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My Year as a Pro-Russia Troll Magnet (yle.fi)
245 points by ptaipale on Nov 9, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 147 comments



Back to the USSR. East-West relations are reverting to the Cold War days. From saber-rattling, proxy wars to propaganda campaigns, few will dispute that there has been a back-slide in recent years.

But here is what I find amazing: we have already seen this movie and we know what forces are at play and what the likely outcome is. Namely, it is very difficult to maintain legitimacy as a government through a propaganda campaign. It is a highly unstable equilibrium. At any time, information can get out of the hands of the propagandists and the system will find a more stable equilibrium -- ie. leaders will be replaced. It's just a matter of time.

Right now the Kremlin is likely undergoing an intense debate on how to spin the downing of the recent Russian flight as something other than a reaction to the Russian air war in Syria. This is a heavy lift. Maybe they will succeed in this and maybe not. If so, they will have found a temporary reprieve but will no doubt find themselves encountering a similar issue in the future. The legitimacy of the Russian leadership will continually find itself teetering so long as it relies on propagandists to hold back a flood of disapproval.

Compare this system to the inherent stability of responsive governments with rule of law: healthy democracies (ie. Western democracy), responsive authoritarian systems (Singapore, China). Both these systems have release valves. In the case of democracies, elections reassert legitimacy with election cycles. In the case of responsive authoritarian systems, the government relies on surveys and technocratic leadership.

Russia has neither method of achieving stable equilibrium and so the propaganda will serve as a shaky dike holding back an ever growing force.


>But here is what I find amazing: we have already seen this movie and we know what forces are at play and what the likely outcome is. Namely, it is very difficult to maintain legitimacy as a government through a propaganda campaign. It is a highly unstable equilibrium. At any time, information can get out of the hands of the propagandists and the system will find a more stable equilibrium -- ie. leaders will be replaced. It's just a matter of time.

I hate to sound like a Pro-Russia troll, but the leaders weren't replaced in the West; the author of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the initial evangelist of the "Missile Gap" nonsense that sped us towards armageddon, Kennedy, is still Baby-Boomer Democrat Jesus. We're still having a debate as Americans on how perfect Reagan was - was he our great warrior-king that stopped the forces of collectivism from infecting our workforce, or was he just a lovable, charming, everyman's dad who was the optimistic, spiritual cure for the cynical unrest of the 60s and 70s?

America's government systematically destroyed the careers of every person in the media who had ever signed a petition, attended a meeting, or campaigned for an issue with any of the dozens of Soviet front groups OR communist groups, OR socialist groups, OR groups campaigning against state racism, or for the sake of any discriminated against group through the blacklist, and imprisoned people for peaceful speech. American propaganda was so pervasive that it renders some of the media from the period unwatchable without considering how heavily saturated every permissible theme was with the Cold War and Anti-Communism.

This just sounds like so much Russia is bad and inherently weak (in exactly the same way it was declared to be philosophically when it was Soviet, although it's governance is now comparatively unrecognisable) and America will defeat them for freedom's sake, but with a lot of words.

edit: Also, in the 25 odd years since the fall of the Soviet Union, the hegemon has had Father-Son Presidents, and is about to have a Husband-Wife pair. That will make 4 out of 5 post-Soviet Presidents a member of the nuclear family of another President. People are already discussing how to get Chelsea Clinton into Congress, as they have been since she started university.


American political machine is fueled mostly by big money. Famous names sell and apparently people really like supporting dynasties of leaders.

However, I would claim the biggest reason for these dynasties is just their familiarity as a political convenience, not a nefarious plot to rule the land from here to eternity. Sure, papa Kennnedy had a lot of money and influence and he was a huge contributor to his sons successes. But it seems to me anyone with money can enter the political arena, and one can make that money without first being a crony (although I'm sure it helps).

At least to an outsider there seems to be a huge difference in the basic dynamic if the US is compared to a typical corrupt state with an embedded power clique.

In totalitarian crony states there is a tiny elite who grab it all - in US, as far as I can tell, anyone can become part of that elite if they just have the money. It's not people's democracy but it's dynamic at least.

In US, money owns the government, in Russia, government owns the money?


> I hate to sound like a Pro-Russia troll, but the leaders weren't replaced in the West;

Right. That was my point. When we get bad leaders that make bad decisions that lose them support, they get cycled out and the legitimacy of the institutions is restored.

> America's government systematically destroyed the careers of every person...

This is a great example of how our western institutions often lead to big mistakes but then eject the responsible people. Institutions left more or less intact. It would be foolhardy to claim that the US has a track record of consistently smart domestic policies and foreign interventions (don't get me started...). I'm just making the point that it is much easier to achieve stability with a system where information flows freely.

> This just sounds like so much Russia is bad and inherently weak...

"Weak" is the wrong word. In many ways, the Russian government is demonstrating extraordinary strength in maintaining the "unstable equilibrium" that results from relying on controlling a society's interpretation of events.


> But here is what I find amazing: we have already seen this movie and we know what forces are at play and what the likely outcome is. Namely, it is very difficult to maintain legitimacy as a government through a propaganda campaign. It is a highly unstable equilibrium. At any time, information can get out of the hands of the propagandists and the system will find a more stable equilibrium -- ie. leaders will be replaced. It's just a matter of time.

I'm not sure I believe this. I used to, but Russia is the perfect example of revolutionary change resulting in more of the same. Leaders are replaced, but the power machine of the USSR is alive and well. The Communist party may have abandoned communism, but they kept the bureaucracy and corruption.

Russian leaders since Ivan the Terrible have known that projecting power outward is the only way to protect the western front. Geography is both Russia's best friend and biggest enemy. Moscow is situated in the middle of a wide, flat plain, which makes marching an army there logistically trivial. So Russia's national security has always relied on maintaining a large buffer zone around Moscow, and relying on the distance combined with Russia's harsh winters to destroy its enemies. If an enemy could stage an army and extend supply lines into Eastern Ukraine or the mountains in Georgia, a ground invasion of Moscow would be relatively easy. It's no accident that Russia is occupying both of these areas after their governments started to distance themselves from Moscow.

This is further exacerbated by the fact that Russia is quite literally frozen out of internationally commerce. Russia's major ports (with the exception of Kaliningrad, which is separated from the Russian mainland by Lithuania and some ports in Siberia that are too far from Moscow to matter) freeze over completely in the winter. This makes it very difficult for Russia to be a strong naval power outside of their submarine fleet (which can just go under the ice). The result is that Russia sees its outward expansion as a national security imperative -- so the saber-rattling isn't just for show. If Russia were to join the NATO / EU system, they lack the economy to be more than a #4 player (behind France, Germany and the UK) in the EU despite their large population. They look at Ukraine and think "If we were able to invade Ukraine and NATO did nothing, they would not come to our aid either if we were a member." Thus, Russia pursues a policy of self-determination.

