Renée DiResta is the Director of Research at New Knowledge and a Mozilla Fellow in Media, Misinformation, and Trust.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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I want to say any more. I want to welcome her. Please welcome. Renee director will gain experience thanks. Jonas really appreciated thanks for having this Jonesy and our support gas, and I was utterly stunned. Idleness do twice because I just couldn't blue: let's get it lets get into this from beginning. How did this start out? How did you start researching these online, russian trolls and Botz, and and all this just yes a couple years back and around twenty fifteen, I I had my my first baby and twelve thirteen. Those getting on these preschool lists and where I decided to do was. I started looking at anti vaccine activity in California, because I had a kid and I wanna too, you know, put em on preschool list rose gonna fit with the parents. Basically,
my somebody vaccinated and I started looking at the way that small groups were able to kind of disproportionately amplify messages on so channels, and some of this was through very legitimate activity, and then some of it was through really kind of coordinated, deliberate attempts to can a game ways that algorithms were amplifying content, amplifying particular types of narratives and I thought it was interesting and I started writing about it, and I am, I wound up writing about ways in which hashtag gaming ways in which people were kind of using automation to just be an hashtag all the times. Those kind of awaited really gain control of sheer voice and what that meant, when very small groups of people could achieve this kind of phenomenal application And what the pros and cons of our and then this wasn t fifteen, so the way that this sort of
fairness of social media challenges came came about was actually when I was working on this. Other people were looking at it from the same looking at the same tactics, but how they are being used by ices, the terrorist organisation and their also, you had this very small group of people that manage to use bots and amplification to really kind of ANA narrative really push this this brand. Does this digital caliphate to a kind of building on all social platforms, almost multinationals and the ways in which information was hopping from one platform to another through kind of deliberate coordination and then also just ways in which information flows, kind of contagion, style, and I wound up working on thinking about how the government was going to respond to the challenge of terrorist organisations using american social platforms to spread propaganda. So but we came to realize, was that there was just this information ecosystem and it had evolved in a certain way over a period of about eight years or so, and the kind of unintended consequences of that
and the way that Russia kind of guy came into the conversation was around October twenty fifteen. When we thinking about what what to do about ices, what to do about terrorism and enter style you no kind of proliferation and social platforms. This writer, when Adrian chance had written the article of the agency for the New York Times, and that was the first big exposition of the internet research agency. The first time an american journalist had gone over there and actually met the trolls been in Saint Petersburg and began to write about what was happening over there and the ways that they had pages that were true getting certain facets of american culture. So while we were in DC talking about what to do about terrorists, using these platforms to spread propaganda, there were beginning to be rumblings that russian intelligence and in a russian entities were doing the same thing. And so the question
became. Can we think about ways in which the internet is vulnerable to this type of manipulation by anyone and then and then come up with ways to stop it? So that was, the rush investigation began was actually around twenty fifteen. A handful of people started looking for evidence of russian Botz controls on social platforms. So the two thousand fifteen if we think about social media and the birth of social media, essentially it we been alive. For I mean what was twitter two thousand seven. I believe I am somebody that so eight years eight years of social media and then all the sudden they figured out how to game this system and then they figured out how to use this to make people argue against each other. Yet cycle So there was the site if you go back to like an umbrella juice, cities and cook a while course so or programme same it, so there
always been no kind of thing? what was grave at the internet like internet? One point we can call it rain. Was this idea that ever he was given a platform in you could use your platform. You could put up your blog, you could say whatever you wanted you didn't answer to get attention, but you could say whatever you wanted and so there is this kind of cancer all as as social platforms kind of came into existence, content creators were really cited about the fact that now they not only had this this access to write their own staff, but they also had access to this audience because as the network effects, got more and more pronounced. More and more people came to be on social platforms and an originally wasn't even fit. But if remember it was like, in others like Friendster and Myspace and Social networks kind of evolved. When I was in college, Facebook was still limited to like in a handful like Ivy League schools, and so I was new knowledge boy, and I M as you watch this consolidation happen. You start to have this
formation ecosystem really dominated by a handful of companies that grow very large because their providing a service that people really want but there's a kind of mass consolidation of audiences onto this handful of platforms. So this becomes really interesting for regular people who just want to find their friends reach people spread their message growing audience. It also becomes really instinct for propagandists controls and in this case, terrorist organisations and stay intelligence services, because, instead of reaching the entire internet, they really just kind of have to concentrate their efforts on a handful platforms, so that consolidation is one of the things that kind of kicks off. Some of the more than one of the reasons we have these problems today right, so that the fact that this only a facebook, twitter and Instagram and a couple other minor platforms other than you to buy me a thing that you didn't tell an actual person. I two. There is a problem right because you could seize an actual person of Europe. Your narrating, something you know if you're
front of the camera explaining things people were going now that you're an actual human being, whereas there somewhere accounts that I'll go to like I'll watch. People get involved in these little online beast with each other, and then I ll go to some is the council, this doesn't seem like a real person and I ll go and its like hashtag mega, there's a american eagle in front of a flat, and then you you read their stuffing like while this is. This is probably a russian troll count, and it's strange, like you feel it you're not supposed to be seeing there. So you seen the wiring under the board or something and then you go through the timeline and all doing, is engaging people on arguing, you know for tromp against whatever the fuck, their anger, about whatever, whatever it is, it's being discussed and their their basic. Just like some weird little argue, mechanism. Yes, Owen, twenty! Sixteen. There is a lot of that during the presidential campaign right and there were
There was so much that was written. You know we can go back to the free speech thing we're gonna. Turning up before there is so much it was in about harassment, drawing and negativity, and these kind of hordes of accounts that would brigade people and ask them. Of course, a lot of that is just real Americans right. There are plenty of people who are just assholes on the internet sure, but there were actually a fair number of as we began to do the investigation into the russian operation in and it started on Twitter in about two thousand and fourteen. Actually so two thousand and thirteen two thousand and fourteen internet research agency is targeting russian people so they're in russian at russian and Ukrainian our folks, people on their sphere of influence, so that already on their they're ready, trying us out and what they're doing as their creating these are these these accounts it's kind of wrong to call them, but because they are real people and are just not what they appear to be. So I think the unfortunate term for it is
come like cyborg like semi automated. Sometimes it's automated. Sometimes it's a real person, but I saw a puppet is the other way than we can refer to it. A person pretending to be somebody else say I'd, be sought, puppets and they're out there and are tweeting in twenty fourteen about the Russian on accession of raw Crimea or about MH seventeen that plane that went down which Russia and, of course I know it. What happened? It wasn't their fault at all and gradually, as they begin to experience, what I imagine they thought of was success. That's when you see some of these accounts pivot to target Americans and sew in twenty late, two thousand and fourteen early, two thousand and fifteen used see the the strategy that, for a long time, have been very inwardly, focused making their own people think a certain way or feel a certain way or have a certain experience on the internet. It begins to to spread out. It begins to to look outwards, and so you start to see these accounts. Communicating with Americans
and as we were, going through the data sets which the Twitter data set as public. Anyone can go and look at it. At this point you do. See some of the accounts that are a kind of you know that were that were somewhat notorious for being really virulent nasty, trolls, Anti semitic, trolls going after journalists Newsome. These accounts being revealed, is actually being russian trolls dozen kind of actual bait, the actual american trolls that were very much real and active, and part of this and express their opinion, but you do see that their mimicking best they're, using that same style of tactic that harassment to to get real people, then, if they do get banned targets band. They just simply make another account the use, some sort of you know what is it a virtual virtual server? What does that called Japan's API that's it yeah! So if they do that, they can
do that as long as they want? They can continue to make new accounts and It probably also emboldens the actual mare controls, because they're gonna go out little bit further than everybody out so little bit crazier and it can change that tone of discourse within the the communities that are arguing about a certain subjects, things get nastier and their get, last year because of the interference of these trolls I gave seems like they ve actually manage to not just cause a lot of discourse but to choose changed the way people are interacting with each other and to make it just make it more more vicious. Yet so the
what they're doing as their operating in communities. So one of the really common criticisms of you know people who, like people, think that this didn't have a huge impact. Didn't you did it's from the election? We have no idea, but the what it does do in the community is that it targets is. It can change that tone and that three see it's it's a menacing everybody's probably had this experience are part of a group, and then a new person gets added to the group and the dynamic change very much. The same kind of thing does that these are not real people who are joining the group, and so there is this opportunity to Tipp to be no kind of expand the bounds of tolerance just that little men more or try to normalize using particular ways of communicating that may be a group wooden naturally gravitate too, but then it does so. There are definitely are ways.
Which any any type of children's doesn't have to be. A russian troll has this ability to kind of shift the language of the communities of Thea, the cultured little bit When did the? Why did the agency do this and do we do we know? Do we have someone who's ever left there or become a whistle blower? Who can give us some information about the mandate was and how it was carried out. There ve been a couple: a virus where's and actually some investigative journalism in Russia. This that's covered this they describe the employees of these is the internet. Research agency sets a little bit like a social media marketing agency plus tactics that we would not expect us she'll media marketing agency to use things that are a little more like what you would expect to see from an intelligence agency so
sides just making your pages in your blogs and your social posts there, also in their kind of connecting with real people and real activists and pretending to be something that they're not to develop, can have a one on one relationship, but most of the most of the the whistle blowers who have come out. There's a woman named Ludmilla Savage shook. She wrote an exquisite believe on this and its described as being much like you would expect if you are doing social media groundwork. Ah, you have a certain number of posts per day. You know you're driving trying to get a certain amount of engagement. I'm your trying you gotta gonna hate your quotas. A most people are young millennials, the people that work there. Ah there well versed in trolling culture
they're well versed in internet culture. You know they're up to speed unlike popular means, and things like that, and so you do see this the end and the other thing that they do. Is they talk about an Miller indictment? You see some really interesting descriptions of like the stand up, that they have stand up as a thing. You do too tech company every kind of stands up and talk about Europe's goals and responsibilities in blocker. Thanks and any stand up, they would be sitting there saying things like, if fear, targeting block algae BT, people make sure you don't use white people in you're in your image. In your mean that's gonna like trigger them so trying to get at the very neat rules, for you know for communicating authentically in an american coming any which, as you know, online line you sometimes there are very specific ways in which community expects a member of that community to communicate, and so they are in there and you can read in these filings by Miller's team and by the Eastern District of Virginia Thee,
the degree of granularity that they have to recognise that if you are running a black algae BT page and your memories of white people, you're gonna cause some tension and consternation and assuming that that's not necessarily what you wanna be doing. You should go find the meme of black algae BT, people to put in the United to put as your meme for the day so there's a lot of there's a lot of sophistication, there's a lot of understanding of american culture and there's a lot of understanding of trolling culture, and so these things combined to be a rather effective in a very effective social mean agency. Is there an overwhelming sort of narrative that they're trying to pursue the trying to push what we saw so I did the am. I did some other research for the Senate and the Senate data came from the platform, so what I had was the attribution was made by the platforms it wasn't like Renee deciding this was IRA. It was the platforms giving it to two, our government and-
the information in their what it showed was that across all platforms across twitter across Facebook, Instagram Youtube there were building up tribes, so they were really working to create distinct communities of distinct types of Americans, and that would be, for example, there's an algae bt page. That is very much about algae BT, pride theirs, created it and they created it and if they curated and they create carried it, it has. In other words, a persona lot of the Postman LGBT page were written by what sounded like a millennium. Lesbian was the voice. So. It was a lot of me no means of algae actresses and they would brand it with a specific brand market. Was a rainbow heart
Would you be two United was the name of the page. It had a matching instagram account, which would also expect to see from a media property right. You would expect him to see in both places and this you know where they pusher, their red, like Rebecca a young woman talking about crushes on actresses and things. Actually, he knows it was. It was really Science is sometimes wonky english, virtually indistinguishable from what you would read on any kind of like young millennial, focused on social page. It wasn't none of it was radical or do
by so that wasn't lake the way that they got the division across was they built these tribes were their reinforcing and group dynamics. So if the algae BT page, you have numerous pages targeting the black community, that was where they spend most of their energy. A lot of pages targeting far right, so both old far right, meaning people who are very concerned about what is the future of America look like and then young far right, which was much more angry, much more like trolling culture, so they recognize it. There's a divine there that the kinds of names you're gonna use to target younger rightwing audiences are not the same kinds of means. You can use to target older rightwing audiences, so there's a tribe for older right wing younger right wing.
