That Moron Who Spews Garbage and Doesn’t Listen to Reason May Be a Bot

Rampant Disinformation

NATO has announced that it is launching an “information war” against Russia.

The UK publicly announced a battalion of keyboard warriors to spread disinformation.

It’s well-documented that the West has long used false propaganda to sway public opinion.

Western military and intelligence services manipulate social media to counter criticism of Western policies.

Such manipulation includes flooding social media with comments supporting the government and large corporations, using armies of sock puppets, i.e. fake social media identities. See this, this, this, this and this.

In 2013, the American Congress repealed the formal ban against the deployment of propaganda against U.S. citizens living on American soil. So there’s even less to constrain propaganda than before.

Information warfare for propaganda purposes also includes:

  • The Pentagon, Federal Reserve and other government entities using software to track discussion of political issues … to try to nip dissent in the bud before it goes viral

Automated Propaganda

Some of the propaganda is spread by software programs.

We pointed out 6 years ago that people were writing scripts to censor hard-hitting information from social media.

One of America’s top cyber-propagandists – former high-level military information officer Joel Harding – wrote in December:

I was in a discussion today about information being used in social media as a possible weapon.  The people I was talking with have a tool which scrapes social media sites, gauges their sentiment and gives the user the opportunity to automatically generate a persuasive response. Their tool is called a “Social Networking Influence Engine”.

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The implications seem to be profound for the information environment.

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The people who own this tool are in the civilian world and don’t even remotely touch the defense sector, so getting approval from the US Department of State might not even occur to them.

How Can This Be Real?

Gizmodo reported in 2010:

Software developer Nigel Leck got tired rehashing the same 140-character arguments against climate change deniers, so he programmed a bot that does the work for him. With citations!

Leck’s bot, @AI_AGW, doesn’t just respond to arguments directed at Leck himself, it goes out and picks fights. Every five minutes it trawls Twitter for terms and phrases that commonly crop up in Tweets that refute human-caused climate change. It then searches its database of hundreds to find a counter-argument best suited for that tweet—usually a quick statement and a link to a scientific source.

As can be the case with these sorts of things, many of the deniers don’t know they’ve been targeted by a robot and engage AI_AGW in debate. The bot will continue to fire back canned responses that best fit the interlocutor’s line of debate—Leck says this goes on for days, in some cases—and the bot’s been outfitted with a number of responses on the topic of religion, where the arguments unsurprisingly often end up.

Technology has come a long way in the past 5 years. So if a lone programmer could do this 5 years ago, imagine what he could do now.

And the big players have a lot more resources at their disposal than a lone climate activist/software developer does.  For example, a government expert told the Washington Post that the government “quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type” (and see this).  So if the lone programmer is doing it, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the big boys are widely doing it.

How Does It Work?

How does this work?

We have no inside knowledge, but we can imagine some possibilities:

  • Any article that includes the words “Russia” or “Ukraine” automatically triggers comments accusing Russia of seeking to form a new empire, Putin of being the new Hitler, and the Russians invading and being responsible for all of the violence Ukraine
  • Any article including the words “NSA”, “spying” or “mass surveillance” automatically triggers comments saying that the government is just trying keep us safe, and anyone who questions their actions is a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist who lives in his mom’s basement
  • Any article mentioning the  phrases”Federal Reserve” or “quantitative easing” automatically launches comments saying that the Fed is doing the best it can under difficult circumstances, and that the economy would be much worse without QE

So that moron who keeps spewing garbage – and doesn’t seem like he’s even listening to your responses – may actually be a bot.

How Effective Are Automated Comments?

Unfortunately, this is more effective than you might assume …

Specifically, scientists have shown that name-calling and swearing breaks down people’s ability to think rationally … and intentionally sowing discord and posting junk comments to push down insightful comments  are common propaganda techniques.

