You have to admire the Russians. They are the ultimate internet trolls…

Seems Theresa May is getting annoyed at Russian meddling in Western politics. From the BBC:

Senior Russian politicians have dismissed accusations by Theresa May that Moscow has meddled in elections and carried out cyber-espionage.
On Monday night, Mrs May accused Moscow of “planting fake stories” to “sow discord in the West”.
She said Vladimir Putin’s government was trying to “undermine free societies”.

The Russians hit back with:

The Russians have been accused of helping to put Trump into power, as well as interfering in the French, German and Brexit elections. How much is true? Who knows, but you get the feeling Vladimir is having a good old chuckle to himself at the chaos he is creating.

My favourite Russian story is this gem from Business Insider:

Russian actors organized both anti-Islam and pro-Islam protests in the same location at the same time on May 21, 2016, using separate Facebook pages operated from a so-called troll farm in St. Petersburg, the Senate Intelligence Committee disclosed on Wednesday.

A Facebook page named Heart of Texas, whose link to Russia was first reported by Business Insider, organized a rally at noon on May 21 at the Islamic Da’wah Center in Houston to “Stop Islamization of Texas.” The account paid to promote the event, which was viewed by about 12,000 people, said the committee’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr.

Another Russia-linked account, United Muslims of America, organized a counterprotest — a “Save Islamic Knowledge” rally.

“What neither side could have known was that Russian trolls were encouraging both sides to battle in the streets and create division between real Americans,” Burr said on Wednesday during an open hearing with the general counsels of Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

“Ironically, one person who attended stated, ‘The Heart of Texas promoted this event, but we didn’t see one of them,'” Burr said. “We now know why. It’s hard to attend an event in Houston, Texas, when you’re trolling from a site in St. Petersburg, Russia.”

And the cost of causing all this chaos?

Burr said that organizing and promoting these protests cost Russia “about $200.”

There are several interesting things about this situation. The power of social media, how fragile our democracies and systems are, and most importantly how easy it is to mess with the minds of a large section of the population. Who needs armies when you can take down a government with Facebook?

I wonder could we take down a government with Slugger? Oh wait, we don’t need too…

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  • Food First

    Whached Burgess & McLean the Cambridge Spy ring on B B C 4 last night nothing changes other then the technology
    I have some sympathy for the Trump view we should be building bridges to Russia it might be crony capitalism but its better then communism

  • Erewhon888

    This must be the right place for a pointer to Paul Craig Roberts’ thoughts on this subject. https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/11/13/will-america-survive-washington-paul-craig-roberts/

  • The Saint

    Don’t you think the poor get screwed either way?

  • Sean Danaher

    Interesting but perhaps predictable that she didn’t mention something much closer to home, deep suspicions about the Russian’s targeting the Brexit Referendum see for example: http://www.wired.co.uk/article/brexit-russia-influence-twitter-bots-internet-research-agency

    Brexit would be totally fascinating if it were not so potentially damaging.

  • Brian O’Neill

    Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it’s just the opposite. John Kenneth Galbraith

  • murdockp
  • Sean Danaher

    I do support the Guardian and read the FT regularly. My opinion of the Mail is not repeatable in polite company but is devoured by the retirees in my local Ponteland supermarket. Dacre, Mordoch and the Barclay brothers will have a lot to answer for if it all goes wrong, which sadly I think is inevitable.

  • britbob

    Russia is a member of the UN C24 Decolonization Committee and actively supports Argentina’s Falklands claim. Ever heard of a territory being usurped in the 19th Century? Neither have I.
    Falkland Islands – The Usurpation (1 pg): https://www.academia.edu/34838377/Falkland_Islands_The_Usurpation

  • The Saint

    I like that

  • Zorin001

    I think it will be one of those stories were we won’t find out what really happened till the majority of the major players are dead.

    “follow the money” is always the most useful advice in these circumstances

  • Zorin001

    And to address your link, the Soviet Union’s most potent weapon was not it’s army or missiles but the strength of its spycraft.

