Posts Tagged ‘fake news’

As U.S. Confronts Internet’s Disruptions, China Feels Vindicated

October 17, 2017

HULUNBUIR, China — In the United States, some of the world’s most powerful technology companies face rising pressure to do more to fight false information and stop foreign infiltration.

China, however, has watchdogs like Zhao Jinxu.

From his small town on the windswept grasslands of the Inner Mongolia region of China, Mr. Zhao, 27, scours the internet for fake news, pornography and calls to violence. He is one of a battalion of online “supervisors” whom Weibo, one of China’s biggest social media platforms, announced last month it would hire to help enforce China’s stringent limits on online content.

For years, the United States and others saw this sort of heavy-handed censorship as a sign of political vulnerability and a barrier to China’s economic development. But as countries in the West discuss potential internet restrictions and wring their hands over fake news, hacking and foreign meddling, some in China see a powerful affirmation of the country’s vision for the internet.

“This kind of thing would not happen here,” Mr. Zhao said of the controversy over Russia’s influence in the American presidential election last year.

Besides Communist Party loyalists, few would argue that China’s internet control serves as a model for democratic societies. China squelches online dissent and imprisons many of those who practice it. It blocks foreign news and information, including the website of The New York Times, and promotes homegrown technology companies while banning global services like Facebook and Twitter.

At the same time, China anticipated many of the questions now flummoxing governments from the United States to Germany to Indonesia. Where the Russians have turned the internet into a political weapon, China has used it as a shield.

In fact, when it comes to technology, China has prospered. It has a booming technology culture. Its internet companies rival Facebook and Amazon in heft. To other countries, China may offer an enticing top-down model that suggests that technology can thrive even under the government’s thumb.

An electronic display showing recent cyberattacks in China at the China Internet Security Conference in Beijing last month. Credit Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press

“It doesn’t matter how efficient the internet is,” said Zhu Wei, deputy director of the Communications Law Research Center at the China University of Political Science and Law, which advises the government on internet laws. “It won’t work without security.”

China is not resting on its laurels.

In the weeks leading up to the major party congress that opens in Beijing on Wednesday, the country’s internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, has issued a raft of new regulations.

One, which took effect last week, holds the creators of online forums or group chats responsible for their users’ comments.

Another bans anonymous users, a blow at the bots and deceptive accounts — like those on Facebook and Twitter — that distributed false stories aimed at American voters.

“If our party cannot traverse the hurdle presented by the internet, it cannot traverse the hurdle of remaining in power,” a department of the cyberspace administration wrote in a top party journal last month.

The article was in keeping with President Xi Jinping’s early recognition of the power of the internet. Mr. Xi created and empowered the cyberspace administration, which has subsumed many of the overlapping agencies that once governed content in cyberspace.

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Social media and democracy: optimism fades as fears rise — “Twitter users got more misinformation” — “Social media has always been a double-edged sword”

October 1, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Rob Lever | The social networks which helped enable democracy movements are also being manipulated by authoritarian regimes, researchers say

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Just a few years ago, Facebook and Twitter were hailed as tools for democracy activists, enabling movements like the Arab Spring to flourish.

Today, the tables have turned as fears grow over how social media may have been manipulated to disrupt the US election, and over how authoritarian governments are using the networks to clamp down on dissent.

The latest revelations from Facebook and Twitter, which acknowledged that Russian-backed entities used their network to spread disinformation and sow political discord, have heightened concerns about the impact of social networks on democracy.

“Both services are ripe for abuse and manipulation by all sorts of problematic people, including hostile intelligence services,” says Andrew Weisburd, a non-resident fellow with the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

The Alliance, a project created this year to counter what it claims are efforts by Russia undermine democracy and democratic institutions, includes US and European researchers worried about Moscow’s efforts.

“What we have seen from the Kremlin in recent years is a direct by-product of what they have done to the Russian people in order to keep (President Vladimir) Putin and his cronies in power,” Weisburd said.

