Thursday, May 30, 2019

What's Natural about Jim Steele's Astroturfing?

After reviewing Steele’s odd April 17th “Safe Space” column about opinions regarding Polar Bears in the Inuit’s warming Arctic world, I became curious and looked up the word Kappiananngittuq which Jim tossed around so glibly. 
I googled _Inuit Kappiananngittuq_ and I’ll tell you, I was blindsided by the four pages worth of google search results to forty articles - it turned out that upon closer examination there were 29 links to articles that mirrored the same deceptive What's Natural? article.  
What is going on?  Have Jim Steele, Sherman Frederick, Anthony Watts mainlined into a social media troll factory or something?  Or is it just astroturfing?  
Then I thought of the rationalists, the science respecting side of this public dialogue, ten years I’ve been working at trying to network with like minded, but there’s no network out there.  Like everyone is off doing their own thing and no one has the time to care about the rest of it.  Or something like that.  
I don’t know.  It's like very few seem to appreciate the gravity of the Faith-Blinded political drive to destroy rationalism and democratic governance.  Think I'm exaggerating, ever listen to American Christian radio!?  Ever listen to FOX, or Trump?  
All I do know is the clock keeps ticking and the ruthless intellectual frauds and rhetorical bullies continue having free reign to mislead and deceive and slander and astroturf their utterly self-destructive delusional crap as much as they like.  It’s a disgrace, the founding fathers of the intellectual enlightenment would be appalled.

Below I include the google screen shots if anyone cares to investigate.  After that I share a good sized collection of articles about Social Media manipulation.
Google search results for _Inuit Kappiananngittuq_ (May 28, 2019)

click on the images for a clear view:

It can probably be argued that this isn't technically astroturfing since its missing the surreptitious aspect, well except for the  Dark  Money  funding  behind it perhaps.
Astroturfing: what is it and why does it matter?
Adam Bienkov  |  February 2, 2012

refers to apparently grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions that are primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms.


Climate change: 'Fake news,' real fallout
Michaela Cavanagh, July 24, 2018

The science of climate change is complex, and in the era of "fake news," that complexity can be used to mislead and manipulate the public and decision-makers. How do we know who to trust?

The rapid deterioration of the very conditions that support life on Earth is something we should all have an interest in keeping abreast of in the news. But climate change is an extremely complex scientific problem, and tackling it is an expensive proposition in which many powerful players stand to lose.
Which means it isn't always easy to know if what you're reading in your morning paper or social media feed is entirely accurate.
"World leaders were duped into investing billions of dollars over manipulated global warming data," a Mail on Sunday headline shouted in February 2017. Below it, an article alleged that US government scientists had used misleading, unverified data in a report that greatly exaggerated global warming and rushed it to publication in time to sway the 2015 Paris climate talks.
One problem: The UK newspaper got its facts wrong and misrepresented the study it was criticizing.
Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the London School of Economics' climate research institute soon filed a formal complaint against the Mail on Sunday with the UK's press regulator, the IPSO, detailing 30 false claims in the story. …

The persistence of climate scepticism in the media
We examine why climate change deniers continue to get so much media exposure, contrary to scientific evidence.
January 28, 2018 

Among the world's climate scientists, the number of those who doubt that global warming is caused by human activity is extraordinarily low - fewer than three in 100. But that's not the impression you might get from the news media.
In certain countries, climate change sceptics enjoy plenty of exposure through which to propagate their theories: carbon dioxide doesn't cause a greenhouse effect; the planet is actually cooling; or the climate has always changed.
Climate scepticism in the media is largely confined to what is known as the Anglosphere: the US, the UK, Australia, and, to a lesser extent, Canada and New Zealand. Elsewhere, including the most populous, polluting countries, China and India, such scepticism is hard to find.
"We looked at a very large number of articles, more than 3,000, and more than 80 percent of the articles that had climate scepticism in them were found in the US and the UK compared with the newspapers in Brazil, China, India and France," explains James Painter, a research associate at The Reuters Institute.

Half Truth plus Half Truth equals a Lie
Global Warming Solutions: Fight Misinformation
Setting the record straight with sound, science-based evidence.

