Once Again, Russian Internet Propaganda Efforts Shown To Be Much Bigger Than Originally Believed

from the weaponized-bullshit dept

Early on, as the scope of Russia's disinformation and hacking efforts were being revealed, there was a tendency on many fronts to downplay the depth and breadth of the problem. For example, early whistleblower revelations of Russia's troll factories--which pump bile and misinformation into the internet bloodstream 24/7--were downplayed as just a few harmless sods posting lame memes in broken English. In time, it became clear that the efforts were larger, broader, and far more sophisticated than initially believed.

The now infamous hack of the DNC was similarly downplayed at first. For years, thanks in large part to nonsense and conspiracy theory, there were widespread claims the DNC had hacked itself. Others implied (and still do) that the hack was some kind of mass delusion. We now know the hack was part of a documented attack by Russian intelligence, only exposed due to some sloppy opsec by Russian intelligence agents.

Here on planet Earth, one thing keeps being made abundantly clear: the scope of Russia's disinformation and hacking efforts are continually being revealed as much bigger than both "conventional wisdom" and crackpot wingnut theory dictated. The latest case in point: the Seth Rich conspiracy, which proclaimed that the DNC staffer had been covertly murdered instead of being robbed, has infected brains across the internet for years now. While the theory was never true, it gained traction thanks to a wide variety of voices ranging from Wikileaks to Fox News.

But a new multi-part report notes that, once again, what was surmised to be just random conspiracy birthed in the bowels of 4chan actually had its foundations in Russian disinformation. The report notes that the Seth Rich theory was first planted by Russia's foreign intelligence service, the SVR, in a phony "bulletin" intended to read like a legitimate intelligence report. The apparent goal: to spread doubt about Russia's involvement and imply the GRU hack of the DNC was actually an inside job. Looking back, you'd have to conclude it was at least partially effective.

This inside job narrative was also propped up by a number of flimsy companion conspiracies claiming transfer speed data "proved" that the DNC had hacked itself. We've already discussed how that well circulated claim, printed unskeptically in several mainstream publications, was based largely on fluff and nonsense, circulated by internet trolls pretending to be anonymous intelligence analysts.

Whatever their origins, it didn't take long for the planted stories to get picked up by bogus news sites, then funneled into more mainstream arenas:

The purported details in the SVR account seemed improbable on their face: that Rich, a data director in the DNC’s voter protection division, was on his way to alert the FBI to corrupt dealings by Clinton when he was slain in the early hours of a Sunday morning by the former secretary of state’s hit squad.

Yet in a graphic example of how fake news infects the internet, those precise details popped up the same day on an obscure website, whatdoesitmean.com, that is a frequent vehicle for Russian propaganda. The website’s article, which attributed its claims to “Russian intelligence,” was the first known instance of Rich’s murder being publicly linked to a political conspiracy.

None of this is to say that there isn't plenty of home-grown domestic stupidity to go around that has nothing to do with Russia. Americans are, if it hadn't been made clear by now, prone to all manner of bullshit--whether it's the Momo conspiracy theory or bogus news reports (like the recent "cell phones cause horns to grow in kids!" report). At the same time, it's not hard to see how this gullibility can be exploited, whether we're talking about foreign or domestic actors. In effect, the internet, for all of its benefits, has also helped weaponize stupidity.

Historically Russia's efforts were previously believed to be simply the domain of the Internet Research Agency and the Russian GRU. This is the first instance of the efforts also being tied to the SVR, an agency infosec reporters say will likely play a significantly bigger role in disinformation ops moving forward:

Again, while the conspiracy may have been birthed by Russian intelligence and amplified by Russian news outlets like RT and Sputnik, American entertainment outlets like Fox News and Infowars played a huge role in spreading the nonsense. There's a universe of grifters (including many mainstream journalists) that parroted the claim for three years, few (any?) of which have actually expressed contrition or genuine remorse for their role in the idiotic misinformation parade. Another key player was Julian Assange, whose reputation these days simply ain't what it used to be:

The Russian effort to exploit Rich’s tragic death didn’t stop with the fake SVR bulletin. Over the course of the next two and a half years, the Russian government-owned media organizations RT and Sputnik repeatedly played up stories that baselessly alleged that Rich, a relatively junior-level staffer, was the source of Democratic Party emails that had been leaked to WikiLeaks. It was an idea first floated by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who on Aug. 9, 2016, announced a $20,000 reward for information about Rich’s murder, saying — somewhat cryptically — that “our sources take risks.”

This might not have been quite as big of a deal if the effort hadn't bubbled into the mainstream belief structure of American government, undermining efforts at political and election security. As the report notes, the conspiracy theory was also pushed heavily by Trump advisor Steve Bannon, who at one point told 60 Minutes the Rich murder was a "contract kill, obviously." Granted, the damage is now done, and correcting the record will be all but impossible in the minds of those who still cling tightly to this particular steaming pile of disinformation dogshit.