    I’ve no doubts that a lot of those old hands who probably “moonlighted” during the wasted years of the 90s are firmly back in Putin’s fold and I’m sure they are passing on their wealth of experience to the tech savvy “young Turks” of the SVR and GRU.

  • Cadogan West

    The discussion is about Putin not the DM! Russia has always been a barbarous place from Ivan the Terrible onwards. To think news stories generated by social media Twitter bots are being believed and ending up in the DM and other gutter press rags is understandable. Clearly Putin et al has lots of spare time. I would never admire the Russians on anything, Nil admirari as my latin master at Stowe Piggy Hunter used to say. Private Eye is a far more reliable source of news about news behind the news and hidden agendas which all press stories seem lumbered with.

  • Neiltoo

    You should all support it,

    Should? Really? In a sort of a ‘if you don’t, you’re a lesser person’ sort of way? Please clarify.

    Of course, the Guardian don’t have an agenda.

  • Zorin001

    Of course it does, so does all media, but it’s agenda is slightly more palatable than the Mails.

  • Neiltoo

    Well that was sort of my point. Palatable to whom?

  • Salmondnet

    To the tiny number of people who actually read The Guardian (mostly public sector workers) and the even smaller number of people who pay for it. Having said that, at least it isn’t funded by a poll tax, unlike its broadcasting counterpart, the BBC, so credit where it is due.

  • Zig70

    Didn’t Theresa say herself she had no evidence. How do you know with no evidence, unless it’s a cunning plan. If you destabilize the government we will all end up in Gulags, she cries.

  • james

    The Guardian mostly appeals to trustifarians and morons.

  • Zig70

    Brexit economic suicide for the workers If you are rich, sell now, buy when it crashes. Rinse and repeat. While, I’m verging off topic, I hope Geldof gives up his freedom to come to Ireland, never mind Dublin.

  • murdockp

    What did you think of the movie death of Stalin?

  • murdockp

    No you can read what you wish. However If you want exemplar journalism guardian is hard to beat

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The Guardian has been targeted by the hard Brexit automatic response team, and the “ save the abusers who are trolling honest comments on its threads to such an extent that the treads are now regularly close down when the sheer levels of poison and crude misogyny overfloods. They appear to have been attracted to the higher standard of information and arguement on its articles like cockroaches to Guinness.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Certainly it appeals to those “morons” who are are still thinking with their intellegence rather than with their automatic response encodings.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you Brian, having worked in the London Advertising scene in the 1970/90 period the manipulation of shoppers actions is a familiar book to me. In a short article you are vividly showing how the very same techniques of creating in groups and setting them against each other to achieve the ends of current political “marketing” can be done for $200. Of course this is just the Campaign and does not describe expense of the “think tanks” behind the scenes which put concepts together, but it beats the great expense of the old media campaigns of 20/30 years ago. People are now much cheaper to influence.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I thought we were already there!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Or as Yeats put it:

    Hurrah for the revolution and more cannon shot,
    A begger on horseback lashes a begger on foot,
    Hurrah for the revolution and canon come again,
    The beggars have changed places but the lash goes on.

    Quoting from memory so the punctuation may need attention.

  • Reader

    SeaanUiNeill: the abusers who are trolling honest comments on its threads to such an extent that the treads are now regularly close down when the sheer levels of poison and crude misogyny overfloods.
    I read the Guardian far more than all other papers combined. The Guardian opinion columns are my favourite (only!) blood-sport. Some of the stuff that happens Below The Line is far more informative than much of the material presented ATL. That’s why some comment areas are closed so quickly. The moderators are easily able to keep up with the abuse and the hate speech, but what can they do about fisking?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’m still seeing a lot of seriously abusive misogyny unpoliced which I know has discouraged some very serious female commentators to withdraw from commenting, especially during the Westminster abuse issues being aired. I’d agree about the “informative” bit, but thats the very thing which such ugly, pointless abuse simply blocks .

  • Erewhon888

    It’s certainly easy to “mess with the minds of a large section of the population”.

    As a writer from Medium observed: “people ask why I’m skeptical of the establishment Russia narrative. I’m skeptical because we’re being lied to every single step of the way by the news media who claim to be helping the public discover the truth”.

    The suppsedly trustworthy Guardian comes out badly in this story http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-15/%E2%80%98-atlantic%E2%80%99-commits-malpractice-selectively-edits-smear-wikileaks of distortion and misrepresentation concerning Russians, Wikileaks and Trump Jr.

  • Zorin001

    Those of us who can do without Paul Dacres loathing and contempt for the modern world

  • james

    I don’t see how you make that argument, given the extremely naiive and entirely predictable take on most issues of the day that the Guardian espouses.

    In fact, ‘automatic response encodings’ is probably a fair descriptor – given that most people who read the Guardian do so not to have their mindset challenged, but to have it stroked.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Of course you don’t see the arguement James, I’d be surprised if you did, given the level of denial in your postings. But I live in hope that someday a tiny sliver of reality might break through……

  • james

    Fairly typical of the arrogance of the Left, neatly summarized there.

    You “ive in hope that someday a tiny sliver of reality might break through……” – and I will realize that you are right, and I am wrong.

    That sort of attitude sets you fairly centrally in the Guardian-reader demographic of uncritical self-satisfaction.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    James dear, just listen to yourself “the Guardian mostly appeals to trustifarians and morons” and you have the timerity to, really, call ME arrogant!!!!!

    I actually credit you with the ability to perhaps recognise reality someday, which is rather more than your own characterisation of the audience for what is clearly one of the few remaining platforms for investigative of analytic journalism! “Uncritical” ….ho, humm

  • babyface finlayson

    Seaan
    It is a pity to see so many columns closed for comment now.
    Yes there is some misogyny but personally I have not seen much blatant abuse in comments.
    It seems to me that sometimes it is comment that questions the paper’s line on stories such as the recent abuse stories which is being closed down.
    These issues and the proper response to them should be open to debate.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ask any women you know who commented on the Guardian why they have now stopped. The colonising of the threads by trolls of the Daily Mail reader variety recently has been stifling the high level of debate previously evident. The “ abuse” threads are spesifically what I’m referring to. Yes, the debate is important but the sheer nastiness of the rough treatment meted out to any survivor who tried to conmment was obscene.

  • babyface finlayson

    Seaan
    I recall plenty of comments disagreeing with views on the seriousness of the problem in general or how it should be dealt with, but I don’t recall seeing any nasty treatment aimed at survivors.
    Better simply to delete such comments (and they deleted plenty) rather than shut down debate altogether, in my view.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’d agree that the debate should have been managed, but I’ve had runs from threads quoted to me by survivors which were pretty vicious. I’ve known quite a few survivors (and two abuse suicides) while I was in the media, so perhaps my own sensitivities are more fine tuned to what constitutes aggression and what works as debate in these cases. I’m very aware that any “praise” of well known abusers, such as the celebrity event of Clement Freud’s funeral and Gordon Brown’s “ national treasure” elegy was acid in the eyes for such people at the time.

  • babyface finlayson

    Seaan
    On the threads you refer to, I assume the vicious comments were reported and then removed by moderators?
    I don’t understand the need to close all comments since truly nasty comments are generally not that prevalent. We have no way of knowing how prevalent and it is a matter of personal experience.
    It seems like an over-reaction on the part of the Guardian to the expression of disagreeable sentiments.
    Of course your experience is clearly different from mine and I accept that.
    I blame the Ruski trolls (trollski).

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I think a lot of closing of theads is politically motivated. I note that articles such as Peter Walkers’ featuring Arlene’s comments yesterday on the Guardian are not open to comment, although she is making some very very debatable statements.

    “ Corbin Government would be a disaster forNorthern Ireland says DUP leader”.

    She claims that the DUPs negative views on progressive issues are mainstream in NI, trying to avoid the fact that her party required s petition of concern to quash the majority vote, and that the DUP do not have terrorist links! I’m surprised that Peter did not articulate this more. As it comes over as a puff piece.