Media pundits, partisan think tanks, and special interest groups funded by fossil fuel and related industries raise doubts about the truth of global warming.
These contrarians downplay and distort the evidence of climate change, demand policies that allow industries to continue polluting, and attempt to undercut existing pollution standards.
This barrage of misinformation misleads and confuses the public about the growing consequences of global warming — and makes it more difficult to implement the solutions we need to effectively reduce the man-made emissions that cause global warming. …

Holding fossil fuel companies accountable …
The Climate Deception Dossiers …
Documenting inaccurate coverage of climate science by major cable news outlets …
Exposing the fossil fuel industry's disinformation playbook …
Calling out Fox News for misleading coverage of climate science …
Showing how the news media help the fossil fuel industry spread disinformation …
Exposing special interest groups and policy makers who misrepresent climate science …
Fighting back against attacks on climate science and scientists …
Resources for effectively communicating climate science …

Effects of Social Media Use on Climate Change Opinion, Knowledge, and Behavior  

Ashley A. Anderson  |  March 2017

Summary and Keywords
Early research on the relationship between social media use and its relationship to climate change opinion, knowledge, and behavior suggests several positive impacts. Social media encourages greater knowledge of climate change, mobilization of climate change activists, space for discussing the issue with others, and online discussions that frame climate change as a negative for society. 
Social media, however, does provide space for framing climate change skeptically and activating those with a skeptical perspective of climate change. Further examination of the relationship between social media use and climate change perceptions is warranted. …

The Challenges of Social Media for Climate Change Experts

Suay M Ozkula, May 18, 2017

For the past three decades the world has become increasingly digitalised. Digital media have become ubiquitous to the point of being invisible, a phenomenon achieved through converging technologies and social communications. While Web 1.0 enabled large-scale global communications and networks already in the 1990s, Web 2.o offered a two-way or many-to-many interactive communication model; it made digital media social. For climate change experts ranging from humanitarian organisations, scholars, activists, policymakers, to the scientific community, this trend has had contentious effects. Social media have shown to be a double-edged sword, offering both vast opportunities and also extensive challenges. Controversies around social media feature in the private and public sector, and they are ever present in digital research. The field is underlined with uncertainty, a theme that has strongly featured in my previous research. When I asked humanitarian actors about how social media affected their work, there was little agreement. Social media are and remain a complex, contentious, and uncertain field.
Benefits of Social Media
Challenges of Social Media — a territory of vast data
Challenges of Social Media — the lack of filters & control
Challenges of Social Media — widening participation
Making Climate Social

Social Media + Climate Change + The Power of the Algorithm
Carolyn Fortuna  |  December 30th, 2017 

Climate change is a complex issue where various subject areas — such as science, health, environment, economy, human development, public policy, and foreign relations — intersect. Scientists, politicians, and the media discuss and present climate change differently, which complicates how the public perceives climate change debates. Climate change is part of a larger problem with the state of science these days — in its 41-year-old history as the White House hub of innovation, the Office of Science and Technology Policy has never gone this long without a leader or official mandate.
In 2017, social media gaps between how scientists and the news media discussed climate change became increasingly profound. Because social media provide users a platform to react to mainstream coverage, mediated discourse about climate change issues more than ever recently affected people’s knowledge, attitudes, and behavior.
Social media in 2017 produced “silos” in terms of climate change perspectives, so, instead of people engaging in rational dialogue about climate change, many social media users became more entrenched in their own positions. Indeed, many in the US are being misled on serious scientific issues, especially those around climate change. …
How Social Media Became a Key Source of 21st Century Climate Change Information …
How Social Media Feeds Persuade Us through Algorithms …
Conflicting Views on Climate Change Can Be Balanced by an Algorithm …
How Can We Draw upon the Opportunities within Social Media to Inform Others about Climate Change? …
A brief history of fake climate news in the mainstream media

By Rebecca Leber and Jeremy Schulman on Jul 6, 2017

… 1990s and 2000s: Oil companies push climate denial in the news media
In 1997, countries around the world signed the the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s first serious attempt to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Months later, the New York Times reported on documents showing that the oil industry — including representatives from Exxon, Chevron, and Southern — were planning a campaign to “maximize the impact of scientific views consistent with ours on Congress, the media, and other key audiences.” 
The campaign, the Times reported, would include an effort to track “the percentage of news articles that raise questions about climate science and the number of radio talk show appearances by scientists questioning the prevailing views.” It would also develop a so-called “sound scientific alternative” to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an international body of scientists that evaluates climate change research. …
The Manipulation of Science

