Anybody who has ever involved themselves with online research where there is commentary is well aware of shills, trolls and astroturfing. The challenge is that this can and does overwhelm the gems to be found. As a result, it forces one to find sanctuaries of like-minded people in somewhat safe settings, like Winter Watch. Obviously, we don’t permit tactics like gaslighting or the tired old “I know a guy who knows a guy”-type of shillery.
Online astroturfing and shilling can be divided into several categories. Most of it is bot-driven, but there is also low-quality human engagement. On rare occasion, you may encounter a more skilled individual.
But mostly they are bots. For instance, Raw Story reported on a federal contract (PDF) from the 6th Contracting Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, near Tampa, Florida, that solicited providers of “persona management software.” The persona business shows up frequently in usual-suspect operations. The contract description requires software for 50 users with 10 personas each, for a total of 500.
When you encounter these personas online, they seem zombie like and rather addled. Sometimes when attacked or gaslighted by one, I will check other comments they make on other topics and find it’s a stream of bot consciousness about nothing of substance.
When they engage, it’s usually snarky, low-investment opining with liberal cut-and-paste use of the word “crazy” and the word “conspiracy.” Poor bot-like language syntax and failure to use the plural form of the word “theorist” is another tell. In the following example, a junior-high educated human would break up the first sentence into three. And how is it that “someone” who can’t grammatically construct a sentence qualify to opine on my title composition? This type of generic bot-driven commentary combined with down-vote brigades and bans is almost exclusively what Winter Watch is subjected to when sharing articles on Reddit, which is infested with it.
This is why people never will believe conspiracy theorist just look at your title it makes sense to me but to normal people? Can you really blame them for thinking conspiracies are for crazies
clovize — aka human versus bot
You are gaslighting. So we live in an inverted world, where those who question the QAnon Kool-Aid psyops are the crazies? What’s to say? And how is it that “someone” who runs three sentences together as one and can’t get the plural right on the word “theorist” qualifies as an expert on article title composition?
Reddit’s “Conspiracy” forum (r/conspiracy) is one of the ultimate battleground for this. There are enough gems and material coming from this subreddit that I spend time there. And I do get sucked in on the strategies and tactics of astroturfing, trolls and shills. It strikes me as quite organized, and I am the subject of some attention. One of the tactics of real shills is that they quickly reveal they have no investment in the subject matter. Usually when attacking Winter Watch material, you will discover they didn’t even read the article — and will admit as much, saying “it’s not worth my time.” That’s cut-and-paste banter from the shill/troll handbook.
Update: I have been permanently banned from all of Reddit: More than Merely Dubious: How I Was Permanently Banned at Reddit
An article in The Guardian reveals what is likely transpiring:
The British army is creating a special force of Facebook warriors, skilled in psychological operations and use of social media to engage in unconventional warfare in the information age.
The 77th Brigade, to be based in Hermitage, near Newbury, in Berkshire, will be about 1,500-strong and formed of units drawn from across the army.
The brigade will be responsible for what is described as non-lethal warfare. Both the Israeli and US army already engage heavily in psychological operations. Against a background of 24-hour news, smartphones and social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, the force will attempt to control the narrative.
Then there’s MADCOM, used by companies, politicians, nations, academics, lobbyist groups and organizations:
Machine-driven communications tools are a reality now and artificial intelligence enabled tools will soon dominate the online information space. This paradigm shift isn’t limited to artificial personal assistants like Siri and recreational chatbots like Xiaoice. It refers to machine-driven communication overwhelming Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Match, Reddit, chat rooms, news site comment sections, and the rest of the social web.
All of it will be dominated by machines talking. This machine communication will be nearly indistinguishable from human communication. The machines will be trying to persuade, sell, deceive, intimidate, manipulate, and cajole you into whatever response they’re programmed to elicit. They will be unbelievably effective.
Then we learned that millions more in taxpayer dollars have been spent on DARPA psyop projects. This one utilizes celebrities for propaganda purpose.
The activities of users of Twitter and other social media services were recorded and analysed as part of a major project funded by the US military, in a program that covers ground similar to Facebook’s controversial experiment into how to control emotions by manipulating news feeds.
Research funded directly or indirectly by the US Department of Defense’s military research department, known as Darpa, has involved users of some of the internet’s largest destinations, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Kickstarter, for studies of social connections and how messages spread.
While some elements of the multi-million dollar project might raise a wry smile – research has included analysis of the tweets of celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, in an attempt to understand influence on Twitter – others have resulted in the buildup of massive datasets of tweets and additional types social media posts.
This has gotten so pervasive and is such big business in the military-industrial-surveillance state that the City of Boston police department blew $1.4 million on it.
Several civil rights groups and advocacy organizations are asking Boston officials to cease plans to spend $1.4 million on software that will allow police to monitor people’s social media activity.
The Times of Israel reports that Israel spends considerable resources building online armies of “activists” (aka shills). Also, see “Foreign Intel Agents Launch New Covert Propaganda War Against Americans on US Soil.”
The plan aims to harness 550 bilingual students drawn from the student pool at the country’s seven universities, who will target their efforts abroad.
The Obama administration selected the infamous (((Cass Sunstein))) for its NSA panel. Sunstein proposed “government agents” or “their allies” — whatever the later means (Zionist contractors?) — to infiltrate conspiracy theorist groups.
The Obama administration is reportedly proposing Cass Sunstein as a member of a panel to review the surveillance practices of the National Security Agency (NSA), among other former White House and intelligence staffers. Sunstein was the head of the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs until last year, when he returned to teaching at Harvard Law School.
As one of our intrepid commenters pointed out yesterday, while at Harvard in 2008, Sunstein co-authored a working paper that suggests government agents or their allies “cognitively infiltrate” conspiracy theorist groups by joining “chat rooms, online social networks or even real-space groups” and influencing the conversation.
Sunstein’s paper defined a conspiracy theory as “an effort to explain some event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.”
Then were learn about the Israeli fake persona PSY Group:
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has asked about flows of money into the Cyprus bank account of a company that specialized in social-media manipulation and whose founder reportedly met with Donald Trump Jr. in August 2016, according to a person familiar with the investigation.The inquiry is drawing attention to PSY Group, an Israeli firm that pitched its services to super-PACs and other entities during the 2016 election. Those services included infiltrating target audiences with elaborately crafted social-media personas and spreading misleading information through websites meant to mimic news portals, according to interviews and PSY Group documents seen by Bloomberg News.
What appears to be an internal Wiki page detailing the cyber-weaponry used by the British spy agency GCHQ was published today by Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept. The page, taken from the documents obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, lists dozens of tools used by GCHQ to target individuals and their computing devices, spread disinformation posing as others, and “shape” opinion and information available online.
The page had been maintained by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) Covert Internet Technical Development team, but it fell out of use by the time Snowden copied it. Greenwald and NBC previously reported on JTRIG’s “dirty tricks” tactics for psychological operations and information warfare, and the new documents provide a hint at how those tactics were executed. GCHQ’s capabilities included tools for manipulating social media, spoofing communications from individuals and groups, and warping the perception of content online through manipulation of polls and web pages’ traffic and search rankings.
Dozens of other examples are listed here.