Automated Propaganda; Shills, Trolls and Disinfo Bots

trollpropaganda

 

~~hat tip to “rallygodspeople”

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 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?

One thought on “Automated Propaganda; Shills, Trolls and Disinfo Bots

  1. Cheikh F October 24, 2016 at 3:42 AM Reply

    Joel Harding was low-level enlisted soldier in the US Army who never rose above the ranks of Sergeant-Major. This impostor was never a “former high-level military information officer” which was a myth spread by his fellow trolls. His job was to fix equipment for communications officers who also included intel types. These days, he trolls around the web peddling porn, libel and conspiracy theories. That is when he is not peddling his so-called expertise among the gullible. Refer to Case No. 1:16-cv-00384-AJT-TCB (US District Court for the eastern district of Virginia, Alexandria division).

    Harding himself is reportedly part of an experiment to gauge emotional reactions, gullibility levels and behavioural patterns among former NCOs having an IQ bandwidth of 90 to 100.

    Like

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