Using an array of accounts on multiple platforms and targeting a variety of demographics, the Russians have generated millions of interactions with their posts.
By Scott Shane
Dec. 17, 2018, 172c
When Russia targets Americans on social media, it has political goals: in 2016, to damage Hillary Clinton and help elect Donald J. Trump; since then, to press Russian views on issues like the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine; and in the future — who knows?
To wield influence, Russian online operators must first build an audience. Posing as Americans, they have to persuade Americans to pay attention and give them at least a modicum of trust.
Two reports prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee and released on Monday shed some light on how Russia does it. The reports identify some of the most popular of the images and themes created by the Internet Research Agency, which is based in St. Petersburg, Russia, and owned by a businessman with close ties to President Vladimir V. Putin.
[Read more about the reports here.]
Here are a few of the Russians’ greatest hits.
By Sheera Frenkel- Daisuke Wakabayashi and Kate Conger
Dec. 17, 2018, 77c
SAN FRANCISCO — When lawmakers asked YouTube, a unit of Google, to provide information about Russian manipulation efforts, it did not disclose how many people watched the videos on its site that were created by Russian trolls.
Facebook did not release the comments that its users made when they viewed Russian-generated content. And Twitter gave only scattered details about the Russian-controlled accounts that spread propaganda there.
The tech companies’ foot-dragging was described in a pair of reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee published on Monday, in what were the most detailed accounts to date about how Russian agents have wielded social media against Americans in recent years.
In the reports, Google, Twitter and Facebook (which also owns Instagram) were described by researchers as having “evaded” and “misrepresented” themselves and the extent of Russian activity on their sites. The companies were also criticized for not turning over complete sets of data about Russian manipulation to the Senate.
One commenter called for all of us to quit Facebook. I responded,
By Brad Plumer
Dec. 15, 2018
KATOWICE, Poland — Diplomats from nearly 200 countries reached a deal on Saturday to keep the Paris climate agreement alive by adopting a detailed set of rules to implement the pact.
The deal, struck after an all-night bargaining session, will ultimately require every country in the world to follow a uniform set of standards for measuring their planet-warming emissions and tracking their climate policies. And it calls on countries to step up their plans to cut emissions ahead of another round of talks in 2020.
It also calls on richer countries to be clearer about the aid they intend to offer to help poorer nations install more clean energy or build resilience against natural disasters. And it builds a process in which countries that are struggling to meet their emissions goals can get help in getting back on track.
A shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign influenced the result of the EU referendum. As Britain heads to the polls again, is our electoral process still fit for purpose?
by Carole Cadwalladr
Sun 7 May 2017 04.00 EDT Last modified on Wed 21 Mar 2018 19.52 EDT
This article is the subject of legal complaints on behalf of Cambridge Analytica LLC and SCL Elections Limited.
“The connectivity that is the heart of globalisation can be exploited by states with hostile intent to further their aims.[…] The risks at stake are profound and represent a fundamental threat to our sovereignty.”
Alex Younger, head of MI6, December, 2016
“It’s not MI6’s job to warn of internal threats. It was a very strange speech. Was it one branch of the intelligence services sending a shot across the bows of another? Or was it pointed at Theresa May’s government? Does she know something she’s not telling us?”
Senior intelligence analyst, April 2017
In January 2013, a young American postgraduate was passing through London when she was called up by the boss of a firm where she’d previously interned. The company, SCL Elections, went on to be bought by Robert Mercer, a secretive hedge fund billionaire, renamed Cambridge Analytica, and achieved a certain notoriety as the data analytics firm that played a role in both Trump and Brexit campaigns. But all of this was still to come. London in 2013 was still basking in the afterglow of the Olympics. Britain had not yet Brexited. The world had not yet turned.
Follow the data: does a legal document link Brexit campaigns to US billionaire?
“That was before we became this dark, dystopian data company that gave the world Trump,” a former Cambridge Analytica employee who I’ll call Paul tells me. “It was back when we were still just a psychological warfare firm.”
Was that really what you called it, I ask him. Psychological warfare? “Totally. That’s what it is. Psyops. Psychological operations – the same methods the military use to effect mass sentiment change. It’s what they mean by winning ‘hearts and minds’. We were just doing it to win elections in the kind of developing countries that don’t have many rules.”