If you spend any time online, it's clear that a lot of folks still underestimate the scope of Russia's disinformation efforts. Many still don't quite grok how these efforts can help undermine an already shaky trust in the established press, which in turns lets dictators like Putin muddy the discourse waters, obscure rampant criminality and corruption, and weaponize existing stupidity and dissent. And yes--the United States has a long, proud history of engaging in similar behavior, especially in Central and South America. That doesn't make what Russia has been up to any less of a problem.

While we may become somewhat inoculated to it with some time and a little work, internet disinformation is a genuine problem that most folks still aren't taking seriously. There's a universe of reasons the US is so susceptible to it, including substandard education, even worse mental health care, and the failure to adequately fund quality (especially local) journalism. And when you've still got huge swaths of folks (including a shrinking segment of popular journalists) insisting the problem either isn't real or doesn't matter, it's abundantly clear we have a lot of work to do when it comes to building a cultural immunity to weaponized bullshit.

Filed Under: conspiracy, disinformation, propaganda, russia, set rich


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Disturbance in the Farce, 9 Jul 2019 @ 12:40pm

    Thanks! You more than confirmed my prediction two pieces back!

    Next you'll be telling us about the mushroom clouds from all those nukes Iraq had, how the US / UK invasion and "humanitarian" bombing improved the lives of Iraqis.

    And claiming Iran attacked tankers by pointing to blurry video of people on deck of a boat supposedly removing a magnetic mine. Yes, people stand close idly watching mines be removed. Sheesh.

    And that the Skripals in Britain survived a deadly nerve agent, a means which exactly no Russian would use when others wouldn't blatantly state exactly who-done-it.

    And so on, to any number just off top of my head.

    Your "evidence" is just repeating allegations made up by some clown in US "intelligence" who convinced some other clown in "media" to publish -- after two years thinking on how to smear Russia.

    There's not actually anything here except opinion. I'm not going to attempt refuting FAKE facts!

    If don't start with your invincible bias, this is a HOOT, a true new low for Techdirt.

    All you show here is that your own gullibility increases faster than the shocking ineptness of those making these FAKES.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 1:13pm

      I'm not going to attempt refuting FAKE facts!

      Aw, come on, it’s the least you can do in exchange for all the times we’ve refuted yours. 😁

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2019 @ 12:41pm

    In summary:

    This whole article in 10 words:

    ...Fox News and Infowars...

    ... Steve Bannon ...

    ... steaming pile of disinformation dogshit.

    All you need to know :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2019 @ 2:17pm

      Re: In summary:

      Yes all those are TRUE.

      Fake news, CNN, MSNBC is the worst, but mainstream media pushing the crazy leftist views.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Gary (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 5:39pm

        Re: Re: In summary:

        but mainstream media pushing the crazy leftist views

        So you hold an opinion that the sane folks all shun, but Inforwars is your oracle of truth. Because they uncovered Pizza Gate!

        Main-Stream. Look at the words you are typing. You are saying that everyone is wrong except for those geniuses who told us Sandyhook shooting (and the moon landing!) was fake.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 10 Jul 2019 @ 10:13am

        As opposed to InfoWars, which talks about how frogs are turning gay and pushes the idea that the Sandy Hook massacre was a staged event.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2019 @ 12:47pm

    There goes Techdirts credibility in one post. Unsubscribing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 9 Jul 2019 @ 1:09pm

    Trumpkins fall for fake news and fake accounts? No shit.
    He loves the poorly educated and this is just one reason why.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2019 @ 2:12pm

      Re:

      Another reason why many adults both uneducated and educated may fall for Russian propaganda is they want some excuse for why their current life sucks.

      They can't accept their own life choices (or bad choices of those around them) got them stuck in life (poverty, job loss, illness, etc.) That it just is more palatable that a mysterious organization is directly causing their problems. It gives them hope when they think nothing can change otherwise.

      Now I feel bad for the people suffering, especially if crap happened to them through no fault of their own. But passing the blame isn't going to fix anything.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2019 @ 8:20am

        Re: Re:

        "They can't accept their own life choices"

        and you perpetuate the myth ... awesome!

        Gotta love that upward mobility myth coupled to the victim blaming ... it's a winning combination. Have they found that welfare queen yet?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 10 Jul 2019 @ 10:11am

        “Poverty” is a life choice? As someone with thousands of dollars worth of medical debt hanging over my head because I chose to visit a hospital instead of dying: fucking WHAT?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 10 Jul 2019 @ 11:22am

        Re: Re:

        “They can't accept their own life choices... illness”

        You think that the only factor in illness is your own choices? You must be very privileged.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 2:38pm

      Re:

      Unfortunately, susceptibility to propaganda isn't the exclusive domain of Trump supporters. My dad's a dyed-in-the-wool Bernie guy and he bought the Seth Rich conspiracy theory too.

