Vladimir Putin’s Stepford Trolls

Intelligence chief Dan Coats says the United States is ‘under attack’  by Vladimir Putin who continues to use our media to spread lies and half-truths as a way to sow division between Americans.

What does this look like for everyday users of Twitter and Facebook?

Screenshot of one of thousands of Russia's Twitterbot

Yesterday I found a list of Russian twitter bots compiled by @slack2thefuture and @horridpoplyrics, two excellent sources of information for twitter users who want to screen out Russian Propaganda.

There are thousands of bots posing as Liberal/Resistance accounts on twitter simultaneously sending the same scripted tweets.

Screenshot of a Russian Twitterbot

Screenshot of a Russian Twitterbot

On first glance the tweets look benign.

Are they?

The tweets are emotional, inflammatory, and divisive.

Screenshot of a Russian Twitterbot
They use Putin’s standard strategy of telling a half truth as in above tweet
about the death of Muhiydin Moye.

Yes, Muhiydin Moye was shot and killed in New Orléans, but there is no evidence the shooting was related to his activism as the tweet implies.

Here’s the full story on CNN:

“An adult black male, identified as Mr. Muhiydin Moye, sustained a gunshot wound to the thigh in a shooting incident that occurred shortly before 1:30 am on February 6th. He was transported to a hospital and subsequently died of his wounds,” NOPD spokesman Beau Tidwell said in an email.

An attorney for the police department said that the incident report citing aggravated battery was the only one available, and that “the signal was recently changed to a homicide.”

The suspect is an unknown stranger, according to the incident report.

Calling him “Moya,” Camille Weaver, Moye’s cousin, said on the GoFundMe page that the family received a call Tuesday morning “saying that he had died due to excessive blood loss. We don’t have many details, but will update as soon as we do.”

 

This tweet tells us that a White Christian Extremist was busted while planning a major terror attack:


Screenshot of Bot tweet White Christian Activist planned terror attack
If you want to know who the ‘extremist’ is you have to click to a site that will likely download malware to your computer.

I checked and found no story about the bust of a ‘Christian extremist’ dated February 10.

The bots never tweet about TrumpRussia.

I scrolled through at least 50 accounts and didn’t see a single tweet about Putin, the Russian attack on the US election or Mueller’s investigation.

The bots do tweet about Trump’s distractions:

Screenshot of a Russian Twitterbot tweet

They cite legitimate news outlets in these tweets but don’t link to the articles.

There are other ‘tells’ but none is as weird as seeing different accounts with profile pictures of the same woman shot from different angles.

Screenshot of a Russian Twitterbot

Cindy Rebala is Stacy Roland

Screenshot of a Russian Twitterbot

Stacy Roland is Kyle Rosemary

Screenshot of a Russian Twitterbot

Kyle Rosemary is Lizza Simmon

Screenshot of a Russian Twitterbot

It’s so weird and diabolical that it’s hard to believe this is happening in life.

Cincinnati political science professor, Dr. Richard Harknett said in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee about Russian cyber operations, “…We are facing comprehensive  strategic campaigns to undermine our national sources of power.”

Screenshot of a Russian Twitterbot
Briteny Alonso is Sasha Mathew

Screenshot of a Russian Twitterbot

I look at these screen shots and feel like I’m looking at a nightmare mashup of Charlie’s Angels and The Stepford Wives:

‘Angel-bots, you’re going under cover; stupid cover, but this is Moscow.’

Rob Goldstein 2018 (all images are twitter screenshots and are presented here for educational purposes)

15 tip-offs that it’s Russian Propaganda

I posted this checklist as the close of,  ‘If you based your vote on Russian Facebook ads you were tricked‘ but decided to post it as an Info-graphic for
people to download and share.

This check-list comes from the Ukraine so the translation into English is a
little shaky. The point is Trump/Putin are pulling the same stunts in the
United States.

Screen shot of 15 points of Russian Propaganda from Euromaidan Press (EP)
15 points of Russian Propaganda from Euromaidan Press (EP)

The only way to stop Putin’s Cyber Attacks is to take his weapon away
from him. We can that, in part, by saying no to his racist appeals and
cynical distortions of the truth.

