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prudence
 21 Jun '17  20:43 : 0 recs

By Andrew Roth June 20
MOSCOW — Bots airing pro-Kremlin views have flooded the Russian-language portion of the social media platform Twitter, in what researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute say is an effort to scuttle political discussion and opposition coordination in Russia.

In a new study of “political bots” on the social media platform, the sheer scale of automation is staggering: Of a sample 1.3 million accounts tweeting regularly about politics in Russia reviewed by researchers between 2014 and 2015, around 45 percent, or 585,000 of them, were bots.

So if you were to mention or enter a flame war with a random account from that sample, there would be a nearly 1-in-2 chance you’re not communicating with a real person.

The study, released on Monday by the Computational Propaganda Research Project housed at the the Oxford Internet Institute, investigates the manipulation of public opinion through automated processes on social media in nine countries: China, Russia, Poland, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Ukraine, Taiwan and the United States. The research was backed by U.S. and European Union government grants.


It shows, to varying degrees, how regimes, parties and politicians have repurposed social media accounts to direct streams of abuse against domestic rivals or foreign foes, quickly build massive political followings, game metrics on social media, or create bots to create more bots.

Those Internet campaigns are a threat to democracy, the authors claim.

“For democracy to work, voters need to have high quality information,” said Philip Howard, professor of Internet studies at the Oxford Internet Institute and the project’s principal investigator, in an interview. “Social media could provide that. But at the moment, it looks pretty bleak.”

Some of the surprising findings: Right-wing bots in Poland outnumber those on the left by a factor of 2-to-1. In China, automation is more widely used by pro-democracy agitators than by the government. And in the United States, bots amplifying digital propaganda had a “measurable influence” during the 2016 presidential election that saw Donald Trump narrowly edge out Hillary Clinton in several battleground states.


Taken together, the studies point to a significant update in the narrative around social media: Once seen as a tool of democratization and protest, like as, for instance, during the Arab Spring, it has increasingly become a weapon wielded by established political actors and authoritarian regimes, simulating public opinion through memes and hashtag democracy.

Twitter has been criticized for the site’s tendency to play down complaints about online abuse, often spouted from anonymous accounts. A March study from the University of Southern California and Indiana University estimated that as high as 15 percent of Twitter accounts may be automated.

Facebook, Howard said, should also take greater steps to identify and eliminate bots. He said the company should testify and release metadata about fake accounts in the investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

“We’ve seen they can adjust when authoritarian regimes ask them to comply with data authorization rules,” he said. “Maybe we can see if they would adjust to requests from democracies.”

Additionally, the study’s authors said, while Russian social networks like VKontakte or Odnoklassniki could be censored because they were based in Russia, bots are a way to muddy the waters on those social network platforms that remain out of the Kremlin’s reach.


The study does not provide direct evidence that the bots were created by the Russian government or how they were employed, relying heavily on media reports of bot farms in Russia where young employees in cubicles were paid to churn out comments by the hour.

But it does show the degree to which someone, or a bevy of actors, have deployed fake, online personalities devoted to sharing pro-government content.

In Russia, the bots were identified by a number of attributes, the authors wrote, including copying and pasting content, an abnormal number of retweets, high frequencies of hashtags, and a lack of biographical data.

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A separate study by the group on Ukraine said that those bots had a number of functions: creating mass followings for politicians, amplifying favored political content, requesting accounts be blocked, tracking changes to Wikipedia articles, or automatically registering new bots.

In Ukraine, researchers found fake online profiles were widely used by a variety of political insiders across the political spectrum to target rival members of parliament, or even to target themselves and then claim they were the victims of a plot by Russian paymasters.


Automated activity vastly increased in July 2014, when a surface-to-air missile shot down a plane with 298 people on board over southeast Ukraine, a region held by separatist forces backed by Russia. That was the moment when Howard, then teaching in Budapest, said he hatched the research proposal.

“It was really noticeable how social media was being used by [Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor] Orban and Putin to speak to many of my Hungarian friends,” he said. “They all started coming to me saying that Putin said the Americans had shot it down, that the Ukrainians had shot it down.”
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Lord Byron
 21 Jun '17  04:02 : 0 recs

Hello from silicon valley !
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Slightly Optimistic
 20 Jun '17  15:15 : 0 recs

Qatari crisis rocks UK gas market as cargoes veer off course [15 Jun '17 09:43]

And to make matters even worse: Britain's reliance on imported gas to jump as giant storage site axed

British gas supplies seem to be at risk from US foreign policy.