By Reveal Admin / April 24, 2007

In the spring of 1998, a remarkable document surfaced. The eight-page "action plan" detailed plans by the American energy industry — notably oil companies and a large electricity producer — to derail the Kyoto Protocol, the landmark treaty aimed at slashing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. At the time, then-President Bill Clinton and his deputies were pushing to get the United States, the top generator of heat-trapping atmospheric pollution, to ratify the pact.
Unveiled by The New York Times in a front page story, the document laid bare a sophisticated multimillion dollar scheme to influence the discourse on global warming over a span of years. The key? Tapping scientists to express skepticism about climate change and developing a media and public outreach campaign to get that message out to the public. …
The Plan
The action plan memo describes a strategy that had been used effectively by the tobacco industry in earlier years: attack the science. "Because the science underpinning the global climate change theory has not been challenged effectively in the media or through other vehicles reaching the American public, there is widespread ignorance, which works in favor of the Kyoto treaty and against the best interests of the United States," states the memo, which was developed by officials from Exxon, Chevron, an industry trade group called the American Petroleum Institute, several conservative think tanks, and Southern Company, a major electricity generator. …

Then there’s the crossover and spillover into power politics and Russian meddling in American affairs.


Mueller Report: Russians Easily Manipulated Social Media, Effortlessly Stole Voter Info

by Kate Patrick, Technology, April 19, 2019

While Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s much-anticipated report found no evidence of conspiracy, Mueller describes in great detail how Russians easily manipulated social media companies like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and Twitter to serve their own political ends.
The Internet Research Agency (IRA), funded by Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin (a Russian oligarch with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in December 2016), operated hundreds of fake Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and Twitter accounts to spread pro-Trump and anti-Hillary Clinton messages leading up to the 2016 election, beginning as early as 2014, according to the Mueller report.
The scheme was simple but effective.  …
…The GRU also stole voter information from the Illinois State Board of Elections and later conducted a spearphishing email attack against a voting technology company, VR Systems, which (Mueller said) the FBI believes granted the GRU access to “at least one Florida county government.”
During the 2018 midterms, Republicans mocked Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) for worrying about Russian influence in Florida elections.
The GRU did all this without local or state government knowledge. But the sheer laziness with regard to cybersecurity didn’t surprise Stuart Madnick, a professor of information technology and engineering systems at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Here’s Everything The Mueller Report Says About How Russian Trolls Used Social Media

Ryan Broderick | BuzzFeed News Reporter | April 18, 2019

The Mueller report clearly describes how Russian trolls reached millions of people on Facebook, were quoted in major newspapers as real Americans, and even organized rallies.
… Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign provides one of the most detailed looks at how Russia’s Internet Research Agency — the infamous Kremlin-linked troll farm — tried to hijack the 2016 election and swing the vote in favor of Donald Trump. …
… The IRA was able to reach up to 126 million Americans on Facebook via a mixture of fraudulent accounts, groups, and advertisements, the report says. …
… According to Mueller’s report, the IRA began creating fake Facebook accounts and small groups as early as 2014.
“IRA employees operated social media accounts and group pages designed to attract U.S. audiences,” the report reads. “These groups and accounts, which addressed divisive U.S. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by U.S. activists.  
The lines up with what we already knew about the IRA’s activity. One of its first large-scale misinformation projects was the Columbian Chemicals Plant explosion hoax in September 2014, when IRA members created a completely fake explosion at a chemical plant in Louisiana. “The perpetrators didn’t just doctor screenshots from CNN; they also created fully functional clones of the websites of Louisiana TV stations and newspapers,” the New York Times wrote about the hoax.” …
… The IRA was on pretty much every platform.
At first, the IRA focused its activity on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Later, Tumblr and Instagram accounts were created. In the beginning, Russian trolls were manning only fake individual accounts. By 2015, however, they began creating larger groups and pages. Finally, they attempted to flex their network effect to hold real-life rallies. …
… By the time Facebook deactivated them in 2017, the Russia-controlled group "United Muslims of America" had over 300,000 followers, the "Don't Shoot Us" group had over 250,000 followers, the "Being Patriotic" Facebook group had over 200,000 followers, and the "Secured Borders" Facebook group had over 130,000 followers.

