These posts about foreign psy-ops are implicitly suggesting that the representative democracy and predominantly free assembly that western states have come to expect is trivially susceptible to DDOS. This is true, but there's nothing fundamentally enshrined in the deep rulebook of history that says big western states must remain organized along such values. A populace not subject to daily economic anxiety is more willing to tolerate less representation in government without there being widespread discontent. It's a false dichotomy that a western state must either be overtly democratic or completely dysfunctional.
The remarkable thing is that mega-states loosely constituted along ethno-national lines, beholden to frequent elections and policy reversals, in a hypercompetitive world with increasingly open borders and stubbornly persistent income inequality, existed with remarkable stability for as long as they did. We've entered a time where the formula is easy to disrupt, and it's up to each state's people to evaluate how to proceed when faced with such a threat, but people worrying about the cost of living will find it hard to think of the big picture.
No one has figured out the whole "prosperity without scary periods of scarcity" thing yet.
> almost always tracing back to economic anxiety, even when masquerading as xenophobia or racism.
Xenophobia has a bit of a chicken-and-egg relationship with economic anxiety.
Does the xenophobia cause economic anxiety, or does economic anxiety cause xenophobia? I don't think the answer is so straight-forward, especially this time around history's block. It's not like 2016 was the 1930's... even economically depressed parts of the country were doing better than they were for decades.
Are people anxious because they're xenophobic and believe that "those people" are out to get them where it hurts (for them, the pocket book)? Or, are they anxious because they're afraid of losing their way of life and the objectively most likely cause of that loss is "those people", thus causing xenophobia?
After the horrible very bad choices we made on last election here, thanks to WhatsApp, I fear that "digital democracy" looks each day more like mob rule fed by paranoia.
However, WhatsApp seems a very inefficient method to spread propaganda. You have to share each message either with an individual or a group and there is no "news feed" curated by some algorithm to target your interests specifically. Also, given that Twitter is also free for most Brazilians, I would expect that to be a more effective method to find and spread propaganda. One explanation given by the article is that "Since WhatsApp text messages are forwarded and reforwarded by friends and family, the information seems more credible." This makes sense but it doesn't explain why this phenomenon would happen more in Brazil than in the US.
No, mob rule plays out time and again without limited government. Whether legislation is direct or representative doesn't really matter, but in either direct or indirect democracy, election timing and structure (e.g., staggered six-year terms in the Senate for representative democracy, and supermajority or pass-twice-with-specified-interval rules for certain major changes in direct democracy) can.
Mob rule plays out with representative democracy too. Disinformation can get a mob boss elected and that mob can trample on minority groups freedoms.
It's the disinformation that is the issue. In both cases, the distortions will manifest.
Compared to a dictatorship, democracy is 'better', as at least you get the opportunity every few years to have your views acted on by the politicians. But then, sometimes you don't. And if your views are on the fringes, your views will never be acted on.
Either way, a definition of bullying is someone using their power of consequences (whether it's a beating or emotional blackmail, blackmail, or fines or prison et al) to make others do what they want - which is what democracy delivers to the victors.
Still pondering and wondering about better ways....
That sort of system has many flaws but I would take it much rather then the US system.
In fact the Swiss system is based on the US, just with more direct democracy and a far less powerful president.
I would actually argue that the removal of presidential powers is the most important thing. Having all your top ministers be selected by the one popular vote for president is pretty insane when you think about it.
In Switzerland the top ministers are from 4-5 different parties and they have to work together every day. The departments are not fixed and switch about between people and parties.
We voted on 6 weeks mandatory vacation and the people voted against it.
The parliament wanted to join the EU in the 1990, the people rejected it.
Also, often you end up putting your faith into parties rather then people and the people are compromised by party policy anyway. That you are voting for free thinking individual is mostly a fantasy.
It was really mostly because people didn't like the architecture. Muslims in Switzerland are freer then in many other countries in Europe and for every 'evil populist' law that Switzerland made you will find that 10 populist proposals have been rejected (left and right wing).
Also, lets remember that Minarett are something people like, they are not required or in any way limit religious freedom of Muslims.
So yes, we had like 4 Minaret and they wanted to build 2 more and can't. Populism has truly made live hell.
What is the mechanism for creating or disbanding ministries?
The 7 Top Minister (Bundesrat elected by Parliament) pick a ministry and the select based on how long they have been in.
So in the beginning you might get something unpopular like military but after a couple years you can switch to interior minister.
Because they don't get replaced as often as US presidents they can have a much longer term view. In fact they hardly get replaced at all, mostly they just retire.
I prefer to be governed by a lottery system with checks to insure loyalty and capability.
Purely out of interest, do you see yourself as more part of the mob, or more part of the representatives?