Black communicators, a Baptist tribe, there's a black liberation tribe, there's a black women tribe, there's one for people who have incarcerated spouses. There's a brown brown powerfully was the name of it page. It was very much about the mexican and not your kind of culture. There was native Americans united. All these are fake. All these are fake offices and what are they trying to do with all these? So you build up this end group dynamic, and over indebtedness over years. So this was not a short term thing. They started these pages and twenty fourteen twenty fifteen timeframe, most of them.
They started some other ones that were much more political later we can talk about the election if you want to, but with this tribal thing, your building up tribes, who sing like as black women in America, this here's posts about things that we care about her posts about black hair hers, posts about child rearing, here's posts about fashion and culture and then every now, and then there would be a post that would reinforce like as black people. We don't do this and so or as algae bt people. We dont like this, and so your building, this report, like me, and you were having a conversation, word developing relationship on this page over time and then I say like as this kind of person. We dont believe this, so it's away to suddenly influence by appealing to an inn group dynamic repealing too, like as members
this tribe, as algae BT people. Of course, we hate my pants as black people. Of course we're not gonna vote because in oh, we pay Hillary Clinton because we hate her husband, as as people who are concerned about the future of America's Texas secessionists. So so everything is presented as members of this tribe. We think this as members. Tried, we dont think this, but a lot of things you know so I had a lot of the posts were not even political. They were just sort of, farming. The standards of the tribe guess so your kind of setting up this whole law, game and there once they got everybody on board. How many follows these? Do these pages have so Lee? There is A long tell there were, I think, eighty eight pages on Facebook and a hundred thirty three Instagram Accounts- and I would say maybe
Thirty of the Facebook pages had over a thousand followers, which is not very many and then maybe the top ten had upwards of five hundred thousand follow. So there's you know somewhere on any social campaign. Sometimes you have had. Sometimes you have flops were and what was interesting with the flops, as you would see them repurchase them, so they would decide in the same way, if you're running a social media agency. Well, we ve got this audience is pages and do so well, it's like rebranded a little bit change it up. Trade. Try to make it appealed to. Somebody else will do see. This there There is some. I got this data set and I was going through use, Instagram names and in two hundred and thirty, three thousand of them- and I was zalm- there is a cluster of images of Kermit, the frog sick with healthcare,
the frog doing in here- and so I so then I goes out this. They re the platforms for by the data I got like ass, he s feet of the posts, and then I got a folder of the images in tone. Orderly connect, the dots I had to have the image up on one screen and then the some think Csp up another screen seals three. It's like a spreadsheet here, and I both in internal the database that we could track things all but more easily across the platforms. But I'm sorry if this cost- Kermit, the frog means- and I gonna look, and I realise that the their attributed to an account called army of Jesus. I thought well that's interesting facts. What some of them are really ranch. You dislike, it was like Kermit, Miss Piggy lay you know I mean. Is this lake like stupid, ass, stupid crappy means attached to Army of Jews and what the hell is going on here? I keep going through hundreds of Kermit means, and then I get the post where they say like this pages?
by Homer Simpson. Now Kermit went to jail for being lake ain't, they made some like some joke was stupid, and all of a sudden, the data set turns into Homer Simpson means so again like this kind of Rongji, Homer Simpson, culture, and get its tribute army juices and then yeah go through all this really is that they didn't get to actually making our oh Jesus, oh Jesus, focused page until nine hundred posts, and so the just renamed the account at some point. It used to be called nuts news. And then they nuts news was what they called it. When it was the Kermit, the frog mean page, and then it gets repurchased when they realise hermits not doing it. It's not getting the audience. They want homer Simpsons not getting the audience or engagement they want, and then they pivot overdid cheeses and then all of a sudden. They start. You know the lakes and, and things start pouring- so? What they're doing is there actually like either?
deliberately or they're just creating place holders it's kind of a red flag when a brand new account that was created yesterday suddenly starts talking about some highly politically divisive thing or another. But if you lay the groundwork Jude over a period of two years, then somebody who goes and checks to see what the account was where it came from how old it is, is gonna see something that was two years old so. It's an opportunity to create almost like sleeper accounts. Were you create them now, and then you activate them, you politicized them. You actually put them to use a couple years in the future, so we all kinds of vat- and we saw this over and over again, there was a
black guns matter account that turned into an anonymous account at one point on their pretending to be anonymous. You know the first yes, so they re purpose. This blackens matter page which just head it was. It was advocating that black people by weapons and and carry and seek a pro second amendment page but for the black community. Then they took that page when it wasn't getting a guy's, a ton of engagement and it became whose called oh gosh. I remember the exact name of the anonymous patron and says something that's legit, but they pivoted into an anonymous page and when they do that, do they go back and repress the calm, the content
of the earlier posts they change. Tat was denied their that wasn't clear. We didn't get that information from them on farms. There is a lot of stuff that I would have loved to have more insight into a. We could see again. You know you'd think if you started following an army of Jesus page this wrong she Kermit yet from like a year ago. I would raise flags. I would assume that aid scrubbed in restarted. But I don't know you your podcast with SAM changed, how I look at a lot of the pages that actually follow cause. I follow some pages like that: have classic cars or something like that and there I'll see them, and most of it is just photographs of cars like beautiful old cars and ITALY, in other words a giant following and then all of a sudden something to get political and a look at it and go. Oh wow like this. Is probably one of those weird accounts like they're getting people to get engaged with it because it represents
something they're interested in like classic muscle cars, and then they use it for activism when they use it for two to get this narrative across think I'm an accident happened. Some mine too. I think The challenges like you want people to be aware that the stuffing us- but you know them to be paranoid- it's where I am. I know what the problem, this all day. Long and sometimes I see things and unlike what are the odds but and I and I try to you- know not filling nor in flagrant some like Tom Clancy Novel, but it's it's this balance between when you make people aware of it, and I think people deserve to be where, but they deserve to understand how plays out the flip side of that, as you do wind up in these weird, you see it happen on social media, our click into a trump tweeting you'll, see like you,
Russian bought know you're a russian brought no like they're, probably irish involves you know everybody you dont like on the internet is not a russian bought exactly and so that where you get at the interesting conversations of no in some ways getting caught. This is this. Is one of the challenges with running this information campaigns? I did it makes it really hard for people who know what's real after the fact and leave you a little bit off balance right, feel I come you know when you feel, like you, can't quite tell what's real and that's part of the goal rights to make you not have not feel entirely balanced and in your information environment, Israel! Is this not, and so in some ways, there's not much. Downside
to doing this room, because you do in a few either knock it out of the park and you influence the election and you influence people, and you have this secret covert operation going on for years or you get caught, and then there is no until there's some confidence in the ability of platforms to detect this stuff. There is real concern among everybody that that your ear encountering something fake. Now that the overwhelming narrative is there The Russians were very much, invest, sit in having trump when right and if they were very much invests in having Trump win as the reason why they focused so heavily on the african american community, because they have african american community traditionally seems to vote Democrat, so they were try. To do something to break that up or try to do something to we.
In the position of the you know the incumbent or a Hillary Clinton, and maybe puts emphasis on Schoenstein or some alternative candidates yeah. So the way that the political campaign, the political aspect of it played out today established they started building these relationships and twenty fifteen and yet are doing just this tribal thing. We ve got and group or part of this community, and I want you start to see them- do- is early there. Actually, there is a tiny, tiny cluster and the early primaries where they were supporting round. Paul, and then they pivot to trump pretty quickly and use and probably ran Paul. Just didn't pull well on their like there's no way to get a lift here, but but maybe tromp was getting You know some actual left in the media and so see them
move into supporting trump and then for the remainder of the data set four from twenty fifteen through the end, which was mid two thousand and seventeen or so when this thing ends it's it's adamantly pro trump on the right and on the right you see not only pro trump, but you see that really working till like a road support for mainstream or traditional Republicans, traditional. Even you see a lot of the means about like are you with the conservatives are, or the conservatives and there you know, and so the conservatives of course are like they ve got pictures of lake the crowd and John Mccain. The hay John Mccain John Mccain, shows up a million times. And smartly TED crews. While I think you know one of the theories then- and I believe this is probably true- they they really.
