeting Hillary for the first time. Many had been Obama supporters in the past and never paid any attention to Hillary previously. I met many of these at early organizing meetings. Their eyes would widen as we related well known facts about Hillary. It was all new to them. I don’t count all the newbies as “soft” supporters, but I think all the soft ones were newbies.

These newbies are also the ones friending the Facebook trolls I have sniffed out. Not just friending. Believing. Quoting.

Further, in the same paragraph.

“It’s against the law to use foreign money to support a candidate, as well as for campaigns to coordinate with foreign entities….”

I know you knew this and knew that Hillary knew it. I raise it because I did publicly question one of these folks. She claimed to have worked for the campaign. I asked what she did, and she said she campaigned online (despite not knowing a single name of any of the folks directing the social media campaign) and donated money. I told her privately that she was impugning Hillary, whom she claimed to “love,” since foreign donations are illegal. There was no remorse. She fought back. Well, she would have donated if ….

Another, from a different Eastern European country, listed herself as having worked as a personal assistant, Hillary for America. When I confronted that lie, I was told she would have been a great personal assistant if she had worked for HFA which she could not because she was in and of the wrong country.

Wow! There’s a whole lot of subjunctivity going on there.

At this point, you might be thinking that they are just wannabes, and what’s so bad about that? I hear you. But there is something more insidious. A darker agenda hidden deep and disguised among the rhapsodies about Hillary’s big blue eyes.

In this chapter, Hillary quotes Charlie Sykes quoting Garry Kasparov.

“The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking and annihilate truth.”

She cites Breitbart as a major source of the propaganda that flowed through Facebook and other social media in 2016. The Harvard study cited here confirms that. The origin of the more formalized posts these Facebook trolls share is unclear, but they are cleverly written and often contain one tiny alarmist kernel.

When I pressed on the issue of attribution, I was told by one of them that I was too academic. That social media is not academic, and citing sources is unnecessary (and, by the way, my kind of insistence on attribution is what lost the election for Hillary). I am very old-fashioned and unhip to expect attribution on social media.

The pending civil war she warned of – the one her friends picked up and posterized – came, it turns out, from a remark by Roger Stone. There’s a credible source!

On another occasion, the alarmist kernel was that the market is headed for a crash. One thing you can always predict about the market is that it will fluctuate. When it rises steadily for a long time, there will be a correction. That warning reminded me of a meme that circulated shortly after Obama was elected. Those on the right warned of a coming apocalyptic crash and encouraged investing in gold. Remember that?

There is some scuttlebutt about Breitbart, Bannon, and a dip, but what true supporter of Hillary Clinton would gloat over the prospect that her supporters, “fellow Americans,” might lose their investments in their 401Ks  and 403Bs? I can tell you. A Fake American disguised as a supporter who is out there to circulate fake news – AKA propaganda.

When I say that these trolls know the language but not the culture, that is part of what I mean. This one did not know that Main St. is already invested in Wall St.

These little cultural items are clues to sniffing them out. But it takes careful reading not cheerleading. As I said, these are little kernels embedded in larger messages that appear to praise Hillary – while often condemning Trump. It is easy to get caught up in the “passion.”

I am still reading that same chapter, slowly, because every so often I have to stop and process the relationship between what I read and what I see happening with these trolls.

I don’t have a sense yet of why these Hillary trolls are soaking up Hillary friends. Of what the objective is. I can at this point say only that I know they are there. I have chatted with a few of them, and from those chats I know they are who I am saying they are. There has to be a reason. I believe we are being targeted every bit as much as these voters as Hillary quotes in her book.

“We know that swing voters were inundated. According to Senator Warner, ‘Women and African Americans were targeted in places like Wisconsin and Michigan.’ One study found that in Michigan alone nearly half of all political news on Twitter in the final days before the election was false or misleading propaganda. Senator Warner has rightly asked: ‘How did they know to go to that level of detail in those kinds of jurisdictions?'”

Your Facebook profile states where you live. These trolls hide their locations and masquerade as Americans. Just being friends with them, you are providing a lot of data. They know where you are, where you live, and a lot about what you think.

