I’m a Russian bot.
I don’t consider myself a Russian bot. I’m just a semi-retired old man who criticizes the government on social media.
According to the government and its media, I am a Russian bot, or possibly a useful idiot for Russian president Vladimir Putin, who is, according to them, the New Hitler. They say Putin is trying to destroy the West using social media.
I know. It’s absurd. You can’t make this shit up.
I only have around 15 thousand followers on Twitter, so I am not officially a Russian bot called out by the propaganda media like Partisan Girl, Sarah Abdullah, or Ian56.
I’m a minor league Russian bot.
Of course, beyond the confines of Bizarro World, none of us are bots, or internet robots, posting to social media.
We are real humans.
We are considered Russian bots because only evil Russians are opposed to democracy. Only evil Russians say the chemical attack in Syria is fake. If you question the supposed Skripal poisoning you’re a Russian agent determined to undermine and destroy democracy. If you criticize the eight year-long manufactured war in Syria that has thus far claimed the lives of half a million people, you’re a supporter of Bashar al-Assad. You love chlorine gas and barrel bombs. You revel in the suffering of children.
It’s black and white.
If you oppose the establishment—or consider yourself part of the establishment but are interested in reforming it—you’re a Russian troll.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition in Britain, was helped by a legion of Russian bots, or so the Sunday Times and Swansea University tell us.
This duo conducted a study that “found 6,500 Russian Twitter accounts tweeting messages supporting Corbyn and the Labour party as well as criticizing the Conservative government they faced” during the general election in 2017.
The supposed bots, many “that masqueraded under female English names but were in fact mass-produced to bombard the public with orchestrated political messages,” are “just the tip of the iceberg” of a nefarious operation run by the New Hitler in Russia.
Swansea academics are calling on “Twitter to investigate fully the true scale of Russian meddling in British politics,” according to Esquire.
These supposed accounts, of course, had absolutely zero impact on the election, same as supposed Russian bot accounts on social media had zero effect on the 2016 election in America.
I want to have a look at the research behind this story. But it’s still really hard to prove any Twitter bot activity actually influenced anyone, actually reached a large number of people, or changed anyone’s votes. pic.twitter.com/es3ls79wbk
— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) April 28, 2018
Not that it matters.
Government is wedded to this disinformation campaign. It will continue until social media is purged of Russian bots that are in fact real humans with real complaints about the establishment.
The British government’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee wants to grill Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. The bureaucrats are not satisfied with the answers Zuckerberg gave in response to a grilling before the US Congress.
I have today written to @facebook requesting that Mark Zuckerberg appears in front of @CommonsCMS as part of our inquiry into fake news and disinformation. Read it here: https://t.co/jXZ5TjiZld pic.twitter.com/m0NU5Uyf2L
— Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) May 1, 2018
Zuckerberg is not under the jurisdiction of the UK Parliament, but “he will do so the next time he enters the country,” according to Damian Collins, Conservative Party MP for Folkestone and Hythe.
This demand apparently revolves around using data analytics for political purposes. However, now that the British government is on its high horse over Russian bots and other contrived nonsense, there will likely be questions and demands about what Facebook allows on its social media platform.
However, aggravated MPs need not worry. Facebook is well into the process of sweeping undesirables from its platform.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that Facebook plans to “dial up” the suppression of certain news outlets.
“We put [that data] into the system, and it is acting as a boost or a suppression, and we’re going to dial up the intensity of that over time,” Zuckerberg said, according to BuzzFeed. “We feel like we have a responsibility to further [break] down polarization and find common ground.”
“Facebook’s January 12 announcement that it would begin to de-prioritize news publishers and their posts in users’ News Feeds has had a surprisingly profound and partisan impact,” reports The Outline.
“According to The Outline’s analysis of Facebook engagement data obtained from research tool BuzzSumo, conservative and right-wing publishers (such as Breitbart, Fox News, and Gateway Pundit) were hit the hardest in the weeks following the announcement, with Facebook engagement totals for February dropping as much as 55 percent for some, while the engagement numbers of most predominantly liberal publishers remained unaffected.”
As well, “highly polarizing content” from the left side of the political spectrum saw a “significant drop in engagement following Facebook’s News Feed de-prioritization announcement.”
In other words, anything outside or in contravention to the establishment narrative will be purged—eventually in total.
In a political sense, it will be like cable television—200 channels and nothing to watch. Bandwidth will be dominated by the corporate-state message.
As they say, there’s nothing new under the sun. Back in the day, when I was active in trying to end the Vietnam War, the government used operatives to shut down an antiwar newspaper I wrote for. It was part of COINTELPRO, although we didn’t know that at the time.
Dead tree newspapers are no longer required to get the message out. Anybody can post an anti-war or anti-establishment message on social media and potentially influence millions of people.
For the establishment, this is unacceptable. It has to rollback criticism and stamp out activism before the virus spreads and undermines its control.
The Russian troll or bot meme is a less than perfect scheme, but so far it seems to be working—not for millions of people who see it for what it is, a patently absurd response to the freedom of expression, but for the politicians and bureaucrats who devise and enforce the law. As should be obvious by now, it doesn’t matter what the people believe.
Like the war on terror—also manufactured for political purpose—the war on social media activism is portrayed as absolutely mandatory because… well, because the Russians are behind it, and if you’re not with us, you’re with the New Hitler Vladimir Putin and the Russians.
Here’s my latest Newsbud video on the squashing of dissent on social media.