Strongly disliked Hillary Clinton, because there is concern that she would know things that she was saying about. Increasing freedoms in Russia were very threatening. Ah, they thought the best bet to get sanctions removed was Trump I'm, so they had specific outcomes that they were hoping for, and that was one you know, there's always like a political motivation. So there is this narrative around they just one kind of like screw with american society. Create divisions, imply divisions. When you look at the political content, the clear and and sustained support for Trump, and even more than that, the clear disdain for Hillary Clinton. There is not on Facebook and instead there is not one single pro Hilary Post or some anti trump posts, because if you're running and Algae BT, page of course, they're gonna say negative things about trump. You know and and they're saying it, so you should vote for GEL Stein. There was early support of the left, leaning pages for Bernie Sanders, but you actually see the support for
Bernie Sanders come in more after it becomes clear that he's not going to win. Because then they're using Bernie Sanders as a way to say this was stolen from him by the evil. Clinton's or Jill Stein. You know, here's a true, true, independent, real liberal. Should be voting for her if we want to support a woman's whether these feminism pages really pushing this narrative of jail Stein. So you have the left, leaning pages, totally Anti Clinton, and then you have the right, leaning pages staunchly pro Trump and also strongly anti crews, Anti Rubio Anti Linsey, Graham basically anti every now It's called establishment Republican and there's this kind of pushing of people to two opposite opposite ends of the political spectrum says where you get at the conversation around facilitating polarization. So not just It wasn't enough to just support Donald Trump. It was also necessary to strongly
disparage the kind of traditional conservative, moderate centre right in the course of amplifying the Trump can to see is that make sense? Yes, it does allow stuff here is a list of, but it does make sense and one of things it was really bizarre to me watching the election and- and I was trying to figure out- is because up- is so bombastic any so outrageous and he's indifferent person that that the way was describing on stage was like. Finally, the assholes have a king because they never had a king before, like everyone who was running for president, was at least mostly dignified. I mean basically it's really difficult to go back in time and find someone who isn't find someone who'd it there's. No. Would salts people like he does mean he insult people's appearances. He calls them losers, he called We daniels horse face uneasy, says some outrageous shit, so part of it was meeting
like, while maybe he's just ignited and embolden. I actually have conversations my wife today. She was it feels like racism is more prevalent like it's more, it's more accepted people feel or emboldened because there In their mind, they think he is a racist. I can get away with more. Things trump. As president like theirs, the videos of people saying racist, shit and saying hey trumps, press now- we can do that. So I was there, during that will maybe that's what it was just sort of like some rare air flower, that only blooms under the right conditions poof its back right, but and you think about the influence of these pages of had in establishing communities, and long game that they're playing like the algae BT page. Even other shooting on tribe
They really want to support Jill Stein because they know that actually help tromp, because it'll take votes way from Hillary Clinton that they, it seems different like political scores discussions on line and social media. The way social media reacted me there's a lot, people that were Anti Obama before minimum either a either of his election silly one, but it seemed different, seem different to me. This one. This one seemed like like we're moved into another level of hostility that never experienced before and another level of division between. The right and the left that I never experienced before and up. Like a willingness to engage with the ring, the harsh nest the comments and justice to dive, Do you see it all day? I mean that there are certain twitter followers of, I think, you're pretty human beings, but I would follow them and they would
be engage with people off day, long just shitting on people and criticising this and insulting that and it seemed like it seem dangerous. Seemed like things, had moved into a much more aggressive much more hostile and confrontational sort of chapter american history. If this is all done. At the same time, it is happening how much an influence do you think This irish agency had on all this stuff. That's the ass, the question that we would all like the answer to a year for I can't give it, and so in your mind, the yellow money can carry out that the thing that we don't have that nobody who looks at this on the outside has, as we can see what people said in risk,
as to the stuff. So I looked at now almost two hundred thousand of these posts, as I spent most of last year during which was this was this research, and we can see that they have thousands of engagements thousands of comments, thousands of shares. We have no idea what happened afterwards and that's the problem. So when, once the stuff comes down, it's really hard to go back and peace it together. So I can see that there are some of prior point, the really really just fucking horrible troll accounts that they ran. They didn't necessarily have a lot of folly but you see them in their like adding people though there you know at and then the name on the rapporteur at the name of a prominent person, and so there in their kind of like draft on the popularity of you, know, famous people basically and I'm just saying like horrible shit and it's the tones
so spot on, and one thing that was entering the couple them is like if you're going to look at their profile information, which was also made public, they would have lake, I don't have a big gap account in there and their profile I was like. So they would say, was a remarkable piece of of of cover the culture in which you see that, like there actually sitting on gab too great an end, so they can also go and they can draw on there and read it. There's no. Nine hundred or something natural accounts were found on red it there on tumblr and so they're, just picking the most divisive content and their pushing it out into communities, and at the same time we can see that they're doing what we can see what people do in return. We
as he did. They just block. Did they have the fight back? Did? Was there a huge? You know when this happens on a facebook, page and they're doing something like telling black people not to vote as black people? We shouldn't vote what people say in response and that the peace that we don't have so when we talk about impact, allow the impact conversation is really are focused on. Did this swing the election? We don't have nothing that I've seen as the answer to that question. The other thing is a bit, but the second question the thing when I think about impact I think from from- I think you and I agree on this- it also matters. How does this change, how people relate to each other and we have no real evidence of
We would know information about either. This is the kind of thing that lives in some Facebook has it. The rest of us haven't seen it no are. Most of these people is mostly facebook. Is it mostly twitter aware? What is how does a breakdown began? So there were her. My like those stats extent linking their own data. There were ten half million tweets of which about six million were original content created by about thirty eight hundred account, there were about a hundred and thirty three and read it hundred thirty. Three instagram accounted about a hundred, and sixteen thousand
hosts and then eighty one facebook pages and seventeen Youtube channels with about eleven hundred videos, and so they got about two hundred million engagements on Instagram and about another. Seventy five million or so on. Facebook engagements are like, like shares comments, reactions. You know, so it's hard to contextual eyes what what we think happened. Dna can go and you can try look at how well do this content perform relative to other real, authentic media, targeting these communities and what see what the black community, in particular is. Their instagram game was really good, they're, so they're on their instagram accounts, the top five three of them targeted the black community and got you know dumb tens, two hundred million of engagements. So after a pot, the exact number is mostly on Europe's up. My head: yeah SAM, it's one instagram
It's all means, and then you know it's a. We have the means that we have the text on Instagram. You can't really share so it's amazing that they got the kind of engagement that they did even without the sharing function, one you can do is, if you know the names of the accounts and their love them out there publicly. Now you can actually see them in re, Graham apps, so people were re grabbing the content, so Facebook says about twenty million people to engage with the Instagram content, but what is included in that is all of the re grams of the content that were shared by other accounts, so the spread and the dispersion of this. It's an interesting. Ah it an interesting thing to try to quantify, because we have engagement data, but we don't know, did it change, hearts and minds? We dont know if ends influenced people to go, follow other accounts. We don't,
if it influenced people to not vote. Ah, there's just so much more, I think still too to understand about how these operations work. We too can we can assume that it had some impact right. I mean yes is as you're saying earlier when a new purse enters into a conversation that it changes the tone of it. How much of what they did was their own, a ridge. Oppose and how much of it was commenting on other people's posts. So I thought you actually and ask a different thing there will be no, they ask how much of it was Emory purpose in our own posts, right, repressing, real american content do they do that as well yeah tons of times. But let me let me so they created a lot of their own stuff, particularly in early days, and so you can actually read the dataset and one of the things when we started finding these posts I was struck by
How sometimes read like dsl, and then sometimes it read- lake, perfect, flawless, professional, English and then other times read like normal english vernacular just the way that we would talk to each other, and I started digging into what that was so when it was vernacular English, when it was when it when it read like fluent American American, unless it was some usually cribbed from somewhere else, so they would go and they would find a local news story from some obscure local paper and they would crib and then they would paste that and then to the face proposed would be that cribbed and from that article and then their meme. Maybe they would add a sentence underneath it to give it some kind of context or angle, one when right their own stuff. You would see the sloppiness, that's where you could see. Subject verve agreements, not quite there, you know ways in which, like russian Possessive, are different than american, possesses the soil
there, and then the other thing was the really funny stuff which was on you know of a post that supposed it supposedly written by taxes secessionist right. So you can probably have an image of a Texas secessionist in your mind, as I say this, and it would be things lake Clinton is a terrible individual and, as a is a terrible individual, it's completely impossible for us to back her in her candidacy for the american presidency. Furthermore, United hundred Indians, furthermore, air go yet. It is clear that only it reads like no rear lake in English in college, or something and gunwale right, a formal essay. I was like all right, but you can also do not raise nobody actually toxic, especially not in earlier Gerda experienced gold sets its excesses. Action is so
funny seeing these in congruity is an that's. Unfortunately, one of the best ways to tell what you're dealing with is actually to look for those incongruities known and see. As you read communications online, like can neither does this. Does this red Lake at American? Does Read like a communication and what we started to see was one way do not get caught: freer, lousy, English or you're. You know how you're cultural lack of of kind of native native them abilities is to just three purpose: other people stuff, and so that's where you would see means getting shared from up on both the right and the left. You know it's a lot of these like turning point. Usa means that they were reprocessing and pushing out or you. It's
he occupied Democrats or the other. Ninety eight percent so means from real american pages real american culture, and they would just sometimes slap a new logo on and just reposted as if it was there's. So it does in those instances red dislike, like you know, authentic, content and in many ways it is authentic american content. How many people are working for this agency? Do you understand I don't remember off the top of my head. It was some smoking a couple hundred thousand. I think I don't know if it's bigger them and they're just stay just moved on, and the fund straight ass, they moved offices, and then people started calling in bomb threats to the office, and it was like every day a new bomb threat would get cold
so they couldn't work. Basically, I assume this is like so american intelligence Agency, just like somebody who is people calling in these bomb threats to try to keep them from working, and I think there is article that came out really recently. That said that, like Army Cyber one of our one of our agencies, work to dislike, take them off line during the during the mid terms couple days are on them in terms a wonderful I was called and is doing it and bad russian gas. This sort of garlic is really finally move to this nice new office building and some unchecked molotov cocktails through the window. Life course yeah, of course, survivors the spy yeah. It's a mean only makes sense that in this bizarre and unpredictable and really unpredict unprecedented environment that we find ourselves in that something like this would come. And just sort of throw a monkey wrench into the gears of of real conversation. Online mean It's it's really amazing time in there
we're going to see this kind of stuff happen in real time. We're we're getting too see these. These sort of weird attempts are manipulating things and I think Inland waterway successful, especially with less sophisticated people. Dont really under Stan that their being told that someone is fucking with them and their It seems I mean I've, there's a bunch of accounts that I have book marked that I follow but I don't follow. So I don't fuck them online and I want you to know I'm going to go to them, and some of them are so strange. A few of them are flat. Earth accounts. This is something that I am finding the conspiracy theories, yes and Some of them literally have almost no it's all means and don't say much if anything, underneath the means- and I go two and unlike what what exactly they doing here, what exists They re trying to do with these because they just
