Putin's Favorite Battleground - Social Media

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by vrDrew, Jul 29, 2016.

  1. vrDrew, Jul 29, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2016

    vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #1
    Not that long ago, I would have scoffed at the very idea of agents hired by Russia's intelligence services infiltrating the Internet social media world I participate in on a daily basis (including, one must assume, popular discussion forums such as this one.)

    But now I'm all but convinced I've read, if not actually done battle with, members of Putin's Troll Brigades

    More worrying still:
    Make no mistake about it: Social media is now a vital part of Vladimir Putin's efforts to weaken and destabilize the United States. Efforts which rely extensively on propaganda and disinformation. And serious people are increasingly concerned about it.

    Emphasis mine.
     
  2. jkcerda macrumors 6502

    jkcerda

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    #2
    you have gone over the deep end, seek help my friend.
     
  3. steve knight macrumors 68020

    steve knight

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    #3
    yes because you never go over the edge with Hillary. maybe you can really understand the other side then. like the right hand holding the left hand huh?
     
  4. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #4
    There was one story that struck me as strangely familiar to a lot of the garbage I've seen recently. And I was impressed (and horrified) at the subtlety of the whole thing:

    Migrants committing horrendous sex crimes against German women? Its not like we don't get treated to at least a half dozen of those stories every week. Probably passed on by credulous people only too eager to buy into the Islamophobic narrative being peddled by Donald Trump and the other running dogs of todays Republican Party.
     
  5. jkcerda macrumors 6502

    jkcerda

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    #5
    yes yes yes, the Russians made the DNC rig the election with their evil mind control machines , everyone is eating up the Russian propaganda :rolleyes:
     
  6. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    #6
    This has been standard practice for all intelligence agencies since the inception of not only social media, but the internet itself.

    Why would you scoff at this idea previously? It's common sense...
     
  7. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    #7
    Hell, it's been SOP since the invention of mass media...period.

    Voice of America? Radio Free Europe?
     
  8. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    #8
    Exactly, why is the OP shocked, SHOCKED! to find gambling in this establishment?

    Oh wait, it's pile on Russia season.
     
  9. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #9


    I guess I was surprised by two things:

    Firstly the breadth of the operation. Not just the fact that there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of people typing away in Russia under false identities. But the fact that they would infiltrate down to such a micr-level.

    And secondly, the subtlety and sophistications of some of the operations. Actually finding and hiring a German woman to disseminate false stories of sexual harassment by migrants? At first glance you hardly think thats got much of anything to do with Vladimir Putin. But then you see the way it gets picked up - going "viral" if you will - and spread by a whole host of organizations. Some of them overtly racist - Storefront and JihadWatch - but eventually it seeps into the more mainstream media. Usually those with somewhat more lax editorial fact-checking standards; and an eye for click-bait, especially if it involves comely Germanic madchen being groped by nasty arabs.

    But put into context of Putin's bigger plans to destabilize NATO? Make things a little easier if he wants to get more aggressive in Ukraine? Suddenly it starts to make sense.

    And I honestly don't think the average person, either in the US, or Britain, or Germany - has any idea that its going on.
     
  10. jkcerda macrumors 6502

    jkcerda

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    #10
    anything to distract from what the DNC did.
     
  11. Jess13, Jul 29, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2016

    Jess13 Suspended

    Jess13

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    #11
    I am critical of vrDrew for numerous reasons but Putin/Russian intelligence does have armies of trolls, so do the Israelis (hasbara). The Russians are super aggressive and persistent; the Israelis are disgusting cowards and are most operational when IDF is massacring thousands of women and children in massive war crimes against civilian population of Gaza, such as in 2014. Even the U.S. and Britain have “sock puppet” armies, with certain U.S. trolls literally being commanded by the U.S. military:


    Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media

    Military's 'sock puppet' software creates fake online identities to spread pro-American propaganda

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks

    The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.

    A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an "online persona management service" that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.

    The project has been likened by web experts to China's attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet. Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives.

    The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as "sock puppets" – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.

    The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations "without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries".


    U.S. Military Launches Spy Operation Using Fake Online Identities


    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/17/online-persona-management_n_837153.html


    Information warfare. NSA/GCHQ also have troll armies, i.e. to discredit and spread disinformation:


    How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations

    https://theintercept.com/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/


    The “Cuban Twitter” Scam is a Drop in the Internet Propaganda Bucket

    https://theintercept.com/2014/04/04...dia-tool-disseminating-government-propaganda/

    The-Intercept.jpg


    The Internet's worst trolls are actually British spies

    http://www.dailydot.com/layer8/gchq-biggest-trolls-nsa-edward-snowden-jtrig/

    You only think somebody is being a jerk to you online. It turns out, the most sophisticated, thorough, and highly trained Internet trolls yet uncovered actually work for the British government.

    That's according to the latest revelation provided by docs leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. According to documents published at the news site First Look, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the U.K.'s counterpart to the NSA, has an extensive disinformation program to undermine anyone on the Internet.