Simon Anholt has thought of this problem: His answer: 'Wish you could vote in another country's election? Use an online platform that lets anybody, anywhere in the world, "vote" in the election of any country on earth.'
https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_anholt_how_would_the_rest_of_the_world_vote_in_your_country_s_election

A common foreign policy for the EU is of course one alternative. But agreement on needed restructuring, no. Fines, yes.
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Slightly Optimistic
 20 Jun '17  11:08 : 0 recs

Some sort of message?

Iran’s missile strike in Syria
Tehran's strike was targeted at Islamic State but it also puts US bases in the region on notice and exposes the flimsiness of the Trump Administration's Middle East policy

Simply put, Iran has notified the US that its 45,000 troops deployed in bases in Iraq (5,165), Kuwait (15,000), Bahrain (7,000), Qatar (10,000), the UAE (5,000) and Oman (200) are highly vulnerable.

Clearly, the missile strike constitutes a snub to the US Senators who passed a bill on Friday imposing more sanctions against Iran over its missile program. It is also a defiant response to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s [.] remark on Wednesday that the Trump administration’s policy towards Iran includes “regime change”
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MingToo
 19 Jun '17  09:30 : 0 recs

In addition Iran for the first time hit ISIS targets in Syria with ballistic missiles fired from Iran. I'm guessing that this was some sort of message rather than a military necessity.
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prudence
 19 Jun '17  09:25 : 0 recs

You take issue with anything that does not fit with your love for mama Russia, the Assad family's tradition of brutal dictatorship and Persian hegemonic goals.

Nothing new, move along there.

Does one ..,

Or...,,

Or .....
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prudence
 19 Jun '17  09:25 : 0 recs

You take issue with anything that does not fit with your love for mama Russia, the Assad family's tradition of brutal dictatorship and Persian hegemonic goals.

Nothing new, move along there.

Does one ..,

Or...,,

Or .....
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MingToo
 19 Jun '17  08:38 : 0 recs

So the US shot down a Syrian aircraft.

The US is claiming that it was attacking Kurdish SDF forces in town of Jadin. This seemed curious because on all of the maps I've seen that town has been occupied by ISIS not the SDF. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights states that the Syrian aircraft was NOT attacking the SDF

Link

The fate of the pilot of regime’s warplane is still unknown, where its warplane was dropped in the southern countryside of Al-Raqqah, the warplane was shot down over Al-Resafa area of which the regime forces have reached to its frontiers today, and sources suggested to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that warplanes of the International Coalition targeted it during its flight in close proximity to the airspace of the International Coalition’s warplanes, which caused its debris to fall over Resafa city amid an unknown fate of its pilot, the sources confirmed that the warplane did not target the Syria Democratic Forces in their controlled areas located at the contact line with regime forces’ controlled areas in the western countryside of Al-Tabaqa to the road of Al-Raqqah – Resafa

The Syrian Army was about to take a key strategic crossroads at Rasafa which will give them a second road route to the long besieged town of Deir Ezzor on the Euphrates. Without this town in its key position a partition of Syria by the US becomes rather useless. This is the town where the US accidentally bombed and killed 100 Syrian soldiers a while back.

Was Jadin really held by the SDF when none of the maps indicated it was ? Did the SDF take it to help stop the strategic crossroads being taken by the Syrian Army on their way to Deir Ezzor ? Or was Jadin still in ISIS hands and under attack by the Syrian aircraft when it was shot down the US ?

I guess we will never know for sure.
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Slightly Optimistic
 15 Jun '17  09:43 : 0 recs

Red lines or transactions? See North America forum re Taiwan, Panama Canal etc.

Amid diplomatic crisis Pentagon agrees $12 billion jet deal with Qatar
The sale of US combat aircraft represents a major signal of US support for Qatar as it faces regional isolation and the severing of travel and trade links.