A russian facebook ad targeting immigrants
One of 470 sites set up by a Russian troll farm –Facebook ads from Russia

Russian information warfare is a psychological attack based on decades
of advanced Soviet Era research into human behavior. 

Peter Pomerantsev, the author of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia” says,Moscow’s propaganda works because it breaks down the distinctions between fact and fiction and provides emotionally satisfying narratives regardless of their truthfulness.”

Screenshot of a russian facebook ad blaiming immigrants for American poverty
Russia’s stories are more emotional and the stories are more exciting even if we know they’re not true.

“The Kremlin narrative,” says Pomerantsev, “is ‘there is no truth out there, and you’ll never find it; but go with us because our emotional content is more vital.”

That promotes cynicism and “cynicism breaks down critical thinking” because at its root is something quite medieval and emotional – a world of myths and storytelling.”

“When you don’t believe in facts,” Pomerantsev concludes, “you are just left with that.”

from Euromaidan Press (EP)

Russian Propaganda Works by confusing fact with fiction

Please download and share the graphic.

Thanks,

Rob Goldstein

A Prayer for Sutherland Springs

As of this writing, the tragedy in Sutherland Springs is not yet three hours old and it’s already in use by Russian trolls on social media to tear people apart.

Screenshot of twitter troll account accusing liberals of politicizing the Sutherland Springs tragedy
Putin’s propaganda of division and hate will not stop until we make it stop.

The best way to honor the dead is to do what we can to stop their use in a vicious enemy’s cynical game.

My prayers for Sutherland Springs are not to God, but to my fellow citizens: I pray that we Americans will unite as a community and work together to exercise our rights with wisdom and common sense.

I pray that we once again value our common heritage and vision
as Americans.

Not as liberals.

Not as Conservatives.

As Americans.

Below is a video from the New York Times about the problem of Russian propaganda and how it affects the quality of our lives.

How Russian Bots and Trolls Invade Our Lives

 

Update: 8:10PM PST

From Adam Schiff:

Update: 8:46PM PST

From Adam Schiff

Update: 11/06/17 10:56AM

There is no evidence 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley was affiliated with the so-called ‘left wing’ or connected to the so-called ‘antifa movement.’

From the New York Times:

According to The San Antonio Express-News, Kelley served in the Air Force but was court-martialed in 2012 and guilty of domestic violence. He’d assaulted his wife and young child, the court-martial found, and sentenced him to 12 months of confinement and gave him a “bad discharge” from the Air Force. In 2014, Kelley appealed the ruling but lost, The New York Times reported. “He assaulted his stepson severely enough that he fractured his skull, and he also assaulted his wife,” retired colonel Don Christensen, who was the chief prosecutor for the Air Force, told the Times. “He pled to intentionally doing it.”

Yet, this morning, Russian State Media, Russia Today, is playing gaslight with Facebook readers with lies about the shooting in Sutherland Springs:

According to every credible news outlet the gunman was violent toward his wife and child and sent a threatening text to his mother-in-law before the shooting.

Facebook is still letting Russian State Media use its platform to spread frightening and divisive lies.

Why?

Update: 11/06/17 2:54PM

Russia Today retracts its story that the Sutherland Springs shooter had leftist ‘antifa’ connections:

Screenshhot of a Russia Today retraction of a claim that the Sutherland Springs Shooter was a leftist
Screenshot of Russia Today story retraction.

“We got it wrong and will do our best to provide you verified information in dynamic breaking news circumstances.”
Russia Today

 

Is this more recent story about Twitter based on ‘verified information’?

A Lie posted by Russia Today to its Facebook feed that reads Twitter admitted to censuring the Podesta and DNCLeaks hashtags during the 2016 election cycle.
A Lie posted by Russia Today to its Facebook Timeline

Despite Igor Koske’s fervent gratitude to Russia Today for providing a Russian citizen with an alternative to America’s Cable Network News, this RT Twitter fiction doesn’t exist beyond Russia’s fog of fake right-wing news outlets.