Indeed, an automated program need not even be that sophisticated … it can copy a couple of words from the main post or a comment, and then spew back one or more radioactive labels such as “terrorist”, “commie”, “Russia-lover”, “wimp”, “fascist”, “loser”, “traitor”, “conspiratard”, etc.

Given that Harding and his compadres consider anyone who questions any U.S. policies as an enemy of the state  – as does the Obama administration (and see this) – many honest, patriotic writers and commenters may be targeted for automated propaganda comments.

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  • colinjames71

    Doesn’t ever occur to these kind of a-holes to help fight for policies that are in line with the purported American values, no, it’s all how to manipulate people’s perceptions and twist the facts and suppress inconvenient truths and stifle dissent, thereby getting further and further from those original ideals they try to promote as belonging to “our side” in the first place, all the while completely oblivious to how their own actions contribute to the need for more drastic measures and propaganda so far from the truth that more people catch on and there’s your vicious cycle to the point that the info war is basically going nuclear, not being “launched”.

    • oldmangristle

      They care nothing of ‘American values,’ seeing them as a myth to be exploited in furthering their own aims. This is the largely unspoken (or ignored) undercurrent in US history. With the complicity of media, they know where all of the romanticized ‘buttons’ to be pushed among the populace are located. Big media is just a marketing department that works for them (sorry for any undo cynicism on my part, that’s how it looks to me.)

      • errant_thompson

        If American values includes national defense would it have killed the state department to approve of a Nato base on the Crimean peninsula before the Russian invasion?

        • Tom Welsh

          Ironically, your comment comes across very much like a bot. Just to make the most obvious point, how does American national defence require a NATO base in Crimea? Do you believe that Russian national defence requires a base in Florida or Maryland? If not, what’s the difference?

          • Dr Smileyface

            Careful mate, asking sensible questions can play into its/ their, er, urm, hand-like-appendages.

            From my experience this phenomenon is already happening on these very pages.

            I’ve already had ‘discussions’ with soulless entities that have no shared love of life, humanity and the Earth. Only last week I mentioned the Turing Test to a commenter and he/she/it was gone before you could say pseudo-multi-avatar-control-console-thingy.

            An easy way to confuse bots is use figurative language – they can’t cope with the ambiguity and complexity of metaphor and rhetoric.

            (It’s likely this approach works with various human types as well – for instance, religious fanatics are known for their literal understanding of myths etc and are often flummoxed by an abrupt change in meaning or perspective.)

            Our top defense against this evil attack on our human right to associate and learn and discuss is, of course, humour (that’s humor for you N Americans).

            So the message from the Human Liberation Funny Front is simple; if you think you’re up against a bot, then arguing will only make matters worse. It’ll cut ‘n paste dense paragraphs of ‘evidence’, then it’ll try and insult you, belittle you and threaten, but don’t take the bait, relax and be hiarious.

            Remember,

            Don’t tackle ’em, tickle ’em…”

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWyCCJ6B2WE

      • ron8072

        Hate to throw a little wistful thinking here but I know America used to be better than this. I have long thought we were being played in so many areas of our lives by less-than-honest fools on the internet. This article and its references attempts to dispel my love of America. Our government using propaganda to ‘nudge’ us in one direction or another is similar to the government repealing Posse Comitatus and directing troops to force Americans obedience! Read the NDAA 2012. I try to alert people of the coming troubles but mostly they ignore me. I am sure it is a lack of compelling arguments made by me but the time for that is quickly becoming irrelevant. Those with Traditional American values need to be in contact with each other so they can hash out what is true and what is propaganda. I guess I can find no good use for propaganda. I want and expect the truth. Propaganda in today’s world is everywhere. Obozo’s election, his organization, with the media’s assistance, have created the most effective propaganda machine in history, Everything he touches he ruins, but the minions keep spinning how good it has gotten since Obozo claimed the throne. I expect worse before the fall of 2016. Afterwards…………?