And to address your point about the release valves of the "stable" systems, I'm not sure that applies to Russian psychology right now. The Russian people can rightly say "We've tried both of those systems, and they were both awful." There's a movement among the Russian masses that thinks while things weren't great under the USSR, they were better than they are today. I'm not stereotyping all Russians as thinking this; but it's a sizable movement similar to the Tea Party (or whatever they call themselves now).

And because Russia has the veneer of democracy, Putin doesn't have to even win over the entire populace or fix elections to stay in power. He can have his core bloc of corrupt politicians that support his economic policies (and who stay in power through good old American-style political machinery in the major cities), and shift his social policies to match whatever the most popular social movement of the day exists. Putin makes a powerful friend and an even more powerful enemy, so those groups are more than happy to ally with him when it suits his needs.

I think you're right about it being inherently unstable; but as long as Putin is alive it will stay together. If he's smart and not completely insane, we'll see him start publicly grooming a successor in the next few years. If his successor is as politically savvy as Putin, Russia could be a pain in everyone's ass well into the mid-century.


Since the oil prices dropped, Russia has lost a third of its reserves. How do you think they are going to keep it together for as long as two more decades?


It is uncomfortable to think of the alternative. Russia has warheads.


> Right now the Kremlin is likely undergoing an intense debate on how to spin the downing of the recent Russian flight as something other than a reaction to the Russian air war in Syria.

They can always claim that ISIS hates Russia's freedom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PKRHgmHzK0 .


Sorry, but "they hate our freedom" has been patented by the US government for their propaganda. Also isn't Syria one of the bad guys right now, so waging war against them is a-ok? I'm getting a bit confused sometimes whether we're at war with Eurasia or Eastasia.


Syria (and specifically the Assad regime) is friendly with Moscow, and provides a friendly port on the Mediterranean. The US hasn't taken out Assad for human rights violations because they don't want a war with Russia. But ISIS is also clearly a threat to the US, so we can't support them either. So we basically tried to invent a third group of non-religious radicals, but without the fervor that a radical ideology provides, many of the individuals that make up this faction give up and flee to Europe after a few months of fighting.

Basically the US would like to see Assad deposed like Gadaffi or Saddam, but Russia is propping him up, and we dislike the other option more than we dislike Assad. The only other realistic option is the Kurds, but an independent Kurdistan would throw the region into chaos (and likely drive Turkey towards Russia, because the Turkish government views the Kurds as being terrorists worse than ISIS).


I'm having trouble keeping up. I thought the current narrative was "they don't have jobs" and that's why they hate us. Silly me.


> Also isn't Syria one of the bad guys right now, so waging war against them is a-ok?

Not in Russia it seems.


>But here is what I find amazing: we have already seen this movie and we know what forces are at play and what the likely outcome is. Namely, it is very difficult to maintain legitimacy as a government through a propaganda campaign. It is a highly unstable equilibrium.

America and North Korea have both been doing it successfully for years. You either need very sophisticated propaganda (America) or a very strict control over information (NK) or a mix (China).

The only reason it became 'unstable' in the Soviet Union was glasnost, which was deliberate government policy by Gorbachev. Without Glasnost the Soviet Union would probably still be around.


> America and North Korea have both been doing it successfully for years.

Much is lost in this comparison. The American media landscape is pluralistic. Take for example our most popular news network: Fox News. Do they kowtow to the federal government? Russia + NK however, rely repressing dissent internally to retain legitimacy.


Russia's media is also nominally pluralistic. They have been careful to permit the existence of dissenting media -- if for no other reason than to have something to discredit. The propaganda outlets are much better funded and organized though, so they can largely drown out the voices pushing an agenda that differs from the party line. The Russian masses (just like the masses everywhere else, including the US) are largely uneducated, xenophobic and easily influenced by nationalism. It's just far more effective to allow them to exist and attack them in the media (as happened to the reporter in the article) than it is to violently suppress them.

The difference in the US is that the propaganda comes not from the government, but from the corporate/media machine -- which largely controls the government. American corporations now have such an outsized influence on American elections that it's hard to know who is the puppet and who is pulling the strings. Sure, you can go on TV and say whatever you want to say, but our system has become increasingly hostile to "real" investigative journalism (just look at our justice system's reaction to Snowden / Manning). They distract the public over trivial social issues (abortion, gay marriage, legal weed) while doing whatever they want. Or in other words, Obama gets to score points with liberal voters by blocking the Keystone XL pipeline -- never mind that he approved 6 other, similar pipelines in his last two terms. The difference is that the media simply chose not to cover them, so the blowback was limited.


> ...our system has become increasingly hostile to "real" investigative journalism...

The burden of proof that there has been a degradation of information quality remains on your side of the court. This "lost paradise" argument may very well be right but it's far from evident to me.

I would broadly characterize media quality as always having been low on average throughout history. We had a brief period of oligopoly after mass media (the networks) monopolized a lot of what we call news but that period was more of an exception to the rule (and it certainly had its own problems).


> The burden of proof that there has been a degradation of information quality remains on your side of the court

The USA fell 13 places in Reporters Without Borders' 2014 annual ranking of press freedom:

"Countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example, far from it. Freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices. Investigative journalism often suffers as a result.

This has been the case in the United States (46th), which fell 13 places, one of the most significant declines, amid increased efforts to track down whistleblowers and the sources of leaks. The trial and conviction of Private Bradley Manning and the pursuit of NSA analyst Edward Snowden were warnings to all those thinking of assisting in the disclosure of sensitive information that would clearly be in the public interest.

US journalists were stunned by the Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press phone records without warning in order to identify the source of a CIA leak. It served as a reminder of the urgent need for a “shield law” to protect the confidentiality of journalists’ sources at the federal level. The revival of the legislative process is little consolation for James Risen of The New York Times, who is subject to a court order to testify against a former CIA employee accused of leaking classified information. And less still for Barrett Brown, a young freelance journalist facing 105 years in prison in connection with the posting of information that hackers obtained from Statfor, a private intelligence company with close ties to the federal government."

http://rsf.org/index2014/en-index2014.php


That's not really proof that "there has been a degradation of information quality". In a way, rather to the contrary - US ranking in this particular ranking fell because new information emerged; the administration then reacted against information leakers.

But if we look at that ranking, USA is still clearly in the top third of countries of world.

Russia is clearly in the bottom third of countries of world.

It is sort of funny that when we speak about the problems of the bottom third, and Russia in particular, it is somehow compulsory to see the comments "Look at USA, it also has problems!"


But "there has been a degradation of information quality" was not the phrase used by the initial poster. Maybe I should have quoted both the parent and grandparent together to make it clear what I was responding to, but I figured people would ignore the parent's attempt to rephrase the argument.

I also disagree that the US ranking fell because of the emergence of new information: it fell because of how it responded to that information. If you read the RSF quote, none of the reasons given are because of the contents of Snowden's or Manning's leaks. Instead, they mention the legal response to those and other cases, and they mention the lack of effective legal protection for "disclosing information in the public interest".


History may show that we are digesting something akin to McCarthyism right now.


If that's the case, it's much more subtle: No HUAC, no blacklisting, no "are you or have you ever been a member of...?"


