He’s hackin’ you once, he’s-a hackin’ you twice. In the recent FBI/intelligence election probe that later amassed assumptions on Russian hacking, a few facts were identified that we need to discuss. This isn’t just Russia, or Democrats, or Republicans…they’re everywhere. Paid trolls is the new delivery system for marketing brand narratives. Just check out my other article on facebook.com/Droesty covering CNN’s anti-Trump assassination-dreams. The comments section keeps pooling up with CNN PPP crews. What is a PPP?
Start with the infamous Hillary Clinton paid “digital media specialist” that took to reddit with this confession:
“Good afternoon. As of today, I am officially a former “digital media specialist” (a nice way to say “paid Internet troll”) previously employed by Hillary Clinton’s campaign (through a PR firm). I’m posting here today as a confession of sorts because I can no longer continue to participate in something that has become morally-indigestible for me. (This is a one-time throwaway account, but I’ll stick around for this thread.)
First, my background. I am [redacted] … and first became involved in politics during the 2008 presidential race. I worked as a volunteer for Hillary during the Democratic primary and then for the Democratic Party in the general election. I was not heavily involved in the 2012 election cycle (employment issues – volunteering doesn’t pay the rent), and I wasn’t really planning on getting involved in this cycle until I was contacted by a friend from college around six months ago about working on Hillary’s campaign.
I was skeptical at first (especially after my experience as an unpaid volunteer in 2008), but I eventually came around. The work time and payment was flexible, and I figured that I could bring in a little extra money writing about things I supported anyways. After some consideration, I emailed my resume to the campaign manager he had named, and within a week, I was in play. I don’t want to get bogged down on this subject
but I was involved with PPP (pay per post) on forums and in the comments section of (mostly-liberal) news and blog sites. Spending my time on weekends and evenings, I brought in roughly an extra $100 or so a week, which was a nice cushion for me.
At first, the work was fun and mostly unsupervised. I posted mostly positive things about Hillary and didn’t engage in much negativity. Around the middle of July, however, I received notification that the team would be focusing not on pro-Hillary forum management, but on “mitigation” (the term our team leader used) for a Vermont senator named Bernie Sanders. I’d been out of college for several years and hadn’t heard much about Sanders, and so I decided to do some research to get a feel for him.
To be honest, I was skeptical of what Sanders was saying at the beginning, and didn’t have much of a problem pointing out the reasons why I believed that Hillary was the better candidate. Over a period of two months, I gradually started to find Bernie appealing, even if I still disagreed with him on some issues. By September, I found myself as a closet Bernie supporter, though I still believed that Hillary was the only electable Democratic candidate.
The real problem for me started around the end of September and the beginning of October, when there was a change of direction from the team leader again. Apparently, the higher-ups in the firm caught wind of an impending spending splurge by the Clinton campaign that month and wanted to put up an impressive display. We received very specific instructions about how and what to post, and I was aghast at what I saw. It was a complete change in tone and approach, and it was extremely nasty in character. We changed from advocates to hatchet men, and it left a very bad taste in my mouth.
Just to give you an idea, here are some of the guidelines for our posting in October:
1) Sexism. This was the biggest one we were supposed to push. We had to smear Bernie as misogynistic and out-of-touch with modern sensibilities. He was to be characterized as “an old white male relic that believed women enjoyed being gang raped”. Anyone who tried to object to this characterization would be repeatedly slammed as sexist until they went away or people lost interest.
2) Racism. We were instructed to hammer home how Bernie supporters were all privileged white students that had no idea how the world worked. We had to tout Hillary’s great record with “the blacks” (yes, that’s the actual way it was phrased), and generally use racial identity politics to attack Sanders and bolster Hillary as the only unifying figure.
3) Electability. All of those posts about how
Sanders can never win and Hillary is inevitable? Some of those were us, done deliberately in an attempt to demoralize Bernie supporters and convince them to stop campaigning for him. The problem is that this was an outright fabrication and not an accurate assessment of the current political situation. But the truth didn’t matter – we were trying to create a new truth, not to spread the existing truth.