      While Russia was certainly pulling for Trump, getting him elected wasn't the only goal. The Russian propaganda efforts exploit existing political fault lines, sow chaos and infighting, and undermine faith in institutions. Even getting caught serves the propagandists' interests -- because it makes people mistrust all kinds of political stories, including ones that are accurate.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 4:12pm

        Re: Re:

        My own dad spends far too much time on Facebook, causing him, when me and my cousin were talking between ourselves about NN at a family party, to butt in with "NN would make our internet more expensive" propaganda he gets from his trashy Libertarian FB groups.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    David Longfellow, 9 Jul 2019 @ 1:09pm

    The ruskies will have to work overtime...

    ... to pitch as much propaganda as techdirt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 1:14pm

    The veracity of Techdirt's reporting is directly proportional to the number of trollskis whining about it in the comments.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 2:24pm

      Re:

      You'd think they'd at least vary up the talking points, but I guess that level of creativity is too much to ask.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 10 Jul 2019 @ 8:18am

        Re: Re:

        Hey, they're the kind of mental midget who swallows Russia dindu nuffin! stories like "The Skripals weren't poisoned, they OD'd on fentanyl!" from 'non-mainstream' propaganda setnographers* like off-Guardian**. Don't expect much cognitive heavy lifting from them.

        • 'non-mainstream' : alternative-to-facts :: alt-right : white supremacist

        ** off-Guardian : Guardian :: Gab : Twitter :: 8chan : 4chan

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2019 @ 1:15pm

    I'm not a Trump supporter - he is a terrible leader and a worthless human being - but this article is total trash. Nowhere in this entire article is there one bit of proof or evidence offered that the Russians did anything - let alone "more than previously thought". I don't know if this article is a result of a deranged Techdirt intern who drank the CNN/CIA kool-aid or something more nefarious, but either way its a stain on the reputation of Techdirt.

    What's really incredible is how the entire article revolves around the unsolved murder of Seth Rich. You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to acknowledge that his murder is unsolved. Nobody has been charged or tried for his murder. Maybe it was random street thugs, maybe it was DNC operatives, maybe it was space aliens - the only thing we know for certain is that his murder remains unsolved. How on earth can you say for certain who did or didn't murder Rich if his murder remains unsolved? Your claims are just as baseless and unhinged as the conspiracy theorists who claim to know for certain it was the DNC (or someone else).

    Hopefully Techdirt will clean house and get rid of whoever is writing trash like this, which is better off at Mother Jones or MSNBC, or it will be off my reading list.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 1:20pm

      Re:

      Those blue words in the article? Those are links that go back to other articles, some here on TD, others to the source material that the articles are based upon. Might want to look into those.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 9 Jul 2019 @ 1:23pm

      Re:

      "You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to acknowledge that his murder is unsolved."

      And you can bet nobody wants the culprit caught more than Seth's parents who sued Fox and InfoWars for their bullshit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 1:29pm

      Hopefully Techdirt will clean house and get rid of whoever is writing trash like this … or it will be off my reading list

      Threats like this are the surest sign of impotence. If you were going to take Techdirt off your reading list, you would’ve done so without making a fuss. Instead you whine and complain as if you believe Techdirt will be a much worse site if you stop visiting it. (Spoiler: It won’t.)

      No one cares whether you think Techdirt is garbage. No one cares about your “I’m leaving FOR-EH-VER!” schtick¹. If you hate the site, leave. If you won’t leave, at least be quiet.


      ¹ That schtick, by the by, is all but a signal that you’re going to keep on hatereading the site anyway. That would put you in the same league as the troll brigade, so…yeah…

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        Zof (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 8:59pm

        Re:

        Oh, I'm so sorry folks don't like your shit story. By all means come down to the comments to personally attack people for calling out your obvious bullshit.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 9:04pm

          You’re free to dislike it. But saying you dislike it adds nothing to any meaningful discussion of the article itself.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2019 @ 2:54am

            Re:

            I don’t know - he doesn’t like it. I don’t like it. I don’t think anybody likes it except the guys who post thousands and thousands of posts over years and years.

            I might like it if you paid me. Other than that, well, meh.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Toom1275 (profile), 10 Jul 2019 @ 8:10am

              Re: Re:

              I don’t think anybody likes it except the guys who post thousands and thousands of posts over years and years.