That true. You could also make the argument that historically it hasn't been so easy to expose US government secrets to the world. So, maybe we're actually entering an era of greater (involuntary) transparency and we're actually witnessing a backlash to this as opposed to a renewed attempt at subduing dissidents.


I'm not talking about media quality like it's something that has just recently gotten bad. I don't think it's gotten worse; but the mass media is also no less important now than in the past.

I realize it's always been an issue; I'm just saying we can't act high and mighty relative to Russia because it's a problem here too.


I think you're smart to try to test the validity of the converse of my claims. However, it's also important to acknowledge that there is enormous variation in the freedom of the media to operate across countries. There are highly repressive media domains where a single actor represses others and achieves a near monopoly. Could the US improve freedom of expression domestically? Yes. Do we systematically repress dissenters as is common Russia, Bangladesh, etc? No


> Do we systematically repress dissenters as is common Russia, Bangladesh, etc?

Yes, you do. Every time an American uses "communism" or "communist" in a discussion, he is exploiting the systemic oppression of non-capitalist movements in the US. Your propaganda machine is quite effective in deriding any political view that clashes with the extreme right-wing capitalist view that keeps your power structures in place.


I read that comment three times and have no idea what you are trying to say.

ps. It's kind of fun to be called "right-wing"


lol. What a perfect response to illustrate my point :)


That doesn't really refute the point though: American propaganda does lead to social instability, even if it's not at the level of boiling-over into revolution.


It's pluralistic inside a small window. They may be on opposites sides inside that window and tear at each other, but everyone tacitly knows where the limits are, and when you're off-limits. The underpinnings are absolute.


>Much is lost in this comparison. The American media landscape is pluralistic.

No it isn't. It's all owned by about six companies.

>Fox News. Do they kowtow to the federal government?

Do they not put out propaganda?


> Without Glasnost the Soviet Union would probably still be around.

Not at all. The cause of USSR's demise was its failing economy. There was literally not enough food, due to very poor agricultural practices and very inefficient industry. Per Yegor Gaidar (who later became Russia's Prime Minister) there was barely enough food to feed the population of Moscow during the winter of 1985-85. This is what made the Soviet leadership of the time suggest some changes, before hunger really struck the country.

Actually, there were a few more or less efficient industries in the USSR: it produced quite nice automatic weapons, military aircraft and pretty reliable spacecraft. These things required efficiency (at least, in a form of a well-working end result) due to high visibility and apparent military importance. The regime could not afford to be weak on the military side, or look like a failure in space. It could ration butter, milk, sausage, etc to the population because it was not such a big deal, apparently.


>Not at all. The cause of USSR's demise was its failing economy. There was literally not enough food

That basically describes North Korea in 1993. Except North Korea didn't have glasnost.


North Korea is indirectly fed by all its neighbors, because its demise will mean a huge influx of refugees, very poor and largely not adapted to life in a non-North-Korean society. It will also mean that South Korea would have to absorb and restore North Korean territories; even mighty West Germany had visible difficulties absorbing East Germany, which was pretty prosperous by the Soviet bloc measures.

I don't think the US or Europe would feed starving USSR to prevent it from collapsing.

Also, North Korea is pretty compact. Keeping a country the size of USSR in an iron fist would be somewhat harder (though this has been done in 1930-50s), and attempts to cut certain regions away from an ailing empire would probably be much more successful.


Not feed it? With nukes, you never know.


China feeds North Korea. I think the primary purpose of DPRK's existence is internal politics of its large neighbour and supporter. DPRK is there because China keeps it up and running as an isolated laboratory of stalinist communism, to remind left-wing traditionalists inside Chinese Communist Party about what their version of communism produces for the people.


Leaders are replaced all the time in the U.S. In fact, we have a system of government specifically designed to faciliate the regular replacement of leaders.


Our secret sauce over other nations is specifically how we select the new, very carefully hand picked leaders. Which Bush or Clinton family member will it be next time? with some help from the revolving door of actual leaders (.com) vs figurehead leaders (.gov)


I once looked into the personal backgrounds of U.S. presidents. It's about 50% carefully groomed elites like FDR, Kennedy, and Bush (both), and about 50% "rose from nothing" people like Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama.


Could highly advanced propaganda be mistaken for society? (see also technology -> magic)


The whole idea of the state-sponsored troll army is to destroy the Internet as a reliable means of discussion and to devalue it as a venue for journalism, especially independent journalism. Russia would much prefer that there were only liars and cheerleaders, that anyone disagreeing with the Kremlin sinks to their level or picks a 'side'.

I think that it shows that their bosses don't really understand real Internet discussion and don't know that people can identify trolls, regardless if they are state-sponsored or not.


> I think that it shows that their bosses don't really understand real Internet discussion and don't know that people can identify trolls, regardless if they are state-sponsored or not.

You greatly underestimate people's gullibility.


You're not paranoid enough. How can you possibly know if the person you're conversing with online is genuine or paid to say what they say? You have undoubtably read something at some point that was planted to influence you. Call it advertising, trolling, or propaganda. Our opinions are being shaped by what we read online.


It doesn't mean anything whenever people can identify trolls or not - a discussion can be harmed even if troll activities are obvious. On open platforms, where participation is not limited, they can hinder the discussion by intentional, completely retarded name-calling, swearing, utter off-topic and alike - and moderation isn't really effective as individual accounts are essentially a cannon fodder.


Are you aware of reddit? Ever looked at the comment section of a news site? Trolling probably works very well.


Yeah, any Ukraine/Crimea thread on Reddit is quickly overwhelmed by trolls.

You can identify the trolls quite easily, but they still overwhelm the discussion posts with sheer numbers.


> I think that it shows that their bosses don't really understand real Internet discussion and don't know that people can identify trolls, regardless if they are state-sponsored or not.

There is a Finnish-language web publication called "MV-lehti" (short for "Mitä vittua?! -lehti" meaning "What the Fuck Magazine"). It is an anti-West, anti-immigrant, anti-establishment disinformation site whose content is rumors at best and knowingly fabricated at worst. And a sizeable portion of the Finnish anti-immigration population take it as gospel.


You overestimate people's ability not to be offended, and underestimate the diversity in people's actual beliefs.

For example: When someone on HN said over the weekend "I don't see anything inherently wrong with colonialism. Remember that scene from Monty Python -- What have the Romans done for us? A lot of good has come out of colonialism", I was almost certain (almost) it was trolling. Once I saw others agreeing, I reconsidered. What you may consider trolling, may be the other idiot's actual views.

I bring this often on HN, and I will do so again: such trolls (and people who actually believe what they say) are really really threatening to the internet, and everything it has mostly stood up for. When every woman is threatened with rape and murder, and every person of minority is humiliated (often under the pretension of 1) irony, as in reddit, and 2) strictly unemotional data-based Vulcan objectivity (as is often the case here)) , the internet loses its most powerful component: the diverse group of people using it.

