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    France Administrator Hervé's Avatar
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    Default Boxing With Shadows

    Government propaganda, automated bots, and Internet trolls - The battle to control public opinion and manipulate social media


    Washington's Blog
    Mon, 23 Mar 2015 19:34 CET



    Rampant Disinformation

    NATO has announced that it is launching an "information war" against Russia. The UK publicly announced a battalion of keyboard warriors to spread disinformation.

    It's well-documented that the West has long used false propaganda to sway public opinion. Western military and intelligence services manipulate social media to counter criticism of Western policies.

    Such manipulation includes flooding social media with comments supporting the government and large corporations, using armies of sock puppets, i.e. fake social media identities. See this, this, this, this and this.

    In 2013, the American Congress repealed the formal ban against the deployment of propaganda against U.S. citizens living on American soil. So there's even less to constrain propaganda than before.

    Information warfare for propaganda purposes also includes:
    • The Pentagon, Federal Reserve and other government entities using software to track discussion of political issues ... to try to nip dissent in the bud before it goes viral

    Automated Propaganda

    Some of the propaganda is spread by software programs.

    We pointed out 6 years ago that people were writing scripts to censor hard-hitting information from social media.

    One of America's top cyber-propagandists - former high-level military information officer Joel Harding - wrote in December:
    I was in a discussion today about information being used in social media as a possible weapon. The people I was talking with have a tool which scrapes social media sites, gauges their sentiment and gives the user the opportunity to automatically generate a persuasive response. Their tool is called a "Social Networking Influence Engine".

    ***
    The implications seem to be profound for the information environment.
    ***
    The people who own this tool are in the civilian world and don't even remotely touch the defense sector, so getting approval from the US Department of State might not even occur to them.

    How Can This Be Real?

    Gizmodo reported in 2010:
    Software developer Nigel Leck got tired rehashing the same 140-character arguments against climate change deniers, so he programmed a bot that does the work for him. With citations!

    Leck's bot, @AI_AGW, doesn't just respond to arguments directed at Leck himself, it goes out and picks fights. Every five minutes it trawls Twitter for terms and phrases that commonly crop up in Tweets that refute human-caused climate change. It then searches its database of hundreds to find a counter-argument best suited for that tweet—usually a quick statement and a link to a scientific source.

    As can be the case with these sorts of things, many of the deniers don't know they've been targeted by a robot and engage AI_AGW in debate. The bot will continue to fire back canned responses that best fit the interlocutor's line of debate—Leck says this goes on for days, in some cases—and the bot's been outfitted with a number of responses on the topic of religion, where the arguments unsurprisingly often end up.
    Technology has come a long way in the past 5 years. So if a lone programmer could do this 5 years ago, imagine what he could do now.

    And the big players have a lot more resources at their disposal than a lone climate activist/software developer does. For example, a government expert told the Washington Post that the government "quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type" (and see this). So if the lone programmer is doing it, it's not unreasonable to assume that the big boys are widely doing it.


    How Does It Work?
    How does this work?

    We have no inside knowledge, but we can imagine some possibilities:
    • Any article that includes the words "Russia" or "Ukraine" automatically triggers comments accusing Russia of seeking to form a new empire, Putin of being the new Hitler, and the Russians invading and being responsible for all of the violence Ukraine
    • Any article including the words "NSA", "spying" or "mass surveillance" automatically triggers comments saying that the government is just trying keep us safe, and anyone who questions their actions is a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist who lives in his mom's basement
    • Any article mentioning the phrases "Federal Reserve" or "quantitative easing" automatically launches comments saying that the Fed is doing the best it can under difficult circumstances, and that the economy would be much worse without QE
    So that moron who keeps spewing garbage - and doesn't seem like he's even listening to your responses - may actually be a bot.


    How Effective Are Automated Comments?

    Unfortunately, this is more effective than you might assume ...

    Specifically, scientists have shown that name-calling and swearing breaks down people's ability to think rationally ... and intentionally sowing discord and posting junk comments to push down insightful comments are common propaganda techniques.

    Indeed, an automated program need not even be that sophisticated ... it can copy a couple of words from the main post or a comment, and then spew back one or more radioactive labels such as "terrorist", "commie", "Russia-lover", "wimp", "fascist", "loser", "traitor", "conspiratard", etc.