How can you tell if your Facebook friend is a foreign troll? Read posts and rants carefully and critically. Sometimes a gift will jump right out at you. I groaned about the prospect of jury duty on a case that will go into October. The response: “Just tell them you don’t want to do it.”  Yeah, right. You’re an American! Ha!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Steve Bannon may be gone from the Oval Office, but Breitbart, where he landed on his feet, loomed large in defeating our Hillary Clinton online offensive in 2016. Those of us on the social media campaign bus tried our best to get Hillary Clinton’s message out. When you look at the first few graphics in this report, you may be stunned, as I was, at how little media attention her issues received.

The study illuminates the degree to which opposing sides used social media differently – and postulates as to why. It also shows which major media sources played important roles and how we, the electorate, used them. That Breitbart even figured in as “major” came as a surprise to me.

I am neither a data analyst nor a campaign strategist. I am not sure what we could have done differently based on the results of this study. What I do see is that we failed to battle the Breitbart offensive effectively. It was astoundingly successful. Click on the upper right link on the page to download the full pdf text.

Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

Title: Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
Author: Benkler, Yochai; Roberts, Hal; Faris, Robert M.; Etling, Bruce; Zuckerman, Ethan; Bourassa, NikkiNote: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.
Citation: Faris, Robert M., Hal Roberts, Bruce Etling, Nikki Bourassa, Ethan Zuckerman, and Yochai Benkler. 2017. Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society Research Paper.
Full Text & Related Files:
Abstract: In this study, we analyze both mainstream and social media coverage of the 2016 United States presidential election. We document that the majority of mainstream media coverage was negative for both candidates, but largely followed Donald Trump’s agenda: when reporting on Hillary Clinton, coverage primarily focused on the various scandals related to the Clinton Foundation and emails. When focused on Trump, major substantive issues, primarily immigration, were prominent. Indeed, immigration emerged as a central issue in the campaign and served as a defining issue for the Trump campaign.

We find that the structure and composition of media on the right and left are quite different. The leading media on the right and left are rooted in different traditions and journalistic practices. On the conservative side, more attention was paid to pro-Trump, highly partisan media outlets. On the liberal side, by contrast, the center of gravity was made up largely of long-standing media organizations steeped in the traditions and practices of objective journalism.

Our data supports lines of research on polarization in American politics that focus on the asymmetric patterns between the left and the right, rather than studies that see polarization as a general historical phenomenon, driven by technology or other mechanisms that apply across the partisan divide.

The analysis includes the evaluation and mapping of the media landscape from several perspectives and is based on large-scale data collection of media stories published on the web and shared on Twitter.

Read the full report – click the Download Full Text link >>>>

There were stories here that I never encountered, e.g. the one about immigrants with “blistering STDs.”

There are lessons here. Maybe our team did not spend enough time in the slime of the opposition websites to battle their disgusting lies. We thought the opposition, like us, actually accessed traditional sources, which, as the study shows, did not give Hillary’s issues any kind of fair hearing because, you know, her emails!

I must thank Jen Michigander for sharing this study with me. She is the intrepid one who has spent a lot of time moving among the shadows at the opposition pages.

 

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… and I am not quite sure how to handle the foment that ensued.  I am posting this to right the record.

A few days ago, this photo was posted on Facebook with a comment that indicated that it was taken on July 4 of this year and marveling at how young and wonderful Hillary Clinton looks. That was not true. She does look great, but this is not a recent photo.

I contributed that the photo is actually from August 2008 when Hillary delivered her speech endorsing Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. The individual who posted it thanked me – for my thoughts –  but refused neglected to edit the original, misleading text.

Before long, her friends were sharing the photo on Facebook along with the erroneous date.  Some veteran, diehard Hillary folks were picking up the error and questioning the date, but the original text stubbornly remains to this moment. When I asked for it to be corrected, a firestorm erupted. Bad me! For interfering with … what? A pipe dream? A myth that is nowhere near as visceral and fortifying as the truth?  “What difference does a date make?” They raged. “It’s still Hillary, isn’t it?”

To me, and to many, it makes an enormous difference. An historical difference.

My longtime Hillary friends know how iconic that photo is and what a seminal moment that was for all of us, especially Hillary.  It was dense with emotion and difficult. She was asking us to do what so many of us were not ready to do. She was exemplifying party unity when many of us – a large portion of the party  –  were already consolidated behind the PUMA* acronym. (*Party Unity My A$$ or People United Means Action: most of us opted for the former.)

