Monday, September 25, 2017

Hamilton 68: Tracking Putin's Propaganda Push and Where That Leads ... by gimleteye

I doubt the website Hamilton 68 will "secure democracy", but it does help to know how Russia's global disinformation campaign is working 24/7.

Russia/Putin's goal is simple: to sow dissent, chaos and suspicion -- supporting Alt-R themes, Donald Trump, and the kinds of conspiracy/homophobic/racist sentiments that propelled a fringe minority into the center of the Republican Party. My GOP friends, don't shake your heads: this happened.

The Russia/Putin disinformation network, as Hamilton 68 points out, doesn't need to create original content to be effective: it uses bots, hackers, and thousands of boiler room employees to weaponize extremist points of view that could originate on Fox & Friends, on Limbaugh, on Breitbart, InfoWars, from Steve Bannon to Roger Stone to President Trump himself.

The return on Putin's investment in social media disinformation campaigns -- merging with stolen US and allies' voter databases -- is at least equal to Al Qada's boxcutters that brought the World Trade Towers down.

The demoralization of the nation, under the most reckless and chaotic president in US history, is more than Putin could ever have hoped for, when he discovered the barn doors of Facebook and Twitter had been left wide open for infiltration. He didn't even need a key. Rupert Murdoch, Limbaugh, Fox et al. did the work for him. It didn't happen all at once, of course. It took time: stretching back to Jimmy Carter, the first president to cast shade on the fossil fuel industry, and Ronald Reagan who dismantled the Fairness Doctrine.

Both political parties should be stung to the point of reform, but the chances seem bleak indeed so long as the GOP control Congress and the executive branch and are hell-bent on protecting Citizens United; the Supreme Court decision that fundamentally deformed US elections.

Hopefully, voters will take care to redress the deep fractures in our political life in 2018 and interim elections, too.

How to Read This Dashboard/ Hamilton 68
The charts and graphs here display hashtags, topics and URLs promoted by Russia-linked influence networks on Twitter. Content is not necessarily produced or created by Russian government operatives, although that is sometimes the case. Instead, the network often opportunistically amplifies content created by third parties not directly linked to Russia. Common themes for amplification include content attacking the U.S. and Europe, conspiracy theories and disinformation. Russian influence operations also frequently promote extremism and divisive politics in Western countries. Just because the Russia-aligned network monitored here tweets something, that doesn’t mean everyone who tweets the same content is aligned with Russia. For a detailed discussion of this dashboard’s methodology, click here.

No comments: