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Title: Russian propaganda surfs a wave of distrust
Source: The Boston Globe
URL Source: https://www.bostonglobe.com/busines ... 8uG1GUduNJx7HaJa08K/story.html
Published: Oct 8, 2017
Author: Hiawatha Bray
Post Date: 2017-10-08 08:51:47 by A Pole
Keywords: fake, news, media
Views: 117
Comments: 7

Facebook and Twitter say they are getting better at spotting the kind of fake accounts used by the Russian government to interfere in US politics. Too bad that it won’t be so easy for the rest of us.

That’s because the Kremlin’s propagandists are cranking out online ads, posts, and tweets that don’t look much different from the stuff Americans argue about every day on social media. Concerned about illegal immigration? So are the Russian operatives who used Facebook to promote a number of anti-immigrant rallies in the United States.

“We must stop taking in Muslim refugees!” read the posting for one such rally, according to The Daily Beast. “We demand open and thorough investigation of all the cases regarding Muslim refugees! All government officials, who are covering up for these criminals, should be fired!”

[...]

Or is it police brutality that worries you?

[...]

“We are fed up with police violence, racism, intolerance and injustice that passed down from generation to generation. We are fed up with government ignorance and the system failing black people,” CNN quoted a post on Blacktivist’s Facebook page that promoted a march for a Baltimore man who died in police custody.

Sounds reasonable enough, on the face of it, right? But Facebook and Twitter have concluded Blacktivist was a Russian dummy and are turning over the accounts to US investigators.

[...]

But you get the picture: The Russians are cleverly touching on legitimate concerns held by reasonable people, but doing so to widen the political fissures in our already divided nation.

They’ve had plenty of practice: During the 1960s, the old Soviet spy agency, the KGB, hatched a plan to oust Martin Luther King from the leadership of the US civil rights movement by planting negative stories about him in black newspapers.

[...]

These days, it’s possible with a few keystrokes to flood the country with a tsunami of falsehoods, half-truths, and cherry-picked facts — all blended to generate fear, confusion, and rage.

We’ve had mixed success fighting other online perils. There’s as much spam e-mail as ever, but the filters are so good that little gets through to our inboxes.

[...]

But the Russia problem is especially tough, because technology alone can’t solve it.

That’s not to let Facebook and Twitter off the hook. They can do more to identify and dismiss accounts that traffic in false information. There are ways to pinpoint suspicious sources. A post aimed at Americans but appearing at 3 a.m. Boston time may have been generated abroad.

[...]

Social networks can aggressively shut down automated bot accounts devoted to the spread of propaganda. They can also rethink the current policy of selling online ads to practically anyone who can write a check.

[...]

But such measures get you only so far. Get too aggressive in fighting “fake news” and you’re bound to censor legitimate viewpoints. And while more transparency from paid advertisers sounds good, this does nothing against Russia’s army of online propagandists who spread the Kremlin’s messages through thousands of free Facebook and Twitter accounts.

For instance, we learned recently that Russians created a fake forum for Muslims on Facebook, then used it to spread lies that might appeal to some Muslims, like a claim that the terrorist group Al Qaeda was founded and funded by the CIA. As long as social networks are accessible to billions of people, they’ll never be entirely free of such rubbish.

The best defense against such propaganda is prudence, said Jim Ludes, executive director of the Pell Center of International Relations at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I., and co-author of a new study on Russian efforts to influence US elections.

[...]

Also, look out for terms that aren’t commonly used in American English. Last year, US intelligence officials figured out that a website called DCLeaks.com was controlled by Russia partly because of its linguistic oddities, like describing Hillary Clinton as the “President of the Democratic Party.”

Ludes also recommends running a quick Google search, just to see if a story with scandalous allegations has been reported by reputable news sources, not just by rabble-rousing outfits like Breitbart.com or InfoWars.

But what counts as reputable? These days, Americans hardly trust anybody. According to an August survey from Gallup, only 37 percent of Americans trust traditional news media to get the facts right.

The partisan split is even scarier. Among Democrats, 62 percent say the media are reliable, but for Republicans the number plunges to 14 percent.

[...]

In a more trusting society, Russia’s disinformation campaign wouldn’t stand a chance. But we don’t live there anymore.