Researcher Tim Chambers writes in a paper for the left-leaning New Policy Institute that the proliferation of political “bots” or automated accounts to make topics go “viral” such as those employed in 2016 are dangerous for elections and democracy

“They fake petition signatures. They skew poll results and recommendation engines,” Chambers said.

“Deceptive bots create the impression that there is grassroots, positive, sustained, human support for a certain candidate, cause, policy or idea. In doing so, they pose a real danger to the political and social fabric of our country.”

Oxford University researchers said in a June report that social networks like Facebook and Twitter, which were intended to be a platform for free expression, “have also become tools for social control” in many countries.

Governments employ large numbers of people “to generate content, direct opinion and engage with both foreign and domestic audiences,” said the report by the university’s Project on Computational Propaganda.

The researchers, who studied social media in 28 countries, concluded that “every authoritarian regime has social media campaigns targeting their own populations.”

– Bots, cyber troops –

In Turkey, for example, that has led to targeting of opposition leaders’ social media accounts so that others can launch a smear campaign.

In other countries, governments create “bots” which amplify some voices to create an artificial sense of popularity, the researchers said. Some regimes employ “cyber troops” or private contractors for this purpose.

Zeynep Tufekci, a North Carolina University sociologist who studies social networks and activist movements, said the platforms which helped enable the Arab Spring are now being used against dissenters.

“This is not necessarily Orwell’s 1984,” she writes in her 2017 book, “Twitter and Tear Gas: How Social Media Changed Protest Forever.”

“Rather than a complete totalitarianism based on fear and the blocking of information, the newer methods include demonizing online media and mobilizing armies of supporters or paid employees who muddy the online waters with misinformation, information overload, doubt, confusion, harassment, and distraction.”

– Russian ads in US –

In the United States, the disclosures by Facebook and Twitter fueled concerns that disinformation campaigns, likely from Russian entities, sought to manipulate public opinion and polarize the electorate ahead of the November election.

Twitter shared data with congressional investigators about ads from Russia Today, a television group with links to the Moscow government and which has been accused by US intelligence services of meddling in the election.

Twitter said RT spent $274,000 in 2016 on ads on its site that may have been used to try to influence the US election.

Facebook also acknowledged foreign entities linked to Russia paid to promote political messages on the leading social network, potentially violating US election laws.

The Oxford researchers said in a report Thursday that the campaign to spread “junk news” during the 2016 presidential election via Twitter appeared to target key states which could sway the Electoral College results.

The researchers said that in the days leading up to the election, “Twitter users got more misinformation, polarizing and conspiratorial content than professionally produced news.”

Weisburd said the social media firms are “largely immune from responsibility” in the legal sense, but that “in the court of public opinion it is a different matter, and future US legislation seems likely if they don’t address these issues in a meaningful way.”

Emily Parker, a New America Foundation Future Tense fellow and author of the book, “Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices From the Internet Underground,” cautions against idealizing or demonizing social networks.

“Social media has always been a double-edged sword,” she said.

“Citizens use it to speak truth to power, and authoritarian governments use it to spread misinformation. And yes, governments are increasing their efforts to censor the internet, but that’s because they recognize that the internet poses a threat to their control.”

by Rob Lever
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Russians posed as Muslim organization to sway US voters

September 28, 2017

By Chris Perez
The New York Post

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The Russian government tried to influence the 2016 presidential election by masquerading as an authentic US Muslim organization on social media and posting incendiary memes about Hillary Clinton — while simultaneously using other accounts to send Islamophobic messages to right-wing users, a report says.

Sources tell The Daily Beast that the Kremlin-backed internet trolls created a fake Facebook group called “United Muslims of America” and then used it to stir the proverbial pot for months.

While the Russians’ use of imposter accounts is well noted, this is one of the first known instances where they impersonated an actual organization.

