What sort of posts would you post if you were a Russian troll?
I am assuming that the primary goal is to have America further removed from being in a position of world leadership and less able to build coalitions that can work against Russian interests. To that end Trump and the current Trump dominated and dysfunctional GOP being in charge is a major aim. Sowing division on the D-side and undermining any possible Democratic comeback in midterms has to be job one.
The secondary goal might be to discredit democracy and the American system as a model for other countries to emulate in general. Distrust in the electoral process, both at the party and general election levels, and in the systems of government, would be in their interest.
What sort of things would you write to catalyze those occurring?
I highly doubt we have any Russian agents or bots here but after you’ve come up with your ideas to answer that question look at some of the discussions in this forum. It does seem to me that we have posters who might as well be.
ISTM that the OP misses the entire strategy of Russian trolls.
There are millions of people in America. There’s no way the Russian government could afford to hire enough trolls to influence the discussion by sheer numbers. They would be a drop in the bucket, in terms of the discussions already taking place.
The way to influence things is to post exciting new information in forums which work via sharing, so that the efforts of one guy can be enormously magnified and be cost-effective. For example, you drop some juicy rumor into social media site. A bunch of people share/link/like it, and next thing you know it has a life of its own and some non-negligible percentage of the population thinks it is or at least might be true.
The SDMB is not that sort of milieu. Posting a bunch of stuff that might in some manner serve Russian interests will have zero effect on public opinion as a whole. The notion that the Russian government would be willing to hire people for such a futile endeavor is extremely dubious, to put it mildly.
Of course, all the above is exactly what a Russian troll would say … :eek:
Could be. My take is encapsulated by my use of the word “catalyze” in the op. No question “fake news” (which spreads farther and faster in social media than factual information) is one effective, and easy pickins, catalyst to drive discussions in certain directions, but given very reflexive responses that many in social media have, it is not the only one.
Of course I also have an obvious more meta intent. You don’t need to be a Russian troll to be serving their interests and acting like one would. When we find ourselves behaving as Russian trolls would maybe we should take a step back to reconsider before we hit Submit Reply?
That’s another issue. But I disagree here as well.
Obviously a person should consider the impact of their actions on other people and society. But it’s a mistake to focus on whether or not “that’s just the type of thing that so-and-so might do”. Everything needs to be considered on its own merits.
One quibble: I don’t think a goal of Russian trolls is to discourage emulation of the American model of government. While the U.S. Constitution is an important touchstone, it’s my understanding that emulating it is not considered best practice nowadays in nation building.
I think I would do pretty much what the trolls have already done, which is to spread fake news across social media sharing platforms. What was so effective about Facebook - and what the Russian information warfare specialists understood - was that people tend to believe “news” when it comes from people they know and trust. Unlike the bored YouTube user or cable/satellite TV news watcher, that kind of “news” is hard to avoid.
The most effective news stories are those that stoke cultural divisiveness. That is Russia’s MO in country after country: create ethnic antipathy, polarize democratic politics, and exploit the aftermath.
…All day long I’d sow dissent and hate,
If I were a Russian troll.
But seriously. Of course it’s not the case that ol’ Vlad has declared that the SDMB must be closely scrutinized. Posting on Twitter and Facebook is job one for the boys (and girls) working for the Internet Research Agency. And of course a lot of those posts are automated (bots).
But bot programs need to be created by humans, so far, and to create a convincing bot program–not the coding itself, but the content of what the bot will post and the phrases that will activate the bot–humans must decide what to input. And those humans need to learn how to do that job effectively.
And mid-sized to large message boards are the best place to learn the essentials:
***how to pass as an American–language usage, attitudes, beliefs, etc.
***how to effectively post the messages Putin wants disseminated
***how to divide groups that otherwise would unite in opposing Putin’s goals
The reason a message board is a better place to learn these things than either Facebook or Twitter can be, is that a message board facilitates sustained conversations with actual Americans.
You can’t learn the exact phrases to have your bot insert into Tweet or Facebook threads, from just reading Twitter or Facebook—they are not good places for in-depth discussions that take place over many days. Message boards offer the best opportunities for seeing what gets under Americans’ skin, and for trying out your skills as an impersonator of Americans.
So Russian trolls do spend time on boards like this one. They learn what they need to know to program bots, and they learn what they need to know to effectively post Putin’s messages on the major social media platforms.
I think a series of immaculately researched and meticulously annotated OPs to promote the revival of the Award of Lenin and to bestow the honour on Comrade Ed Zotti for 45 years of dedicated service to the Party might have possibilities.
I strongly suspect that the think-tanks responsible for generating many of the Republican daily talking points have been compromised in some ways. And it may have happened years ago. Here’s an old article that explains how the process goes. I suspect the process now is even slicker and more tightly controlled. I’m astonished and dismayed (but not surprised at all) that nobody is looking into this further.
If you don’t know what “official talking points” look like, then here’s an example.
It how the Republicans stay on message. Its why the pundits on TV all say exactly the same thing, and when a politician or a pundit gets into trouble they simply pivot to the next talking point. The politician or the pundit don’t actually need to know any facts, understand how anything works, what anything does. They just need to remember the talking points and if they get into trouble move onto the next set of points.
So who else gets the talking points? The “trolls.” And the surrogates. And the “non-trolls” who are true believers. And they all flood their social media feeds with this stuff which is spread by their followers which are then spread by their followers. Nothing extraordinarily complicated. Very tightly controlled at the point of creation, but once let loose it spreads everywhere.
Once you understand how it all works you can’t unsee it. Its like learning a magic trick.
Watch this interaction between Claire McCaskill and Orrin Hatch.
McCaskill asks Hatch a very simply question. Hatch gets befuddled. An aide comes up to him and whispers the talking point to Hatch. The microphone picks up everything she says. Hatch starts repeating the talking point verbatim.
They probably don’t read the bills. They probably don’t really know what is going on. I’ve watched the trailer for Sacha Baron Cohen’s new series and if you are wondering why so many Republicans fell for his schtick its because all they’ve done is do what they’ve been doing for many years now, and that’s repeating somebody else’s words.
"What sort of posts would you post if you were a Russian troll?
"I am assuming that the primary goal is to have America further removed from being in a position of world leadership and less able to build coalitions that can work against Russian interests. To that end Trump and the current Trump dominated and dysfunctional GOP being in charge is a major aim. Sowing division on the D-side and undermining any possible Democratic comeback in midterms has to be job one.
"The secondary goal might be to discredit democracy and the American system as a model for other countries to emulate in general. Distrust in the electoral process, both at the party and general election levels, and in the systems of government, would be in their interest.
"What sort of things would you write to catalyze those occurring?
“I highly doubt we have any Russian agents or bots here but after you’ve come up with your ideas to answer that question look at some of the discussions in this forum. It does seem to me that we have posters who might as well be.”