they're very weird. There is one that I came across Looking at the the conversation on Gmos and because we have seen one of the things that Russia does. Besides the social Botz Nina the american screwing, with like Americans directly is the House says: was Republican House Khamenei, House, science and technology? Can anybody year ago said that they were seen evidence of both kind of overt propaganda and then ways of them? emanating propaganda, so there's always the dissemination and then the accounts and the contents. What's a good look at three different things to try to get a handle on whether or not this is real or fake. So when we talk about the accounts were looking
are they real people? Are they know automated? Are they not automated when you're looking at the content, your user, looking at the domains and that's kind of the last piece cause you dont want to have any kind of bias get in there, but you're just trying to see is it being pushed through like overt russian propaganda domains like their think tanks and things, and then the third is the dissemination pattern. Is it being pushed out through automated accounts? Is it spreading in ways that look anomalous forces, how normal information would spread? So one of the things that the house can any looked was using, that kind of rubric russian these dubious pieces of content and narratives around american strategic industries, so the energy industry, oil and fracturing- example, or the mutual honest up with
Gmos in agriculture in others very, is narrative. You know: Putin and Russia being the land of organic plenty in the United States, ah serving its people, toxic, poisoned vegetables, this the sort of stuff and meanwhile the same time there is competition for who's. Gonna get. You know large country, to provide rice to some part of the world. So so there's like an economic motivation underlying this. This kind of narrative- and I was looking at one of these accounts and was tweeting. An article about Hillary Clinton. Vote for Hilary is a vote for Monsanto. But it was treating this in three months ago. Some there's like mid twenty eighteen or late twenty attainment. Looking at this illegal hardships l a long time ago, guys why Rewire retreating about you know Hilary votes because they just there just there, it was written
Russian think tank balance other they just of these. Automated accounts retweeting reprocessing this content from forever ago, and it doesn't even makes sense. It's just out there to amplify a particular point of view or bump up by mentioned to the site what we re trying to do with the anti vaccine posts. Yet I was that was an interesting thing, so I would say not much. To be honest. There were nine hundred, maybe eight hundred, I think, tweets about vaccines in the content and so Facebook and Twitter. You have this as our Facebook and Instagram you have this building up of tribes twitter. You have instead there just talking about whatever's popular rather talk their ship hosting they're talking about whatever's current new, whatever scandal has just broken anywhere near so Twitter is less about establishing relationships and more about
joining the conversation and nudging it and so most, Maxine related posts. It was not a big theme for them. There wasn't something that was all like Facebook and Instagram were that's where there really leaning in like this is what we want. Americans, too, about so no mention of vaccines on those platforms not on Youtube on Twitter. You see it and twenty fifteen funding during the Disneyland Measles outbreak much like there's a whole lot of conversation on vaccines. Right now because of the outbreaks in Washington and New York back and twenty fifteen, you saw the same thing loss irritations about measles, because the Disneyland thing that happened down here and so there in there and are saying vaccinate your kids, don't vaccinate your kids, they had a couple of conspiracy. Theorist accounts. I am trying to remember the name. It was looked like a blonde woman its name was Amy and Amy was was a conspiracy theories
and I must say person, Amy was a fake person. I wish you and your twitter account tells her name. She were any black there there are certain of the sort of their persona actually got a lotta left. There is one called woke Louisa that was a black woman in day now right they are not dumb. There was ten jus p, the fake Tennessee GEO people, it's my job! Tommy! Do you think these people have that are creating these things so mean they creative It sounds like Some of them are actually pretty funny guy clarifying funny. That's where they work better everything's, it's just like you know Bennett shit. It's not! It's actually really good! That's where that that's. I think the thing that you know, even where thumb, whatever we know political proclivities may have, I think you can at least recognise humor, even if its laughing at your side, none,
I will say that some of the stuff, especially targeting the right wing in other right wing, like youth kind of pages, where they were funny, they really were- and it was I think that is people assume that, like they're too smart to fall for it. It's just slow, liberals, or at least those conservatives, are you know it's it's really it it targets everybody They understand the psychology, the motivation, the narratives and that culture and they produce the content accordingly, and I imagine that they had a grand old time doing, exert some stuff and numb to narratives TAT came out in twenty seventeen. The first was when four, spoke, started to moderate their pages. They started to scream about how Facebook, with censoring them so the Zack seem narrative, those that you see today, about how any moderation is censorship. It's you know, picture of lake
or Bergen. It's like nice pays. You ve gotta, be a shame. If anything happened to it, you know, and that's the mean that their putting out there and their complaining that their feet page got taken down there. Was tons and tons of these means also about the Russians. Did it marking the idea that the Russians did it So this is, as the story is beginning to come out before we ve had the Tec hearings before we ve had the Mueller indictments before we had the investigation. You see these means where it's like. Oh my speedometer was broken. It must have been. The Russians were picture of Hillary Clinton and its lake like little golden book kind of thing, and it's like the wind childs guide to blaming Russia for your failures and its again. It's funny the stuff is funny and there like Mediterranean, imagine them sitting there like you know they have a picture of lake. Some, like you know, Buff guy I'm gonna like I'm, not a russian troll, Madame an american world, so you really it thus in your leg?
just so spot on and again I can't see what the people common Did under it if there is a great honour, their relate garrisoned bullshit, but so that's where you get it be. The scene of people say. Oh, I'm too smart to fall for at her? Oh, this is targeting those other. People. No, it isn't that's the problem. It's just it's gonna target. With the thing that your most likely to be receptive to just because of psychological bias in and tribal affiliation and you're, not sitting there thinking. How is this person? Who is purportedly just like me, screwing with me, and that's? Why that's why it does manage to attract following and get retweeted get re shared, It's good would so clever because it so comprehensive, there's so much involved in the fact that they are willing to do this for years and years before they really sort of activate the political aspect of what are trying to do it also its. It's strange if they're so sophisticated about our culture, because we,
No a goddamn thing about Russia. The average person knows Putin, bad evil, Warlord Crimea, he invade you know like we have like a four year olds understanding I give yet you just grabbed a person and a person's through college Katy person and ask them to describe what so bad about Russia louts communist over. There are some really forgotten. They hate us first volley of bombs like did this so little understanding of their culture, but yet They know so much about hours. That's one of the weird things about being american when you Oh, when you travel overseas- and you realize how much you know about our elections, how much they know you don't even know who the fuck there was running their country. We don't have any idea, but they know about Trump, and they know that Hilary did this and they know that Bernie wants to give the money away, and he knows it's crazy. It's it's it's weird and these people must have like a deep education.
On american culture, american politics, and do you think there training. These kids are absolutely I was so they did a couple things that came out. The Miller indictment. First of all, couple people actually came here and at a road trip around me, Why? Don't we just to learn, went to Texas late taxes? Will you keep leave jerky? Not that that was in one of them, I think the Miller indictment of vat from February twenty eight teen Ivan three kind of big documents that have come out to from Eastern District and one from Mueller on on how it all worked out. I think I'm another misconception is this notion of a hundred thousand dollars and ads? They spent eighteen million dollars and twenty seventeen? I believe was this the came out during another one of the Miller indictments so they're, not just you know the monies. He's going for the salaries and the monies also going for they were talking about using kind of consultants and
this is where you get at this thing that comes out during the stand up, rather like black people who are ill, Gb T, don't wanna, see white algae BT means and and this grieve granularity the degree of sophistication, but then also it you see them doing, is in one on one and that's where it crosses the line from social media operation to this is much more like, like spying, you watch the Americans. Nor do I love that show you heard great its greatest two things: the watch totally, but what trusting as the m. It does paint a pretty entering picture of like this sum this couple under much new deep cover. They are engaging with in pretending to be. Americans and relations. And apparently it's based loosely unreal people yeah that's what I've got also, but what
see me in the Mueller indictment? Is the text messages the messenger, the Facebook MESSENGER Messages where they're going back and forth with real activists and they're? Saying things like you know, hey my ad account got shut down your on some ads for me, or the hey I wanna help. Your protest were fellow black lives matter activists and we see you're running a protest up and I think it was like ethical or something big mountain. How can we help you? We can give you some money for posters and they're sending money for posters, or they reach out to a Trump supporter, and they say lake we think, could be really funny to have a Hillary Clinton impersonator sitting in a truck flatbed truck. That's made up to look like a jail. Let us in. If we give you some money, will you find the Hillary Clinton impersonator and put her in jail and.
Do the salary for presenting, and so this is where another thing that they did was using Facebook events to create real world protests, so they're, not limiting it to ship posting on mine and making people feel attention on line there actually sending people out into the real world to have in street violence, and so one of the things that they did was the coordinated facebook event, one for the Texas secessionist page and one whether there is a proper Muslim called United Muslims and on the same day, at the same time, in Texas There- have a rally to support Texas culture and resist the islamization of Texas across the street, from a rally to defend muslim culture and
They like there is literally no. They just create these facebook events on these pages and then they promote them without dollars and other things and an you literally, if you're going to look at the Texas reporting from that day, member if it was dozens or hundreds, but a sufficient number of people showed up that they had literally on opposite sides of barricades police officers in this honour screaming at each other, because one group is therefore the resist islamization of Texas and other group is there to like defend muslim culture. So you get to meet. Two opposite sides of the spectrum in the same place at the same time, and you literally insight like a mini riot, so they were there there about eighty one of these events, where they were holding on lives matter style, rallies for victims of violence, police, violence, memorials for people who were killed by police officers. Things that real Americans would do, but this was
nothing done by real Americans, and that's that's. The insidious thing right is is how does how does Facebook detect that? How did you know? How do you, when you see this, come to defend Texas culture in your I heard proud Texan, Neil you're, not thinking like somebody can Saint Petersburg is, is, is organizing this That's it I mean, I think, said the idea This was just some means just not it. It doesn't respect the significance of what they were trying to do and how effective that they were with these other things or even if they're, just try it out just a little bit just working to see what works. There always experimenting there always trying to find ways to create that tension, and that's the thing that I think is so interesting about this rate. This
evolving this idea of an information war where these tactics evolve and you are really at a disadvantage when it comes to actually detecting them. Yeah and on the outside. If you're looking at that you'd say we're: ok, what is their objective? Why would they This text, the secessionist page across or rally across the street from pro Islam rally. Why would they do that? In our view? the outside you think amount of effort is involved. Doing something like this and they are. So doing this with no leaders right, there's, no one, there that's running it when they get there, and so all the protein people who we are and there's more than forty million me. I think a couple times there were comments on some of the leg, archived pages in things where you could see the screenshots
people being like? Do you how it is all come out there and like nobody showed up? Who is in charge, now probably thrown a lot of things against the wall, hoping that this fundamental mistakes? Will you see this on the m? There is a page called black matters and black matters essentially because they went made a whole website, so amid a website black matters, you asked outcome, which I think is still active. Its dormant they're, not updating it, but I believe you can go in and read it, and it was designed to call attention to police brutality, type things, and so that this black matters? U S page and then there's the black matters. Facebook page the twitter account the Instagram page, the Youtube Channel, the sound our podcast refer, the tumblr, the Facebook stickers their Facebook stickers that looked like little black panthers like little Lamb, really little cats,
Black cats, there were actually really cute very well done, so you have this entire fake media ecosystem that they just created out of whole cloth all there. And then what they start to do as they start to put up job ads, and so it's Cumbria designer for us come be a come right for us come photograph. Our protests come on. You know they that kind of lake. Back I dressed in a cool off it like hipster holding, assign like joined black matters. You see them go through couple different logos, the same way you would, if you are starting a you, know, media brand. They start posting ads for. Do you wanna, be a calendar girl, send us your photos and you want to be on a black reality. Tv shows and as video clips of you do you like they.
