The Story of how Social Media was Really Gamed for Election 2016
Over the last four or five years, I started to develop a theory. That theory was that there was a huge conspiracy afoot using conspiracy theories themselves, to flip huge segments of western countries populations against their own governments and even against their (oft misguided) patriotism towards their own flags and what they represent.
In the age of smartphones, everybody has become a potential intelligence target. In many western countries – especially in the United Kingdom and the United States – poorly educated individuals who lacked/lack basic reasoning skills, who represented a massive potential democratic force, were targeted via their free access to social media. They were then fed a drip, drip diet of skewed news stories, half-baked facts and outright lies in order to denounce their own leaders as traitors, and overthrow their governments via the ballot box in favour, ironically, of authoritarian leaders who would wish to go on to clamp down on civil liberties and the freedom of speech these individuals social movements claimed to rely upon to succeed in their own endeavours.
The modus operandi, at a very high level, was brilliantly simple and it was based on well-known techniques of coercion and brainwashing that were catalogued in a Pelican Original book from 1963 by J.A.C Brown entitled “Techniques of Persuasion – From Propaganda to Brainwashing,” and later echoed in a book about marketing by Robert B. Cialdini, entitled “Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion.”
Not only were the techniques used for this operation brilliantly simple, they also lent themselves perfectly to an age of social media that meant an individual’s ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ are instantly broadcast to their social networks and possibly far, far beyond and also back to the individual him/herself.
The problem western governments had – especially the United States and the United Kingdom – was that due to many years of political spin and outright lies, especially with regard to their military escapades, it was inevitable a counter-revolution of types would occur as a backlash against the prevailing order. It was the seeds of that backlash however, that would be co-opted by the dark forces of oligarchs and inverted back on itself in order to attempt the building of a world order which would favor the influence of corporate influence and oil interests over the free state (such as it was/is).
In the UK, these malignant forces had plenty of meat to work with. Mass circulation newspapers such as The Daily Mail (renowned for its’ support of Hitler in the 1930’s via Lord Rothermere, and headlines praising Oswald Moseleys Fascists such as “Hurrah for the Blackshirts,”) had been steadily feeding a large segment of the population a daily dose of xenophobia, Islamophobia and malignant anti-Eurocentric hatred, based on fear of the other for many years. They championed a spurious patriotism for memories of a time of empire and a golden age that never existed for the average working and middle-class Brit. The foreign agent trolls who co-opted these themes could be seen hard at work daily, as the plan was put into action in online comments sections of online U.K. publications from The Daily Mail itself, to The Guardian and even the go-to U.K. portal for mothers (and some fathers) ‘Mumsnet.’
Nowhere online in the U.K was safe from infiltration.
In the U.S. a mass media had to be created, or at least massively expanded, to popularize these themes and it was the sudden surge in traffic to sites such as Infowars, Breitbart and related operations that accomplished this.
The first great success of this campaign and its’ trial run was the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom. The second success and so far crowning glory was the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.
It remains to be seen how much of a success either of those two, possibly ultimately pyrrhic victories will be, but if success was viewed as lowly as causing internal domestic strife, weakening the influence of the U.S.A and the U.K. across the world and reducing their standing in the eyes of other world leaders and nations, then in those endeavours they have been successful so far. It would appear that the plans were far more ambitious than that.
For now though, let’s return to the how it was done, in order to arm ourselves in readiness for the battles that are to come.
It’s Alex Jones Time, Folks
For many years I have followed the fortunes of Alex Jones and his online offering, Infowars. Jones has built a successful media empire by playing to the patriot movement, exploiting the unanswered questions left in the wake of the attacks of 9/11 and also honing in on just about every conspiracy theory that may leave less reasoned individuals thinking that not only is their government lying to them (it quite often is) but is also out to get them.