              Blue and Hamilton like it? You sure about that?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2019 @ 5:16pm

          Re:

          That one hit a bit close to home eh?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    • icon
      Mark Gisleson (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 5:16pm

      Re: MOA link

      Strange how I posted the same link nine minutes later and did in a rude manner and yet was not flagged. There is no reason for your comment to be flagged, Moon of Alabama is a well regarded site.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2019 @ 12:07am

        Re: Re: MOA link

        Give it some time. Not everyone stares at this site every minute of the day hitting refresh just to see a new comment.

        Eventually the garbage is flagged by enough people.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 10 Jul 2019 @ 4:00am

        Re: Re: MOA link

        "Strange how I posted the same link nine minutes later and did in a rude manner and yet was not flagged. "

        It was, you just didn't wait long enough for people to read it before commenting.

        "Moon of Alabama is a well regarded site."

        Is it? As many commenters here have noted, a lot of people here have never heard of it. If you post a link with no explanation other than "these people say it better", and you've never heard of the site, it looks like someone spamming, hence flagged.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2019 @ 3:57pm

      Re:

      I too am total American Guyovitch comrade and I am agreeing with you who are definitely not in next cubicle to me in St Petersburg.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Mark Gisleson (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 1:54pm

    stunned

    to see such garbage published on this great site. Moon of Alabama has already debunked the YAHOO story in question.

    https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/07/isikoff-who-first-peddled-the-fake-steele-dossier-invents-new -russian-influence-story.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 2:33pm

      Re: stunned

      What the fuck is Moon of Alabama?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 2:41pm

        Roy Moore mooning a Girl Scouts meeting.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        Mark Gisleson (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 5:19pm

        Re: Re: stunned

        An anonymous blogger who goes back to early 2000s and has an excellent track record on calling BS on lies about foreign policy.

        But if this post surprised you, you're missing a lot of major coverage on Russiagate. Whole thing has fallen apart and is now a laughingstock except among certain members of the media. Very surprised to see such a gullible take published here at Techdirt.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Personanongrata, 9 Jul 2019 @ 1:56pm

    Russia, Russia, Russia

    Once Again, Russian Internet Propaganda Efforts Shown To Be Much Bigger Than Originally Believed

    Apparently you missed this wonderful report authored by Gareth Porter back in November 2018 found at consortiumnews.com:

    Italicized/bold text was excerpted from a report titled - 33 Trillion More Reasons Why The New York Times Gets it Wrong on Russia-gate :

    Facebook Said 80,000 Russian Posts Were Buried in 33 Trillion Facebook Offerings Over Two-Year Period Further Undermining NYT’s Case

    Stretch was expressing a theoretical possibility rather than an established fact. He said an estimated 126 million Facebook members might have gotten at least one story from the IRA –- not over the ten week election period, but over 194 weeks during the two years 2015 through 2017—including a full year after the election.

    That means only an estimated 29 million FB users may have gotten at least one story in their feed in two years. The 126 million figure is based only on an assumption that they shared it with others, according to Stretch.

    Facebook didn’t even claim most of those 80,000 IRA posts were election–related. It offered no data on what proportion of the feeds to those 29 million people were.

    To put the 33 trillion figure over two years in perspective, the 80,000 Russian-origin Facebook posts represented just .0000000024 of total Facebook content in that time.

    https://consortiumnews.com/2018/11/02/33-trillion-more-reasons-why-the-new-york-times-gets-it- wrong-on-russia-gate/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 2:35pm

      Re: Russia, Russia, Russia

      That...certainly does seem to debunk a completely different story than the one the article is about.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        Personanongrata, 9 Jul 2019 @ 3:31pm

        Re: Re: Russia, Russia, Russia

        Thad (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 2:35pm

        Re: Russia, Russia, Russia

        That...certainly does seem to debunk a completely different story than the one the article is about.

        Did you read Gareth's report?

        It directly rebuts this articles opening paragraph :

        Early on, as the scope of Russia's disinformation and hacking efforts were being revealed, there was a tendency on many fronts to downplay the width and breadth of the problem. For example, early whistleblower revelations of Russia's troll factories--which pump bile and misinformation into the internet bloodstream 24/7--were downplayed as just a few harmless sods posting lame memes in broken English. In time, it became clear that the efforts were larger, broader, and far more sophisticated than initially believed.

        Thad perhaps you should brush up on your reading comprehension skills.

        If any person wanted they could peruse the citations provided for this article and see for themselves the sketchy sources cited (ie Yahoo News, Muellers indictment of GRU members that will never be tested in court, etc).

        Additionally William Binney one time Technical leader for Intelligence at NSA has put forth a credible alternative theory to Clinton/DNC's dirty laundry being publicized.