I absolutely believe <500 low-paid shills with medium-level English can bring down sites like the likes of reddit. Bringing down does not mean putting them out of business -- that's rather incidental -- it means creating fear and terror amongst a large part of the users to convince them that the majority of the internet is against them -- the internet is not the place for them. It is not just threatening women or minorities, obviously -- it could also be pretending to be an extremist feminist, and suggesting men should be hanged, burned etc, provoking the other group, and causing conflicts.

This is the issue why a lot of platforms have struggled with harassment and bullying issues, and it tickles me when the HN crowd --predominantly libertarian-- drones on about 'free speech at any cost' (suggesting that any removal of extremely offensive content is tantamount to utter censorship), not realizing that an absolute free-for-all arena is most likely to be used by the parties with the most available resource to shape the conversation easily. To put it differently, if Russian trolls can reshape (partly?) the conversation, so can the American government, and so can any agency, with enough resources. To reiterate, it is not necessary to completely change people's point of view -- just scare a targeted population away from a location, and identifying that is NOT as simple as 'calling out the trolls'.

I'll offload something tangential too here. When women say 'there are issues for women in technology', fellow HN users, the least correct response is to offer 'well maybe if they worked harder instead of wasting time complaining, they'd have less issues'. That actually happened in one of the last few discussions about women in tech.


>> What you may consider trolling, may be the other idiot's actual views.

It seems to me this statement is quite unfair. Does it mean that if I think you're trolling it also means I can label you as an idiot? It's not just that you disagree with them, you get to label them with whatever derogatory term you want as well?

>> such trolls (and people who actually believe what they say) are really really threatening to the internet

No, they don't. What's threatening the internet as a bastion of free speech are people who don't understand the consequences of free speech and believe everything that they see on the internet. Then they feel the need to tell other people what they may or may not say based on their misguided notions of what free speech is.

>> suggesting that any removal of extremely offensive content is tantamount to utter censorship

It is censorship. It's almost literally the definition of censorship. I'm not saying censorship doesn't have it's place, but you are being misleading by suggesting that removing a person's comment is not censorship.

As for coordinated trolls attempting to remove a site from discussion; you are absolutely correct. It is a problem. But I don't understand how the solution to that problem is to discuss removing people's rights of free expression. If a site wants to remove people's comments, so be it, but your type of rhetoric eventually leads to people demanding laws. Those laws almost always turn out bad for everyone, people are just too short-sighted to see it.

Also, who are you to define the "least correct response" to anything when hardly anyone knows the other people here? I disagree with that statement, but I don't feel I have the right to tell them they can't make it.


Does it mean that if I think you're trolling it also means I can label you as an idiot?

I think what was meant is that people saying idiotic things are not always trolls (who are just trying to stir up an argument), they may actually be idiots.

And yes, of course one may label others as idiots; it might be uncouth when said or written publicly, but that's each person's call.


Oh, don't get me wrong, I agree that one can label another as an idiot. It's just that I require a greater deal of proof than "that person disagrees with me" to believe someone's label of another person they don't know.


>> What you may consider trolling, may be the other idiot's actual views.

>It seems to me this statement is quite unfair. Does it mean that if I think you're trolling it also means I can label you as an idiot?

That's not how I read it. I read it as "the /other/ idiot", i.e. emphasis on other. As in, he was referring to all online commenters as idiots. I thought it was a quite clever way to capture that we all are quick to judge in a faceless discussion.

Then again, I may have judged him too astute :)


> I absolutely believe <500 low-paid shills with medium-level English can bring down sites like the likes of reddit. Bringing down does not mean putting them out of business -- that's rather incidental -- it means creating fear and terror amongst a large part of the users to convince them that the majority of the internet is against them -- the internet is not the place for them. It is not just threatening women or minorities, obviously -- it could also be pretending to be an extremist feminist, and suggesting men should be hanged, burned etc, provoking the other group, and causing conflicts.

Obviously there are numerous examples of groups of that sort of size which, whilst unpaid, have been extremely zealous in their attempts to "bring down" Reddit. It's questionable how successful they've been. There's been a singular failure to convert the masses into believing that "ethics in game journalism" is a pressing issue. There are still plenty of women, feminists and black people on Reddit, and most of the rest of the internet remains blissfully unaware of "debates" that have taken place there.


Your comment is interesting since it contains a lot of political extremism and insults toward people who hold different viewpoints, while also advocating censorship.


I was going to write long reply, but will keep it short.

I stopped contributing to HN because of posts similar to yours. We do not need foreign army of trolls, to bring down discussion sites such as HN.


Which points, exactly? I realize I casted a wide net, not really sure where this is going.

I checked out your comment history, and you don't seem to have have posted anything I would disagree with outright


> I think that it shows that their bosses don't really understand real Internet discussion and don't know that people can identify trolls, regardless if they are state-sponsored or not.

Yeah but the idea isn't to sponsor enough trolls to trick everyone, but more like turn all internet discussions into one big version of 4chan. Sure you might be able to pick out a few trolls, but it doesn't matter anymore because nobody is going to waste their time trying to have a serious conversation there anymore.


Well, I think they are indeed trying to turn into 4chan, but they don't understand that 4chan users understand trolls and know how to filter them.


From my experience 4chan users are the trolls. Of course they have to recognize them so they don't get trolled by their fellow "anons."


> I think that it shows that their bosses don't really understand real Internet discussion and don't know that people can identify trolls, regardless if they are state-sponsored or not.

Remember that Russia's masses (just like the masses of every country in the world) are almost by definition poor, uneducated and scared. The wealthy and educated are part of the system -- they don't believe the lies, but the lies work in their service so they don't have to.


She states: the "high level Finnish Parliament official Peter Saramo has been spreading lies about me – Saramo said I put all Finnish journalists to shame and later spread false information about me."

Does she claim that the member of the Parliament is a paid Russian troll? Or that he believed some false information to be true? What was it? What are the "lies" he have "spread"? I only see something he wrote using his own name on the Facebook. And we actually don't know what's behind the claim that she "puts all Finnish journalists to shame."


Saramo is not a paid troll (at least not directly). You could call him captured pawn for troll army. Saramo is member of Finnish-Russian (Friendship) Society and very sympathetic to Russian point of view.


> a captured pawn (...) a member of Finnish-Russian (Friendship) Society and very sympathetic to Russian point of view

And as a member of that Society elected to the Parliament? What's wrong with that? Democracy working, he being a representative of his voters and all that.

I'm still asking what the "lies" she claims that he "spreads" about her are. After that question, calling him a "captured pawn" is a distraction, not a contribution to the discussion.


> And as a member of that Society elected to the Parliament?

No, not elected. A civil servant working at the Parliament.


Then the place where he works isn't even worth discussing. Even the gatekeeper there works "at the Parliament" but it's not relevant to the opinions he posts on the Facebook.


He's a senior official who handles e.g. all matters regarding Finnish relations to EU when they go to the parliamentary committee. This is about as senior as it gets in our modest House of Parliament. So this is a bit like a Brit saying "it's not worth discussing where Kim Philby is working" because even the SIS has janitors.