The way governments work in Western democracies, with their umbilical cord attached to corporate donor funds and especially the arms lobby, Jones has managed to find no shortage of material that passes the litmus test of truth, at the same time as mixing in more crackpot conspiracy fare in order to push his lines of merchandise, which apart from his advertising affiliates keep his operation afloat, pay the bills and expand his empire to be able to poison the minds of evermore unquestioning docile acolytes.
When RT, (formerly Russia Today) started giving Jones a platform it was a no-brainer for him. Jones could give his brand a boost on an international stage that, as he, was less than sympathetic to the sitting U.S. government. More recently Jones has gushed about the editorial policy of RT and said (I paraphrase this from memory) “that there is literally no editorial policy at RT and you can just go on and say whatever you like.”
You can see why that might be such an attraction to someone such as Alex Jones, given his relationship with the truth, but that is missing the thrust of what I am getting at here. In what may seem like somewhat of a segue at this point in our story, during the Syrian conflict – in which Vladimir Putin so outmanoeuvred his counterparts in Washington and London – Jones and Infowars heavily featured pictures of U.S. servicemen holding pieces of paper displaying their military ID numbers alongside messages saying they were against further U.S. military intervention and would take no part in it themselves.
RT – Question More
So what is it, other than Jones, that connects RT and their editorial policy of letting people say whatever they want (in contrast to U.S. media who Jones would contest censor heavily) and U.S. servicemen(if it was indeed U.S. servicemen and not staged foreign propaganda) with their bits of paper remonstrating against U.S. intervention in Syria?
The answer, I believe, can be found in passages from the book “Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion,” by Robert B. Cialdini……
“……prisoners were frequently asked to make statements so mildly anti-American or pro-Communist as to seem inconsequential (“The United States is not perfect.” “In a Communist society, unemployment is not a problem.”) But once these minor requests were complied with, the men found themselves pushed to submit to yet more substantive requests. A man who had just agreed with his Chinese interrogator that the United States is not perfect might then be asked to indicate some of the ways in which he thought this was the case. Once he had so explained himself, he might be asked to make a list of these “problems with America” and to sign his name to it….”
“The Chinese then might use his name and his essay in an anti-American radio broadcast beamed not only to the entire camp but to other POW camps in North Korea, as well as American forces in South Korea. Suddenly he would find himself a “collaborator” having given aid to the enemy. Aware that he had written the essay without any strong threats or coercion, many times a man would change his image of himself to be consistent with the deed and the new “collaborator” label often resulting in even more extensive acts of collaboration.”
– Robert B. Cialdini, PH, D.
Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion
……what we see playing out with RT’s editorial policy is that they have a habit of frequently inviting Western – especially American – dissident thinkers to expound their worldviews. Quite often these worldviews are at odds with the narratives of the governing class, however, they work as a drip, drip feed that informs the American viewer that all is not right with their government. This is of course quite often the case. This is a classic extension of soft power and no different to the tactics that the U.S. the U.K, and many other powers have used to control and foment disquiet in foreign populations for many years (we aren’t taking the moral high ground here!)
Many of the viewpoints that the guests on RT will expound will seem reasonable to the average western viewer and that is the whole point. Indeed, they have hosted respected guests such as Noam Chomsky, Oliver Stone, Stephen Fry and many other reasonable people. They have also hosted maniacal conspiracy theorists and lunatics such as Alex Jones and here is where the waters get muddy.
If you have little reasoning capacity, a forceful, reasoned and nuanced argument by Chomsky may have as much value as a forceful, nuanced but unhinged rant by Alex Jones.
What’s that you say?
Have you just used an analogy that appears to say that Noam Chomsky could be a gateway drug to Alex Jones and Infowars?
Yes, I have just done exactly that. Most people should rightfully find the notion of ‘gateway drugs’ ridiculous, however, that is only because most of us are educated enough to know that cannabis does not = heroin. And that is only because we are educated to the fact. Someone who has grown up truly oblivious who thinks that ‘all drugs are bad,’ who then ends up trying cannabis with no ill effects, could then quite easily think that they have been lied to all along and all drugs are then equally not bad, as with cannabis, which then leads them on to jack up heroin or experiment with meth.