        Italisized/bold text was excerpted from an open letter to the president found at consortiumnews.com titled -

        Intel Vets Challenge ‘Russia Hack’ Evidence :

        Key among the findings of the independent forensic investigations is the conclusion that the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack. Of equal importance, the forensics show that the copying was performed on the East coast of the U.S. Thus far, mainstream media have ignored the findings of these independent studies [see here and here].

        Independent analyst Skip Folden, who retired after 25 years as the IBM Program Manager for Information Technology, US, who examined the recent forensic findings, is a co-author of this Memorandum. He has drafted a more detailed technical report titled “Cyber-Forensic Investigation of ‘Russian Hack’ and Missing Intelligence Community Disclaimers,” and sent it to the offices of the Special Counsel and the Attorney General. VIPS member William Binney, a former Technical Director at the National Security Agency, and other senior NSA “alumni” in VIPS attest to the professionalism of the independent forensic findings.

        The recent forensic studies fill in a critical gap. Why the FBI neglected to perform any independent forensics on the original “Guccifer 2.0” material remains a mystery – as does the lack of any sign that the “hand-picked analysts” from the FBI, CIA, and NSA, who wrote the “Intelligence Community Assessment” dated January 6, 2017, gave any attention to forensics.

        https://consortiumnews.com/2017/07/24/intel-vets-challenge-russia-hack-evidence/

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2019 @ 2:14pm

    I'm sorely disappointed to see such a load of twaddle on this site. Did you have your sense of skepticism surgically removed?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    ynoj evi, 9 Jul 2019 @ 2:21pm

    Thank god

    Where else can I get pictures of nude women and bullshit propoganda on the same website. I think they have a fucking template that they use. And I don't care. I get to admire the (mostly) pretty women and laugh at their stupid commentary. The latest is all about Tommy Robinson and how we should give him regugee status...they must think we're all fucking nitwits.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2019 @ 3:30pm

    I have a difficult time discerning what the actual impact of Russian misinformation campaigns is. Bereft of mainstream media amplification, would their misinformation efforts amount to more than a blip amidst the torrent of homegrown misinformation from U.S. sources?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 5:06pm

      The impact is that the Russian misinformation efforts are becoming nearly indistinguishable from the American efforts, at least to the “average” person. That makes such efforts easier for the Russians.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2019 @ 5:48pm

        Re:

        How do you measure this? Polling? Qualitative research of social media (such as use frequency of terminology common to Russian propaganda by the average person)?

        I mean it's clear that politicians and many in the media are hyper-focused on the topic and are understandably sensitive to word of it. But I'm hesitant to translate the knowledge of the elites to the knowledge of the commonfolk, as it were.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 9:27pm

        Re:

        For reference, this is but one example of Russian influence efforts.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2019 @ 4:36pm

    Wow, touched a nerve with this article... the trolls are out in force on this one!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2019 @ 5:40pm

      Re:

      You think that's touched? Just wait 'til the Russians start saying that John Smith is a self-help hack writer...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Zof (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 8:54pm

    Russia Russia Russia!

    And like any fake russia nonsense, there's zero evidence and plenty of obvious lies.

    Did you write this for the nostalgia? Please fabricate a dossier for the next one. That would be so cool.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rocky, 9 Jul 2019 @ 9:01pm

      Re: Russia Russia Russia!

      Perhaps you could then provide verifiable citations that it's all fake nonsense?

      If you can't, perhaps don't write shit you can't back up, that would be so cool.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Zof (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 9:02pm

    "Hey, lets' test the waters.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Zof (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 9:04pm

    My Favorite Thing

    How the "russian hackers" ended up just being facebook advertisers. And they spend like, 400 grand. Which bought 5 minutes of adds. Then later, they weren't even russians. It ended up being a Ukrainian clickbait operator making a fortune off of angry supporters on both sides.

    But that doesn't fit the bullshit narrative of the story. In fact, REALITY isn't good for this story at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Zof (profile), 9 Jul 2019 @ 9:10pm

    One More and I'll stop and leave for the day.

    My absolute favorite thing in plain site that THIS SITE would NEVER talk about is the fact that John Podesta STILL sits on the board of a Russian energy company named Rosatom, owned by one... Putin.

    Google it. Funny, the Washington Post never mentioned something you can google so easily. Despite them being very interested in who has relationships with Russians......

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2019 @ 2:31am

    The premise of your article is weak

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2019 @ 4:03pm

      Re: The premise of your bullshit is weak

      How the vodka tasting this morning comrade? They paying you overtime these days?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JdL (profile), 10 Jul 2019 @ 2:33am

    How does Russia's efforts to influence American politics compare to American efforts to influence Russian politics? And how does the author feel about that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pete Austin, 10 Jul 2019 @ 4:04am

    The DNC Leak was not propaganda

    The DNC leak revealed revealed the DNC leadership's outrageous bias against Bernie Sanders and lead to several resignations, but you're saying it was actually just Russian propaganda?

