Opinion Puppeteering — Also, I Told You So

by baldilocks

So, a couple of very popular pro-Trump Twitter accounts have turned out to be Russia bots.

Jenna Abrams was a popular figure in right-wing social media circles. Boasting nearly 70,000 followers, Abrams was featured in numerous news articles during the 2016 election, spotlighted by outlets as varied as USA Today, the Washington Post, the BBC, and Yahoo! Sports. Her tweet about CNN airing porn during Anthony Bourdain’s show (it didn’t) was reported by numerous outlets.

But Abrams never existed.

When I posted this link to my Facebook account, some of my friends denied following this account and I believe them. I didn’t follow them either. But, guess what?

That is far, far from the point.

According to information released by House Democrats earlier this week, Abrams was one of more than 2,750 fake Twitter accounts created by employees at the Internet Research Agency, a “troll farm” funded by the Russian government based in St. Petersburg.

Emphasis mine. The 2,750 bogus accounts are just the ones who’ve been exposed.

The writers of this piece go on about how many how many pro-Trump persons followed and re-Tweeted their offerings. Further down into the article, we get to the Liberal/Leftist accounts who were really bots.

We were warned about this agency last year, by, of all entities, the New York Times. As a matter of fact, I shared the 2015 piece and said this:

[O]ne of the most importantly things that purposeful trolling does is to skew the conversation and, therefore, any reasonable view of any matter under discussion. Individual trolls can do this, if one “feeds” it – that is, engage it in conversation.

Imagine the distorted view that an entire organization of trolls can create–an organization whose business model is built on twisting views and building “reality” out of thin air.

The Enemy is the Father of lies and his wiles are many. And I’ll bet that many of us have been fooled more times than we know of; fooled by elaborate, well-designed architectures of lies–and I definitely do not leave mainstream information dispensaries out of this equation.

It’s not about the fact that we weren’t following these accounts. It’s about the other puppet accounts we are following and don’t know it, yet.

And, not for a second do I believe that the Russians are the lone purveyors of planted opinion.

Even more important for each of us is to be mindful of who you’re reading and listening to especially if you agree with them.

It’s about the access that people who are not your friends have to molding your perceptions.

How much harm has this Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg done? Not too much yet. They are still merely testing out the capabilities of their powerful weapon.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

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