The real “United Muslims of America” is a California-based nonprofit that claims to have promoted interfaith dialogue and political participation for more than 30 years. It is “not functional” at the moment, though, and is in the middle of an organizational rebuild.

The group has hosted events with numerous members of Congress in the past — including Democrats Andre Carson and Eric Swalwell. The lawmakers are both members of the House intelligence committee that is currently investigating President Trump’s ties to Russia.

“Unfortunately, it appears that the United Muslims of America is one of many organizations that was unfairly targeted by Russia in their attempt to influence the 2016 Presidential election,” Carson told the Daily Beast.

While using the imposter UMA account, the Russian trolls reportedly posted countless messages and memes aimed at smearing Clinton’s name, as well as other politicians.

One claimed that the Democratic nominee “created, funded and armed” al-Qaeda and ISIS, while another said John McCain was the true founder of the Islamic State.

The account also posted a photo showing a whitewashed, blood-drenched Moammar Gadhafi — which applauded him for not having a “Rothschild-owned central bank.”

Another post, which was watermarked with the UMA logo, falsely alleged that Osama bin Laden had been a “CIA agent.”

“Russia knows no ends and no limits to which groups they would masquerade as to carry out their objectives,” Swalwell told the Daily Beast.

Throughout the campaign, much of the content that was posted on the account remained apolitical — but the influx of fake news was likely enough to sway voters.

Positive portrayals of Islam were ultimately aimed at Muslim audiences, while the Islamophobic messages were meant for right-wing users.

One post from August 2016 promoted an anti-immigrant rally in Idaho, saying: “We must stop taking in Muslim refugees!”

A message from June 2016, following the deadly Orlando nightclub massacre, asked people to attend an event titled, “Support Hillary. Save American Muslims!”

According to the Daily Beast, the fake UMA page wrote that Clinton was “the only presidential candidate who refuses to ‘demonize’ Islam after the Orlando nightclub shooting.” It added that “with such a person in White House (sic) America will easily reach the bright multicultural future.”

Sources told the outlet that the Russian government also used the account to buy Facebook advertisements to reach its target audiences.

In order to hide their operation, the trolls reportedly used the URL “Facebook.com/MuslimAmerica” — as opposed to the real UMA’s URL, which is “Facebook.com/UnitedMuslimsofAmericaUMA.”

They wound up amassing more than 260,000 followers before the account was eventually deactivated by Facebook last month as part of the company’s public acknowledgement of Russia’s network activity.

The Daily Beast managed to uncover some of its content, including a number of posts that were made on Instagram and Twitter.

The Russians reportedly used the handles “muslims_in_usa” and “muslim_voice” to promote political rallies for Muslims and post more inflammatory memes. The accounts have since been suspended, as well.

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http://nypost.com/2017/09/27/russians-posed-as-muslim-organization-to-sway-us-voters/
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Facebook, Twitter, Google called on to meet US intelligence committees — “Russia had a campaign to sow discord in the U.S.”

September 28, 2017

Three social media companies have been asked to testify at two US committees investigating Russian interference in the US election. The request has come as details emerge of an alleged campaign to sow discord in the US.

Symbolbild Soziale Netze (picture-alliance/dpa/Lei)

Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, on Wednesday were invited to public hearings of the US House and Senate Intelligence committees as part of their investigations into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election campaign that saw the election of US President Donald Trump.

The House Intelligence Committee plans to hold a hearing in October and the Senate Intelligence Committee on November 1. It was unclear whether the companies would accept the invitations.

Read more: Facebook reveals alleged Russia-funded political ad campaign in US

A joint statement from Democrats Representative Adam Schiff and Republican Representative Mike Conaway said the open hearing aimed “to better understand how Russia used online tools and platforms to sow discord in and influence our election.”

“Congress and the American people need to hear this important information directly from these companies,” the lawmakers added.

Members of the Senate panel confirmed the invitations under the condition of anonymity.