I want to remind folks, that investigators have reported that Russian trolls and bots and Cambridge Analytica, owned by the right wing billionaire Robert Mercer, were both part of the campaign to destablize Britain with Brexit. It has worked brilliantly. I understand why it was in Putin’s interest. It is not clear to me what Robert Mercer wanted and why.
By Hiroko Tabuchi
Dec. 13, 2018, 181
“When the Trump administration laid out a plan this year that would eventually allow cars to emit more pollution, automakers, the obvious winners from the proposal, balked. The changes, they said, went too far even for them.
But it turns out that there was a hidden beneficiary of the plan that was pushing for the changes all along: the nation’s oil industry.
In Congress, on Facebook and in statehouses nationwide, Marathon Petroleum, the country’s largest refiner, worked with powerful oil-industry groups and a conservative policy network financed by the billionaire industrialist Charles G. Koch to run a stealth campaign to roll back car emissions standards, a New York Times investigation has found.
The campaign’s main argument for significantly easing fuel efficiency standards — that the United States is so awash in oil it no longer needs to worry about energy conservation — clashed with decades of federal energy and environmental policy.”
What a lovely compendium. Looking through the list below, I found two important articles I had missed: one on how rising temperatures are extremely dangerous to anyone without airconditioning, and are rising faster at night time than daytime, and another on how the rocks of Oman sequester carbon dioxide naturally, making more carbonate rock. Scientists are excited.
DL: Here is a story from this summer I missed.
By KENDRA PIERRE-LOUIS and NADJA POPOVICH JULY 11, 2018
“July kicked off with searingly hot temperatures for most Americans this year.
New daily, monthly and all-time record highs were set across the country last week, with more than 100 million people sweating it out under heat warnings or advisories. But the low nighttime temperatures that usually provide a crucial respite from scorching summer days have been more quietly making history.
On July 2, Burlington, Vt., set a record for its hottest overnight temperature as the thermometer refused to budge below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Four days later, central Los Angeles hit 95 degrees before 11 a.m., already breaking the previous daily record of 94 degrees, before rising to well over 100 in the afternoon.”
By Alissa J. Rubin
Dec. 10, 2018
PARIS — Faced with violent protests and calls for his resignation, President Emmanuel Macron of France said Monday that he had heard the anger of the many whose economic suffering has burst into the open in recent weeks and that he would take immediate steps to relieve their hardship.
Mr. Macron’s mea culpa on national television signaled a remarkable step back from his ambitions to reshape France’s economy and become the European Union’s foremost leader. For now, his chief goal is shoring up his own political support in France.
He announced tax cuts and income increases for the struggling middle class and working poor, vowing to raise the pay of workers earning the minimum wage. He promised to listen to the voices of the country, to its small-town mayors and its working people.
“There is anger, anger and indignation that many French share,” he said in 13-minute prerecorded speech from the Elysée, the presidential palace.
David Lindsay: Yes, good article. Here is the top commnent I endorse:
“Over the last year or so, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and other American tech leaders have issued a stark warning to those who want to see more competition in the industry. It goes something like this: “We understand that we’ve made mistakes. But don’t you realize that if you damage us, you’ll just be handing over the future to China? Unlike America, the Chinese government is standing behind its tech firms, because it knows that the competition is global, and it wants to win.”
This — Big Tech’s version of the “too big to fail” argument — has a superficial nationalistic appeal. It’s certainly true that the Chinese technology sector is growing and aggressively competitive, and that many of its companies are embraced and promoted by the Chinese state. By one count, eight of the world’s 20 largest tech firms are Chinese. That would seem to suggest a contest for global dominance, one in which the United States ought not be considering breakups or regulation, but instead be doing everything it can to protect and subsidize the home team.
But to accept this argument would be a mistake, for it betrays and ignores hard-won lessons about the folly of an industrial policy centered on “national champions,” especially in the tech sector. What Facebook is really asking for is to be embraced and protected as America’s very own social media monopolist, bravely doing battle overseas. But both history and basic economics suggest we do much better trusting that fierce competition at home yields stronger industries overall.
That’s the lesson from the history of Japanese-American tech competition. During the 1970s and into the ’80s, it was widely believed that Japan was threatening the United States for supremacy in technology markets. The Japanese giant NEC was a serious challenger to IBM in the mainframe market; Sony was running over consumer electronics, joined by powerful firms like Panasonic and Toshiba. These companies enjoyed the support of the Japanese state, through the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, which pursued a nationalistic industrial policy thought to be infallible.”