If the US switched to direct democracy tomorrow, I'd bet the same issues would pop up, just in a different form.
Representative government does nothing to stop that, except insofar as representation is non-proportional, and allows Y to do that instead of X, giving tyranny of the minority instead of tyranny of the majority.
The solution you are looking for is limited (either absolutely or procedurally) government, not representative over direct democracy.
See the demographics of protesters, they are all but the two groups above.
Being unfortunate to live 13 years in Russia, I can tell the trick: the initial "ignition source" might've been the middle age welfare receivers, but later on it was pivoted towards the usual malcontents under the cover of commotion.
Simple as hell trick, but yeah, it gave France hell.
The threat of mob rule you described, is only there if you allow it to be forcefully/artificially instated through psyops/political technologists/disinformation
Both of those demographics do in fact use Twitter, quite a bit actually.
The fact that most states have at least some degree of it, and the people don't use it to abolish itself in favor of purely representative democracy.
This can be seen especially well with the Supreme Court, which is arguably the single most undemocratic American institution. In the Progressive Era, SCOTUS was castigated by the left for slowing down the reforms, and eventually adopted the "judicial restraint" stance. Then the Civil Rights era came, with SCOTUS often the driving force - and now it was a good thing that it was forcing the hand of state legislatures regardless of popular support or lack thereof. Similarly, when you look at it from the right, the positions were essentially reversed - under FDR the right expected the courts to fight back against populism, in the Civil Rights era the right expected those same courts to defer to state legislatures.
More recently, in the 90s-10s period, it has been on full display - just take any op-ed with obvious partisan bias about any major Supreme Court decision. If the author agrees with it, they will usually exalt the wonders of an unelected body keeping the mob in check. If the author disagrees, then they will rant about how SCOTUS is undemocratic and thwarts the will of the people. Sometimes, the same author will write several op-eds over time, with varying position depending on the case.
And they all contain the mechanisms by which, if people didn't like them, they could be undone.
> By the same argument, we can conclude most Americans are deeply paranoid about the dangers of direct democracy because the founders of the US were.
No, you can't, because to be “by the same argument”, you'd have to.
show that, in a case where it was procedurally possible for the people directly to institute or remove direct democracy, they generally choose to avoid it entirely. Which is exactly the opposite of reality.
And the evidence is that they have it and choose to keep it, since its existence allows them to remove or further limit it should they wish to.
Not sure if we’re agreeing or disagreeing, but to state my position explicitly direct democracy is the final form of decline for civil republican government. After that you’re headed for authoritarianism, be it left or right.
“Should they wish to” is frankly wishful thinking.
You so realize that you are literally making my point that direct democracy has significant support?
> “Should they wish to” is frankly wishful thinking.
I think you are confused about the subject: that they manifestly don't wish to is my entire point.
The last sentence I wrote was perhaps me misunderstanding your phrasing. I’m operating from a prior that direct democracy is very bad, and should be avoided.
Rhetorically what I meant was that “should they wish to” is not a meaningful distinction, since they would never wish not to [operate via direct democracy once that Pandora’s box is opened].
For those of us unfamiliar, can you share info on what WhatsApp did? Also curious how results are attributed to it. In the US many found big-web tech as a convenient scapegoat but evidence of its overarching effect is tenuous.
edit, to be fair, I should have clarified this with 'the majority of implementations appear to be', I am not philosophically against direct democracy in principle, just most of the ways it is generally attempted.
It applies beyond China as well. They could just become OPEC for food and both countries would benefit from being able to jack up prices on crops and livestock.
In worst case, China can just reduce the consumption of livestock, after all that is what soybeans had been used for, while finding replacements somewhere else. As long as they have enough rice, China will be fine.
Into compliance with what, exactly?
Russian farmers will be happy, once in a blue moon.
Here's a snippet about Africa, I'm sure South America is much more important for the US.
“We will make certain that ALL aid to the region - whether for security, humanitarian, or development needs - advances U.S. interests,” he said, adding that Washington will also re-evaluate its support for U.N. peacekeeping missions.
Xi's power grab is only accepted because life is pretty good right now in China. He won't be able to maintain power over a billion hungry, angry chinese
1 - https://www.presstv.com/DetailFr/2018/04/02/557207/Brazil-Ri...
That's understandable, and I'm certainly in no position to judge the people of Brazil. However it's possible for both of these to be true:
* Brazil is facing a public safety crisis that requires immediate, drastic action.
* Bolsanaro is a proto-fascist opportunist capitalizing on the crisis to rise to power.
The new guy is of course a major asshat, but government before was making lots of really bad choices as well and Brazil was not going in a good direction.
The important thing is to not let anybody get enough power to remove the whole institutional machinery.
Bringing these empty accusations wont prove your point neither add to the discussion.
