Posts Tagged ‘trolls’

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.


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.


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.


… 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.


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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It’s always good to have a print record of Hillary’s words. Let’s not twist and spin her words out of context. Save that muscle power for the laundry.

Hillary Clinton outside the Fresh Air studio in Philadelphia on Sept. 14. Courtesy of Jessica Kourkounis

Hillary Clinton says she would not rule out questioning the legitimacy of the 2016 election if new information surfaces that the Russians interfered even more deeply than currently known. In an interview with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross about her new memoir, What Happened, Clinton acknowledges that such a challenge would be unprecedented and that “I just don’t think we have a mechanism” for it.

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I want to add this, on the subject of Fake Americans for Hillary (AKA Hillary Supporter Trolls) that I have been pursuing here

On the night of July 4, 2017, HBO aired a documentary entitled The Words That Built America. Both Hillary and Bill Clinton appeared in it. It was a bipartisan effort. Many Democrats and Republicans participated. It focused on the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution.

The previous July, at the Democratic National Convention, Khizr Khan had offered his pocket Constitution to Donald Trump. Pocket Constitutions went like hotcakes after that. All of which is to say that Americans, particularly Hillary supporters, had both the means and the reasons to review the U.S. Constitution over the course of that year.

Since the election last November, and increasingly after the inauguration as the ill-begotten Trump presidency rolled on, many voices called for the nullification of what evermore apparently was a flawed election. Early on, I joined that chorus – one time. A lawyer friend quickly pointed out that there was no Constitutional mechanism. I went back to the Constitution. Indeed, there is none.

Thereafter, for awhile, whenever I saw these cries to invalidate the election, I reminded my friends of this glaring absence. Some simply responded with, “True.” Others suggested that we can change the Constitution, which is also true, but we cannot make such a change retroactive.

When one Facebook “friend” mounted this proposal, and I posted my stock response, “We don’t have a Constitutional mechanism to do this,” I was, as usual, met with hostile argumentation. It ran a course like this. (Not verbatim. I no longer have access to that. This was the gist.)

Troll: We can change the Constitution.

Me: Yes, but we can’t make that change retroactive.

Troll: Yes, we can write it in.

Me: It would never be ratified in that form. The electoral states she lost will never ratify an amendment like that.

Troll: She can sue.

Me: Hillary had a whole contingent of lawyers, both paid and volunteer. If a lawsuit had a basis, don’t you think they would have done this already?

Troll: You just don’t want Hillary to be president! Why do you say you support her? You are a Bernie or Trump supporter.

Me. I give up.

This troll is one of the ones I later tracked to an Eastern European location and is not a U.S. citizen. As such, is not in a position to “change the Constitution.” Unless there is a plan for these folks to somehow influence our government, why use “we?”

As I have mentioned, I have not figured out what their agenda is other than to ramp up emotions among Hillary supporters. When a cool head intervenes, that individual is accused of disloyalty to Hillary. I do think that the mission is driven by emotion- particularly anger. They want Hillary voters riled up.

So! I am glad to see a very cool head, the candidate herself, who also is a lawyer, making my point. I am not gloating.  I just dislike seeing my fellow Americans baited and barking up the wrong tree.

(FTR: I am not going to stop talking about these trolls. We used to call it “consciousness raising” in the old days.)

Related posts – please read:

“Keep Going!” – Harriet Tubman

Your Facebook Friend Might Be a Troll If …

Edited 09/19/17 to add this.

Exclusive: Hillary Clinton says, “No one, including me, is saying we will contest the election”

A friend posted this, and the first comment was “Make the precedent!” I wish people would spend as much time and energy contacting their Reps –  (202) 224-3121 –  as they do telling Hillary Clinton what to do.

Once again – there is no mechanism! Now get on the phone and get to work defeating the Graham-Cassidy Bill.


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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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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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