Back then — now Trump wants to get Flynn out of the latter’s guilty plea and the Greens no longer openly hobnob with Putin and the Trump campaign but still say nothing about swarms of fake Facebook personas coming onto Bernie groups preaching “vote Green” and repeating right-wing anti-Biden memes.
A warning from a Democratic member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee
The link to the Pelosi letter is here.
The link to this statement is here.
The link to this statement is here.
The link to the article is here.
The link to the article is here.
I am also an active Democrat — how good or bad of one we Democrats in Panama will perhaps discuss after the election — and this old hippie activist. Since 2016 I have been an administrator of the Expats for Sanders Facebook group (we DID win the Democrats Abroad global primary again this year) and more recently, with Yippie legend and group founder Aron Kay ailing, I have become an administrator with the Aging Hippies for Bernie Sanders group. I came into responsible positions with both groups in times that they were facing enemy troll wave attacks.
The technology is always advancing, as is public awareness of what goes on and corporate and political reactions to that, but the basic stuff is very old. And the arts of creating fake persona bots and trolls can be quite sophisticated, but even compared to 2016 this year’s norms have regressed to quite primitive.
First, the difference between a bot and a troll is generally function. A bot is a bit of code that presents an image of a person but has no speaking role. It’s used to “like” or “follow” some dubious page, persona or account to promote its rankings with the company running the particular social medium, so as to reach more people. But bots are often amenable to being fleshed out enough to be given speaking false persona roles through which trolls operate. The question does arise whether old bots which survived mass purges between the last presidential election season have now have been upgraded to be used by trolls this time around. It might explain a lot of things about artistic levels if that is the case.
As a group administrator, look first at behavior. Is somebody coming into a progressive group running a de facto ‘abstain from voting against Donald Trump’ message? Might be a ‘vote Green’ ploy, or a ‘write in Bernie Sanders’ message, or a ‘vote for Kanye West’ argument or — more common then than now — this nonsense about how it’s “woke” for young African-American adults not to vote. At this point, and especially given the endorsements of Joe Biden by Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz and virtually all of the leading American progressives, that stuff just ought to be eliminated from any group bearing the name of anyone who has endorsed Biden. But you really want to distinguish among causes for the deletion of a post or comment, the placing of a person on moderation during the campaign season and the definitive expulsion of an account.
False personas advocating voter abstention need to be definitively kicked out. Real people with genuine progressive credentials who don’t much like Joe Biden and say as much should be respected as people and engaged in reasonable debate.
So, the person or persona who posts something that ought to be deleted should be looked up. Did this account get created last week? Is the sum of its messaging a mix of Bernie Sanders primary arguments against Joe Biden and rightist conspiracy theories or memes? Does the name sound odd? Is the photo one of some celebrity, or of a cat? Do you go to the “about” part and find no information listed? Or spurious or clearly false information listed? Do you go deeper and look at what the Facebook account says that they like and find an odd mix for anyone in any generation of a progressive social milieu? (Or more telling yet, go down to the things they say they like, or into their photos, and see all these Confederate flags?)
These are all hallmarks of a fake persona at a primitive level of the art. There are lots of these popping up in the social media these days.
A great quick red flag — are they in a Bernie group, which they only joined AFTER Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign? There are legitimate folks who have done that — it’s about us, not him, and it’s a movement, not a personality, so he tells us. But a simple date may call for deeper investigation.
I have run across a couple of more sophisticated troll personas that made me suspect, with no way of proving, that we are dealing with Russians.
There was the guy (or so projected) in a Bernie group, claiming to be from New Zealand. Born and educated there, works there, so the Facebook profile says. Almost all posts about US politics. Nothing at all about the American community in New Zealand.
Similarly, the purported guy from the north of England. Nothing at all about England. Nothing about the large Democrats Abroad chapter in the UK or any other Americans. Born, educated and lives in the same part of northeastern England. All this trash Joe Biden ‘from the left’ stuff, and a bit about 9/11 being a false flag event staged by an international Jewish conspiracy.
And what else do the two guys above have in common? Writing perfect American Standard English of a bland midwestern variety. Not one phrase of Kiwi or Brit usage. Much better language institute students than Boris and Natasha ever were, but not so steeped in the dialects and histories of the English-speaking peoples to be convincing.
There are and were in 2016 entire fake leftist groups using Bernie’s or AOC’s names. They have attracted real people, who recoil at the abstention messaged they allow or promote. One of the hallmarks is their screeds against progressives who are voting for the Democrats on the charge of “vote shaming.” The next US Congress really ought to call some of the people involved to come before committees and explain. Not just for the purposes of exposing slime, but for some legislative purposes like what ought to be done about Facebook, Google et al.
Finally, let me say as an old antiwar hippie who lives abroad that although I think that Senator Murphy says a timely and important thing, at the end of the day it will be in America’s interest to reduce tensions and reach certain understandings with Putin. And with other bad guys like Modi, and with Latin American leaders who have fallen ill with the caudillo compulsion. Thing is, Donald Trump owes too much to Putin to deal with Russia properly, at arm’s length, talking nation to nation.
Let’s have these discussions about US foreign policy among calm Americans of varying points of view. But let’s give the fake persona trolls the bums’ rush.
Some of the hallmarks of Trump troll primitivism.
See also this screen shot collection.
[Eric Jackson, a dual US and Panamanian citizen by birth and resident of Panama, in addition to publishing The Panama News is also vice chair and past chair of Democrats Abroad Panama. Here he does not speak for Panama’s Democratic organization, only himself.]
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