What does this mean? We're not talking about a random Youtuber here. He's the leader of the country. Presumably his opinion will influence his policy decisions (in fact he's promised as much).
When somebody tells you they're going to kill you and they're holding a gun - it's wise to believe them even if they've never murdered before.
There are no perfect politicians, and they are always presented in the worst possible light by their opponents. Times change; you could look back at old quotes and then conclude that our Hillary Clinton hates same-sex marriage and immigrants.
Picking from the non-ideal choices actually available, Brazil did very well.
Do you honestly believe that there will be another democratic election in Brazil under Bolsonaro's rule?
> "We're going to shoot all the PT (Workers' Party) supporters in Acre." - Jair Bolsonaro (1 September 2018)
I'm not so sure.
Sarcasm is a thing.
What we see here is that there are some very dubious twitter accounts with some interactions. But are these meaningful interactions? Did any of the content reach and influence the supposed target audience? Are the communities shown in the Gephi graph real communities? These communities and their interactions could just as well be fake. When I was working on exactly this, I noticed that fake communities (i.e. sets of fake accounts all retweeting each other) are quite common.
Just look at the specific accounts mentioned (Pascal66616113 and 1Happeningnow). They have only 2 and 51 followers, respectively, and right now it's 4 and 72.
I think it's very important to detect malicious political accounts on social media and be aware of their impact. This article mentions two examples of such accounts, but doesn't prove anything about impact. The conclusion that France is losing an information war here doesn't follow.
That said, TW could do more to make the example accounts less relevant in any case --to eliminate some of the accusation.
No. It's just poor reasoning with a click-baity headline.
For instance it was very embarrassing for the mainstream media and the democratic party that leaked emails showed them in collusion and undermining Bernie Sanders, but this was not misinformation. Likewise it was very embarrassing for the foreign policy establishment when their tools such as the oscar-winning White Helmets relief-workers were photographed arm-in-arm with rebel militants and shown staging videos, but I didn't see any of this exposed as 'misinformation.' I guess it was just 'the wrong information' to be reporting on.
Revelations like this are much more powerful than silly memes from Twitter accounts with no real followers.
Except they didn’t, at all, and the people spreading this theory are spreading misinformation.
I looked this up and I found is this: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/is-this-proof-white-helmet...
Wikipedia has a couple of incidents listed in the 'Controversies' section on White Helmets, that do not really show them as 'tools of the foreign policy establishment'.
>> but I didn't see any of this exposed as 'misinformation.'
Well there you go then.
The Wikipedia article states that they were founded by a man who happens to be a former British military intelligence officer, that they were initially funded by the UK foreign office, that they received 30 million annually from western governments and NGOs, and that they now operate in other countries. Sounds a hell of a lot more like a foreign policy tool than a grass roots charity operation, to me at least.
And lest we think this is just some pictures flying around on unverified Twitter accounts, here’s a BBC Panorama documentary featuring blatantly faked footage.
That's false. The Syrian Civil Defense never said/admitted such thing.
>>>> These images have been online since 2016, and show members of the White Helmets filming a “mannequin challenge” video.
So have you seen that video? I haven't. I guess you haven't either. Let's watch it then, shall we? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zgl271A6LgQ Now, why are you calling it "fake"?
> NGOs, funding, etc.
How does that make them a FP tool?
I wanted to look into the BBC Panorama Saving Syria's Children thing, and haven't found anything conclusive and short.
The BBC's reponse is the most relevant probably: https://bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.wordpress.com/2014/0...
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/50507/i... [BBC's case against RT UK, which of course run with the whole "scandal"]
It's still possible that the BBC and its crew is full of lies. But at least their lies are well in line with what Assad is doing nowadays - and what probably did in 2013 too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2X84JZINcI
The BBC are standing by their footage, but it looks mighty fake to me, I suppose it could be real though.
Or, another way to look at it, is that MSM in the country has lost control of the "narrative". Whether that is good or bad largely depends on whether your opinions fit within the status quo.
If the MSM says that the Earth is round, that's not their narrative, it's fact, and anyone who says differently is just plain wrong.
Another issue is it's no longer in an ordinary citizen's interest to believe these institutions, since they encourage the citizen to act against their own interests to the benefit of the institutions, capital holders, & political leaders.
Another issue is equating the opinion of a subset of the experts (which are often cherry-picked) or an institution with fact.
Another issue with social sciences is each study is only as good as what abstractions were conceived of to measure minus the accuracy of the measurements.
Many scientists have a poor understanding of the Philosophy of Science, as it's not emphasized in the educational process. Philosophy is often seen as a "solved" problem, instead of the foundation of interpretation of information. This cloisters the scientists to the point to them becoming glorified technicians only capable of measuring the culturally accepted data points & unable to relate the information beyond their ever-shrinking domain of expertise.