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Fake news and propaganda

Read more: 21 US states targeted by Russian hackers, no votes changed

Both panels have investigated how Russian groups could have used social media platforms and online ads to influence the 2016 election by spreading fake news and propaganda, and whether they were aided by people in the United States.

Republican Senator James Lankford, who received classified information about Russian meddling as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Wednesday that Russia continued to sow discord in US domestic affairs.

Lankford said over the weekend Russian internet trolls stoked tensions on the issue of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

Read more: Donald Trump slams NFL kneeling protest as ‘disgraceful’

The Daily Beast, citing unnamed sources, reported on Wednesday that a fake Facebook group named “United Muslims of America” was linked to the Russian government and that it pushed false claims about US politicians, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gestures during a speech with the Facebook logo in the background (picture-alliance/dpa/K. Nietfeld)Zuckerberg said Facebook did not favor candidates in elections

The group reportedly bought Facebook ads to reach targeted audiences, promoting political rallies aimed at Muslims.

After revelations earlier this month that Facebook sold $100,000 (€€85,000) worth of ads to Russian groups during the election campaign, CNN reported that at least one of those ads referenced Black Lives Matter and was specifically targeted to reach audiences in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, citing unnamed sources.

 

On Wednesday, Facebook’s vice president of public policy, Richard Allan, said the company shutdown tens of thousands of fake accounts ahead of Germany’s election.

 

“Protecting the integrity of our platforms during elections is a huge focus for us and something we are committed to — particularly in the face of hostile and coordinated interventions,” Allan wrote in a Facebook post. “Staying ahead of those who are trying to misuse our service is a constant effort led by our security and integrity teams.”

Media are “anti-Trump,” says Trump

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company will work to make political advertising on its platform more transparent. The social media giant has already met with both committees’ staff as part of their investigations and said it would turn over some 3,000 ads alleged to have been bought by Russian groups during the US election.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump accused Facebook, as well as major television networks and The New York Times and The Washington Post newspapers, of being “anti-Trump.”

It’s an accusation Zuckerberg rejected in a Facebook post, writing that the platform worked to ensure “free and fair elections” and did not favor particular candidates.

“Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump,” Zuckerberg said in his post. “Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.”

aw/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)

http://www.dw.com/en/facebook-twitter-google-called-on-to-meet-us-intelligence-committees/a-40717107

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Russian Little Green Men invaded Crimea and parts of the eastern Ukraine in 2014. How did the American intelligence community fail to warn us? Now it seems Facebook was part of a Russian plan to sow discord in the US. What does American intelligence know?

Obama personally warned Zuckberberg over fake news

September 25, 2017

AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Former US President Barack Obama personally urged Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to counter the rise of fake news on the social network during a meeting held shortly after last year’s election, the Washington Post reported Sunday.The encounter reportedly took place on the sidelines of a meeting of global leaders in Lima, Peru on November 19, two months before Trump’s inauguration and days after Zuckerberg had dismissed as “crazy” the idea that misleading stories driven by Russian operatives had made a major impact on the outcome of the vote.

“Zuckerberg acknowledged the problem posed by fake news. But he told Obama that those messages weren’t widespread on Facebook and that there was no easy remedy,” the newspaper said, quoting people it said had knowledge of the exchange.

The report comes days after Facebook announced it would be handing over to Congress advertisements it discovered were bought by Russia-linked fake accounts, aimed at inflaming political tensions ahead of and following the election.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement.

Maureen Dowd: Now That We Know More, Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg Look Scary

September 24, 2017

WASHINGTON — The idea of Mark Zuckerberg running for president was always sort of scary.

But now it’s really scary, given what we’ve discovered about the power of his little invention to warp democracy.

All these years, the 33-year-old founder of Facebook has been dismissive of the idea that social media and A.I. could be used for global domination — or even that they should be regulated.