The drugs in themselves haven’t led on to each other, it’s the lack of proper education leading to the failure of being able to delineate properly between the options available. Ergo, someone with little worldly education watching RT who agrees with Chomsky that U.S. policy is wrong in some area, may also end up believing Alex Jones as he is also saying the U.S. government is wrong but for completely different reasons. This is a failure of education systems to instill a capacity to reason and fact check in order to make informed choices as to belief and action. Alex Jones understands this and pushes his listeners ever further into greater and greater distrust of the government and encourages his listeners to share and like his memes and videos. (He also often runs competitions with huge cash prizes to encourage people to “get involved” and make posters on a certain theme, see the context of the Cialdini quote above: “..aware that he had written the essay without any strong threats or coercion, many times a man would change his image of himself to be consistent with the deed and the new “collaborator” label often resulting in even more extensive acts of collaboration”).
That person then goes on to social media to share and like these fetishistic offerings and as they do so, they find they unconsciously start to change their worldview in accordance with what they see they have liked and shared. Others in their peer group who have similar cognitive abilities also share and like the video posts or memes and they spread like wildfire. Add to this, in the case of an Alex Jones, a someone who uses scapegoat groups to blame, as the reason for all the perceived negative issues arising and your ill-informed meme can go viral instantly with possibly many millions sharing, liking and changing their own self-image with the information publicly shared/liked accordingly, based on the back of an irrational hatred.
This is nothing less than brainwashing and behavior modification on a mass scale. And all the while Jones is telling you that it is really the government who are trying to warp your mind (they may well be) while he is involved in something easily as insidious, and maybe more so, himself.
Now, read on, because, by the time we get to the end of this sorry tale, your mind is going to be truly blown.
Trump was an Outside Job
As I suggested at the beginning of this article, around the time that Jones started to make appearances on RT, I became suspicious that something more was afoot with that media platform than just informed news and opinion. Surely any news outlet that wanted to be taken seriously wouldn’t be letting a dangerous snake oil salesman grandstand as a serious commentator. Whatever truths his Infowars outlet might have exposed – and exposed is far too strong a word really, because the majority of Infowars ‘news’ is just headlines from other news sources taken out of context – were outweighed by the bullshit conspiracies pushed such as Chemtrail nonsense in order to scare Jones’ audience into buying more of his and his affiliates prepper supplies, videos and ‘health’ products. Oh, and “Inside Job” bumper stickers.
It was during the Syrian war that Jones all of a sudden started proclaiming that Putin was now leader of the free world, a claim so absurd it led me to have a bit more of a poke around as to what was happening in the world of the conspiracy theories that Jones was pushing.
Not long after this, I made friends with a person newly local to me in the U.K. who appeared from nowhere and seemed to have been taken hook line and sinker by the whole conspiracy starter pack. They were very vocal on Facebook about David Icke, the Rothschilds, Chemtrails, the Queen and the royal family being child eating devil worshippers, and of course, 9/11 being an inside job. Lo and behold this person had also gained a standing and seemed to be running the local spiritualist church. I suggested a few books they might read in order to gain a better understanding of fact-checking and how the brain works and also alternative takes of historical events to theirs. This was all to no avail and I was told in no uncertain terms that they had to keep to their set curriculum and could abide no views outside of it.
Ringing any Bells?
This person, I concluded, had either been totally brainwashed or was some sort agent on a mission to brainwash others. The best agent I mused is an agent that does not know they are an agent. I also began to wonder at this point if there was some hidden hand targeting disparate groups of people with flaky beliefs in order to further some hidden agenda. The new age and spiritualist movement is massive and combined with the burgeoning conspiracy movement it provided a global platform to spread some highly effective coercive propaganda.
But what was it that this propaganda effort was being used for?
