Twitter is awash in disinformation bots tweeting lies about the Kentucky gubernatorial election results

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/12/whats-wrong-with-kentucky.html

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No-one’s really managed to convince me that Twitter isn’t a net negative for humankind yet.

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They’ve been pulling this sort of scam for a long time, though.

Remember when the 2000 presidential election was stolen through similar FUD about the vote counting process?

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Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent revolution inevitable.

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Climate Twitter is pretty useful, but I’ll grant you’re talking on balance.

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2020 is going to be a repeat of 2016 in this respect. Twitter and Facebook are not close to being equipped for and aren’t particularly inclined toward stopping the whack-a-mole game of disinformation that’s going to be run by Russia, China, Iran, and of course the GOP ratf*ckers who’ve either learned from them or who buy their services.

The fate of liberal democracy in America doesn’t matter any more to Zuckerberg and Dorsey than it does to Thiel – perhaps less, since Thiel would prefer to see it destroyed.

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I downloaded tiktok this weekend, and I was surprised at how many pro-Trump videos were popping up, and I wondered how genuine they were, or if the Trump campaign was weaponizing the platform.

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Based on a very cursory look at Twitter’s income, it would cost them about 10 million to shut down for a day (probably significantly less if it’s just the US). I think there’s room in the budget to cover that once every 4 years.

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Yeah, they’re caught in this tug-of-war:

  1. It would be the right thing to do to stop these disinformation campaigns and voter manipulation, but
  2. It would cost a lot, and (so) maybe we have a really libertarian philosophy about our responsibility as a platform for discourse.

Which means weak-spirited enforcement of some types of some of their policy sometimes, and as a consequence the exploiters hone their skills and become more effective and more difficult to stop. It’s like how constant use of hand sanitizer ultimately breeds more devastating superbugs, until the listeria is coming from inside the sanitizer bottle itself.

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These bots must be coming from Russia. Nobody in Kentucky is smart enough to figure out how to do this.

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All these years later, and nothing has successfully countered this tactic. 45 has been recorded multiple times telling his supporters that he’s going to cry foul if elections don’t go his way, and we’ve seen the manipulation behind “fake news.” Maybe we need a Disney movie mashup between “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” and a remake of Leap of Faith with a twist involving blackmail for political power like the one below:

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Stories like this, and John Oliver’s recent story about voting machines, has me dreading the next election. If Trump wins, it’ll be at least in part because of people, either inside or outside the country, gaming the broken fucking system. And if he loses, he can point to the broken system as cause for invalidating the election results. I know it wouldn’t be as simple as Orange Skull saying “nuh uh!” and holding his breath until he turns burnt sienna, because there are theoretically checks on dictatorship, but it’ll still be messy.

Also, it seems like every time someone has actually looked into allegations of voter fraud, they’ve found wrongdoing by right-wingers. But I’m sure that’s either confirmation bias or a coincidence.

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I’d say this is the primary reason Putin is instituting his “Russia-only” internet-- if he can f$%k with the rest of the world via social media armies, then what’s to stop the rest of the world from f$%king with him.

Spreading disinformation has long been the right-wing’s modus operandi, at least since the rise of Limbaugh (“there are more trees in North America now than when the Pilgrims landed!”) – I heard so many weird stories about Benghazi it made my head spin.

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This is half the problem.

Liberals whine when their posts are taken down because they are right. They fight to get the post back up.

The Reich wing has been studying twitter, probing the boundaries, building alts and bots and stuff so that they can plumb the waters and find out what exactly they can get away with to support their twisted ideologies online. They will post twenty things and find out which ones get taken down, then post up to that point; they’ll post and screen-shot and repost and post images knowing they will get taken down but hey they are up for a while. When one comes down they simply post 20 more.

Liberals play twitter like a first year piano student plays Chopin. Nazis play twitter like a violin virtuoso.

One of the most disturbing things about my time in the left has been that because we are right, and because we are on the right side of history, we feel that we don’t need to do anything that isn’t underhanded or that requires sacrifice. We tear down our leaders when they show faults instead of supporting them anyway on the theory that they will do more good than harm. We have a tendency to lobster each other for not being enough enough instead of going after those who we really disagree with.

And the reich wing is eating the Left’s lunch, as well as the Right wing’s lunch. The reich wing has destroyed the conservative party; it no longer stands for the things that it is supposed to, and like frogs in a pot that has been set on a low heat no one noticed it was getting warmer until they no longer can jump out. Why? Because they are willing to do whatever underhanded and immoral thing they need to do in order to win.

Including rig an election, then complain when their rig wasn’t as big as they wanted it to be.

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Would like to see us worry less about twitter and facebook and more about voting-machine security and free speech.

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Let me tell you about the first and only voting machine that actually seems like a good idea. I used it last week.

They gave me a ballot, which was a blank piece of paper that had my precinct and other info on it. It got fed into a touch screen device, which enforced the voting restrictions (ie., up to 2 candidates for this council, up to 3 candidates for this council, only one for this council). It then reviewed my results with me, then printed them out in human readable form on my ballot and spat it back out to me. I could read my ballot and confirm that it matched my vote. I then walked over to the ballot box, where a helpful person helped me to put it in the counter, which tallied my vote and spat the card into a sealed, locking container.

It was a $5K+ pencil. I loved it. I hope they have stock registration and other security features, but honestly it is the first voting machine I have ever used which I actually had hopes that my vote would be counted as I wanted it to be, instead of as they wanted it to be…

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Yeah, we’re all inbred, dumb ass hicks here in the south… we don’t have two brain cells to rub between us… /s

Not really. I live in the suburbs of the tech hub of this entire region of the country, and we produce quite a few of the employees from several well respected programs, including GA Tech, which is pretty well established as an excellent engineering school. Plus we have great programs at UGA, GSU, Emory, and the Atlanta University Center. We’re not all ignorant hicks and this entire line of thinking really does need to die. We’re not more or less “smart” than the rest of the country.

I’d agree, except it’s still limping on, and is in control of one branch of government, in control of half the side of one branch, and is furiously working to get their picks into the federal court system. This was not just built out of the south, either - this is a nation wide phenomenon.

In addition, they also mimic the language of left in some ways. For example, some of what is being said is straight out of the language used in the recent GA governors race, where Stacy Abrams brought up legitimate grievances. I think this is also a case of the right assuming that what happens on the left is the same thing they are up to - which is vote rigging of some variety.

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Well, the troll-tweet that started it off did misspell their location name. What’s amazing is how completely stupid the whole thing is: some rando with a pattern of trolling (who obviously isn’t even in Kentucky) sends one tweet saying that they destroyed Republican ballots, and all it takes is a bunch of bots repeating it for conservatives to simply accept it.

I mean, everyone is worried about how “deep fakes” are going to create fake political scandals, but all it actually takes is a single bit of text from an unknown troll and that’s enough for some people.

I agree with you and apologize for not making my stance clearer.

Half of the problem is that northern liberals are constantly underestimating their opposition due to their own perjuries and perceived but inaccurate and unfounded assumption of greater intelligence and education.

Southerners are not uneducated, lazy, stupid, technically disinclined, or only interested in base amusements. Southerners are not by nature more conservative; not quite half of Southerners are liberals. (As opposed to northerners, of which not quite half are conservative.)

I think on all counts we agree on these matters. Thank you for clarifying an important point.

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I appreciate that, thanks. As someone who lives down here and is really on the front lines of these culture wars, it’s good to know that some won’t just sneer at me for where I live.

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