Days after Donald Trump pulled out his disorienting win, Zuckerberg told a tech conference that the contention that fake news had influenced the election was “a pretty crazy idea,” showing a “profound lack of empathy” toward Trump voters.

But all the while, the company was piling up the rubles and turning a blind eye as the Kremlin’s cyber hit men weaponized anti-Hillary bots on Facebook to sway the U.S. election. Russian agents also used Facebook and Twitter trolls, less successfully, to try to upend the French election.

Finally on Thursday, speaking on Facebook Live, Zuckerberg said he would give Congress more than 3,000 ads linked to Russia. As one Facebooker posted: “Why did it take EIGHT MONTHS to get here?”

Hillary is right that this $500 billion company has a lot to answer for in allowing the baby-photo-sharing site to be turned into what, with Twitter, The Times’s Scott Shane called “engines of deception and propaganda.”

Robert Mueller’s team, as well as House and Senate investigators, are hotly pursuing the trail of Russian fake news. On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security told 21 states, including Wisconsin and Ohio, that Russian agents had tried to hack their elections systems during the campaign.

As Vanity Fair pointed out, Mueller’s focus on social media during the campaign could spell trouble for Jared Kushner, who once bragged that he had called his Silicon Valley friends to get a tutorial in Facebook microtargeting and brought in Cambridge Analytica — Robert Mercer is a big investor — to help build a $400 million operation for his father-in-law’s campaign.

Some lawmakers suspect that the Russians had help in figuring out which women and blacks to target in precincts in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Senator Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee looking into Russia’s intervention in 2016, has a suspect in mind. “Paul Manafort made an awful lot of money coming up with a game plan for how Russian interests could be pushed in Western countries and Western elections,” Heinrich told Vanity Fair.

ProPublica broke the news that, until it asked about it recently, Facebook had “enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of ‘Jew hater,’ ‘How to burn jews,’ or, ‘History of “why jews ruin the world.”’”

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s C.O.O., apologized for this on Wednesday and promised to fix the ad-buying tools, noting, “We never intended or anticipated this functionality being used this way — and that is on us.”

The Times’s Kevin Roose called this Facebook’s “Frankenstein moment,” like when Mary Shelley’s scientist, Victor Frankenstein, says, “I had been the author of unalterable evils, and I lived in daily fear lest the monster whom I had created should perpetrate some new wickedness.”

Roose noted that in addition to the Russian chicanery, “In Myanmar, activists are accusing Facebook of censoring Rohingya Muslims, who are under attack from the country’s military. In Africa, the social network faces accusations that it helped human traffickers extort victims’ families by leaving up abusive videos.”

The Sandberg admission was also game, set and match for Elon Musk, who has been sounding the alarm for years about the danger of Silicon Valley’s creations and A.I. mind children getting out of control and hurting humanity. His pleas for safeguards and regulations have been mocked as “hysterical” and “pretty irresponsible” by Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg, whose project last year was building a Jarvis-style A.I. butler for his home, likes to paint himself as an optimist and Musk as a doomsday prophet. But Sandberg’s comment shows that Musk is right: The digerati at Facebook and Google are either being naïve or cynical and greedy in thinking that it’s enough just to have a vague code of conduct that says “Don’t be evil,” as Google does.

As Musk told me when he sat for a Vanity Fair piece: “It’s great when the emperor is Marcus Aurelius. It’s not so great when the emperor is Caligula.”

In July, the chief of Tesla and SpaceX told a meeting of governors that they should adopt A.I. legislation before robots start “going down the street killing people.” In August, he tweeted that A.I. going rogue represents “vastly more risk than North Korea.” And in September, he tweeted out a Gizmodo story headlined “Hackers Have Already Started to Weaponize Artificial Intelligence,” reporting that researchers proved that A.I. hackers were better than humans at getting Twitter users to click on malicious links.