Begin to do real work to ingratiate themselves with the community that a physical fitness thing was called black FEST, and the idea was that it was a kind of vaguely militant ask in that it was supposed to teach our black people how to handle themselves. It protests should there be police, violence had a fight back and they actually went and found a guy physical fitness, martial arts guy, and they were paying him via Paypal. So so he was running classes for the black community under this black fist brand and they would like text him or call him. He played some of the voice mails on TV actually heard them after my report came, I think they tracked down and- and he just talks about how they did it.
Pay pal them come under box everytime, you run a fitness class war with a voice. Rules like it was sought a law. We are concerned about police, say you'd, you'd be, who would be a surprise. They actually had a Youtube channel with two black men, name Williams and carbon, and there was a child I am from carbon? And the actual bark actual so the higher these giant. Why are these guys to be? A fake youtube channel- and it was a is called a word of truth. I think was the name of it and so Williamson common. These two guys were dumb would give their word of truth, and their word of truth was usually about you, know how fucked up America's which I mean there are, there are very real grievances underlying all of this and that's the problem. Right really have things to exploit in writing these things. Where these gentlemen, I imagine.
I mean imagined they were, they were definite paying them and they organise a channel seems likely channels organised. So these guys are particular when I think that they were actually they were in, they knew what they were doing. That then has the work of the remains one of the guys who is in that channel popped up again and twenty eighteen right before the mid terms, like maybe even the day before him. Try remember the timeline here and he made it front. Video saying he wanted. This was amazing, saying he wanted to the internet research agency kind of so he was saying basically I'm too. Of doing this work I wanted I want to do a leak. I want to show you all the things that the internet research agency has done, and so they actually put out this. So this guy, who had been in the Williamson Calvin Video, so people recognized his face in the twenty eighteen mid term, goes and says he wants to leave and he's gonna leak. All this information, science down cough and he wants to till I can
ass, I don't remember all the specifics. Cosette was right before my thing came out. No so busy working but by aid be pops up again, and he is saying he like wants to expose the truth, and I think most people didn't cover it. Didn't pay attention Youtube, shut down the child deleted the veto. Immediately. Why do I think that it was seen as another influence operation? Are you not try stir so even here and saying that he's going to expose, it was probably just another level while Atlanta coming now this was missus so convict I'm sorry. I know it's like hard to explain without them. Jewels, what they wound up doing was they did drop of unto docks, so they did release a pile of documents in which they claim they actually hacked the Mueller Investigation and Mueller had nothing
and so this is again another kind of convoluted piece of this where they do release information, and so in this particular example, they really this information that we believe they actually got through legal discovery. So the documents that the investigation provided, one of the indicted Russians were the documents that they then leaked, claiming they had hacked the Mueller investigation. So their constantly doing these things to generate press generate attention, create just that degree of people. Dont know what's real or they read the headlines that are then released by the more propagandist we overt russian propaganda and they think fit.
That is the true story that that that is that that the Russians hack the Miller investigation. So there's always this: how do we create fear uncertainty in doubt? How do we throw people off? How did we come up with these extremely convoluted spy games that leave people feeling unbalanced? Make people wonder what they can trust, who they can trust in? What's real and even a somebody who looks at the stuff, you know day in and day out for years I I I I do still regularly get surprised by the air by the sheer cannonballs innocent ingenuity of of of you know some of this stuff is it as it comes to light? Will it's really fascinating that they went so far as to hire people to make a fake account on Youtube and hired these black eyes to pretend that they're doing that on their own and their being hard by the Russians and the
when the guy's leave you dont know. If they really did leave you dont know just more bullshit, it's like in like you were saying earlier. If they get you and you buy a new it hook line and sang her, they win. If they get you to think well, how much else is bullshit? They still went, you're. Looking at everything with sorted. This tainted lens now everything seemed an innocent, that's probably the Ultimate goal is to disrupt our social media environment into a sort of hijack the
The natural conversations that are take place- and I think it's I mean it's affect others certain. You know I was in Estonia last year and they ve been targeted by the stuff for decades now near the between five percent, russian speaking population, most of the news that they get us from russian media writing around the border. They talk a lot about the extreme commitment to educating their citizens to make them realise that this kind of thing does happen. This is what it usually looks like don't share it here. You know just ignore it, let it go by and I don't think we are quite there yet. I think that there is still plenty of people in the country who don't believe it happened or, for some reason, are completely incapable of separating the russian social media influence campaign happened from it means
Donald Trump selection is a legitimate organs. Donald Trump colluded right. Those are very different statements. Do you dont have to call food in order for someone somewhere to unsolicited, go and support your candidacy. So you can believe to thank simultaneously one that trumped did not allude and that his election is perfectly legitimate, that this had no impact and to that it still happened. I think, as I am consistently may used when I read My social media mentions it at how hard that ability to hold Those two ideas is for people. They just believe that have their supporters of tromp, they ab. We cannot acknowledge that this operation took place and I or if they are passionate supporters of the far left, it's more like an equivocation you know. Well, we don't really know they did a well dressed as bad things too. Well, how do we know you? So that's where it it bit play
out very differently, depending on which part of the political spectrum use and on board falls right in turn. The issue that we have with cognitive dissonance, believe in someone or if we want some underwent, especially with our team or our person or are on our side. You know I I I I saw a lot of this when Donna Brazil released her book detailing how the Dnc sort of rigged the primaries again Bernie Sanders and and fork land there. So, in view of the request support, as I just want to believe it Why? Wouldn't you believe this woman, like you, believed her before when she was supporting Clinton and then, when she leaves now you don't, you won't believe her cuz because of convenient and we were right weird in our by an airy view. We want things to be, good or bad one or zero. This is it, and this is super complex issue. It seems like been doing this for a long time and I ve gotten really first created at it, and I think this is.
Our people have been sucked into it that have no idea that it's actually influenced the whither. They form there opinions. This is where it gets really strange people are so malleable and there so easily manipulated. Many people are that Something like this, like a real good, solid, concentrated effort to try to target these groups that have very specific interests and really dig in and form routes, and go out of it so sophisticated to their approaches, on one hand, horrified and the other hand, deeply impressed me to know why this freakin you out when you had to let go over all these means and you are actually laughing at them. They like God damn well in others that treat the goes around a renowned. Then you don't have to hear
to them- and I am always like how do I am properly conveyor recognition for the you know. I I I don't think we do ourselves any favours by pretending it all sucked it didn't matter in their incompetent wrong. I think that we have to acknowledge that you have a sophisticated adversary that is very capable. Those very determined that is constantly evolving and to try
that was the degree of respect deserves. I think that that's just common sense. Actually, I I I read media on both sides, the island night. I you know, I feel I try to stay current actually and what means are percolating in lots of different bases in part just because I am always curious about what's organic verses, what seems to be disproportionately amplified or what new communities are popping up? I just think it's an I think be spread of information among people is just a very interesting. You know it's at its summit in interest me, a lotta think crowd. Psychology is really interesting. I think ways that crowd psychology has to and formed as the internet has kind of come into being, but to Calais with things like the mass consolidation, the ease with which we can target people. You know he didn't even really talk about that, but the M,
things with throughout Europe, even in the decentralized internet. There's always been propaganda, others always been crazy conspiracy. There is all the stuff, but it's that you can reach the people who are likely to be receptive to it now and as people self selected, two tribes, particularly in this country right now, One of the things that remarkable as the way in which, once you ve solved selected into that trial and Missus the media in your ecosystem, in you share it with your friends and Facebook, ensures that the people who see it are the people who are most likely to be receptive to it or if you run the ad targeting you directly, you know send it into the fields of people most likely to be receptive to it We have this interesting phenomenon where consolidation, targeting and then these game of algorithms mean that it's just this kind of information goes way farther way faster than had ever could in the past, regardless of whether its
Russia pushing it or IRAN. As we have seen, a network of iranian pages went down recently. We see this globally. Now we see countries targeting their own people with it, and it's just this is the information ecosystem. This is like the new infrastructure for speech at and it privileges. This kind of joint call from sensationalist content- you have you have hopes, will be great problem, calls go around, don't feel bad. Second, whose whose seen all this stuff is estonian, has obviously Facebook has check this out. I'm sure twitter is aware
what is a reaction van and is there any sort of a concerted effort to mitigate some of the sum of the impact of these these sites of yeah lots of actually? So I think I'm in in twenty Seventeen was when we started like weeping independent researchers. I guess people on the outside of the company's academics began to find the content. You know really began to investigative journalists were I dont for the name of a page and than me, and people like me would go and we would scour the internet looking for evidence of what was on that page. So I found a bunch of stuff on Pinterest, for example, wrote about it guy by the name of Jonathan all bright, I found a crowd tangle data cash, and with that we got the names of a bunch, more pages, bunch more posts. We had some really interesting stuff to work with. Originally the platforms were very resistant to the idea that this had happened,
and so as a result of that they were in, there was the first thing that his accent and twenty six Ten, when near trumpets, elected twitter goes crazy. That night with people who work at twitter, saying- oh, my god more, we responsible for this, which is very welcome. I thing to say, but what I think they meant by that was their platform had been implicated, is hosting russian Botz and fake news and harassment, mobs and number of other things, and there is always the sense that it didn't have an impact in anti matter, and so this was the first time that they start to ask. The question: did it matter remains out? May that statement, fake news is a very small percentage of whatever on me
spoke, the amount of information on Facebook and the idea that it could have spoken election was ludicrous. So you have the platforms kind of the leaders of the platforms digging in saying it's inconceivable that that that this you know could have helped and as the research in the discovery begins to take place over the next nine months or so used you you get to one. The Tec hearings happen. So I worked with five by the name of Trust on Harris he's the one who introduced me to SAM and he can, I started going to DC with third fellow Roger MAC me and saying: hey There is so much there's this body of evidence that's coming out here and we need to have a hearing. We need to have Congress. Ask the tech companies to account for what happened, to tell the american people what happened, because what we are seeing here,
here as outside researchers. What investigative journalists are writing the things that were finding just don't line up with the statements that that nothing happening through this was on no big deal, and so we start asking for these hearings, and actually myself in a couple of others, then began asking them in the course of these hearings. Can you get to give you the data, because the platforms hadn't given the data. So it was that lobbying by concerns citizens and journalists and researchers saying we have to have some accountability here. We have to have the platforms account for what happened. They have to tell people because it had become such a politically divisive issue. Did it even happen and we felt like having them actually sit there in front of Congress and account, for it would be the first cap towards towards moving forward and away, but but also towards
changing the minds of the public and making them realise that what happened on social platforms matters- and it was It was really interesting to two to be part of that as it as it played out, because one of the things that centre Blumenthal on the centres that was actually said. Facebook and twitter have to notify people who engage with this content, and so they are. There was this idea that a few are engaging with propagandist content. You should have the right to know and so they started to push messages. Twitter sent out these emails to all these people, saying you engaged with this russian troll and on Facebook created a little field. A little littlepage told people if they had liked or followed a troll page, so it was really trying to get at making
platforms accountable, but they did it outside the platform through email, her, which is interesting, because I would never read an email twitter sense right. You like this is just gotta be nonsense. I didn't get an answer maybe I'm lying as I just got lucky, but I might have multiple day back and forth its of Russia, but that was, I think, one of the first upstart saying like how do we make the platforms accountable, because the idea that platform should be comparable was not a a thing that everybody agreed on in twenty fifteen in having this conversation about ISIS from that's right there, that's the through line here riches and it does connected to some of the speeches used to, which is what kind of monitoring and moderation do you want platforms to do and what We are having this conversation about ices. There was a not insignificant collection of voices were really concerned that