I'm not saying he's Kim Philby, I'm just saying his position is not irrelevant.


You can look at Saramo's Twitter mentions of Aro: they're pretty negative, mostly implications that she didn't do any research/is biased/is herself a liar and that her work is a threat to Finland.

The specific quote ("Jessi[kk]a Aro is a shame to YLE and her profession. If the state's broadcaster is spreading things like this, Finland is not a Nordic country" -- my translation) is in response to this article: http://kioski.yle.fi/omat/this-is-what-pro-russia-internet-p... Since it's in English you can read it and judge yourself if you think the article means she's a shame to journalists and the state broadcaster YLE.

Saramo is in general smart enough not to say things that are quickly disproved when attached to a specific name. He's written some long pieces on rather partisan sites [1] attacking the "Infowar" book (Infosota) and essentially saying that these folks (Aro, Saara Jantunen) are themselves manipulators of opinion and that their work on trolls is a threat to freedom of expression and set on suppressing dissent in Finland. [1] http://vastavalkea.fi/2015/10/21/infosotarintamalta-ei-mitaa...


"You can look at Saramo's Twitter mentions of Aro"

As I said, I don't know Finnish. Still, thanks for the link to her article.

The quote I like from that article is

"Torsti Sirén, an Adjunct Professor in the National Defence University of Finland:" says "it seems name-calling and slandering usually backfires on the name callers themselves. Finns are conscious and educated people and understand what is propaganda and what isn’t. So let them just go ahead and call other people names, says Sirén."

But that article itself really doesn't contain much real information, compared to the one zorf linked here, which is really interesting.

So you also can't specify any actual "lies" he "spread." I don't think it's wrong to consider that she in fact influences the public opinion, being a journalist. And that the article you link to doesn't give any fact apart of "setting the tone" against "those who don't think like we." It seems that the big part of her "worry" is that not all people on the Russian-speaking forum (!) think the way she would like to. Looks a lot like a longer variant of the post made by sharetea here.


Many of the tweets are in English and they're not hard to find. See https://twitter.com/PSaramo/status/613739897552281600 In addition, each tweet does have a "view translation" button; useful since many of the tweets are also in Swedish or Russian.

I have to say I don't understand your comment. I was quite careful in my original comment to simply answer the grandparent factually, saying Saramo is too smart to say things that are easily debunked -- Finland has a different political discourse than the US. Instead, like you are doing in this comment, he casts doubt on the original reporting (as in the linked English-language tweet above). I provided some background and several articles that illustrate the conflict as it's being played out in the mainstream and social media, without taking either side, and you have implied a number of things about what you are sure I was trying to say.

Interesting.


I don't know what you understand that I "imply."

I asked for any proof that this guy is "spreading lies" about her which are the words that journalist, Jessikka Aro, actually used in her article we all comment to. I see just somebody who disagrees with her own views.

I don't have "translate" button on Twitter, I guess I'd have to be logged in for that, and I don't have an account. The twit you link to is just "Read it. Strong claims, but where was the investigation?" and it's a comment to the article you previously linked to. Is that supposed to be a propaganda tweet?

The second link you gave is in Finish, and, now that you mention that you gave "more links," (I've read only one that was in English) I've tried Google translate on it, and the only thing I see is his own review of some book with the similar subject as the Jessikka Aro's article you linked to, and his claim is more or less also "Strong claims, but where's the support that it's anything more than the communication she quotes is anything else but opinion of real Finns?" Of course, I haven't read the book, but if it has similarity to the article, I understand his criticism.

So this is really getting boring, so much claims, so little of anything more than "he said she said." Sad.


> Does she claim that the member of the Parliament is a paid Russian troll?

No, she doesn't - first of all, Peter Saramo is not a member of the Parliament, he is a civil servant who is working at the Parliament (as the head of secretaries for Grand Committee, whose task is e.g. to prepare legislation for EU matters.)

Second, she doesn't claim that Saramo is a paid troll. He is clearly paid well enough by the taxpayer (that's me); his hobby is to be a fellow traveler of trolls.

As to the rest of what you ask, this is yet another typical example of methods in trolling - throwing about many unclear and therefore unrefutable implications. As a Finnish proverb says, "one fool can ask more questions than ten wise men can answer".


She actually claimed Saramo "spreads lies" about her and I'm yet to see any confirmation to that. I understand you don't like Saramo, maybe I wouldn't too if I knew more, but at the moment I don't like her too. I see she writes a lot, claims a lot but seems that she really claims more than she should be believed (like that specific "lies" thing).

And I also have some proverbs for you but I'll refrain from writing them here (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_calling )


She says that Peter Saramo has been affected by pro-russian propaganda, not that he would be directly involved in producing it. Saramo is of the opinion that Russian trolling does not exist, and that Aro is spreading unsubstantiated lies.

I can't easily find what the false information is that Aro claims Saramo has been spreading about her.


> She says that Peter Saramo has been affected by pro-russian propaganda, not that he would be directly involved in producing it.

She explicitly claims that he "spreads lies" about her. If the Facebook comment pictured is the statement that "she is a shame" then I don't understand that as "spreading" (when it's a Facebook comment) and "lies" (when it's an unfavorable opinion).


It's in the article, he posted: "media prostitutes, who have sold our independence for money and put out anti-Russian scum on a daily basis aiming at increase NATO war mongering".

So he's alleging she's a paid NATO propagandist.


No, it's a posting by some other Peter, not Peter Saramo, on the picture is a posting by some "Peter Ilskola" (in Egypt! Al-Whateverghrhqh! Speaking Finnish, about the Finnish journalists!? Appears legit, right?) if I read it correctly.


Ah good looking out.


Russian trolls are fascinating. The trolls' messages are low class, hateful, incoherent and always grammatically incorrect, yet they seem to be able to infiltrate discussions on cnn, bloomberg, reddit, zerohedge (which is an anti-western site anyways), and sometimes hacker news, and seem to have some influences amongst uninformed and angry netizens. Case in point, a random stock broker at my brokerage mentions to me that he read on zerohedge that US is about to collapse, and is no match for Russia's might. Which is hilarious because Russia's economy is tiny compared to US (and Russia's GDP fell 1/3 this year), and US army is at least 2 generations ahead of Russia (and China).

The Russian government is fascinating. It's a totalitarian government, and yet, because of it's paid propagandas, it has instilled some ideas amongst the educated that Putin is a great leader. A dictator that hoarded all the oil and gas riches for him and his cronies during Russia's more vibrant economy, invaded crimea and ukraine, and seeks to impose its military on the world, despite a tiny flailing economy and aged military. With only some power because it's backed by another totalitarian government, China, which itself is starting to be more aggressive in south east Asia.

In any case, it seems to be that the threat to democracy will come from these paid trolls that seek to influence the minds of the western citizens.


Users have complained to us about your account. After looking at the history, I think they're right.

