'Too Late to Protect 2018 Elections,' says Alex Stamos, former Facebook CSO

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/08/22/too-late-to-protect-2018-ele.html





Here’s what I don’t get. It just sticks in the craw of the Kochs and their stealth army of economic autocrats that any of us mere citizens should have any say at all over their evil cabal, so I get why they and the Libertarian Republican nuthatches who control Congress do everything they can to keep citizens from voting. But, until they get their constitutional convention and restrict the vote to the “propertied” class (like it was in their good old Jim Crow days), they’re at least the ones still pulling the strings. If the Russians or Iranians or Unitarians or Pastafarians hack it instead, they lose control. For that reason, ironic as it may be, you’d think they’d want the government to actually ensure Russia wasn’t hacking our system. As always, find the money, but I can’t seem to see how they gain from allowing this to go on.


I can totally understand how Russian hacking of voting machines and vote reporting systems et al works. I don’t understand how targeted messaging and fake news and Russian trolls led to the Trump “revolution”. I mean unless our population is incredibly stupid or old and senile or both.

Huh… oh … oh dear. Oh. Oh no.


Alex may have felt quite similarly on his departure, as it doesn’t seem they let him do his job effectively while he was there. Has facebook even hired a new CSO? Do they still have the position? Topics probably better for another thread.

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Maybe too late to do what is really needed, but surely it’s not too late to ensure some protection? Congress has axed a spending bill to beef up election security - but local officials can make a difference just by doing their jobs, and I’m sure ISPs can make a difference as well.

It’s too soon to surrender.


If only there was any warning or opportunities to prepare for this unheard of eventuality.


I downloaded some of that 8GB of facebook ads. There was a lot of divisive stuff picked up from other publications about race, police violence, abuse of government power, etc. Sorta like boingboing, actually.


“Eliminating individuals from voting rolls…”

Isn’t that a job for GOP?

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Stamos won’t be replaced after he leaves, meaning no one will hold the title of “chief security officer” at Facebook. […] “We are not naming a new CSO, since earlier this year we embedded our security engineers, analysts, investigators, and other specialists in our product and engineering teams to better address the emerging security threats we face,” a Facebook spokesman said in an email. Facebook will “continue to evaluate what kind of structure works best” to protect users’ security, he said. […] “We expect to be judged on what we do to protect people’s security, not whether we have someone with a certain title,” a spokesperson said.





When I saw that announcement it was explicit confirmation of what we already knew: that FB was done pretending they give a damn about their users or liberal democracy.


Fair, but the magic was mostly in who it was shown to, and then how that was capitalized upon.

They picked racist people to show some of the craziest BLM stuff to. They picked liberal people to show some of the craziest right-wing shit to. If they couldn’t find crazy enough shit, they made worse stuff themselves and/or funded the nuts on either side to get that worse stuff.

And then they amplified it, nutpicking the craziest shit, especially from the left, and put it on reddit and FB and Twitter where it got shared far and wide amongst all the crazy uncles and racist grandmas and alt-right kindergarten groups. It created the organic feeling of “holy shit, look how crazy the left/right is”, and then tried to channel as much of the outrage as possible into one of two channels. They tried to channel left-wing outrage into ineffective but loud shit, and right-wing outrage into more directed groups that ended up shoving people towards Trump.

It was nuts to watch it happen in real time. I thought it was obvious what was going on (although I didn’t guess at all that it was Russian in origin; I just thought the Republicans had finally caught up to the information age and hired some slick and evil PR firms. Guess I overestimated them), but didn’t realize the scope of the whole clusterfuck either.


What have you got against Nuthatches?


And they’re blue too! I stepped in it right there didn’t I. I apologize to nuthatches here and everywhere.

I will say, the psychology on all this is fascinating and does explain how so many can believe so much that is so untrue.

Don’t underestimate the GOP. They have their own huge ass, very powerful and well funded bullshit machine of which Fox State Television is just the tip of the iceberg.

Oh, I know all about it - but all Fox is doing is holding ground amongst the old and very old demographic. It’s not a winning long-term strategy, and much ink has been spilled on the right about how to unfuck themselves so there’s not a massive pendulum back-swing when the younger generation inherits all the money from the old, racist assholes.

As it turns out, apparently “Let’s try and turn America into a third-world country!!!” won out, ideologically. Hmm.

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Disinformation has long been the go to tool for Russian intel assets. By spreading disinformation to enough people, that information then gets forwarded by unsuspecting and easily fooled rubes to spread it to other rubes. Eventually you get enough bad info out there that people still think, even today, that Hillary sold uranium to Russians, broke the law with her email server, and committed all sort of other crimes (which of course is all false) and that effects the vote on election day.

The evidence of Russian-sourced political memes so far is that it was of laughably poor quality and had trivially small exposure. It was also so ideologically unfocused as to suggest that it may have been just the vector for an advertising scam or somesuch.

There was a mountain of propaganda flying around online, to be sure. And, like you say, targeting and exploitation greatly enhanced its effectiveness. But the overwhelming majority of it, in both volume and effect, was made in America.

The call is coming from inside the house.

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