>Today the president visited voters in New York
may be factually true, but
>In a desperate attempt to win the election, the sitting president tried to win voters in New York
Is actually more accurate.
I used to fully support direct democracy, but after seeing this I've changed my views.
What are examples of "suppressing opposition" in Poland?
Or maybe even Constitutional Tribunal? :-)
Anyway, I'm still waiting for examples of opposition oppression, not squabbles between politicians and part of judiciary (which, I hope, is not considered to be opposition).
I am pretty sure I could run a very effective propaganda show, by only spreading true, but carefully choosen facts; it would help me greatly that I could always say "don't believe me, go look it up".
While "information war" is bogus as an explanatory or predictive theory, it's an excellent pretext for censorship, especially since it seems to be brought up whenever a political outcome disfavored by the elites occurs. Followed to its logical conclusion, fighting "information war" yields a regime of public censorship that differs from China's only in flavor.
disingenuous - Not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does. 
In most non-official speech (under oath, perjury, etc.) you are not required to be truthful. I.e, I don't have to be truthful with directions when a stranger asks me, nor you give me the right time when I ask you for it.
If “Y” is a person, that's false impersonation if it is done to cause harm to Y or benefit you.
If “Y” is an adjective, and it's done to induce other people to take detrimental action that they otherwise would not, it's fraud.
Once you start trying to get other people to do things, there are big areas that are off limits. We have laws about public safety, inciting crimes, fitness for purpose ("drink this battery acid, it cures gout!"), fraud, libel, and slander.
At least in the United States, political expression is extremely protected.
I can think of nothing more important for free speech to protect than political speech.
A better example is:
> Petitioner's remark during political debate at small public gathering that, if inducted into Army (which he vowed would never occur) and made to carry a rifle "the first man I want to get in my sights is L.B.J.," held to be crude political hyperbole which, in light of its context and conditional nature, did not constitute a knowing and willful threat against the President within the coverage of 18 U.S.C. § 871(a).
Freedom of speech in the U.S. is extremely broad. False and damaging speech is in theory not protected (so defamation laws are valid), but the standard is very high even then. "Disingenuous" speech is protected (OP is calling it "disingenuous" because he can't prove it's clearly false.)
> limited the scope of banned speech to that which would be directed to and likely to incite imminent lawless action (e.g. a riot).
I don't see anything wrong with people making political arguements.
Targeting mass discontent and revolutionary movements like that is not new. Germans have poured millions of marks into the Bolsheviks during WW1, for example. It doesn't mean that everyone who supported Bolsheviks was a foreign agent, but it would certainly be unwise to ignore that sort of thing, and it behooves one to ask why those other governments support these movements.
Dear French Citizens,
A foreign adversary has infiltrated our country and sabotaged seven of our bridges.
When driving, please stop and briefly leave your vehicle to manually authenticate each bridge for structural integrity before continuing your trip.
Stay safe, France!
The GPG UX Team
These are the glory days for trolls. Some of them can even get paid for it...
I think there are certain domains where anonymity is of paramount importance. Support groups for sure, matters of civics? Maybe. But someone making bold claims isn't entitled to my attention until they've established a track record of some kind, or are vouched for by someone I trust on the subject.
I keep thinking we're going to end up with a social circle that's morally equivalent to Web-of-Trust in the old PGP days but nothing ever comes. And even if it does come, it won't fix the thought bubble problem because the people whose opinions you trust have their own biases.
The reverse is also true.
Literally EVERY comment Trump makes should be followed up with "why would anyone trust anything you've said when you were so wrong about X"...
If Aunt May tells me I have to use cold butter in grandma's cookie recipe, I'll absolutely believe her. But no matter how many times she corrects my baking, I'm never going to take her advice on dentistry or geopolitics.
EM! (Macron's party) was a victim of massive internet attacks during the campaign.
In the past couple of weeks, I have seen French fake posts that were popular in the past 24 months raise again like an army of Phoenix. As far as media go, we have usually and relatively independent media in France, even public. However, foreign entities and especially RT France have been controversial in some of their coverage.
That said, you can't just ban "non-local" accounts from injecting themselves into a remote topic. If Kyle Jenner wants to tweet about something in France or Brazil, it should be non-exceptional (etc.)
The Gilets Jaunes movement is a contestation of late stage capitalism, not a series of pogroms against muslims.
The people has been rumbling for quite some time now. With an arrogant, borderline authoritarian president that has nothing but contempt and mocking towards the French people, added to a weak political line (ni de droite ni de gauche ... mais surtout de droite. Neither left nor right, but especially right).
People are roaring in uprising because what they see is a convergence of the resources towards the hands of those who have too much, and less and less towards those of who have too few.
You don't need propaganda when the King is also the Fool.