Earlier, women had marched in the streets of Denver in recognition of Women’s Suffrage and the 88th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Many wore white. Hillary, when she went to the convention floor for a walk-through, also had sported white that day. She knew what was happening outside.

When she came onstage after Chelsea’s introduction, she was wearing that tangerine pantsuit. No one who was there or watching will ever forget that. It was a moment in history, Women’s History, the nation’s history. Hillary did exactly what was expected of her and much more. She was full-hearted and full-throated in her endorsement. Among us, there were tears.

There was also anger, not at Hillary, mostly, although some turned furiously against her that night, and some never returned to her corner. There was anger at the system that did not allow a transparent and full roll call vote on the floor. Anger that Nancy Pelosi called the vote early. Anger that Hillary was the one who marched out to stop it. Anger that our votes were not registered by our Hillary delegates before our eyes and ears. We felt disenfranchised.

My governor, leader of our delegation, shredded my vote on the convention floor and gave it to Barack Obama on the first ballot. We later learned it was not the first ballot which was even more disturbing. The first ballot was not even taken on the convention floor before cameras, per tradition.  In a huge rupture with protocol,  it was taken early in the morning in the hotel suites, before Hillary had released her delegates. One state leader told delegates, “We want you to vote for Obama.”

Pelosi called the floor vote before 2, the time C-Span had it scheduled. By the time my DVR started recording, at 2, they were already at California. Had the vote been on time, I should have captured some yada yada yada and then the A states. I would have seen the Arkansas protest. I would have seen Bill Gwatney’s widow escorted off the convention floor. Her husband, the Arkansas Democratic party head had been murdered only two weeks before at party headquarters,

So the dating of this picture has much more to do with history than it does with identifying who is in it and how great she looks or how similar she looks today. Yes, she looked epic that night. Ready to take on the world.

Re-dating this photo washes away a moment in history that I had on my DirecTV hard drive until the day it crashed. It eliminates the history Hillary made that night doing the very difficult work of trying to pull the party back together, a task Bernie Sanders neglected to do at the 2016 convention. (And why should he have? To this day, he is not a Democrat! He is an interloper, a disrupter.) That night, Hillary went out there for the fight. It was heroic.

Now, in requesting that the original, faulty text reassigning the date on that Facebook post be altered to reflect fact, I am the bad guy. I am disrespectful to the Eastern European source who has “loved Hillary her whole life.” A glance at her timeline shows her (literally) naked support of Obama.

I am the one telling people not to love Hillary.  (WHAT???!!!) All I asked for was a correction!

Where on earth does this nonsense come from? Since when is it a personal affront to request that a misleading header be changed? Since when does stating the facts become hurtful, and “drama?” Since when has reportage without attribution become dogma to Hillary Clinton supporters anywhere? It boggles the mind.

As you can tell, I am pretty pi$$ed off. All of our Facebook communities, this blog, other blogs, and websites have long been dedicated to recording and archiving Hillary’s work. We are cooperative, democratic, and try to be as accurate as possible in our endeavors.

To be slammed for insisting on accuracy hurts. To be insulted hurts. To be swarmed by devotées of a Facebook “personality” can be exhausting.  Perhaps I should have given up the fight. But I believe people should know the truth.

People should know where and when that photo came from, and if they were not “with us” at the time, they should know the truth it represents.

Here are some Hillary Clinton Communities (Groups and Pages) on Facebook that do not revolve around a Facebook personality.  They center on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Still4Hill

Together4Us

Hillary Clinton Express

Supporters of “The People’s President”, Hillary Rodham Clinton

There are many more groups, pages, and websites (see my Blog Roll on the right), and many thousands of Hillary Clinton’s supporters participate in them. They do not center on any fangirls or fanboys with fragile egos. They center on Hillary and her ongoing work. Our goal is fact. Our objective is truth.

Screw the mythology. Combat and correct it. In years to come, the truth will need to survive, and the truth here should not be that Hillary Clinton appeared at a fictional event on July 4, 2017 looking smashing. It should be that she picked herself up from a painful, narrow defeat and soldiered on to support her party – looking smashing!  She always does!

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