    I hope readers do their own checks before believing that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2019 @ 8:09am

      Re:

      Obviously you didn't.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 10 Jul 2019 @ 8:33am

      Re: The DNC Leak was not propaganda

      The DNC leak revealed revealed the DNC leadership's outrageous bias against Bernie Sanders and lead to several resignations, but you're saying it was actually just Russian propaganda?

      I don't see the article making that claim anywhere.

      The e-mails were real. The way they were acquired and distributed was through a Russian propaganda effort. It is possible for accurate and damning information to be acquired through illegal and unethical means and distributed as part of a foreign power's agenda. The two things are not contradictory. It is possible for the DNC and the Russian government to both be bad.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2019 @ 4:56am

    Honestly, I've been saying from the beginning...

    Right from the outset of this conspiracy theory, I've been saying, who gained the most from Rich's death? Even if part of the conspiracy theory were to somehow turn out to be be true, and he was in fact assassinated, then if anyone, the SVR would be the #1 suspects because they gained the most out of the whole ensuing debacle.
    Have some Russian mob goon shoot a DNC staffer dead in a robbery, pump out propaganda and conspiracy theories. Way more credible than any more overly convoluted conspiracy theory implicating anyone else.
    Still more effort than simply taking advantage when such a shooting straight-up happens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2019 @ 6:33am

    Poor poor liberals, still harping on about Russia, hoping to find traction somewhere. If you were all truly concerned about foreign interference in the election process there is a much more obvious place to (((look))).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2019 @ 9:20am

      Re:

      Poor poor liberals, still harping on about Russia, hoping to find traction somewhere.

      Absolutely! Because if liberals are right about election interference by Russians, then that would make a whole bunch of conservatives look like easily manipulated pathetic retards.

      And if there's one thing I've learned about conservatives, it's they don't need Russian help to look like morons - they have religion for that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 10 Jul 2019 @ 10:05am

      Fuck off, anti-Semite.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        R,ogs/, 14 Jul 2019 @ 9:54am

        Re:

        wrong.

        The guy is clearly calling out (((lookists))).

        Would you have called him an anti-semitite if he had instead called out all of those filthy Israeli billionaires, ADL/AIPAC and Hollywood scum and Jeff Bezos, et al by name-these who are corrupting our elections AND media?

        Paranoid, delusional anti-semitic conspiracy theories only benefit these aforementioned "hate industry” profiteers.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2019 @ 10:13am

      Re:

      harping on about Russia, hoping to find traction somewhere

      And the money trails, IP logs, backtraces, company records, and federal indictments PROVING Russian interference are, what, chopped liver? Mass hallucinations?

      The only one harping about something hoping to gain traction is you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    william e emba, 10 Jul 2019 @ 11:54am

    The decline in US journalism is partly deliberate

    A link in the article above pointed to an account of the worsening effect the financial decline in local news journalism is reflected in the dumbing down of Americans.

    What's extra-depressing is that a lot of that financial decline in local news journalism is a deliberate right-wing money campaign.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2019 @ 4:05pm

      Re: The decline in US journalism is a coverup by bat-boy

      Are you really using the home of Bigfoot chasers as a source? Why an I asking of course you are.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2019 @ 12:49pm

    When it comes to foreign meddling in another nation's politics, "tendency to downplay is the same as tendency to betray."They betray our democracy and our nation with every word they say to make it seem less serious, especially so because they stand to gain something in return be it political power or straight up money like the folks at FOX do whenever the issue is brought up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 10 Jul 2019 @ 1:57pm

    Noice

    " In effect, the internet, for all of its benefits, has also helped weaponize stupidity."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Captain Slog, 10 Jul 2019 @ 4:25pm

    Gosh, minion: same day you blather JUDGE finds NO Russian Gov't!

    In Major Blow to Mueller, Federal Judge Rebukes Mueller and DOJ For Falsely Claiming `Russian Bot Farm' Linked to Russian Government

    In a major blow to Mueller, judge Friedrich said, "Save for a single allegation that Concord and Concord Catering had several "government contracts" (with no further elaboration), the indictment alleges only private conduct by private actors."

    Judge Friedrich continued, "In short, the Court concludes that the government violated Rule 57.7 by making or authorizing the release of public statements that linked the defendants' alleged activities to the Russian government and provided an opinion about the defendants' guilt and the evidence against them. The Court will therefore proceed to consider the appropriate response to that violation, beginning with the possibility of contempt."

    https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2019/07/in-major-blow-to-mueller-federal-judge-reb ukes-mueller-and-doj-for-falsely-claiming-russian-bot-farm-linked-to-russian-government/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2019 @ 5:29pm

      Re: Why you still here bro?