(Musk also tweeted that it was a cautionary tale when Microsoft’s chatbot, Tay, had to be swiftly shut down when Twitter users taught her how to reply with racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic slurs, talking approvingly about Hitler.)

Vladimir Putin has denied digital meddling in the U.S. elections. But he understands the possibilities and threat of A.I. In a recent address, the Russian president told schoolchildren, “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” Musk agreed on Twitter that competition for A.I. superiority would be the “most likely cause of WW3.”

On Thursday, touring the Moscow tech firm Yandex, Putin asked the company’s chief how long it would be before superintelligent robots “eat us.”

Zuckerberg scoffs at such apocalyptic talk. His project this year was visiting all 50 states, a trip designed by former Obama strategist David Plouffe, which sparked speculation that he might be the next billionaire to seek the Oval Office.

As Bloomberg Businessweek wrote in a cover story a few days ago, Zuckerberg has hired Plouffe, other senior Obama officials and Hillary’s pollster. He has said he is no longer an atheist and he changed Facebook’s charter to allow him to maintain control in the hypothetical event he runs for office.

Yep. Very scary.

Kremlin says not involved in Russia-linked Facebook ads

September 22, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Facebook has agreed to hand over all information about Russian-linked ads on its site the US Congress

MOSCOW (AFP) – The Kremlin on Friday distanced itself from the controversy over Russia-linked Facebook ads which may have influenced last year’s US election, saying Moscow had nothing to do with them.

“We don’t know who places ads on Facebook and how,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“We have never done it and the Russian side has never had anything to do with it.”

Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the company would pass on to Congress details about Russia-linked ads that inflamed tensions around last year’s presidential election.

Earlier this month, Facebook said some 470 Russia-linked fake accounts spent a total of about $100,000 between June 2015 and May 2017 on ads that touted fake or misleading views and played on divisive social and political themes like race, gay rights, and immigration.

The ads were linked to a Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency, a secretive outlet in Saint-Petersburg which has been christened the “troll farm” by Russian media because its employees blogged and left comments under fake online identities.

A congressional investigation will focus on how the messages in the ads were manipulated by Russian interests.

The investigation is the latest development in a string of probes into possible Russian meddling in the election and whether it could have swung the vote in US President Donald Trump’s favour.

US intelligence agencies say Putin himself directed the intervention and Senate and Justice Department investigators have been chasing links between the Trump campaign and Moscow for evidence of collusion.

Moscow has denied all allegations of meddling in the vote.

What Putin’s 2016 tricks owe to the czars — and how to fight back

September 19, 2017

By Ralph Peters
The New York Post

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Getty Images

‘Fake news” isn’t new. It’s just our down-market term for propaganda. And the Russians have been the reigning masters of propaganda since Catherine the Great.

Indeed, the most-destructive and most-enduring single work of fake news was Russian in origin, linked to the czar’s secret police and spies: “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a toxic anti-Semitic concoction embraced by Hitler yesterday and by Hamas today — as well as by our own ugliest extremists.

Last Sunday, The New York Times Magazine published a vital article explaining how Vladimir Putin’s regime used overt resources, such as government TV station RT, to disseminate fake news during the last US election campaign.

The uniquely Russian brew of mystical nationalism, fantastic lies and canny focus has been fermenting for centuries. The only thing that’s different now is the technology — a proliferation of global-reach, blink-of-an-eye dissemination means, from phony Facebook feeds to Internet trolls.

First printed in 1903, “The Protocols” was slow to catch on until spurred by the Russian Revolution and a shockwave of anti-Jewish fervor fanned by a perceived association with revolutionaries.

Today’s lies can span the world in seconds, get picked up by third-party sites in minutes and mainstream headlines in hours.

Russian mastery of propaganda — of lies promoted for strategic advantage — has been impervious to regime change, too. When Vladimir Lenin took power, key security players just changed uniforms. The term “Bolshevik” itself was grand propaganda: It means “of the majority.” The Bolsheviks were, in fact, a small minority, but they managed to label their far-more-numerous opponents “Mensheviks,” “of the minority.”

