(Ne)subtilnost kontrole in vplivanja prek socialnih medijev

Za tiste, ki niso brali “Twitter files” (8-delna novinarska preiskava notranjih sistemov moderacije vsebine na Twitterju ter “subtilnega” vpliva varnostnih služb nanje, ki so jo naredili preiskovalni novinar Matt Taibbi in kolegi), je spodaj primer projekta Hamilton 68.

This week brought new illumination of how subtly, even invisibly, America’s hawkish foreign policy establishment can influence the minds of Americans.

The illumination comes from the latest chapter of the “Twitter Files,” written by journalist Matt Taibbi. Taibbi directs our attention to Hamilton 68, a digital “dashboard” designed to track Russian disinformation. During the Trump administration, Hamilton 68 got much media attention and played a significant role in convincing Americans of the pervasiveness of Russian influence on social media. In particular, Hamilton 68 helped convince liberals that Russia was powerfully abetting Donald Trump and various policies opposed by liberals. 

Hamilton 68 thus helped prime liberals to support hawkish policies toward Russia. It may even, in some small but not trivial way, have helped reduce the political pressure Biden felt to pre-empt the Russian invasion of Ukraine through diplomacy—and may similarly reduce the pressure he now feels to push Ukraine toward peace talks.

One of Taibbi’s revelations is that Twitter head of trust and safety Yoel Roth (who has since left Twitter, and whom Elon Musk has smeared with cheap innuendo) doggedly monitored the work of Hamilton 68. Roth surmised that the dashboard was undiscerning in its identification of Russian influence, and he wanted to expose it as, more or less, a fraud.

In one email, Roth said of the 600 Russian bots that according to Hamilton 68 were waging a concerted influence campaign on Twitter: they “are neither strongly Russian nor strongly bots.” Often they were Americans with conservative political leanings, and sometimes (as in the case of Joe Lauria, editor of Consortium News), they were leftists with strong anti-Blob leanings.

In another email Roth said, “I think we need to just call this out” as “the bullshit it is.” But the call-out never came. While Roth favored publicizing Hamilton 68’s “shoddy methodology,” other Twitter execs counseled caution. Emily Horne, head of global policy communications, emailed, “We have to be careful in how much we push back on ASD publicly.” Which raises the question: What is ASD?

ASD is the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the low-profile research group that funded Hamilton 68. ASD was co-founded by influential neoconservative Jamie Fly. As Taibbi notes, its advisory council includes famed Russia hawks Bill Kristol and Michael McFaul and former heads or deputy heads of the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security.

In short: ASD is of the Blob, by the Blob, and for the Blob. And the message Roth got from Emily Horne—who later became spokesperson for Biden’s National Security Council—was: Don’t mess with the Blob.

And he didn’t. So Hamilton 68—the online agent famous for tracking Russia’s political influence operation—continued to pursue its political influence operation.

Vir: Robert Wright, Nonzero

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