      You know they have to pay Russian stooges to do what you do for free.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 10 Jul 2019 @ 10:35pm

      Re: Gosh, minion: same day you blather JUDGE finds NO Russian Go

      Let's try looking at the same story from a credible source, as opposed to one regularly posting fake news.

      https://www.courthousenews.com/judge-chides-us-over-statements-tied-to-mueller-prosecution/

      Oh , look. What a different story. Yes, the judge scolded the DOJ (as she's scolded the Russian firm many times during this case as well), but the concerns were merely about Mueller and Barr's public statements which might appear prejudicial... and then she still allowed the case to move forward without sanctions, noting that whatever prejudicial effect their comments may have had can be cured through a variety of means around jury selection.

      In other words: pretty typical stuff. And not "a major blow".

      Seriously: stop reading propaganda sites.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2019 @ 2:36am

        Re: Re: Gosh, minion: same day you blather JUDGE finds NO Russia

        Seriously, do you work for the Deep State?

        I read this wonderful article recently about "Fake News" - it basically said the problem was that all the advertising money is going to Facebook and Google, and "traditional" journalistic enterprises are starving to death, relying instead on "click bait", hence the epidemic of "Fake News". Advertising revenue is gone, leaving only fanatics and deeply invested State actors to promote narratives that support their cause.

        That's you, Mike. That's the basis for this article. A Deep State narrative that is foolish (Russian Collusion) posing as "news" on a site that supposedly promotes "journalism".

        Ridiculous on it's face. Obvious propaganda that any passing reader would recognize as such. Russian Collusion. What a farce.

        Sad. For you.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 11 Jul 2019 @ 3:39am

          Re: Re: Re: Gosh, minion: same day you blather JUDGE finds NO Ru

          You could have said "I'm an obsessed idiot who avoids factual sources like the plague" in far less words, you know.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2019 @ 3:42am

          Re: Re: Re: Gosh, minion: same day you blather JUDGE finds NO Ru

          Ok look your comment is just ridiculous. The Russians engaged in a sweeping and systematic campaign to influence the 2016 US election and without their ill-conceived and illegal campaign, Donald Trump would never have been elected. We have hard evidence of this, convincing and persuasive and obvious evidence that supports this election hacking. It’s all written down, documented, attested to, verified, and available for anyone to see in the Mueller Report.

          And here’s the kicker - Donald Trump has very strange tastes in sexual experiences, not unlike the prosecutor in the Netflix drama “Billions”. Anytime you see people with “billions”, some lady is going to pee on some guy for the sexual thrill of it. We know this because a British secret agent colluded with Russian dis-information experts with money directly from Bill and Hillary Clinton. The whole Russian thing was her idea, she wrote that in her book, repeatedly and clearly.

          So that’s the actual truth of it. Hillary Clinton paid for Russian Disinformation that was funneled through a British secret agent directly into the FISA Court so she (and all her friends) could SPY on Donald J. Trump while he PEED on ladies!. So don’t tell me Donald Trump didn’t Collude with the Russians. He was a pawn of the Russians, who were a pawn of Hillary Clinton, who makes pawns out of EVERYBODY!

          Thank you for repeating and clarifying this COLLUSION NARRATIVE one MORE TIME! Without true believers like you, our message would never get out.

          Signed,

          (You know who)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2019 @ 4:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Gosh, minion: same day you blather JUDGE finds N

            Take too many sleeping pills before bed grandpa? Delusional much?

            Let me break down the truth for you:

            The US intelligence agencies have been spying on pretty much everybody for a long time now.

            They illegally use their surveillance results to blackmail and destroy anyone who acts counter to their interests, they often use private sexual information to force people out of lifelong careers.

            The Russians understand this, deeply and intimately.

            They bait the FBI with disinformation that they KNEW the FBI COUND’T RESIST. How many right wing pundits have been outed to have sexual tastes that are unpopular or rude? ALL OF THEM!

            The Russians knew the FBI could not resist this form of “click-bait”, because it was part and parcel of daily operations by US intelligence.

            They fell for it, actually, painfully and wrongfully.

            It was never true, and they were deluded by their twisted justifications, championed by Barry.

            So quit being delusional, old man.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2019 @ 7:59pm

          Re: Re: Re: Gosh, minion: same day you blather JUDGE finds NO Ru

          You remember when Sean Hannity and Q Anon made the phrase Deep State popular? We non crazy people do. Sorry for your loss of sanity. Sad, low energy.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 11 Jul 2019 @ 1:53am

      Re: Gosh, minion: same day you blather JUDGE finds NO Russian Go

      Huh... the last time you were this desperate to whine about Russia, it was during the Mueller report's release. Now, you've gone nuts over the last few days after the Epstein raid.