    Called the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), the program is detailed in an internal training document titled The Art of Deception: Training for a new generation of online covert operations, which First Look published in full. Drawing from numerous academic fields, including anthropology, psychology, and even biology, the manual shows that GCHQ engages in large-scale institutionalized online discrediting attacks against suspects, who aren't necessarily terrorists. It's essentially a modern, online counterpart to COINTELPRO, the FBI's notorious smear programused to harass Martin Luther King, Jr. until his death [Note: MLK, Jr. was killed by the United States government, proven in open court] in 1968.​
     
  12. jkcerda macrumors 6502

    jkcerda

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    #12
    TL, DR. V already he wants to discredit wiki .
     
  13. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    #13
    That's fair, if you're not into this kind of thing (which you're right, not many are) it's probably shocking to see the scope these cover.

    With that said, there are over a million Americans will all kinds of security clearances, so the size of everyone's cyber operations are probably much larger than one would expect.

    Frankly, I think Russia would just be happy if we took even a single year to not push NATO further towards them. We've violated every "gentleman's agreement (HWB)" we've had with them concerning NATO, so their distrust is well earned.
     
  14. thermodynamic Suspended

    thermodynamic

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    #14
    Easy solution - vote with your wallet. Don't watch the news. No ratings = no profits. Sponsors will find somewhere else. Lots of solutions exist, but that one seems the easiest?
     
  15. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #15
    That doesn't really solve the problem.

    Russia Today doesn't rely on advertising dollars for its existence. And I simply don't watch it. The problem is that these stories are spending on social media - not the NBC Nightly News or my local paper.

    In fact, real journalists institutions need my business more than ever if they are to stay in existence. Because, flawed though they might be, they at least have some level of editorial discretion about which stories to run; and fact-checking standards to uphold.

    The problem with false or misleading stories is this: Its much harder to prove something didn't happen than it is to simply make something up. It would take tens of thousands of dollars to
    definitely prove that a gang of muslim youth didn't barge into a German nudist club. I'd literally have to fly to Germany and find and interview people who had been there on a specific date.

    And there simply is no organization thats going to do that. And even if they did prove that a story was false, exaggerated, for simply planted - so what? Russian sock puppets don't care. They don't care if their "journalistic reputation" takes a hit. People have already forgotten that particular incident, and even if they haven't - they've forgotten who told it to them. The damage is done.

    Lastly: I don't doubt that the British and US Government's have people active on social media. But I think we in the west are in a somewhat different position to Russia. We don't have nearly the level of government control over not just the mainstream press; but we don't block access to internet sites the way the Russians do. And I'm not really sure that Russia's version of democracy is quite as susceptible to secretive foreign influence as Britain or the US. A three percent swing in the polls isn't going to mean the end of Putin's Government. But it certainly meant the difference between a "Remain" and "Leave" vote in Britain.

    The RAND Corporation paper had some suggestions about how to counter the problem. But I really think most people have no idea what is going on.
     
  16. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    #16
    Boy you really did step through the looking glass...

    conspiracy.jpg
     
  17. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #17


    No. I don't think so. The "Viktoria Schmidt" incident really did happen. The Russians really did hire a German woman to go on TV and make up false stories about muslim harassment.

    RE: Edward Snowden and his allegations that British GCHQ is running a huge operation similar to that of Putin's Trolls?

    Sorry. But I don't find that to be credible. Not just because Edward Snowden (sitting in his Moscow apartment, having been given sanctuary by
    Vladimir Putin and debriefed by his intelligence service) is not exactly top of my list for objective sources.

    But because the US and Britain would be at a serious tactical disadvantage in any comparable campaign. The number of British or US people conversant in idiomatic Russian, compared to Russians conversant in English is minuscule. Ditto for German, French, Italian. And the number of Brits or Americans conversant in Ukranian or Lithuanian would be smaller still. You'd need to recruit a university trained person; put them through the highest levels of security clearance; plus extensive training. It would cost a minimum of $200,000 per year, per operative (troll, if you like.) While I'm sure Russia can hire an English speaker for a tenth of that or less.

    Then there is the downside: If it leaked out that the British or US Governments were actively sock puppeting public opinion, there would be massive outcry. Politicians would lose their jobs, people would go to jail.

    Putin doesn't care.

    Lastly, there is a fundamental asymmetry in false or exaggerated stories. There is no "positive" equivalent for a false negative on. If a German woman claims falsely that she was harassed by Muslim migrants - that can't be countered by an equally false story that a German woman wasn't hassled by Muslim migrants. A story that "A nice Muslim boy helped Grandma with her groceries" sounds ridiculous.

     
  18. VulchR macrumors 68020

    VulchR

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    #18
    I am not surprised that Russia is doing this. A friend of mine who happens to speak German was hired by a certain intelligence agency and a few years later the Berlin wall fell. The US was probably active in Poland as well, but in any case Putin was in East Germany when the communist regime fell. That made him feel vulnerable and angry - no doubt he hasn't forgotten. Propaganda is easier now - social media costs far less than printing presses. Also, don't forget the PRC's efforts....
     
  19. maxsix Suspended

    maxsix

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    #19
    Putin routinely outsmarts Hussein. Just wait till Hillary slips into the Oval Office. Two experienced devious political hacks Putin and Hillary should provide quite the entertainment.
     
  20. dec. Suspended

    dec.

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    #20
    No wonder that you lack the confidence to tell us who you'd vote for. You're very confused.
     

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