If we moderated ISIS trolls on twitter monopoly, heading videos: the resort of universal agreement that the beheading video should come down. But if we took out what were called the ICES Fanboys, which were like thirty forty thousand accounts at their peak, that we would get us a document called the ISIS Twitter senses for anyone who wants to actually see there searched on understanding the twitter network and twenty fifteen? There is a sense that, like one man's terrorist was another man's freedom fighter and if we took down ISIS Fanboys where we stifling their freedom of speech, freedom of expression and, like goodness, what would come next, an Matt when you, when you look at that that fundamental swing that has happened now in twenty two and twenty nineteen, where this does that same narrative because originally no moderation was taking place and then now there's a feeling that it's kind of swung too far another direction, but they arrive General conversations were really
How do we make twitter take responsibility for this and legally they aren't response before they are legally indemnified against the they are not responsible for any of the content on their platforms. None of the platforms are There is a law called communications decency, act, section two, thirty that says that they are not responsible. They have the right to moderate, but not the obligation to moderate, because their indemnified from responsibility. So the question becomes now that we know that these platforms are used for these kinds of harms and they are used for this kind of interference. Where is that balance? What do we want them responsible for monitoring and moderating, and how do we, how do we recognise that that is occasionally going to lead to an incorrect attributions, people losing accounts and things like that, some
yeah they're therein, a weird conundrum right now or they don't exist there trying keep everything safe and they want to encourage people to communicate on the platform, so they wanna keep people from harassing folks, but because of that, they vote so they ve got these algorithms and they did they tend to miss very often This whole learn decode fiasco where people getting banned from life for saying learned code which is about is preposterous guess? I think the learned, a code fiascos gonna, be the tipping point where a lot of people in the in the future when they look back on when did the heavy hand desk, become overreach, learned a code because Jesus Christ mean that future. And say learned a co mean. I look at my mentions a mean on any given day, especially like yesterday I had a vaccine proponent. I watched it. Yeah yeah computers, great in you know, and it seemed
what was really disturbing to me was like the vast majority. The comments were about vaccines and so few about these unchecked diseases that are running rapid and poor communities, which is the most disturbing aspect. The conversation to me that there's does he's. Is that rob you of intellectual capacity that are extra the common of as many as ten percent of people in a four neighborhoods have no discussion, it was all just insults and in you know, you fucking shell and those outside my mentioned are kind of interesting, but- It can be a. Let me hear it. I think that one of the challenges for the platforms as a lot of things start out like learnt code, remember, watch that play out. Covington Catholic was another thing that I mean, God would learn to code. There is
Some people who were trolling into saying lurked code- and you know what are you dont- have a right to not be offended, but then there is the the other accounts. That kind of took it. That step further and began to throw in life the ovens and the other stuff. You must learn to code right. That's what I'm the challenges with the platform: arches if you're, trying to assess the just the content itself like if you start doing keyword, bands right, you're, gonna, catch a lot of shit that you don't want to catch, but the flip side, is: if you, you know that this is the challenge of moderating at scale, which is where what what side do you come down on? You come down on saying, like seventy. Five percent of people with hashtag learn to code, or just you know, I'm not doing anything incredibly offensive and then the twenty five percent, who are they really change the tone? the overall campaign and the hashtag for the entire community
That's where you see twitter. If, in common with the more heavy handed and just shut it down kind of thing, I dont know that there is an easy answer. I think that we are. Even today, what was the latest kerfuffle Elizabeth Warren got an ad taken down on Facebook, and there is a whole conversation about was Facebook. Censoring was with Warren. I I personally didn't think that it like censorship. But what was the out about it was. It was an hour bout fine of her platform to break up Facebook put that idea, listens hooker and see it sort of regular. Like a cell phone like she had a picture, facebooks law, go in there and the image and their that violates the ads terms of service and the reason behind that is actually because office, but doesn't want people putting up ads. It have the Facebook logo in it, because it's a scam, borys and a great way to treat people often so probably just like an automated automated taken,
like an automated. They get halts that you have to go and make some changes. Then you can proceed back out again, but it just happens at it. I'm when there's like so little assumption of good faith and so little assumption of em extreme. Anger and polarization- and you know assumption, that the platforms or censoring with with every little pet of moderation snafu that it it makes it think I don't know how we have the conversation and away that's healthy and looks towards solutions as opposed to the left. Dreaming that it censor the right swimming than censor the platforms. You know trying now around. How do we both moderate and not moderate, which has a tough position ban? I think don't have any good. No one does not have the heart of the issue and rigid discussed that pretty much indeed. What she was saying. This is a,
moderating and scale when you talk about millions and millions and millions of posts and a couple thousand people working for the organization and then Algorithms and computer learning this trying to keep up, and that's where things like learned, and people are so outraged and pissed off, because when they do get banned they feel like they ve been targeted body It really just ran into some code and then it's really hard to get I want to pay attention to your appeal right cause there's not enough people. There are looking at these appeals and theirs we millions of appeals everyday, it's almost impossible energy. You need, depending on which sham which side during also hear lake,
This person is harassing man, I'm demanding moderation and always doing anything about it saw. So it's definitely, I think, gotten worse. It's it's interesting to look back at twenty sixteen and wonder how much of where we are now is in part, because not a whole lot happened and twenty sixteen between sixteen and twenty fifteen, in particular, very light, like almost no moderation, is gonna, let it all hang out there and I look at it. I look at it now, particularly as it evolved into this conversation about free speech, public squares and what the new kind of infrastructure for speech, what rights we should expect on it. It's our really
Tough, you know, I think some of it is is almost like the people who are to hear the words free speech, and they just assume that its people asking for a Carte blanche right to harass and saying no had we balance that you think Jack and in Madeira saying this on your shirt, had we maximize the number of people who are involved, make sure that all voices do get heard without being unnecessarily heavy handed and moderating a thought or content, and instead moderate behaviour and instead moderate particular types of signatures of things that are in often take or things that are coordinated and looking at is begun, gets to this information to, rather than trying to police disinformation by looking at content really looking instead at actions and behaviour and account authenticity and dissemination patterns, because a lot of the worst trolls and stuff just using these throw away
counts in the name disappear. While I have the impression myself that one more time about censorship, we're talking about money, content that really worth talking about this current error and that what's coming, is essentially a warlike, putting up a small like twig fence and I heard of stampeding buffaloes on the way in terms of the them more invasive or the more the more potent levels. Of technology that are on the way? I just feel like like where everything is moving in the very specific direction, and that very specific d action is less boundaries between people and information and that includes communication, and it's gonna be insanely impossible insanely difficult or nearly impossible to to moderate in ten years, I just don't think
I think that's going to be he's gonna be in the wheel house. I just too, I think it's gone where we're entering into some weird place where we they're gonna have to stay for social media, because it to toxic or grow a thick skin. Just be able to deal with anything and then, if the case? How are we going to do differentiate between things that are particularly designed to manipulate us, Fifthly, designed to manipulate us and change our opinions by foreign entities like this, you know this russian troll farm. I do think the one I think about like, so we believe that, This information is in part facilitated by game of algorithms consolidation and then the targeting the Catholics things we ve talked about through this conversation, then I think that the
algorithms peace, the manipulative algorithms, that's really squarely the responsibility of the platforms. I dont think that there is any regulation or any kind of framework. That's gonna come from Congress. That's going to address them without pretty clear from the Facebook hearings tried to mend and plainly enough now and phone and I found it, did they really don't know? What's going to TIM Apple, us, that's, that's the king in the world. Did that on purpose, which is even say, fucked up, aimed to say that you knew TIM Cook Real name. Wasn't tomb apple is funny God to Apple. Oh, I did. I appreciated there s a lake, every city and silken valley changing their twitter after at the other was for
What I think the average and I suddenly found that there are in fact not tomorrow, we're talking about you. You were talking about them. I regularly algorithm regulating. So I think that, ultimately, the outer rhythmic. Peace does remain squarely in the purview of the platforms and that's because it's an arms race rate as they change their algorithm, a little bit, tweak it for the product function, which they just do in their roles, business
there is no regulation. That's gonna come down fast enough to catch that. I think actually finances and interesting parallel here because, like in the financial markets, their case multi tiered levels of of regulation and oversight, so that there is always some entity responsible, whether it's the exchange or self regulatory organisation or the government ass. He see looking to see if, like information, integrity in the markets is being maintained right there's no. Should he algorithm coming in to manipulate people, it's just making sure that, where that level of trust so that right now, the technical time is lacking regulation in all its forms, so that will likely change. But the argument for do centralisation is, I don't know how you executed the Anti trust thing in particular as it as it comes up so much more now
just don't know under what economic grounds you make that claim its way outside of of of my wheel house in my area, but there is something to be said for this. You know return to decentralization in some way. You'll like it lets people have what they want. It lets you in a red, it's a great, exactly have these so much like federalism. You have this central platform it than you have these little communities under it, and each community has its own norms. Each community has its own rules. Nobody who vial it's the moderator rules and read it and scream censorship is really taken seriously wrong. Let me this is the role of the community. You're in the community. There you go, and this was how in the olden days of internet like use nets and things you would have. This is the community that you chose to be a part of if you dont, like the moderation standards you go to this other community. I think the concern with consolidation
as at people who do get moderated away, feel like there's no way for them to go that leave lost access to the entire world. So I think, if you have that decentralization it it in some ways it if it stops being quite so much of a freedom of speech issue. If you can't speak on it, if you, if everything is like, if there's fifty different platforms in you. All foul of some sort of norms are standards or community membership, and this one you can go here to this other one run men. The idea that somebody is moderated you aware depart from d or something is much less poor maybe, if were alluring river, though, if you doc someone or something almost hazardous, don't like the legendary federalism thing in their little lamb, Monterrey at the lower levels, verses kind of top level, like you summarily booted off
seems like the best approach right click. It seems like the best approaches to sort of let these community sort of establish themselves, but even inside those communities, then you have people that gain power through moderation and they start abusing it. Then it becomes some sort of a weird hierarchy. It's like The decentralization general. It's probably right move for all the stuff, but how does it happen with something Facebook or twitter without government intervention in the EU one of the things a temple was bringing up like. If you guys don't do this we handle this is entirely ass by somewhere down the line you're going to be regulated by the government. Do you really want that and I think that that's inevitable in Asia, you think? So he had this point yeah. It has become Zalm. Well, you know
Firstly, may I say that I think back to reality, which is amiss Congress with this executive? I dont know how we get any regulation through. I I think we ve seen some examples, like the honest, adds ACT which was introduced right before the first tech hearing. If I'm remembering the timeline Kirklees that would have been like Late, twenty seventeen and what they said was it's the way you can no longer have like a free for all with ads on social platforms were nobody knows who paid for it or where it's coming,
anything like that and dumb and what they hear that suits nuclear deterrent. Senator warner- and I think Senator Mccain also was- was part of us- create this law, saying that the platforms have to follow the rules. The tv and radio already follow, and this is an example of recognising the role that that you know these are no longer start ups. They can't be, you know they fit, can meet these obligations. It used to be that Facebook was exempt from these come from these sad disclosure requirements, because there just be the moment of tiny postage stamps ice. Things are on the right side of the page, so they are finding it was they were. They were given the same, exemption that campaigns get for like skywriting, postage and pencils and who are its like literally. The form factor of the content makes it such that you can't put the ad
disclaimer on there, and it used to be that all of the advertising on Facebook was regulated using that same finding that that that these postage stamps ice things are too small to put the mythical on and then of course, as we know that evolved into the ads being looking much like an organic Posten. So now they do have these little little things that pop up, where you can see why you got targeted and what it is. I think that that's an example of like the credible threat of regulation and the public opinion moving the plot.