Single-purpose accounts aren't good on HN, single-purpose political accounts are worse, and what you're doing is an abuse of the site. Threads here are supposed to be good-faith conversations, not ideological channels. HN is fine with anonymity, but that doesn't mean people get to twist it to push agendas—we're a community, there's an implicit social contract, and doing that undermines it. Please stop.


Literally all your comments are about how China's bad and how it's in deep trouble. These comments span back more than 100 days. I'm not sure you should be the one calling other people trolls.


But they are grammatically correct.

Chinese trolls > Russian trolls


Specifically, and unsurprisingly,

grammar(Anti-China trolls) > grammar(Russian trolls)


Why is it unsurprising?

Also, your notation pleases my eyes.


> Why is it unsurprising?

We'd have to imagine what is being counted behind the former and the later. Behind the former ("Anti-China trolls", that is) at the moment we have just one specific example brought to our attention. Behind the later ("Russian trolls") is anything anybody understands as such. It appears that the journalist who wrote the article we discuss here considers every author of some pro-Russian opinion as a troll (according to the article kaitai linked to http://kioski.yle.fi/omat/this-is-what-pro-russia-internet-p... ). So there you have a lot of ordinary people who could actually be Russians living in Finland. Or if we extend that to other languages, we also get the people who aren't necessary native speakers.

Then we have the people supposedly working at some "government site which pays people to write comments" (as linked by zorf, http://kioski.yle.fi/omat/at-the-origins-of-russian-propagan... ) being paid some 600 EUR a month, who again are almost certainly not the native speakers and probably aren't motivated too much to care ("we'll lower your salary because you screwed up the grammar on some of your posts").

So we can't expect grammar(Russian trolls) to have a high value, and the grammar(Anti-China trolls) is based on a very small sample. That "proves" the current state of the given inequality.

I also hope that this "derivation" also illustrates that naming names ("Anti-China trolls" "Russian trolls") is actually a wrong approach to learn anything about anything. See:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_calling


Corruption level is high in Russia, you're right here. But totalitarian government? I'm afraid, you drink too much someone else's Kool-aid. And as for the GDP fall. Could you please provide some references? Because mine show that it's not even close to what you've written [1] [2]. I'd like to read more about generations in the army and the aged military, too. Lack of any references but very big conclusions. That's exactly how pro-Russian trolls' messages look like.

[1]: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/russia/gdp-growth [2]: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/russia/gdp


Limiting free speech, banning political opposition, arresting dissidents, persecuting people for their sexuality, invading neighbour sovereign states etc, etc.

I don't know about you, but I think "totalitarian" draw a more correct picture, than "corruption level is high".


> Limiting free speech, banning political opposition, arresting dissidents, persecuting people for their sexuality, invading neighbour sovereign states etc, etc.

I'm no fan of Russia, but many of these things you mentioned could be applied to the US and UK too.


Sure, neither totalitarianism nor democracy are binary things, and there are no razor-sharp definitions. I'm sure you can find examples of those things in many countries that are generally considered "democratic". However, in Putin's Russia this is common practice and happens on a regular basis (with the exceptions of invading other sovereign states I guess, which has only happened a couple of times), which is why I don't think it's controversial to call Russia "totalitarian".


Maybe I missed out on the news about the US and UK, so please fill me in. What free speech has been limited? What political opposition has been banned? Which dissidents have been arrested? Who has been persecuted for their sexuality? Which neighboring countries have been invaded?


> Limiting free speech

This accusation is very vague and it could mean anything. It's surely more limited than, say, in Sweden. It way less limited than in Saudi Arabia.

> banning political opposition

Russian parliament consists of 4 parties, 3 of those are oppositional. I'm sure there is a number of banned NGOs, but totalitarian countries usually don't have this kind of political plurality.

> arresting dissidents

Notice they don't arrest people for being a political dissident? Khodorkovsky was brought up on tax evasion charges (which he undoubtedly committed). Pussy Riot was charged with hooliganism (which they undoubtedly committed). Were the trials politically motivated? Sure! Is it unique to totalitarian states that people who oppose the establishment come under higher scrutiny? Please...

> persecuting people for their sexuality

Now we are venturing into the cool-aid area. Modern Russia never prosecuted anyone for their sexuality. Homosexuality means attraction to the same sex and people are free to act on their attraction in Russia. There are a number of openly gay public figures. Russia has laws protecting LGBT minorities from discrimination. I would venture further - Russian government's policy right now is as progressive on LGBT rights as possible in Russia. The populace is hugely homophobic, ranging from 'being gay is a disease' to 'gay must be stoned'. It's the same in most of the former Soviet republics - even in the Lithuania over 80% of people consider homosexuality a perversion [1].

And by misrepresenting the fact about the state of the LGBT community in Russia the Western media only make Putin's life easier, since he can present it as a 'them-versus-us' issue internally. Compare [2]

> invading neighbour sovereign states

Is the emphasis here on 'neighbour'? Because if invading other countries is a sign of totalitarianism than the list of totalitarian countries will have some very surprising names on it.

> I don't know about you, but I think "totalitarian" draw a more correct picture

Which is your good right. I just don't see enough facts to support your opinion that Russia is a ' state [which] holds total authority over the society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life wherever possible.' [3]

[1] http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/apklausa-daugiau-ne... (use google translate)

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/05/russia-...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totalitarianism


> This accusation is very vague and it could mean anything.

Oh, it's pretty bad. Basically all television is state-controlled. All major papers as well. Any opposition site that becomes prominent is quickly banned. Unsanctioned street protests are banned even if they are as few as two people with banners. Lone opposition protesters are routinely attacked by pro-Kremlin "activist" crews which are promptly released even if they are ever detained by the police.

> Russian parliament consists of 4 parties, 3 of those are oppositional.

Those 3 "oppositional" parties have been tamed and groomed by Putin's administration since he came to power. They never criticize Putin, they vote for every law introduced by his administration, they never stage any protests against him. The true opposition leaders, in the meantime, are either spending their time in jail or exiled/dead.

> Notice they don't arrest people for being a political dissident?

Of course they don't, but that doesn't make them democrats. They sentence political prisoners on made up charges all the time - see Navalny, Savchenko, Murtazalieva and hundreds of others across Russia.

> Russian government's policy right now is as progressive on LGBT rights as possible in Russia

This is not true. Homophobia of its people is the cornerstone of the Russian government's anti-Western propaganda (especially anti-EU).

> ... that Russia is a ' state [which] holds total authority over the society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life wherever possible.

Not yet, but they are getting there, or at least trying to. Russia is still an authoritarian state which is rapidly transforming into a totalitarian one.


Haha, less than Saudi Arabia. That's like less than hell.


And again, without a single reference? Is it a joke?


General discussion typically does not try to list references for things that are obvious. But of course it can be done.

Limiting free speech: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_the_press_in_Russia "the Russian government exerts control over civil society through selective implementation of the law, restriction and censure." "In 2013 Russia ranked 148th out of 179 countries in the Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders."

Banning political opposition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progress_Party_(Russia) "On 28 April 2015 the party was deprived of registration."