A screenshot of Google's top results for a search for 'Twitter admits suppressing Podesta and DNCLeaks hashtags with Brietbart and Infowars in the top four.
Russia’s Fog of Fake Right Wing News Outlets

 

Rob Goldstein 2017

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To My Friends and Family on Facebook, I’m closing my Facebook Accounts

Update 10/05/2917: The Wall Street Journal reports that the Facebook legal team decided to delete all references to Russia from an April report about election meddling.

Screen shot of an October 5th Wall Street Journal report that Facebook cut references to Russia from an April report
The Wall Street Journal, October 5th.

A 13-page report, published on April 27 and titled “Information Operations and Facebook,” was shortened by several pages by Facebook’s legal and policy teams from an earlier draft, and didn’t mention Russia at all, the people said.

Rather, it concluded that “malicious actors” engaged in influence campaigns during the U.S. presidential election but said it couldn’t determine who was responsible. The extent of Facebook’s understanding at the time of Russian influence is unclear.

It wasn’t until a Sept. 6 Facebook newsroom blog post that the company publicly identified Russia as a source of such efforts.


Update: 09/27/2017 
This is the latest update from ABC News on Russia’s weaponized use of Facebook to subvert the 2016 U.S. Election

 

A screenshot of a September 27, 2017 report from ABC News regarding Putin's use of Facebook to steal the 2016 US Election
Russia pushed Trump as the only viable option

 


Posts that circulated to a targeted, swing-state audience on the social media site railed against illegal immigrants and claimed “the only viable option is to elect Trump.” They were shared by what looked like a grassroots American group called Secured Borders, but Congressional investigators say the group is actually a Russian fabrication designed to influence American voters during and after the presidential election.

“Their goal was to spread dissension, was to split our country apart, and they did a pretty good job,” said Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Facebook told Congressional investigators about a series of posts from a group calling itself “Secured Borders,” which had the look of a grassroots American, anti-immigrant organization. Many of the group’s posts, retrieved from online archives by ABC News, include pointed, pro-Trump messages.

“How dare they accuse Donald Trump of racism and sexism just because he’s concerned about the well-being of Americans??” read one using an image of actor Jack Nicholson, dated Oct. 19. “If wanting to remove criminal alien scum from our streets is raciest and deplorable, then by all means count me in that basket!”

 

Update: 09/25/2017 This is the latest update from the Washington Post on Russia’s weaponized use of Facebook to subvert the 2016 U.S. Election.

Screenshot of a September 25, 2017 headline from the Washington Post that Reads: Russian operatives used Facebook ads to exploit America’s racial and religious divisions. Mark Zuckerburg is in the image.
September 25, 2017 Russian operatives used Facebook ads to exploit America’s racial and religious divisions

The Russian campaign — taking advantage of Facebook’s ability to send contrary messages to different groups of users based on their political and demographic characteristics — also sought to sow discord among religious groups. Other ads highlighted support for Democrat Hillary Clinton among Muslim women.

These targeted messages, along with others that have surfaced in recent days, highlight the sophistication of an influence campaign slickly crafted to mimic and infiltrate U.S. political discourse while also seeking to heighten tensions between groups already wary of one another.


An online info graphic that falsely claims American Intelligence Officials stated there was no collusion with Russia or Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Election
A Facebook meme falsely claiming that American Intelligence officials claimed there was no Russian Collusion or interference in the 2016 U.S. Election

I’ve used the meme in the header to illustrate the use of half-truth as propaganda.

Comey, Clapper and Brennon did not say there is no Russian collusion.

