Troll Farms And Russian Bots Are 'Fixing' Google
A campaign to influence the 2018 election is in full effect using a combination of Google trickery and Twitter bots, and it looks a lot like the 2016 Russian fuckery. The Daily Beast reports that since September 2017, an anonymous source has been paying bloggers in Indonesia and India to write a ton of nice stories about about people involved in Trump-Russia. The intent is to bury any bad stories about Trump, his kids, Felix Sater, former Russian trade minister Tevfik Arif, and Bayrock Group, the mob-owned real estate group used to launder dirty dollars into repatriated rubbles (and vice-versa).
The scheme is pretty simple: Write a bunch of blog posts for dummy websites. Because of the way Google's algorithm works, the mass of junk will appear before something more reputable, like a WaPo report detailing how Bayrock was used as a transnational money laundering operation.
Think of it like looking for a needle in a haystack, except someone keeps pouring more and more hay on top of you.
That's not the only evidence of internet fuckery; another report by indy media outlet Arc Digital has found a new Russian influence campaign on Twitter. Called the "WalkAway Movement," it claims to be a "grassroots" effort to lead Democrats who are "walking away" from the party over a perceived lack of civility. In reality, it's an astroturf social media campaign pushed by pro-Trump blowhards and Russian state-owned media.
Russia is ruining our ability to find Kelly Clarkson jams!
#Walkaway first started on Facebook in May, migrated to Twitter in June, and then started tweeting at prominent pro-Trump accounts. It remained fairly quiet until Sarah Huckabee Sanders got booted out of a restaurant. #WalkAway quickly became the top hashtag among known Russian bots and troll accounts.
Within a week Sputnik and RT were running "news" reports about Maxine Waters making people cry. Then Tucker Carlson, Breitbart, and other pro-Trump mouthpieces started shrieking about an exodus of liberals who think kidnapping immigrants and murdering journalists sounds like a fun Friday night.
TOTALLY NOT ROBOTS!
Both of these campaigns are remarkably similar to the Russian fuckery in 2016. They use multiple media outlets to blur the lines between truth and bullshit, but have the potential to cause far more damage. Rather than pushing fake news about Hillary Clinton, they're creating a false narrative about the left as a whole, and attempting to hide their tracks.
On Tuesday night the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Russia did engage in a sophisticated campaign to influence voters in 2016, noting that they're going to try again. It may just be a combination of hubris and coincidence that Trump isn't worried about the prospect of a #BlueWave in November, but state election officials have warned Congress that local election systems are susceptible to hacking. Fortunately, these campaigns rely on gullibility and engagement, and the best advice to combat them is rather simple: check your facts, don't feed the trolls, and remember to vote.
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[ Daily Beast / Arc Digital]
Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or in a gutter taking photos.