From two taken action that it wouldn't have necessarily down on its own. So it's not regulation, but it SAM. It's a nudge through public opinion and the credible threat of future regulation. We ve seen California go after the platforms. Also recently there is a California gdp. Our thing from last year, ah California state Legislature saying we're going to pass a privacy requirement and awe, and they did it, they got it done. What is the browser? Varlet, oh boy,
I'm pulling up the best person to explain this because I dont know the specifics, but the GDP is the law in the UK and in Europe that protects. The data, creates particular protections like you're: u have to re, opting for targeting their certain kinds of targeting that they can't do certain types of data that you can request they delete. So this is a provision that took effect in Europe last year. We don't have that same law here in the: U S where we don't have the same data protection as the Europeans, and so California GDP are. Was the California state government how the state Senate legislator passing a law that basically mimic
allow the provisions of what the Europeans were given under GDP are, but what they did was it created a law that applied to the people of California and so Facebook and twitter and others don't want to be in a position of having to have this am no kind of balkanization or a bum, a legal requirements. Are they in turn? Have now, I believe, gone to Congress, suggesting that that we're gonna need to have a federal solution. That applies to all of the? U S so federal level privacy regulation, because they don't want to have to here, too, the primacy regulations of like each individual- U S, state one solution, that's been tossed up was that people would have to how another confirm their identity that instead being an anonymous post that it would have to say Renee Director, like who you are you have to have a photograph have some sort of a gun and I d shows that it's you that
we would somehow or another minimize trolling minimum disinformation, if you, if you are was connected to so scary number or whatever was the problem, of course. Is that these damn things act all the time and If your twitter account gets hacked now they have your social security number. They have your dress they have your information they used to sign up and there's a lot of it in Is there some way and there isn't too absolutely locked down all that data and make sure that its an accessible to some sort of third party that does Seymour go locally course of action either, and I think the question of identity, I think most social science research that I've read has suggested that that's not necessarily the be all and end all make. It depends on them.
For your point. What you're trying to do? I'm thinking right now of the young there is this request. Fur F tc comments were net neutrality, and I know that a lot of them were you know, whoever left them their lot hunts. Millions actually of these fake comments that were left on the net, neutral, like call for public comment, or they were scraping like that. You know those Zahm, those crappy data brokers as horrible things were your name in your address is up there and no matter how hard you try. You can't get a news so scraping those to grab names and addresses, and then email addresses and leaving leaving comments. Pretending to be those pm. It's it's hard. Nobody most people don't want to enter their social security number into some form or validation. Were a lot of people will point to things like well. You know America has a strong
women to anonymous speech so but doing European cultural thing I mean you know like me, a federalist papers and various and so on and so forth. I'm and whistle blowers piano. I think I've seen remember when Facebook did make it a requirement to be achieved. Your actual name and address? They send a postcard, your house, if you want to run political ads, I remember people complaining that people who didn't have enough that this was going on. I was it got. This was during the Dhaka arguments, so diagram TAT year during the Swiss. During someone illegal immigration debates right right. Was happening, people began complaining that immigration activists who were undocumented would not be able or on Facebook adds because they didn't have notification to verify with so no matter what people put out, there's going to be somebody who has a complaint about it.
So we're in this this leg, this gridlock, everybody recognizes that the situations socks and that social media is, a stronger myriad number of of France and theirs, not much in the way of plausible solutions, I think for distant formation and pathetic. Or does to stay in my wheel house were trying to push towards multi stakeholder ism, which has just to say: can we create the back channel channels of communication that have come up for election integrity and things over the last few years last year and a half can use standardized that in some way, can we create oversight body? Maybe they have to see that is at least responsible fur
having some oversight to make sure the platforms are doing enough, but this is, I think this is gonna, be there the theme of twenty nineteen. Does it does it go the Anti trust rules? Does it and go to privacy rattling visit, do a kind of hybrid combination of multiple energetic, tackling multiple problem that want. It really curious to see how we shake this outcome. It just seems like no medium, even agree on what the problem is or are not quite there. Yet you and you you are seeing calls, like particular from Elizabeth Warren Ford, breaking up a lot. Larger institutions, not just but not just even social media, but even Amazon she's talking about picking up lotteries, bigger companies, its the problem that is like the two, what an make em what and then what happens then, one that would have one of those things that you broke up that becomes twitter becomes more popular than the other twitter
much more attendance, then when you do yeah, Those people onto to just talk about that goes Lena Conor, somebody who really mats dollar knows this space in and out, and I do not want the I know personally would die. I feel like the a lot of people are moving into smaller communities. A lot of people are moving into. Groups are moving into what's up chats. Thirdly, recognising that this system as it is right now. Has this toxicity and are withdrawing a bet? If you ve seen this in your friends, your committee, while I have them Jamie in our actually talking about yesterday in terms of the use of twitter that use twitter is dropped in One thing that I is that my follower numbers doesn't move very much on Twitter, as opposed to like Instagram,
I dont really use Facebook, but Instagram. This does a giant difference in harmony. Followers I get per day are neither platform and it seems to me that the people that are using twitter, they ve kind of like locked in they ve, found the rural communities and is mostly toxic. I mean I'm sure generalizing, I'm not its. I am for sure it's probably not even ten percent toxic, but it seems toxic. You know when you look those kind of comments. In any time something happens. It seems like the reaction to is very rarely. Is it some sort of objective rational discourse, its most likely just insults, and you know swears it's weird: it's just people, are communicating in a way online. That they communicated in real life. There would be blood in the streets. I think about that. A lot annually, I do I think that the more the
you know a specially as listen to your thing with with ten and an jack and reject the idea of the public square, and I used this metaphor to like when I write about them the privatized public square, but then I think about it. Sometimes in like we ve, never had a national public square. There is no such thing in the history of America as a national public square There are regional public squares or town squares, state squares and where there is again this kind of federalism, people who have self selected to live in a particular communicators norms and that community. But if I were to go up to you in a public square and start screaming in your face, or you know, being an asshole in trying to get a whole mob together to go after you, like. Probably somebody would intervene either bystander or the police, and we have notions like nuisance and things like that we have notions of like there is theirs, Moreover, an intuitive sense of the balance between speech, which is to be protected.
And then a kind of fighting words in that sort of thing. There's no clear lines on that: there's not much in the way of norms and when your online there is nobody, who's, gonna, common and step in and intervene in a way that would play out in in real life. So the I think that we have just haven't quite ported. Those norms basic good behaviour in real world in to this mass if roiling crowd, that's the sort of always on at all times, and that's that certain more we aren't social media I think, there's actually carry over the real life from social media that you can find in these protests at universities, when conservative speakers come and then Anti for once to shut them down, and then you have people the proud boys fight within teeth. I dont Amber that before ever again- and I think this is this- is a by product of the type of communication that the norm on social media. I really think that's it
happening. You really think that, instead of social media mimicking real life. Real life is starting to mimic. The kind of interactions of people have on social media and with violent repercussions, is certainly, if not violent, very aggressive and angry in a way that go back before social media. When was the last mean it in, two thousand in nineteen nineties? How often were there these in incredibly volatile protests universities. We have conservatives and liberals screaming at each other, and you have these these people that are being de platforms in and they were Let him speak at these colleges and then their their gathering up this line ma detritus of bolster support, and then people come to meet them. We're going. Stop them at all costs and it's kind of its kind of flame ring real life, verses, real life being represented in social media. I don't, I don't remember it from when I was in college.
