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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 Jenns 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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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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The Christopher Steele memos are not going away.


Nine months after its first appearance, the set of intelligence reports known as the Steele dossier, one of the most explosive documents in modern political history, is still hanging over Washington, casting a shadow over the Trump administration that has only grown darker as time has gone by.

It was reported this week that the document’s author, former British intelligence official, Christopher Steele, has been interviewed by investigators working for the special counsel on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The Senate and House intelligence committees are, meanwhile, asking to see Steele to make up their own mind about his findings. The ranking Democrat on the House committee, Adam Schiff, said that the dossier was “a very important and useful guide to help us figure out what we need to look into”.

The fact that Steele’s reports are being taken seriously after lengthy scrutiny by federal and congressional investigators has far-reaching implications.

SNIP

The Steele dossier said one of the aims of the Russian influence campaign was to peel off voters who had supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries and nudge them towards Trump.

Evidence has since emerged that Russians and eastern Europeans posing as Americans targeted Sanders supporters with divisive and anti-Clinton messages in the summer of 2016, after the primaries were over.

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Regarding that last sentence, what are we to make of this? It was posted yesterday by an eastern European who poses as an American, refuses to disclose nationality and location to “friends” on Facebook, and boasted privately to me about “reach.” Who uses that word? And why? Especially when you are talking American politics to Americans!

Political survey: Q1: Who is our champion for 2020? Q2: WHY HILLARY?… I do not want to influence you, but …

Of course American friends ate this up despite HRC having stated quite publicly several times that she has run her last campaign and is moving forward on a new footing. As to that “I do not want to influence you…” portion, I refer you to George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant.

Absolutely! Yes you do! This is bald-faced influence peddling.

Why would a foreigner purportedly worshipful of Hillary contradict Hillary’s own words regularly with the ubiquitous #Hillary2020 hashtag?

Though this be madness yet there is method in it‘.

Yes indeedy!

To paraphrase Mammy in “Gone With the Wind,” trolls of this ilk are sitting there waiting to pounce just like a tiger when the time is right.

At Stanford, Hillary said,

“Make no mistake this isn’t just about what happened in 2016, it’s about what is happening right now”

Yep! And the trolls come in all manner of guises – but they are disguises. Be wary!

She has warned us in the past. Too many ignored and disregarded her, and look where we are.

Image result for hillary clinton stanford

 

 

 

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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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“It’s like that old story; you can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors. Eventually, those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard.” – HRC

This is an excellent allegorical warning that Hillary Clinton issued in October 2011 during bilateral remarks with then Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. The reference, at the time, was to Pakistan harboring the Haqqani Network and the Taliban.

Here are those remarks and that statement in context >>>>

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar

October 21, 2011

“… we both agreed that terrorism coming from any source is a threat to all of us. We expressed very clearly our concerns about safe havens on both sides of the border. We reasserted our commitment to doing more on the Afghan side of the border to try to eliminate safe havens that fuel insurgency and attacks inside Pakistan. And we asked very specifically for greater cooperation from the Pakistani side to squeeze the Haqqani Network and other terrorists, because we know that trying to eliminate terrorists and safe havens on one side of the border is not going to work. It’s like that old story; you can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors. Eventually, those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard. We know that – on both sides of the border. ”

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It was only six years ago. We could not have conceived, such a short time ago, that those words could possibly apply to ourselves or to any loyal Americans. Yet here we are.

I watched the marathon of Homeland, Season 4 tonight. The opening credits for that season include a short clip of Hillary delivering those words. Funny how words that only a few years past can have meant one thing then and something new now.

Snakes in the backyard. Yes, Pakistan did and does harbor snakes in their backyard. But now we know that there are snakes in our own backyard: Foreign entities on social media influencing the American electorate. Some of these snakes arrived wearing American skin.

In her memoir, What Happened, Hillary identified the social media landscape as the new battlefield of 21st century warfare.

We have been attacked. Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation is ferreting out snakes. But we, too, must be on the lookout for snakes on our social media pages.

Even the snakes you nurture and consider pets are still snakes. Hillary’s words should resound deafeningly!

 

 

 

 

 

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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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In her book, What Happened, Hillary Clinton discusses Russian interference in our election. She speaks of the the Wikileaks release of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails and her campaign chair, John Podesta’s, emails. Some of these emails were altered in the Wikileaks version of the document dump. The objective was to make it appear that the DNC conspired with Hillary’s campaign to defeat Bernie Sanders.

Portions of these emails were then posted on social media platforms targeted to reach Bernie Sanders supporters after Hillary Clinton’s nomination was secured. The objective here, now that we were out of the primary season and into the general, was to sway Bernie voters and Indies away from “unscrupulous” Hillary and the Dems and toward Trump.

Congressional committees are pursuing investigations into the Russia question bilaterally. Several top Republicans have said that this is necessary since the next time it could be their party that is targeted. Hillary quotes James Comey as testifying that this is not a Democrat or Republican thing. That it is an American thing. That they are “coming after America,” and they will do it again.

I wonder if the Republicans are thinking deeply enough. I wonder if they are asking themselves how they ended up with Trump in the first place.

It can’t possibly be that Hillary Clinton and we, her team, were the only people who suffered a late night shock. There were 16 Republican candidates. Some of them, surely, had a primary night they thought they would win handily and did not. How did that happen?

Is it possible that the same forces that manipulated voters in the general election also manipulated Republican primary voters? What do Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich think of this possibility? Does Cary Fiorina really believe she was shoved aside only because she was a woman? Do the Bushes believe Jeb lost because, as Barb said, “Enough Bushes?”

If the Russians managed to manipulate the general election, should we not, down the line, also discover what role they might have played in Trump’s nomination?

It’s an important question. I believe Hillary Clinton had an excellent chance to win against all of those candidates. Each of them thought he/she was the most formidable to face the Democratic nominee. They would not have run to begin with if they did not.

With Mueller’s inquiry evidently reaching into the past well beyond the 2015-2016 election season, you have to wonder. Have the Russians been grooming Trump for many years? If so, was their only target over a two-year period Hillary Clinton? Or were Trump’s Republican opponents also targets of Russian interference?

The inquiries and investigations are only beginning with the Russian effect on the general election. The other question is whether they picked the Republican nominee. If the Republicans are not thinking about this, they should. How else is it possible that Donald Trump, known wheeler-dealer, dead-beat boss, shell game realtor, and political flip-flopper managed to beat out that field of 16?

I hope the Republicans are not focusing only on the forest and missing the foreign entities disguised as trees. (Same goes for the Dems, but I hope they are two or three steps ahead of me here).

 

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