  • errant_thompson

    The “West” no longer has a coherent moral authority and it appears that they are losing the war in public opinion, so they must engage the enemy in propaganda battles. I wonder what this NASA battle is over, who takes the blame for climate change?

    • Dr Smileyface

      Pssst! Your software’s showing…

  • Tom kauser

    You will never see any of the principle sitting on the FEDERAL RESERVE balance sheet and neither will your children.

  • implicaverse .

    Remember back in 2007 and 2008, when Ron Paul was running for President, the mainstream media comments sections would be filled with libertarian comments. Now we often see comments sections overrun with neoconservative ideologues to the exclusion of all else. Where did the libertarians go? They’re still there, but they’re vastly outnumbered by the professional trolls and bots. Gawd bless Amerika!

  • berger friedrich-wolfgang

    Now , that “Veterans today” has lifted the thoroughly hidden Identity of zionist Banksters , they fear the Demon of Revenge , therefore their Agression against us Internet – Fuzzies . We have the Power to set them ablaze !!!

  • dchrist81

    “In 2013, the American Congress repealed the formal ban against the deployment of propaganda against U.S. citizens living on American soil. So there’s even less to constrain propaganda than before.”

    One less reason to remain a US citizen living on American soil.

    • berger friedrich-wolfgang

      Google Veteranstoday !!!

  • PJ London

    Use the letters BDS and get the bot going. Used to be a human earning his/her college pocket money, but now it is too formulaic to be human. Watch them come after me.

  • November 20, 2014 All Wars are Bankers’ Wars

    The purpose of war, according to this brief documentary by radio host Michael Rivero, is to force central banks on countries that try to issue their own money. He makes a compelling argument, illustrated by numerous historical examples. The film’s main value, in my view, is in dispelling common misconceptions about where money comes from.

    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2014/11/20/all-wars-are-bankers-wars/

  • hvaiallverden

    Dont lett the feild fool you, its the game that matters.
    I have known Hasbaratnjiks since the dawn of man, and whats their best tool, is diverting/obfusing/confusing/directing/etc. in a debate, to be guided into a trench war of rethorical exserisess, funnnwhen one is young, now, its more an irritation than anything else.

    Like Israel/Palestina, and how they stear any debate into other issues than whats been syae and reported in whatever respective article comented upon.
    They are infact easy to spott, its in the end, the rethorci that is their best/wurst wepond.
    But, what I have done is the same, persistently slammed back.
    I wrote about Khazarians a decade before it become mainstream, and have since then been hate sunbject numbero uno.

    When we turn it to the Ukrainian war theater, the rules are the same.
    All empty rehtoric backed by nothing.
    WE know the truth, WE know whom have started wars upon wars for centurys.
    WE know about the Tribe.
    WE know about the scams.

    And above all, dont lett your self be distracted.
    The Hasbaratnjiks think They are clever, they arent, the problem is the MSM, and their censure of any oposittion to the ZioNazis rule in the comentary feilds of various items.
    To slam them isnt a challange anymore, the challange is in the feild.

    BUT above all, I dont have to lie, I dont have to remeber what I write to any given time, since I am so hunest its possible to be, in some areas, I have been slipping dripplets, the full force will simply fry your brain.

    No, challange them on their censure, not on whats reality and about what boots are on the ground.
    The rest is childs play.
    And they will loose, and they know it, the reason for a string of articles about shutting down sites.

    Thats probably why this site isnt infested with scums.
    They know they will be slamed into the wall.

    peace

  • berger friedrich-wolfgang

    The Impression, that American Consumers are better informed about the fictional Shmock of the latest Soap-Opera, than about their constitutionally granted Rights of “We the PEOPLE”, hardens! Starring on the “governing Monetary Snakes of a privat Federal(?) Reserve”, does’nt change Anything for the BETTER!!! >>> “ACTION is the NECESSITY”! <<<

  • Who is the author of this article? I would like to cite it but I don’t know who to credit.

    Please give me a name of pseudo-name at least