It wasn’t long before all became much clearer. As the Brexit campaign started to gain traction, the new age and conspiracy platforms I was tracking became awash with ‘leave campaign’ propaganda. It seemed obvious to me that the first port of call for the Brexit trolling campaign were groups of people that had trouble discerning fact from fiction. These types of people, by their very nature, much like born-again Christians, liked to proselytize from the rooftops and their rooftop was a massive presence on social media, especially Facebook. We’ve all had them as friends and many of us have deleted them.
And we’ve also all had the friends who have said to us that they have seen these posts and said “Well, there does seem to be some truth to it,” only to find later that this someone you had previously respected, had reshared some of the biggest load of conspiracy bollocks known to man. And here, once again, we have to remember the words of Robert B. Cialdini, “..aware that he had written the essay without any strong threats or coercion, many times a man would change his image of himself to be consistent with the deed and the new “collaborator” label often resulting in even more extensive acts of collaboration”
As the Brexit campaign rolled on, the racist element, or fear of the other, was introduced evermore frequently and outrageously, and many in the U.K. reeled as they saw an explosion of ‘people they might (have thought they) know,’ such as flaky spiritual types and conspiracy buffs, posting full blown racist, xenophobic memes and videos all over Facebook and other social media, along with headlines from most notably the Daily Mail.
Having a few friends on facebook I knew to be borderline, if not overt racists, who were posting evermore pro-Brexit, racist offerings, I became intrigued as to where these posts might be originating from. I noticed that a few of them shared a few ridiculously attractive female friends with large breasts from exotic climes that it was patently obvious would not have given the time of day if they were actually real people. Call me a nasty judgemental cynic if you will but I got to thinking that behind these profiles was actually a concerted propaganda campaign playing upon sad fucks egos who thought they might actually get a shag or at least curry some favor to the operators behind these vacuous titty avatars.
I only thought to state this publicly earlier this year but at that time, as far as I know, this was a theory that had not before been floated.
That was in early March and back then, Facebook was denying it all. Then, all of a sudden in September we get this:
Also shortly after I had informed the U.K’s Information Commissioners Office of my suspicions this was reported.
The interesting thing about this report is that it mentions that many of these fake profiles were in Saudi Arabia. Around 50,000 accounts if my memory serves me well.
Then, in June, we have another scandal come to light regarding suspected fraud pertaining to the Brexit referendum involving a DUP politician bunging a Saudi prince £425,000.
It should be noted that the title of the article tied to the above link nicely echoes my article about a possible conspiracy at the heart of the Trump campaign which I submitted to alternet.org back in June 2016, namely being “The Strange Relationship of Infowars’ Alex Jones, Donald Trump, and Roger Stone.” Of course, they didn’t publish thr article and in not doing so missed the real story in something akin to the journalistic blunder of the century. Even if I do say so myself.
So here we see, anyway, all our ducks lined up neatly in a row. In fact, they had started to line up neatly for me after happening on a seemingly throwaway comment made in an article in The Guardian by George Monbiot about the fallacy of Chemtrails from back in December 2015 where he stated that…
“But it was only when the editor of a major environmental magazine sent me what he called “a remarkable essay” [regarding chemtrails] in the hope of persuading me to take up the cause that I decided I could ignore it no longer. The “remarkable essay” was garbage: a long series of disconnected facts tacked together to create what appears to be a coherent narrative, but that bears as much relationship to reality as a speech by Donald Trump. On a bad day.”
In one fell swoop, Monbiot had probably unwittingly hit the head of this conspiracy squarely on the head.
Hammer, meet nail!
As the Trump campaign hit full swing, all of the major players from the Brexit campaign joined in the 2016 U.S. election melee, presumably using all the underhand tricks they had learned along the way. And presumably, with the help of the hidden hand, whosever’s hand that was.
