Troll Watch – Government Social Media Manipulation and the ‘Common and Garden’ Troll

Updated 11 Dec. 2017

Note: I have edited out information from this blog pertaining to various anti-Assange trolling accounts and their associated pernicious web-sites. Disinterest (i.e., mine in particular), the progress of world events and the passage of time have mercifully relegated these individuals and their sponsors to the S-bend of history.  

In the side-bar of this site, under the ‘Internet Issues’ category, I have provided links to a number of interesting articles, in relation to techniques including ‘astro-turfing’ and other government and commercial strategies currently being used to manipulate social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook.

Included is information in relation to U.S. Military Intelligence, which is currently using military personnel to run many propaganda accounts on social media websites. A single personnel member can run up to fifty of these ‘sock-puppet’, i.e. multiple, accounts at the same time.

The U.S. Government and other organisations, also contract-employ marketing companies, in various locations around the world, to conduct what is often referred to as ‘persona management’.  The U.S. Military and contracted marketing companies, also use multiple ‘metal gear sock-puppet’ accounts.  These accounts are operated by software which provides a capacity to present vastly falsely-inflated statistics to support any view-point considered desirable, for example to present an impression that many Twitter account-holders are opposed to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.  These accounts also attempt to influence public opinion by the use of propaganda, smear, false information and polemic.

Catch-phrases and profanities are programmed into ‘metal gear sock-puppet’ software to add authenticity and create an impression of a human operator.  Some are programmed to pick up on key-words such as “Israel”, “Palestine”, “Assange”,  “Wikileaks”, “Trump, “Clinton” etc.  The intention behind these accounts is to chip away at public opinion and/or  the credibility of government detractors and activists, as well as to gather intelligence about opposition groups and individuals. Conversely they can be used to encourage support for persons or agendas.

Multiple ‘sock puppet’ accounts are currently being used to attempt to damage the credibility of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, by spreading false information and to falsely inflate the perception of opposition.

During the lead-up to the 2016 Presidential election, it was apparent that there was an army of these accounts, attempting to bolster support for Hillary Clinton by discrediting WikiLeaks and personally, Assange, who was perceived as damaging to her electoral prospects. Hindsight suggests these fears were not ill-founded.  I have no proof that this tactic was used in the Clinton campaign but my close observations of twitter traffic over many months and years.  It appeared to me that twitter was a virtual sock and bot war-zone at that time.  I don’t think too many people who had been closely watching the twitter-show at that time would disagree that it was highly probable the Clinton camp and their financiers were engaged in this activity.  These activities dropped off drastically, immediately after the election, even before Hillary Clinton had begun licking her wounds and brow-beating John Podesta.

 

Many of the anti-Wikileaks accounts are multiple “sock-puppet” accounts, being operated by the same paid employees of marketing companies, whose bills are being paid by entities such as the U.S. State Department.  Some of these accounts belong to actual people, however misguided, who are operating multiple accounts for the same purpose.  Many of these Twitter accounts tend to ‘follow’ each other and it is often easy to spot a single operator is using multiple accounts.  With most of them, their follower support appears to be pathetically limited, even with the multiple account holders following them.

Often it is easy to spot who is operating the same accounts by which accounts pop up together to verbally harass anyone commenting in support of Assange or seen contradicting an anti-Assange troll.  This reminds me of how animals puff themselves up to make themselves look bigger.

I have noticed that there are a large number of dormant trolling accounts which have been set up and appear to be waiting to be used.  These accounts often retweet a few WikiLeaks and other tweets, to give an impression of authenticity and attract persons interested in WikiLeaks, so that they can then mislead them, manipulate their opinions and identify other targets through time-lines and follower lists.

My purpose in raising awareness of what appears to be, on the surface, a pathetic and somewhat innocuous activity, is to demonstrate, particularly to young people, the mendacious tactics governments and individuals indulge in to manipulate the public and blind us to the truth. This type of activity is symptomatic of a greater disease inflicting the internet community. The only process which can excise these tumours is to shine a light on them before they metastacise into more pernicious lies and worse, events.

 

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