      What is it about Trump's friends being arrested that makes you lose your mind about Russia on irrelevant threads?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2019 @ 3:57am

    I have examined 17,537 examples of the writing of PaulT, and compared them to 11,216 intercepted communications of Christopher Steele.

    I am 100% they are one and the same.

    And answer me this - who has a picture of PaulT? And who has a picture of Christopher Steele? There is only ONE or TWO pictures of Christopher Steele in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE! Google it! You’ll see!

    And not one of PaulT! ANYWHERE! AT ALL!

    What does that tell you?

    Signed,

    (You know who)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    D.N.C. Sabotage, 11 Jul 2019 @ 4:16pm

    Isikoff, Who First Peddled The Fake Steele Dossier, Invents

    New 'Russian Influence' Story

    Michael Isikoff was the first reporter who peddled the fake Steele dossier about alleged Russian influence over Donald Trump.

    He later admitted that the claims therein were 'likely false'.

    Today Isikoff came up with a new fake story about 'Russian influence'.

    https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/07/isikoff-who-first-peddled-the-fake-steele-dossier -invents-new-russian-influence-story.html

    I'd forgotten this. It's an admitted liar repeating, an order of magnitude less believable.

    And of course Techdirt elides that fact and tries to hide every bit of dissent.

    I just hope author of that blog doesn't hate me from now on for putting a link here in this cesspit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2019 @ 8:03pm

      Re: Isikoff, Who First Peddled The Fake Steele Dossier, Invents

      “It's an admitted liar repeating, an order of magnitude less believable.”

      But enough about you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 11 Jul 2019 @ 11:53pm

        Re: Re: Isikoff, Who First Peddled The Fake Steele Dossier, Inve

        I read that as "I'm" and was momentarily surprised by the honesty before I read it correctly.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    fakenews, 13 Jul 2019 @ 6:28am

    fakenews

    Arron Mate, won awards for his reporting on russia gate, he is left wing, and says the entire thing is a load of bullshit. Jimmy Dore also left wing, says the entire thing is a load of bullshit. I suggest anyone believing this bullshit, listen to them, they have broken down all of the actual facts in the case. Like the $3000 spent on google, and the 10 memes posted on facebook, also the Podesta email saying "we can just blame it on Russia"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    completebullshit, 13 Jul 2019 @ 6:35am

    completebullshit

    Bill Binney former tech director of the NSA, says the emails were down loaded locally, to a thumb drive. by someone maybe Seth Rich , I assure you Bill Binney is not a Russian

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Concord Management shut down Mueller's fantasy, 13 Jul 2019 @ 2:17pm

    Follow up. Came across sources that PROVE MINION WRONG.

    This piece is entirely on the topic:

    https://consortiumnews.com/2019/07/12/concord-management-and-the-end-of-russiagate/

    It has this, for which I give the embedded link below:

    Assange's original statement: "our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party"

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/01/02/assange_to_hannity_our_source_was_not _the_russian_government.html

    After running several pieces that Assange is a persecuted hero, you can't suddenly claim that he's lying.

    It leaves the murdered Seth Rich as most likely source.

    after Facebook Vice President Rob Goldman tweeted that "the majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election," he was forced to beg for forgiveness like a defendant in a Moscow show trial for daring to play down the magnitude of the crime.

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/facebook-exec-apologizes-for-tweets-about-special-counsels-russ ia-investigation/

    TWO nailed-down original sources that entirely disprove your little assembly of second-hand lies.

    As I've said, Techdirt can overlook any and all evidence in favor of its fantasies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 13 Jul 2019 @ 11:27pm

      Re: Follow up. Came across sources that PROVE MINION WRONG.

      "It has this, for which I give the embedded link below:"

      Well, if some random blog quotes Assange that means every word has to be true lol. FFS.

      "TWO nailed-down original sources"

      Cool. Do you have any credible ones?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Jul 2019 @ 9:09pm

        Re: Re: Follow up. Came across sources that PROVE MINION WRONG.

        Assange? You mean the guy who was treated as the US' sworn enemy when the Manning leaks happened?

        There's biting the hand that feeds you, and then there's what blue does: gives himself a prostate massage, then upon licking it, complains that the fingers taste like poop.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shiny Red MAGA Hat, 17 Jul 2019 @ 10:18am

    NEW lawsuit! A new person supports Seth Rich as the leaker.

    At very least, someone willing to take case to court is vastly more credible than this gullible idiot minion re-writer.

    https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2019/07/breaking-lawsuit-outs-reporter-ellen-ratner-as-s ource-for-seth-rich-information/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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