15:14 GMT02 July 2020
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    When I was growing up the only 'trolls' we heard about were the Moomins - Tove Jansson's very sweet fairytale family from Finland, who were featured in books and a television series. Such happy carefree days! Now of course, 'trolls' are in the news every day - and usually linked with the word 'Russia'. Poor old Moomintroll doesn't get a look in.

    The whole 'Russian troll' thing has become rather repetitive.

    Repeat after me (By Orders of the NeoCon Thought Police): 

    "Russian trolls helped win the US election for Trump! Russian trolls are undermining western democracy! Russian trolls are spreading fear and division! Russian trolls ate my hamster!"

    The latest allegations came late last week as NBC claimed that 'Russian trolls pushed graphic, racist tweets to American voters.'

    It sounds pretty awful, I think you'd agree, but once again the 'revelations' — if we can call them that- are not as damning as they first appear to be.

    For a start none of the tweets themselves are shown. What we've got is a leak of what the tweets are claimed to be about. NBC's writer explains the process — by which they managed to "cross-reference" the tweets.

    "The tweets were uncovered in a database more than 202,000 deleted Russian troll tweets that NBC News compiled from three sources familiar with Twitter's application programming interface, or API, an online system that allows outside software developers to work with the data underlying users' tweets. The set was created by cross-referencing the list of 2,752 confirmed Russian trolls released by the House Intelligence Committee in October against recorded tweets held by the sources."

    Confused? You're not the only one. And I once taught Computer Studies.

    Apparently one of the memes 'boosted' by the Russian trolls tried to link Hillary Clinton with satanism — (the little devils!) — but no numbers are given of how many tweets actually promoted this line. We are told though that over 460 of the tweets contained the word 'rape' or a variation — like #rapeugees. 

    @TEN_GOP tweeted, "Just 2 days after #NiceAttack stupid liberals welcome #rapefugees! How stupid! #RNCinCLE," on July 17, 2016.

    Now let's suppose that these tweets — and the others outlined in the piece were indeed — as claimed — sent from a Russian ‘troll factory'- and not just from ordinary members of the Russian public, or from a rival state security service.  

    Do we really think they made a difference?

    The objective was to "sow doubt and discord in America," Obama's Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul — quoted in the NBC piece — declares.

    "That's part of a grander strategy of making everything relative. There is no truth. There is no democracy versus autocracy."

    But the number of tweets we're talking about- if we take the claims on trust- are absolutely puny in the great scheme of things.

    Here's Internet Live Stats.com:

    Every second, on average, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter (visualize them here), which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year.

    In fact that '500m tweets per day' already looks old hat — last night when I looked at Twitter stats, the figure was well above 600,000 million.

    Yes, that's right. 600m. Meaning that there's a billion tweets sent now in less than two days.

    And there were — we're told 'over 460 tweets' from Russian troll factories containing the words 'rape' or #rapeugees.

    Claiming that this had an impact is just like accusing a man who takes a very quick pee over the side of his boat in the English Channel of causing the destruction of endangered marine life. It literally is a drop in the ocean.

    Surely if the evil Russkies had set out to 'sow doubt and discord in America' — they'd throw a few more tweets at it. Even if we take the figure of a total of around '202,000 deleted Russian troll tweets' on trust — it's still only around a third of all tweets in just one day. And — its worth pointing out we're not told how many of these '202,000' tweets actually contained anything 'disruptive.'

    What this 'Russian troll hysteria' has done is enable Establishment commentators — who have been proved wrong on just about everything — to shriek 'Russian troll/Russian bot' — and make sarcastic comments such as 'what's the weather like in St. Petersburg, Sergei?, whenever they are held to account by readers. How very convenient. We've reached the stage now when anyone who critiques neocon foreign policy or 'liberal interventionism,' or Establishment positions in general is deemed to be a 'Russian troll/Russian bot' when they go under a pseudonym. If they go under their real name — then they're a 'Kremlin propagandist/.'

    Meanwhile, the spotlight is turned away from other countries — and their state-financed programmes to influence internet opinion.

    In 2013 the Independent reported how students in Israel would be offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda.

    "The students making the posts will not reveal online that they are funded by the Israeli government, according to correspondence about the plan revealed in the Haaretz newspaper. The government's hand is to be invisible to the foreign audiences," the Indie told us.

    Repeat After Me (By Orders of the NeoCon Thought Police): 'This is not trolling! This is not trolling!'

    In 2011, the Guardian revealed the ‘US spy operation that manipulates social media'.

    "The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda."

    Repeat After Me (By Orders of the NeoCon Thought Police): This is not trolling! This is not trolling!

    In 2014, Glenn Greenwald, wrote about how 'western intelligence agencies' were infiltrating the Internet to ‘manipulate, deceive and destroy reputations'. The Intercept published a document from the 'Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group — entitled 'The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations'

    "These GCHQ documents are the first to prove that a major western government is using some of the most controversial techniques to disseminate deception online and harm the reputations of targets' Greenwald wrote.

    Repeat After Me (By Orders of the NeoCon Thought Police): This is not trolling! This is not trolling!

    The questions we need to be asking (and which the NeoCon Thought Police don't want you asking) are:

    How many of the pro-war tweets you see — or the tweets/social media postings attacking or smearing anti-war writers and activists — are paid for — directly or indirectly — by western governments and their regional allies?

    How much Wikipedia editing is done by operatives of the intelligence services? And bearing in mind that in 1977 Carl Bernstein revealed that over 400 American journalists had secretly carried out assignments for the CIA in the previous 25 years- how many 'opinion formers' of today have links to the Deep State?

    READ MORE: 'The Smear': How Shady Operatives Destroy Reputations, Push Political Agendas

    If we are to shine a torch on state-financed trolls-and other online attempts to influence public opinion — then let's make sure it's a very strong searchlight- that can be turned in any direction.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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