And who should suddenly come out in favor of Trump in the year 2015? Well, if it isn’t our old friend Alex Jones and his Infowars outfit, in of course a very organic way. Except, of course, it wasn’t organic at all. Roger Stone had been trying to figure out a way to get his friend Donald Trump elected president for the last thirty years and he hit on the alt-right zeitgeist to do it. Stone faked getting fired as Trump’s campaign manager back in mid- 2015 and then became embedded in Infowars. Trump gave his famous soft-soap Infowars interview in December 2015 and the conspiracy crowd was won over. We know that Stone was whoring around for right-wing media outlets to push Trump’s campaign forward because he also offered alt-right-light pundit, Glenn Beck, the same gig but in an unbelievable fit of morality, Beck shunned the gig, as he told British author Jon Ronson who recounted the tale in an interview with Joe Rogan.
How Trump Russia Stole Twitter: The App
Ok, let’s tie this thing up.
Back in January this year, I was looking for ways to market my articles. I couldn’t afford google ads, so went black hat and started checking out twitter bot programs. I came across a particular one called Mass Planner. It promised to add friends on auto-pilot and like and share based on specific keywords and all other manner of operations on certain commands.
Amazed at the price of about $15 dollars a month, I signed up and watched my twitter audience grow. Much to my dismay, after tweeting a sarcastic post about Trump, I was showered with likes but on inspection of these likes, they appeared to be almost exclusively from Trump supporters.
Jesus, I thought, these Yank Trump supporters really are stupid, they just don’t get the joke. I also noticed that the app was continually friending Trump supporters like the plague. It was an infestation, the faster I removed the Trump supporters, the faster they were added again. Then I noticed you could use negative keywords to block people that had used those words in their profiles. First ‘Trump’ was blocked and then ‘Maga.’ To my frustration, whenever I blocked a keyword, another variation took its place to add even more Trump supporters. After a long haul, I eventually blocked about every keyword possible to stop Trump supporters. Then the app stopped working all together for a while and then it just started adding Trump supporters again regardless.
When my subscription came around I complained and the app started to work as it should for a few days and so I paid my sub again. After that, it started adding chemtrail freaks and then it bulk added another lot of “friends of Chemtrail freaks” who surprise surprise, turned out to be Trump supporters. Then after removing and blocking the chemtrail nutters, I was assailed by truthers and friends of truthers who turned out to be Trump freaks. Remove and block again and then it was new agers whose friends were Trump freaks, almost ad-infinitum until it came eventually to flat-earthers, whose friends that were chosen to be added to my profile were, once again, you’ve guessed it, Trump supporters.
During the blocking and removing process the app stopped working several times for a week or two until my subscription was due when lo and behold it would work reasonably until paid before going on yet another Trumpathon.
What I came to work out were that these Trump supporting profiles were actually bots that were programmed to like posts with the word “Trump,” “MAGA,” or some variation thereof winding through all known conspiracy theories and flaky belief systems at an alarmingly frantic rate and then also automatically friend these profiles as well. No human could get through the workload that these bot profiles were managing.
I was shocked, my theory on co-opting the new age and conspiracy movement for the Trump election campaign seemed to be proving itself true to me right in front of my eyes in bot form. But that’s when things actually went dark. Just as the Mueller Investigation was ramping up, Mass Planner announced to its customers that it was, in fact, going dark and accepting no new customers. It also released an email that ominously stated that if you used the app you should tell no one. Obviously, they had something they wanted to hide.
And if you are in any doubt about what the potential power of this application was and it’s fiscal efficiency, well. In its’ last incarnation you could buy a license to run 500 twitter accounts for £100. For this, you would also need remote server space which could be purchased separately and you could also contact Mass Planner to purchase a license for more than 500 accounts personally. Who the hell would need 500 or more Twitter profiles?
What a sneaky way to game yourself 41 million followers on Twitter, eh?
I wonder if it’s legal. And I wonder who was really behind it?
Probably just another case of collusion delusion.