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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 and on btc investing. It seems to be coming true with all the alt coins like Veridium coming out daily. Remember when tehy said this would happen?

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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Folks at Grand Central Terminal in New York saw and heard Hillary at a Stamp Dedication for Oscar de la Renta, yesterday. It was a government event sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service.  But at least one person in the White House in Washington DC seemed haunted by her presence there.

This is from the New York Times morning brief.

Trump’s Words, By the Numbers

By CARL HULSE

President Trump is clearly obsessed with numbers — the size of his Electoral College win, the number of people at his inauguration, the tally of jobs he is helping keep in the United States. The list goes on.

Given his predilection for digits, here are a few interesting ones from his extremely unconventional news conference on Thursday.

2: The number of times he mentioned the name Acosta at an event that started with the announcement of R. Alexander Acosta as his new nominee for secretary of labor. The other time Mr. Trump mentioned the name was when he called on Jim Acosta of CNN and noted that in picking the other Acosta he had instructed his staff members to make sure the two were not related.

11: The number of times he mentioned Hillary Clinton, his vanquished opponent in last year’s election. Mr. Trump is either having a hard time getting past the election or simply likes to talk about it since he won and it is a fond memory. The repeated references were to Mrs. Clinton receiving hints of debate questions ahead of time — a continuing sore subject — and her dealings with Russia while secretary of state, including a proposed reset “with a stupid plastic button that made us all look like a bunch of jerks.”

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The press conference in which these references occurred was notable for its lack of focus and organization, belligerent, incoherent, rambling style, and its contradictions – a primary tool of gaslighting.

e.g. 1) As he ranted and raved:   “Tomorrow, they will say, ‘Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.’ I’m not ranting and raving.”

2) After declaring himself the least racist person, he confronted April Ryan (a 20-year White House press veteran who is African-American) who asked if he would meet with the CBC (Congressional Black Caucus – the initials of which he did not recognize) with “Do you want to arrange it? Are they friends of yours?”

The hour-and-a-quarter tirade was marked by a preoccupation with stats, polls, and vote counts, an obsession with perceived false reportage ( “The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake…The reporting is fake.”), and a marked inability to let go of his campaign or his adversary in that campaign whose name he invoked at odd intervals in the course of the event (in a few cases with bogus stories, i.e. “fake news”) and who was in New York minding her own business and honoring her late friend.

02-16-17-z-02

 

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