Arresting dissidents: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexei_Navalny

Persecuting people for their sexuality: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_LGBT_propaganda_law

Invading neighbour sovereign states: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russo-Georgian_War https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annexation_of_Crimea_by_the_Ru... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014%E2%80%9315_Russian_milita...

An we could add to the list. But it would be pointless, wouldn't it? Since we know that the first step is "you don't have any references", and the next step is "here's some mud flying at you and your references".


The amount of information about the mentioned issues, available on the web is enormous. Anyone who want to read up on it can just use a search engine. I believe most users should be able to evaluate the credibility of the sources found themselves and I don't think me cherry-picking a few articles would add much credibility to the comment.


That threat you speak of is not from trolls, but from people who believe them. Our world of instant communications and easy access to it has shown the problems of not educating the masses of how the internet works.

This is nothing new. History is rife with examples of propaganda leading to policy. It's just more widespread and happens faster now.


We have to remember that there were a lot more controls over propaganda from other nations just earlier this century than what they are now (e.g. banning communist literature).

I honestly don't see a solution to this unless we have a general increase in the wisdom of the population. Censorship worked when the flow of information could be regulated, but with the internet, it seems unlikely that this is possible (unless you take pains to implement something like the Great Firewall).

Ideas can have a powerful effect on people. The Bolsheviks believed that the world was ripe to adopt communism, forming an international union of communist countries, and this would happen not through war (necessarily) but by people's revolutions in each individual country. When you understand that plan, it makes sense why the US was so paranoid about communism on its own soil.

I'm not saying its communism which will take grip of the imagination of people. But it might be some other radical idea. We need to understand that this is a very real possibility.


> I'm not saying its communism which will take grip of the imagination of people. But it might be some other radical idea.

There are some very effective specific radical ideas I'm aware of which stood the test of the time. They typically involve otherworldly entities and an immediate but also the eternal punishment for disbelievers.


> In any case, it seems to be that the threat to democracy will come from these paid trolls that seek to influence the minds of the western citizens.

We need some kind of Ministry which would spread the Truth to the masses to counteract this threat.


> it seems to be that the threat to democracy will come from these paid trolls that seek to influence the minds of the western citizens

If the trolls are the "threat to democracy" even worth mentioning, compared to the rest of what's going on in the world, then we're really, really lucky.


Interestingly the Russian paid trolls apparently come in two forms. (1) the obvious pro-Russia loudmouths and (2) apparently anti-Russia posters. The second category are paid to post because Putin's Russia needs controversy and a sense of confrontation. Essentially they are paid to feed to Trolls..


Well you sure showed them. I wouldn't call anything related to Crimea an invasion either - were the forces stationed there resisting? They switched sides instantly. What about the population, did any insurgents materialize? Seems like what happened really WAS democracy - citizens of one country decided to join another one. Didn't seem to be a problem in Kosovo, but becomes a big problem when Putin is involved.

Speaking of democracy - the biggest thread to democracy in the world occured in 2003, when Iraq was invaded. Now instead of one big asshole in control of his own turf, you have hundreds of tiny assholes that are just as bad, all doing terrible things to become the biggest one. And their ambitions are not limited to Iraq anylonger.


Even more, my friend lived before(and living now) in Crimea are happy with "invasion" (???). But western people dont' interested in what people of Crimea think, the more important is what CNN says, what a shame.



Same type of thing happens in my Eastern European country, member of the EU and NATO.

The pro-russian propaganda is rampant and honestly, is winning. The alternatives are only fascist organizations and people have nowhere to flock. US policy in recent years doesn't help at all. It is depressing.


Just received this email this morning: "Russian plane flown to Yemen to capture CIA agents who helped shot down Russian civilian plane in Egypt"

http://www.czechfreepress.cz/rusko/rusko-se-odvaznym-letem-d...

The worst thing is that my own father is forwarding me these propaganda nonsense.


you are probably in unique position to at least try to educate your father that just because there is keyword "free" in name of the server, it's nothing more than usual pro-russian propaganda. Not an easy task, depends on your father's mentality (if he was happy during russian occupation of czechoslovakia and after revolution all went south for him, that would be a hard nut to crack).

I have generally only few rules for news from east - 1) never trust russians in politics, they have crude ways, and their goal is ultimately good old soviet days when their voice mattered more, with little care of anybody non-russian. 2) never trust russians in politics...


Granted we talk for the same country, I hardly can call that a winning. There are stupid and mentally challenged people everywhere and they are easy to manipulate. There always be people from ex-Soviet satellites who still think USSR is the best thing the world has seen, so they just want to be fed such information, regardless is it Putin or someone else.

At one point the whole FB/Twitter agenda is made to spread news and events from "reliable" sources ( See how FB is used in USA's pee-presidential elections and its propaganda ). Russians, and not only them, the "creators" of social media exploit that opportunity for their gains. On one hand, Russia is trolling people, on the other, FB/Google/etc are forcing people to do stuff ( mainly to click on ads for revenue ) so can't blame one side or another for exploiting the system. Yes, one might say those are two different things, but at the end, the ordinary person is fed with a specific information, usually not wanted by him/her.


I've been reading a great history book lately about the end of the Cold War. The author had the chance to interview folks on both sides of the conflict.

The Russians were very, very good at establishing relationships with easily-influenced folks in the west, then using them to sway public opinion. Some were paid off, some were "useful idiots". I'm only guessing, but from what I've seen online in the last decade or so it looks like they've wholeheartedly taken those skills and applied them to internet trolling.

Of course, I'm sure they're not alone. The internet has become just another battleground for nation-states. It would be very interesting to learn how much money is being spent on this kinda stuff worldwide. I bet it easily runs in the eight figures.


I'm sure Russian trolls exist. I would guess pro-US trolls exist as well. That said, not everyone who disagrees with some aspects of US foreign policy is Russian troll. Some people in forums seem to get confused on this point.

I've been accused of being a Russian troll simply because I don't support US attempts to overturn the current Syrian government and didn't care for US involvement in overturning the Ukrainian government. And I don't support Putin or Russian expansion. I just don't believe US policy is wise nor humane on these matters.


Exactly. A few hours ago there was a thread on Guantanamo torture methods and people were unanimous that it's a shame and that it's no better than what the bad guys do.

But tell them about the Russian trolls and somehow they forget everything and start to speak about the free world, democracy against those evil dictators ...


Pretty much this. Having an independent opinion about Putin immediately gets you called a Putinbot nowadays. MSM and its followers demand conformity.


When Johan Bäckman came to the scene a few years ago, he immediately reminded me of climate deniers. I guess similar tactics have existed throughout history. He doesn't have any kind of coherent consistent position, and contradicts himself constantly. It's just making a lot of noise and inventing the argument of the day.


"In September 2014 I started a crowdsourced series of stories about pro-Russia trolls"

I'm not inclined to google translate a lot of pages in Finnish, but can't it be that "crowdsourced" here means "a series of articles written by the unverified authors?" Which would be quite funny given their topic.