    Given that Harding and his compadres consider anyone who questions any U.S. policies as an enemy of the state - as does the Obama administration (and see this) - many honest, patriotic writers and commenters may be targeted for automated propaganda comments.
    "La réalité est un rêve que l'on fait atterrir" San Antonio AKA F. Dard

    Troll-hood motto: Never, ever, however, whatsoever, to anyone, a point concede.

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    Default Re: Boxing With Shadows

    It's only going to get worse I am afraid.

    I wonder if one day we will find two bots accidently spoofing each other in a vicious cycle. We can call it A Bot Troll War.

    It would be fascinating to have a confirmed catch of a bot on Avalon. Could a bot infiltrate a vetting process on a forum without human intervention? Only a matter of time I would imagine.

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    Default Re: Boxing With Shadows

    this sh*t is happening in games too, you wouldn't believe the fking trolls in wow just to name one mainstream ave.

    i wondered if it was bots or just no lifer gang banger desk dutiers who play wow and also engage in racism/towing corporate line...

    our modern world is just too weird. too strange.
    i mean, people burned witches up until recently,
    to replace that kind of intelligence with a parroting racist corporate robot without a soul... lol

    @_@ ahmahgawd.

    Dunno if it's the news or my diet causing diarrhea anymore.

    p.s. an editorial writer for a pittsburg area newspaper,
    howard something, wrote a piece this week on frats and racism in his day,
    and i could have sworn half the comments below his story were some sort of bot/troll/racist meme generator...

    surely these are not flesh and blood humans doing this all day?
    my god. @@


    internet + racists = winged monkeys from OZ
    p.s. and a little dog named n-word who resides on campus (tru story)
    Last edited by Tesla_WTC_Solution; 24th March 2015 at 20:29.

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    Default Re: Boxing With Shadows

    Just go to see any political news videos today, like the ones in Russia Today, Vice News, The Young Turks, China Uncensored etc. and check out the comment sections there. Russian, US and Chinese troll armies are fighting there 24/7. It would be quite hilarious if it wasn't so sad, but those trolls make some places unreadable, because the dumbness there is just way too thick. I think their most favorite words in their vocabulary these days are; muslim, Putin, Obama, jew.
    "When you've seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there." ~ George Harrison

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    Avalon Member avid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boxing With Shadows

    and of course the MSM's constant diatribe promoting their own ends.. pro-Obama, pro-Israel, pro-Putin, pro-muslim - PRO corporatisation using any vile means possible. Comments abound. Sorry - forgot about the terrible persecution of innocents in Palestine. We must NOT FORGET the injustices of all this 'struggle' for world resources, it reverberates in Africa, South America, Asia, the Middle East - in fact everywhere, even in northern European countries who thought they were safe and free! Keep watching alternative sites globally - they are important. You can discern for yourself.
    The love you withhold is the pain that you carry
    and er..
    "Chariots of the Globs" (apols to Fat Freddy's Cat)

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    Default Re: Boxing With Shadows

    Quote Posted by avid (here)
    and of course the MSM's constant diatribe promoting their own ends.. pro-Obama, pro-Israel, pro-Putin, pro-muslim - PRO corporatisation using any vile means possible. Comments abound. Sorry - forgot about the terrible persecution of innocents in Palestine. We must NOT FORGET the injustices of all this 'struggle' for world resources, it reverberates in Africa, South America, Asia, the Middle East - in fact everywhere, even in northern European countries who thought they were safe and free! Keep watching alternative sites globally - they are important. You can discern for yourself.
    @ Wind: laugh/cry!

    @ avid: the MSM uses distractionary tactics. i.e. putin and netanyahooooooo get all the press and vanuatu for ex gets little altho lots are starving etc....
    its not a fair world, and the media makes it a cess pit. i agree re: the trolls, we should kind of ignore them and perhaps some startup companies will offer some REAL webspace without the NSA diaper strings attached to them.
    red tape to the moon and back..


    p.s. in the mil about 10 years ago, we'd talk about the troll armies, we called them data miners in china. what our bosses didnt know or didnt say, because the curriculum was hand me down, was that there are more than chinese trolls out there, its many many countries driving human thought into the toilet


    Last edited by Tesla_WTC_Solution; 24th March 2015 at 23:45.

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