Race, Lies, and Social Media: How Russia Manipulated Race in America and Interfered in the 2016 Elections

Bret Schafer, by May 6, 2019


When it comes to social media manipulation, we’re our own worst enemy

By John Kelly March 29, 2019, DemocracyPost Opinion

John Kelly is the chief executive of Graphika, a network analysis firm, and an affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Our online political discourse is being warped more by American manipulators than by foreign ones. Domestic online “astroturfing” by paid consultants and technically sophisticated volunteers predates social media, and the tools, techniques and ranks of practitioners have only multiplied in recent years.
This realization should not serve as an excuse for dismissing foreign interference. The weaponization of online political divides actually makes it easier for foreign influencers to inject their own agenda into the fray. Foreign sock puppets are Our online political discourse is being warped more by American manipulators than by foreign ones. Domestic online “astroturfing” by paid consultants and technically sophisticated volunteers predates social media, and the tools, techniques and ranks of practitioners have only multiplied in recent years.
This realization should not serve as an excuse for dismissing foreign interference. The weaponization of online political divides actually makes it easier for foreign influencers to inject their own agenda into the fray. Foreign sock puppets are easy to insert …

Russia used social media for widespread meddling in U.S. politics: reports
December 17, 2018

The Russian government’s Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, Russia, tried to manipulate U.S. politics, said the reports, one by social media analysts New Knowledge and the other by an Oxford University team working with analytical firm Graphika.
The twin reports largely verified earlier findings by U.S. intelligence agencies, but offered much more detail about Russian activity going back years that continues even now, said the reports and senior lawmakers.
For instance, one Russian troll farm tried to encourage U.S. “secessionist movements” in California and Texas, the New Knowledge report said. …

“This newly released data demonstrates how aggressively Russia sought to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology,” said Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, in a statement.
The Russian agency worked to erode trust in U.S. democratic institutions and its activities have not stopped, he said. The committee collected data from social media companies that was used by the private analysts in their analysis. …

Facebook, Compromised: How Russia Manipulated U.S. Voters

By Sophia Porotsky On Jan 11, 2018

This is the second instalment examining Russian information warfare, the use of social media, and the US election. Part one,Cold War 2.0: Russian Information Warfare, introduces the information warfare concept and its role in cyberspace.  
Third, The Trump Campaign’s Exploitation of Social Mediaexplains how the campaign benefited from Twitter bots, trolls, and microtargeted Facebook messages. 
Last, Cambridge Analytica: the Darker Side of Big Data, investigates the involvement of an ethically dubious “election management” firm in the 2016 presidential elections. …
Information warfare content is generated and disseminated through channels that fall into three attribution categories: white (overt), grey (less-overt), and black (covert) channels. They propagate a blend of authentic, manipulated, and fake stories and they feed off of and reinforce each other.
White or overt channels include state-sponsored pro-Russian news outlets such as Sputnik and RT, the grey less-overt outlets include data dump sites, such as Wikileaks, and more sinister black channels involve covert operations such as hacking. The agents disseminating the information include bots (automated web robots), and real people, often presenting themselves as innocuous news aggregators. These agents form the key engine for distributing misinformation and disinformation.
Black or covert measures—once highly risky and dangerous to carry out—are now easily and efficiently carried out through social media. Russia is now able to remotely coordinate an army of hackers, honeypots (in this instance, social media profiles used to bait other users into giving compromising or embarrassing information), and hecklers or internet trolls (individuals who purposely create discord or provoke).
The Role of Non-State Cyber Hackers: Advanced Persistent Threat Groups
Information Warfare: Russia’s “Active Measures.”
Conceptually, Information warfare is by no means a new concept. However, the broad reach of social media has created an entirely new and highly effective avenue for Russian ‘active measures’ to penetrate into and influence the minds of the American public.  Active measures “employ a three-pronged approach that attempts to shape foreign policy…state-to-people, People-To-People, and state-to-state…The Russian government today uses the state-to-people and people-to-people approaches on social media and the internet.” …

New Studies Show Pundits Are Wrong About Russian Social-Media Involvement in US Politics
Far from being a sophisticated propaganda campaign, it was small, amateurish, and mostly unrelated to the 2016 election.

By Aaron MatéTwitter | December 28, 2018

(CC: Interesting perspective, uses a lot of filters, different conclusion can be drawn from the same data.  Though worth the read.)

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