This is an interesting report from The Daily Beast.
Pretty much nothing in the report surprises us, but it is very interesting that the “Russian trolls” (according to this article) were chiefly interested in sowing discord generally.
Much of the report focuses on the effort by the trolls to manipulate leftist groups including Black Lives Matter activists. However, the report also shows that these trolls were sniffed out as odd or off, as illegitimate at least to some degree. Though it looks like the trolls had some minor successes.
But these “successes” do continue to appear to be quite minor. Both of the “successes” identified in the attached report happened in non-battleground states, New York and Georgia respectively. So again, the impact of the propaganda mills appears to be negligible.
As we’ve said before, it isn’t surprising to us that outside political actors would seek to manipulate social media for their own ends. Some have argued (we can’t say one way or the other) that the US did the same during the “Arab Spring.”
Regardless, this public exploration of trolling has in a way been healthy. We have argued for a long time, long before the “fake news” push of 2016, which appears to be a counter propaganda (but also propaganda) effort, that people need to be more discerning in their online diets. Just as the city streets are full of life and commerce and culture but are also potentially perilous for those without street smarts, so too are the “online city streets.” One needs to be aware.
(From The Daily Beast)
While the date of the auction could not be independently confirmed, the authenticity of the leak can. The leaked documents list screen names connected to a number of American citizens who were used as unwitting proxies by the Russians. The Daily Beast was able to track down four of those citizens, whose names have not been previously revealed. The leak contains precise dates in 2016 in which the IRA-created account Blacktivist reached out to those U.S. citizens, plus a short description of the conversations. The Daily Beast spoke to those citizens, and confirmed they interacted with the Blacktivist account in the ways described by the IRA in the document. In one case, the American even provided screenshots of his interactions with the Russian troll trying to dupe him…
…“I couldn’t put my finger on it. I didn’t know who they were and why they were remaining anonymous, and I didn’t really see the need for it,” said Craig Carson, a Rochester, New York, attorney and civil rights activist who was contacted by the farm-created account Blacktivist.
Shanall LaRay Logan—who lives in Sacramento, California, and said she is active in Black Lives Matter campaigns —told The Daily Beast that these kind of trolling overtures are “actually just counterproductive to our movement.”…
…They stole actual Americans’ identities and established false cover identities online. A consistent approach was to posture as supporters of passionate causes. But those causes varied wildly across the political spectrum. Some Internet Research Agency-created accounts pretended to be Muslim groups, others anti-Muslim activists. They were advocates of black liberation on one hand and its most fervent American critics on the other—whatever was necessary to aggravate long-standing and very real American divisions.