What they said, to be precise is this:

“There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever; the Russians interfered in our election.” James Comey June 08, 2017

The Russians used cyber operations against both political parties, including hacking into servers used by the Democratic National Committee and releasing stolen data to WikiLeaks and other media outlets. Russia also collected on certain Republican Party- affiliated targets, but did not release any Republican-related data. The Intelligence Community Assessment concluded first that President Putin directed an influence campaign to erode the faith and confidence of the American people in our presidential election process. Second, that he did so to demean Secretary Clinton, and third, that he sought to advantage Mr. Trump. These conclusions were reached based on the richness of the information gathered and analyzed and were thoroughly vetted and then approved by the directors of the three agencies and me.  James Clapper May 08, 2017

“Well, for the last 241 years, the nation and the citizens have cherished the freedom and liberty upon which this country was founded upon. Many brave Americans have lost their lives to protect that freedom and liberty and lost their lives to protect the freedom and liberties of other peoples around the world. Our ability to choose our elected leaders, as we see fit, is, I believe, an inalienable right that we must protect with all of the resources and authority and power.

“And the fact that the Russians tried to influence resources and authority and power, and the fact that the Russians tried to influence that election so that the will of the American people was not going to be realized by that election, I find outrageous and something that we need to, with every last ounce of devotion to this country, resist and try to act to prevent further instances of that. And so, therefore, I believe, this is something that’s critically important to every American. Certainly, it’s very important for me, for my children and grandchildren to make sure that never again will a foreign country try to influence and interfere in the foundation stone of this country, which is electing our democratic leaders.” John Brennon NPR

The term ‘Russian collusion’ is a classic gaslight.

Brennon, Clapper and  Comey did not mention “Russian collusion” because
the Russians can’t collude with their own intelligence operations.

Russia committed an more serious crime and on this, they all agree:

President Putin directed an influence campaign to erode the faith and confidence of the American people in our presidential election process. Second, that he did so to demean Secretary Clinton, and third, that he sought to advantage Mr. Trump. James Clapper

Who benefits from spreading lies?

Today I learned the folks who run Facebook knew that Russia was working to subvert the 2016 U.S. election and allowed them to do it.

Facebook officials reported that they traced the ad sales, totaling $100,000, to a Russian “troll farm” with a history of pushing pro-Kremlin propaganda, these people said. The Washington Post

It’s distressing to have friends and family I dearly love on the irrational side of a political debate based on weaponized lies.

All things are not equal. All systems are not equally corrupt.

Regardless of our mistakes in the United States the hope of a liberal democracy lies in the power of the people to criticize and shape their government.

Most of the ads, according to a blog post published late Wednesday by Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, “appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.” The Washington Post

In short, Vladimir Putin’s government purchased $100,000 in ads to
promote racism, sexism, anti-immigrant bashing, and homophobia.

My fellow citizens are not my enemy.

My family is not my enemy.

Old friends are not my enemy.

My enemy is a Russian dictator who uses Internet Technology to poison the political debates of democratic nations.

Facebook reported in its blog post Wednesday that about one-quarter of the ads in question were “geographically targeted,” although company officials declined to provide specifics about what areas or demographic groups were the recipients. Of those targeted ads, the company said, more ran in 2015 than 2016. The Washington Post

Putin targeted specific ‘types’ of people for specific kinds of lies in a bid to control how they think and act.

Facebook helped to deliver the U.S.  government to one of America’s most
vicious enemies.

I am therefore closing my Facebook account.

I recommend anyone who values our democracy to do the same.

Giving a forum to people who advocate killing other Americans for being different is morally deranged.

Stop enabling the insanity and those who profit from it.

If you need to contact me you can find me at www.robertmgoldstein.com.

You can also reach me at robertmgoldstein@yahoo.com.

Please be advised that I automatically delete email that doesn’t have
a clear subject line.

I also report abuse.

Thanks,

Rob Goldstein

Update: As of 09/08/2017 I’ve closed my Facebook account.

Here are more recent reports about Facebook’s profiling of its users:

Facebook targeted specific Facebook users in specific locations:

The Putin/Trump team used the Data to target specific Facebook users with specific psychological strengths and weaknesses.

Below is an ad targeted to people least likely to verify it as factual.

A Facebook at of Hillary Clinton in a Burka Claiming she is pushing Sharia Law and calling her Killary
These are the Kinds of Ads Facebook Sold

Here’s another example:

an ad sold on Facebook that claims democrats are giving away citizenship to increase their base
These are the Kinds of Ads Facebook Sold

An operation like this needed an America that was already divided by decades of the GOP’s Southern Strategy.


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