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#1. To: Vicomte13, Tooconservative, sneakypete (#0)

"MOSCOW, Russia — The Kremlin on Friday criticized “unprecedented pressure” on Russian media in the United States and warned of possible reciprocal action.

The US Department of Justice has ordered the state-funded RT media group, a television channel which broadcasts in English and other languages, to register as a “foreign agent” under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The television network is increasingly viewed in Washington as a Kremlin propaganda tool used to interfere in the 2016 US presidential polls.

According to RT, the channel has been given a deadline of October 17 to register under FARA, a law written in 1938 to blunt Nazi propaganda, which specifically exempts news organizations.

Foreign agent status could mean that the channel would have to make personal information about its employees and interviewees public, RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said Thursday.

“If we don’t… our employees and property will be arrested,” she said, calling it “de facto expulsion from the country.”

State news agency Sputnik, which has the same management as RT, is also under FBI investigation, according to reports.

[...]

Russian media reports said prosecutors are considering retaliatory measures against US media.

Russia’s media watchdog chief on Thursday said it found CNN in violation of the country’s media law over a technicality and issued an official warning.

At a senate committee meeting on defending state sovereignty, Simonyan said: “People are quitting in droves… it’s hard to even find a stringer in the US.”

She added that YouTube has kicked the channel off the list of “Google Preferred” premium video channels for advertisers.

“Clearly this is a result of pressure,” she said.

[...]"

https://www.timesofisrael.com/moscow-slams-us-for-unprecedented-pressure-on-russian-media/

A Pole  posted on  2017-10-08   9:32:02 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: A Pole (#1)

The US Department of Justice has ordered the state-funded RT media group, a television channel which broadcasts in English and other languages, to register as a “foreign agent” under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

This seems a step too far to me.

They are a foreign propaganda operation and always have been. Not much different than Radio Free Europe and some of our other propaganda outlets around the world. One assumes that everyone knows what they are.

But "foreign agents"? It seems a step too far unless the DoJ has some evidence that they are gathering intel for Russia or engaging in other subversive activities at the direct behest of Russian military/intel agencies.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-10-08   9:37:10 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: A Pole (#1)

The forces determined to continue the Cold War do not care about the First Amendment. They are perfectly content to let SOME countries, the ones they approve of (e.g.: the House of Saud and its fief) to print and publish and influence whatever they please, but not others.

They have no respect for the American people - we are spoken of as being such fools that we cannot make up our minds but must be shielded from things that might cause us to do what? Become thralls of foreign powers?

It's ridiculous.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-10-08   14:03:11 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: Tooconservative (#2)

I have to tell you - the way that gun nuts are obsessed about the 2nd Amendment, I am obsessed about the First. "National Security" is always the excuse used to trump freedom of speech. It's a bogus argument in 95% of the cases, including this Russian media business.

Not selling ACTUAL SECRETS - sure, there's a reason to prosecute that. But having an unpopular opinion that agrees with the Russians? Americans have the same right to do that as they do to own a gun.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-10-08   19:02:56 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#5. To: Vicomte13 (#3)

we are spoken of as being such fools that we cannot make up our minds but must be shielded from things that might cause us to do what?

The idea is to cut off the sheeple from the alternative views and information. Then they will not try to walk out from the plantation. They will not be able even to conceive it.

A Pole  posted on  2017-10-08   19:07:24 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#6. To: Vicomte13 (#4)

It does seem like petty roughing of the Russians. The old Cold Warriors are desperate for a comeback.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-10-08   20:20:13 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#7. To: Tooconservative (#6)

It does seem like petty roughing of the Russians. The old Cold Warriors are desperate for a comeback.

McCain will soon be dead. The Cold War recedes ever further into the past. Want a war? Korea presents itself. And everything ISIS. Of course, ISIS doesn't lend itself to billion-dollar bombers. But North Korea does.

So expect an endless Cold War with them - it justifies the contracting.

The dream of having a huge adversary like the USSR, though...that's where the big money is.

China is gradually taking over the world through its numbers and economic power. They're not being drawn into any sort of real arms race. And Russia - they just don't have the world- conquering belief system anymore. Russia is not the Soviet Union, no matter how much the Cold Warriors try to make it so.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-10-08   20:28:41 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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