4) Dirty tactics. This is where things got really bad. We were instructed to create narratives of Clinton supporters as being victimized by Sanders supporters, even if they were entirely fabricated. There were different instructions about how to do it, but something like this (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/10/31/1443064/-Dis-heartened-Hillary-Supporter) is a perfect example. These kind of posts are manufactured to divide and demoralize Sanders supporters, and are entirely artificial in nature. (The same thing happened in 2008, but it wasn’t as noticeable before social media and public attention focused on popular forums like Reddit).
5) Opponent outreach. There are several forums and imageboards where Sanders is not very popular (I think you can imagine which ones those are.) We were instructed to make pro-Sanders troll posts to rile up the user base and then try to goad them into raiding or attacking places like this subreddit. This was probably the only area where we only had mixed success, since that particular subset of the population were more difficult to manipulate than we originally thought.
In any case, the final nail in the coffin for me happened last night. I was on an imageboard trying to rile up the Trump-supporting natives with inflammatory Bernie posting, and the sum of responses I received basically argued that at least Bernie was genuine in his belief, even if they disagreed with his positions, which made him infinitely better than the 100% amoral and power-hungry Hillary.
I had one of those “what are you doing with your life” moments. When even the scum of 4chan think that your candidate is too scummy for their tastes, you need to take a good hard look at your life. Then this morning I read that the National Association of Broadcasters were bankrolling both Clinton and Rubio, and that broke the camel’s back. I emailed my resignation this morning.
I’m going to go all in for Bernie now, because I truly believe that the Democratic Party has lost its way, and that redemption can only come by standing for something right and not by compromising for false promises and fake ideals. I want to apologize to everyone here for my part in this nasty affair, and I hope you will be more aware of attempts to sway you away from supporting the only candidate that can bring us what we need.”
Correct the Record (HRC Superpac) invested $1M in this mediacon-troll campaign for 2016 under the title Barrier Breakers 2016. The loophole for this hacking (US government terminology) is simple, “Correct the Record believes it can avoid the coordination ban by relying on a 2006 Federal Election Commission regulation that declared that content posted online for free, such as blogs, is off limits from regulation. The “Internet exemption” said that such free postings do not constitute campaign expenditures, allowing independent groups to consult with candidates about the content they post on their sites. By adopting the measure, the FEC limited its online jurisdiction to regulating paid political ads.”
For more on the #CTR operation check out Northcrane.com here. Additionally, the Correct the Record website is now bare (Domain expires November, 2017) but the list of operatives is still available here, here, and also with reciepts.
when other countries do it…is that an EGREGIOUS cyber attack on the USa?
Well when Russia, or HRC, and yes…even Trump utilize the same tactics, their target is You everytime. How many times have you scoffed at Alex Jones when he said there’s a war for your mind?
Leo Benedictus of The Guardian believes “you can hire your own troll army if you have the cash. In 2011 the PR firm Bell Pottinger told undercover journalists that they could “create and maintain third-party blogs”, and spruce up Wikipedia profiles and Google search rankings. Indeed marketing has a rich history of so-called “astroturfing”, which is laying down fake grassroots. Take Forest, “the voice and friend of the smoker”, which at least admits in nearly invisible small print that it is paid for by the tobacco industry.”
On Russia/Trump, “According to internal documents released by a group of hackers in 2013, Internet Research Agency employed more than 600 people across Russia, and had an implied annual budget of $10m – half of which was paid out in cash. Employees were expected to post on news articles 50 times a day. Those who wrote blogs had to maintain six Facebook accounts and publish at least three posts daily. On Twitter, they had to have at least 10 accounts, on which they would tweet 50 times. All had targets for the number of followers and the level of engagement they had to reach.”
It wasn’t just the Russian influence in Trump’s corner. There were others; “Oculus founder Palmer Luckey is financially supporting a pro-Donald Trump group of “shitposters,” he confirmed to The Daily Beast today, using his considerable personal fortune to fund the creation of memes attacking Hillary Clinton. Luckey, who is believed to have received some $700 million from Facebook’s $2 billion Oculus purchase, said he had donated “significant funds” to Nimble America — a group that calls itself a “social welfare 501(c)4 non-profit dedicated to shitposting in real life.”