After three Sunni Gulf countries -- Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE -- along with Egypt moved to cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar, host to the one of the Pentagon's largest military bases in the Middle East and a linchpin in the fight against ISIS, President Donald Trump seemed to back the move, saying last week that Qatar had to do more to combat the funding of terrorism.

Qatari crisis rocks UK gas market as cargoes veer off course
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Lord Byron
 10 Jun '17  21:36 : 0 recs

The CIA has never sponsored insurgents or tried to influence any elections, honest.
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George Sore Ass
 08 Jun '17  09:48 : 0 recs : edited 1 time : last edit 08 Jun '17  10:21

So is Trump basically saying that they asked for 9/11 after decades of sponsoring terror themselves?
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Goel
 08 Jun '17  08:11 : 0 recs

...Trump’s comment that “states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote”.

Out of the mouth of babes

FU*CK THE USA


G.
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Lord Byron
 07 Jun '17  12:29 : 0 recs

Your with us or against us
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Goel
 07 Jun '17  10:53 : 0 recs

I note that the BBC is not thus far gracing its coverage with this item, from the Bart Simpson school of diplomacy:

The Qatari foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, told the broadcaster that the FBI had confirmed the hack and the planting of fake news.

“Whatever has been thrown as an accusation is all based on misinformation and we think that the entire crisis is being based on misinformation,” he said. “It was started based on fabricated news, being wedged and being inserted in our national news agency, which was hacked and proved by the FBI,” he said.


Qatar: 'It wasn't us'

The Qatari denial is almost incredible. It does shine a light on the inventiveness of their al Jazeera Syrian 'news' coverage, however.


G.
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George Sore Ass
 07 Jun '17  10:26 : 0 recs

UAE bans 'expressing sympathy for Qatar' with punishment of 15 years in jail

Always the regional bastion of reason and moderation.

I see on some forums that I used to hang out on that anyone with a Qatar visa is now banned from the UAE, so even if the poor saps living in Qatar could get a flight to the UAE via a third country, they won't be admitted. Given the entertainment options and general awfulness of Qatar, even aside from the quite likely prospect of gulf troops marching in and food shortages, that should pretty much see most of the expats who can getting out pretty quick.

When I watch all this, just makes me glad I did my middle east time and got out while the going was still fairly good. People seem surprised when you tell them it always felt the kind of place that could turn to war or civil unrest in the blink of an eye. Maybe now they'll be less surprised.
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George Sore Ass
 07 Jun '17  09:54 : 0 recs

Corbyn and Farron urge Theresa May not to suppress report on extremist funding thought to focus on Saudi Arabia

It would be ironic if Qatar released all the dirt on Saudi funding of islamic extremists while the UK government was busy trying to bury and hide it.

It seems all the gulf monarchies are busy funding extremists who pose a danger to the west, but unfortunately for their own relationships, not necessarily the same extremists. People Front of Judea and Judean People's Front hacking chunks out of each other as well as the Romans.
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MingToo
 06 Jun '17  23:21 : 0 recs

So Saudi has apparently given Qatar a list of 10 demands such as severing all links with the Muslim Brotherhood and 24 hours to comply. Presumably some sort of invasion / regime change if they don't.

Qatar is threatening to release all the dirt on Saudi and its funding of extremists.

This is a sit back and watch with popcorn event for everyone.

If Saudi invades it is going to be a real gamechanger.

- Saudi will now share the largest gas field in the world with Iran, both of them trying to race to get as much as possible.

- Turkey will probably leave NATO.

- Who will trust the US again to have a base in their country if it not only stands by and watches an invasion but was a key factor in encouraging that invasion.

- What will Kuwait do ? Submit to Saudi or look elsewhere for protection. Will they reunite with Iraq as they once were ?

Lots of interesting stuff from this one.
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MingToo
 06 Jun '17  15:10 : 0 recs

I doubt anyone would put in any effort to hack our little backwater site here prudence.
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prudence
 06 Jun '17  14:56 : 0 recs

This forum can be hacked, so can the computers of anyone posting on it then.

Bye ..
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prudence
 06 Jun '17  14:54 : 0 recs

Wow, this forum is being manipulated.

One of my posts on the chemical attack has been deleted.

You think that little c is creating bots, Zorro. I think that is probably child's play compared to what is probably happening.

Why not train trolls to hack .....

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