I don't know and I'd like to hear from somebody who does, somebody who understands Finnish? The same person could try to estimate if Jessikka Aro's articles were strongly biased?

Note: I definitely don't doubt that a lot of nasty internet communication was directed to her. The state of the internet is, you can be the saintest of the saints, once you're public enough, there will be (at least some) hate. I'm just trying to figure out how disproportional the reactions were, it's hard for me to get the idea reading only on this blog post.


Here "crowdsourced" means that Jessikka Aro solicited for experiences from members of the public who have been targeted by trolls. As far as I can tell, any resulting articles have been written by journalists and have gone through the usual journalistic process.

I haven't actually read many of her articles, but my assessment is that she is not strongly biased. It is widely accepted as fact that pro-russian trolling is rampant also on the Finnish web.


> As far as I can tell, any resulting articles have been written by journalists

So she didn't sign these articles? Why would then anybody direct some campaign at her?

Something is missing in this story.


She wrote them. Take a look at one of her articles: http://kioski.yle.fi/omat/at-the-origins-of-russian-propagan...


Thanks. But what's "crowdsourced" with it? That article looks like a real investigation. Maybe the term was actually a loss in translation? That's why I hoped to get all the info from somebody who understands Finnish (and maybe even followed these news).

Edit: kaitai linked to an article that has a lot of opinions of other people. It is a better example of what she would maybe call the "crowdsourced" article (it has a bunch of quotes presented in a way to appear to support the message she wants to convey).


Basically the crowdsourcing here means that YLE published a article saying (shortened): "Tell us what kind of web trolling you have been targeted by and in what situations. We'll compile an article of peoples experiences"

The term "crowdsourcing" isn't really used in Finnish. Apparently there exists a translation for it ("joukouttaminen"), but I haven't ever heard anyone use it (not that I've looked too hard).


> The term "crowdsourcing" isn't really used in Finnish.

Thanks. Now it's clear. It was really "lost in translation" (in the "appearing" sense).


I don't speak finnish, but your interpretation doesn't make sense. "Crowdsourced" means "paid by multiple (ordinary) people". One could argue about the facts in the resulting articles (I have no clue about that), but a smear campaign shows that she probably touched something big...

As far as bias goes, it would be difficult to judge without knowing the real facts.


Not paid for - sourced from. She asked people who had experienced such trolling to come forward and interviewed them. The work was funded by her employer.


And my question is if these people (who had experienced such trolling) were anonymous, and how biased the "series" was. From the view of somebody who understands Finnish.

When we're at it, I also don't understand the story with the "Official of the Finnish Parliament Peter Saramo." Again, not enough details.


Thank you for clarification, I stand corrected.

Still, not "written by" but "getting input from".


We have a saying here: "If something you did upsets Russia - you are moving to the right direction".


I'd like to know where "here" is.


I... I just don't know what exactly I was expecting coming into this comments section. This is some absurdist parody. Seems HN has gotten big enough to be noticed now.



If you know of someone in the US doing this, you should advise them to consider registering with the Justice Department.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Agents_Registration_Ac...

The law was amended in the 1960's so that people would get a warning before being prosecuted under it.


>so that people would get a warning before being prosecuted under it

What about free speech? This law strikes me as fundamentally "unamerican."


It seems to me to be one of the many laws we have which favor safety & security over the principles on which the country was founded. It doesn't help that it also seems to be one of the many laws we have which are enforced "sometimes".


The adage that a lie told enough times becomes fact comes to mind. Goebbels was a master and his methods are still being used today.


[flagged]


They indeed pay folks to do this.

One Professional Russian Troll Tells All: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9269760

The rest of your comments is directing blame on the victim (the journalist).


western news saying russians pay trolls to spread pro-russian opinion on the web while russian news are saying exactly the same thing for western trolls.

It just depends on which side you see it. if you look at the big picture she is not a victim but someone fighting an information war


That's exactly what Kremlin propaganda wants you to believe: "everybody is lying, we are no different". No it's not. There are, of course, dishonest journalists, paid articles, power play, political pressure in western journalism, but it's by no means comparable to mass, state-run propaganda machine Russia's so-called "journalism" is. Snowden's story is a perfect example of that - the wast amount of resources by the most powerful western states were put into efforts trying to stop the leaks to no avail.


This is investigative journalism of a proven phenomenon (paid Russian troll factories), and claiming it to be part of "information war" frankly smacks of the very thing the journalist is investigating here.


In what alternate reality outside of a war zone is a journalist a victim?


Did you read the article? She has been personally harassed due to her profession. That by definition makes her a victim of harassment.


> She has been personally harassed due to her profession.

No, she has been personally harassed due to the area she is working in.

There is credence to having a general distrust in journalism. This has been the case since Yellow Journalism of the 1920s. You're playing the fool if you don't think journalists, even independent ones, aren't promoting an agenda, often one that isn't tangible at that moment of your consumption.


>In what alternate reality outside of a war zone is a journalist a victim?

>No, she has been personally harassed due to the area she is working in.

I'm glad you figured it out. The rest of your comment is a strawman.


> The rest of your comment is a strawman

Tell me the logical fallacy for misattributing a logical fallacy to dismiss a comment.

I'll create one: "reductio ad latinam." The rest of your comment is a reductio ad latinam. A reduction to a latin phrase.

From parent, whose context you've neglected in your dismissal:

>ousta 34 minutes ago

>every newspaper on earth is a propaganda newspaper.

Also, this "harassment" is to be expected from boots-on-the-ground paid Russian trolls. Complaining about it is poking a bear in the nose with a stick and not expecting it to react.


> Also, this "harassment" is to be expected from boots-on-the-ground paid Russian trolls. Complaining about it is poking a bear in the nose with a stick and not expecting it to react.

Therefore it's her fault? That's like saying "if you complain about sexual harrasment and get fired it's your fault, you shouldn't have poked the bear".

I hope you see how ignorant that is.


You're equating professional harassment regarding an external subject to sexual harassment within an internal workplace.

I don't think this is appropriate here, in the least bit. Not only is it distasteful, but it also was a poorly posited example that failed to even make the same connection to "bear poking"


> that failed to even make the same connection to "bear poking"

Office worker X wears an attractive dress to work one day. It's within her right to do so and is not breaking any rules. Officer worker Y comes over, drops his trousers and says "Want to poke my bear?".

Journalist X makes a statement about Russia. It's within her right to do so and not breaking any rules. Russian Shill Y comes over and says "Fuck you, here's a torrent of abuse for many months".

In both cases the bear got provoked by something the subject did, by making a statement with her clothes or her words. But you're saying in both cases it's her fault that the bear got provoked and she shouldn't do it?


So as long as harrassment isn't sexual or "internal" it's OK. Right.


well she personally harassed the poor russians internet trolls due to their profession as well. what makes it more moral? are you discriminating them because of their jobs? that is not really PC


Harassment is not acceptable, regardless of whatever cynical-sounding excuses you come up with.


[flagged]


> your comment is the most retarded

We ban accounts that do this on HN. Please post civilly and substantively, or not at all.

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