There now didn't, exist, not knotty expert on Europe college protests and maybe people appointed sixty. You'll go back. I can't stand us we're going to say something about two war protest, but that they were protesting. Something very specific an unjust war that nobody wants to be a part of this weird time. Yet, as I know, it feels unstable. Yes, yes does the best way. But it also awesome- enjoying the shit out of it. I am reminded that apply. Because I love the fact that it did for the first time in my life, it does not seem like the government has a fuckin handle on how people are behaving in thinking at all, like they don't know. What's going on, it's like you, ve got people that are the people who are trying out
socialists, troops and and and socialist ideas for the first time in the mainstream they're, getting a bit groundswell support behind it, and you have a lot of people to be like pro nationalist and pro America for, for the first time in a long time, and that's getting a lot of support, there's more disk worse now we're even if its toxic- and I think a lot of it isn't. I think said it with a ten percent is toxic seems like it's all toxic one iota because you piece of shit you're out his fucking form right mean that the other day. I think that's true, I think that's your there's Avonlea. I've noticed that to their actual numbers of of of horrible trolls, sir
Maybe this afternoon we different subtlety, prime role its, but really I you know I'm on Twitter old lot and adds the platform it is more than any other. So for all love you for all the complaints, I do feel like there's some real value there. For me personally and an eye I, like I, like bees, serendipity of of the unexpected being pushed into my food, occasionally sometimes had seen all
it sometimes, of course I get angry or you know, filled annoyed. Her think why the hell did you know my wife S, but I think ultimately there is a lot of value to the platform I think we're. Unfortunately, I really do believe that so much of the polarisation in the conversation around speech is people who got burned during the laissez faire days of twenty fifteen. Twenty. Sixteen in mentally, linking up the idea of free speech with the idea of being harassed online, and I think, when you look adds, as is purely an opinion, have actually no data to bear this out? But when you look at those Pew studies that show that younger people are more likely to want, it would save spaces. Are less meal, less offensive opinions. I I do sometimes wonder if that's an effective coming of age at a point
when we know random assholes were screaming at you on social platforms, twenty four seven recently I didn't have that experience growing up. I didn't have to experience until house, like twenty five and so on. So. Maybe there s something pre your point about that the most there is not much of a differences. As you know, people spend so much time online. This is where your having or social engagements Israel having your conversation, so it does shape the way people think about their experience of what it means to have a conversation and what it means to speak freely. Think that's! One of the interesting doesn't help that the but free speech has sometimes in many cases become officially, for I won't carte Blanche, to you, know, say all kinds of mean shit people all day long with new article answers, yet we think they should be able to do that. That falls in the blanket of free, there's, also an issue. I think with young
it's today that have smartphone addictions. People today, I should say, forget young kids about me humans, smartphone addictions and when you're on line- and we think about it- majority of your interactions with human beings. Theirs. Folks around their phone eight hours a day. It's really me Think about those interaction. That's a shocking number of interactions with people that you're, not even in direct physical, the presence of your ear. Not looking at them. You're, not you not waiting for them to talk, not considering what they're saying our reading so accused all the things that make us human? Those are authorised out the window. You just looking at text and it might be coming from Russia the Turks that you're getting upset at in risk I do in per year. Research really is a direct. Possibility is not even a fuckin person or a person, but not now,
really representing their actual thoughts, is trying to push her buttons new instruments citing ration trawls. It's just, I e the amount. I think it really is worth any time. Work it's hard to know who you're engaging less it's hard to gauge, whether it's good faith. I mean I've, eight, I reaction times or Althea response and go look into the person's feed to try to decide. If I should take this as a seriously good faith, inquiry are feeling like you, no kind of vaguely cloaked fuck. You. Right? You don't have to do that on your in person. Its exemplary in very different experts, yeah. I have a friend mine, whose young single mail- and he was going through his direct messages and these girls were sending him all these naked photos and videos and dies Clearly this man I go when we see a phone- and I said, We click on that link. I go she's one picture on her paid right here:
condemning this is probably not even a person who knows But this is someone from Nigeria is how they get you re Aircars information, tat fishing. They're trying to get you he's like oh yeah, What how do you do not go to your pages? I just you know was girls enemy make a picture is do that sometimes they have only do do that sometimes mean people are weird. They do all kinds of where things, but in others, There's a lot of these fake counts, and I don't know what you're trying to do to try to get money from people or that does come up. I've seen every now and then, if you follow, reporters on Twitter, particular ones have like open, damsel periodically post the insane. Cat fishing on the day that we are all about money here. Yes, I don't have I don't know I guidelines people who have opened the aims and on how to do it. Yeah. I guess so overall are you
happy that you got into all this disease, Does this change your perceptions of online communication? I feel like theirs? I have tried over the years whether its conspiracy, terrorist communities are tourists. Fur or are you know, Russia, IRAN, state, the state sponsored actors? The domestic ideologues I have tried to always say like here is the specific kind of forensic analysis of this particular operation, and then here is what we can. They be take from it and make make changes. We we ve seen some of that begin to take shape, and so I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to work towards connecting those dots and work towards having this conversation, meaning meaning helping people understand what's going on. I think I am not
I am most concerned about the as this gets increasingly easy to do. Things like chat Botz know are now there's these, Cynthia the website die. This person does not exist, dot, com known so it SAM. Is it technology called to a machine learning technique, generative adversarial networks and the bombs these basically there in this particular application working to create pictures of people faces of people and so this website is when you go to it, it pulls up a matter go so this person does not actually exist as its own yeah and these- are all worm, dessert Peter, deserted and regenerate it created by Ganz against that says it
at the bottom there. So these are not real people, and so we have increasingly sophisticated chat technology. We have increasingly sophisticated, like you're, not going to detect that image somewhere else, that old trick of lake or right click and look and see if you're talking to someone with a stock photo than those right out the window stuff like this gets easier and easier to do. Will them deep making rather deep fakes on video front. I think that it does change. I think we have quite adapted to what is it to live in a world where so much of the internet is fake, and I do thank pour your point about identity that there will be groups of people itself select into communities where identity is mandatory in our word. This is who you are young, and you have some sort of verification versus people who choose to live in the world of
drink from the fire hose, take it all in and try to filter out yourself. So we look at these evolving technologies and I don't necessarily feel you know particularly optimistic in the short term. I think that ultimately does like we chain as a society to a large extent and in response to us we think about you, know: they're gonna be some fixes. The platforms are enabled to undertake they're going to be we're, gonna get better at detecting the stuff. Maybe the adversary will evolve. Hopefully we get better at detecting it as it involves, but it's I think we fundamentally ultimately change like people become more. Whether this is a thing they are more sceptical.
That does change are there are ways of of interacting with each other, but I feel like that is going to be the direction that this goes. There is the more lake in other thing that keeps me up at night would be more thee. The ease of of this from a social media problem into like a real world war problem, meaning as an example backin. Twenty fourteen on the first things, internet research agency did September eleven twelve fourteen. They created a hoax saying that ISIS had attacked a chemical plant down in Louisiana. It's called the Columbia, the Columbia Chemical plant hoaxes. I think, there's a Wikipedia article about it now, but what happened? Was they created a collection of websites they created fixin and mark ups? Twitter account text messages that went to local people, radio station Collins, you name it everything to create the impression that a chemical factory had just exe
loaded in Louisiana and there were some attribution to ices. This was done on September eleventh, so this is the kind of thing where this actually did go viral, like I remember this happening as a social media researcher. I just remember it actually being pushed into my social media feed. So you have these and we no, that it was in our research agency for year and a half after. But This is the kind of thing where you look at parts of the world. Then aren't you ass, like the recent bomb drama between India and Pakistan, and you can see how these kinds of things can go horribly horribly wrong if the wrong person is convinced that something has happened or if there is the or if this leads to a riot or if this leads to real world action, I think that's one of the main fears, as this gets better and better. The video fix get better. The p
fakes get better what you know. What do you do then? So you're? What do you do when you see those images, those images, fake images- those are stunning there, so good majors makes you wonder I mean in we're gonna, get to a point where, if someone's not in front of you talking, you gonna, look! A video you're not have any idea here, they're doing those deep. Makes a famous actresses bases, and they put him in porn films and it's it's darling we good meal It's amazing and there There also with someone like me, I'm fuckin doomed because Thousands of ours of me talking of said everything, so you could take this new there's. This new programmes that are editing audio and you could splice together. Audio and video. Now today, in its place at the computer or generator, just it's insane, generates your lip movements, everything I'm needs stunning, its rooster
and it's gonna get crazier in crazier and it's gonna be very difficult, something is actually happening. Running funny face it's getting very difficult to be able differentiated and then I'm what we're. About augmented reality in virtual reality in this stuff, making its way into a mobile dive willingly with a big smile interface into the major. Have you watch that recently, no have I sat on a plane like a month ago, It is a community, so no it holds up we're not like it's it's insane, except for supper. The phone boots we're like there's no virtue is any more than anything else, wow, gets its use in their recent industry while just bought it on four cakes like ninety nine, there wasn't barely hd back then I just wanted to see what was like. We wash it forgot how good it was like to two and a half
flew by the it's. It's amazing. How that seem preposterous in ninety, nine or whatever it was like? This is just sigh five and now you like, hey This is a little closer like the idea of a view MR out all with like hd survive or oculists. I I try it. I wasn't VC briefly like back back in five six years ago now, and I tried one from mom- I think it's, U S, Spirit, the southern California, but you really good labs down here and I tried one whereas, like a zombie holodeck simulator and it was Zalm, it wasn't just the vcr. It was also was immersive, so they had a backpack on me and was it was actually scary, is how you like this is really good. This is I, like. I love first person shooters, I think there's so much fun, but Missis
the first eimer in in the game. You have like a bat or something and near your beats on peace together with a bang like all up in your face and other thing ever came to market, but damn is a good tool. They have a company called it's hard to the void now, and they have this wreck. It Ralph one, and I did it with kids recently and put on a heretic feedback vast and you go through environment and its Craig mean you're, it's very clear that in a video game. It doesn't seem real, but it is so much better than anything that existed five years ago and you go okay. Well, what is it with the exponential increase in power of technology? What is it going to be like in ten? What's going to be like in fifteen, it's going to be impossible, differentiate, cuz. Now it's a vet, it's just a vest, not strapped into a chair. You can move around see going through this whole warehouse. They have set up for these games, it even picking up physical,
objects they look different in your hands than they do when you, when you look at him without a heavier on either side centres. For that, like an idea I haven't been. They have one outside of Disneyland. It's in Disney down Disney there. It's called the void and then you go. To these there's one star wars: one is erect Ralph one, now we have amended malls, small ones you Sidney's will eggs and he gone rollercoaster rise in you, fight off zombies and go into a haunted house, it getting weird, and it's just that we were in out I was a kid when the video is: were these ridiculous, a tory things restart cartridges and your plane pong and now we're looking at something that will give these images. The people see pours, etc. These either the glistening of their lips, you see their eyes, it's it's very strange, it's very strange
Those are not really people and that we are probably go look at even the all you have to do is create. Something that is so large and in the propaganda so terrifying that it causes you to act without double, checking, triple checking and making sure you verify the fact something really how and then it sets in motion some physical in the real world that you can't pull back like This does not related necessarily, but what happened with why, when they got that false warning, my gosh, nuclear missiles were headed their way. Now those crazy- and it was just someone- hit the wrong button. I mean if we come to some sort of a point in time or someone something like that on purpose and shows your video that you really think New York City just got nuke.
And you know you have to head to the hills and there's a giant traffic jam on the highway and people start shooting each other. I mean if it Russia really wants to fuck with us. Doing now, with just this this Irae agency and all these differ trolls. They ve got set up that sort of trying to get people to get being conflict with each other. This is this is with primitive, crude taxed and means what could be done in the future. It's terrifying, Belinda, we're world where an agreement gap, the senator right. Thank you. So much really appreciated thanks coming down later, and thank you for all your work and exposing honest. I was really really interesting and terrifying tell people having get ahold use. Are they control you on Twitter? at no upside no upside.
Don't necessarily have an interim. It's more like family may instead make thank you, Renee I appreciated thank you by everybody Thank you. Thank you. Buddy thanks, into the show joy that as much as I did I hope you enjoy the underwear that I'm wearing right now me undies. If you caught me, undies dot com, on these dot com. Slash Rogan, go there and by you have a one hundred percent money back sadness. Action, guarantee you'll, get fifteen percent off first pair free ship and this one hundred sat satisfaction guarantee. Why do they give? Aha, two percent satisfaction guarantee underwear because their better than any underwear, you ever tried. That's a fact. No I'm tell you d better than any other, where I've tried allotted regards underwear, including silk these things blow? silk out of water. I wanted
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Transcript generated on 2020-03-10.