Lenin was the original Don Draper.

By the 1930s, as millions of Ukrainians starved to death, Soviet fake news peaked. The New York Times’ Russia correspondent, Walter Duranty, wrote glowing tributes to the benevolent progress of Stalin’s regime — complete fabrications, all — and got a Pulitzer for his “reporting.” Fake news has a distinguished pedigree.

In the depths of the Cold War, Russian propaganda intensified, abetted by naïve Westerners parading to “ban the bomb.” But Moscow’s Cold War fake news was a harder sell, as the Iron Curtain descended and the world witnessed brutal Soviet interventions in East Germany (1953), Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968) and Poland (several times).

By the 1980s, Soviet propaganda shifted its focus from proclaiming the threadbare glories of Communism to simply attacking the United States. One of its ugliest gambits was planting the lie that the CIA had developed AIDS to kill blacks.

Then the Soviet Union collapsed, and fake news stalled. Until Putin arrived.

Last year, we got The Protocols of the Elders of Putin, a broad, deep-reaching assault on our electoral system and a triumph that only went bad when Western intelligence services and the much-maligned “mainstream media” exposed it.

Yet, Russia was so successful in manipulating our system that a number of conservative media figures derided our intelligence agencies and insisted reports of Russian activities were “fake news.” Even today, a few career conservatives dismiss Russian chicanery as “a nothingburger.” Walter Duranty is back.

We needn’t have been surprised. Longtime Russia watchers warned of interference early on. But no one listened. We allowed angry partisanship to blind us.

So what can we do to prevent further Russian manipulation of our people and system of government?

We need revolutionary thinking about the Internet. Instead of prostituting every last shred of principle to add billions in profits to billions, the tech industry needs to shift to “provenance transparency,” unmasking the sources of all public Internet postings. No more “TrueRebel69” posing as an Arkansas mom from a keyboard in Archangelsk.

If Big Tech is too greedy, Congress must legislate. We need to know who’s peddling that incendiary story about a race-charged gang-rape that never happened.

And Big Tech needs to go to war on bots. Internet companies want the pings, even if it undercuts our elections and system of government. Regulation may get a bad name, but the Internet needs it badly.

And the USA needs to get back in the business of telling our story. We’re the ones with the great — and true — tale to tell.

Unlike Putin and his legions of Russian trolls, we don’t need to push fake news to win.

Ralph Peters is Fox News’ Strategic Analyst.

http://nypost.com/2017/09/18/what-putins-2016-tricks-owe-to-the-czars-and-how-to-fight-back/

Anti-Communist Mob Attacks Indonesia Meeting, 22 Arrested

September 18, 2017

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A mob opposed to public discussion of Indonesia’s 1965 massacre of communists tried to force its way into a Jakarta building where they believed communists were meeting, injuring five policemen.

Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono said 22 people were arrested early Monday for rioting and five officers were injured in the confrontation.

The melee came a day after police blockaded the building on Saturday to stop a public forum on the massacre, in which historians say half a million people were killed, from going ahead.

Bonnie Setiawan, an organizer of the forum, said about 200 people were trapped in the building, which is home to a legal aid institute, for hours on Sunday night while more than 1,000 people protested outside.

The protesters shouted that the people inside were members of the long-outlawed Indonesian Communist Party and threw rocks, breaking windows, he said.

Indonesia held a ground-breaking symposium on the massacre last year, breaking a half century of near silence on the issue, but the military, Islamic groups and senior figures in the government are opposed to unearthing the truth, saying it could revive communism.

The Indonesian Communist Party was the third largest in the world with an estimated 3 million members when an unsuccessful coup by pro-communist military officers in 1965 triggered a monthslong bloodletting by the army and Islamic groups that engulfed the country and ushered in the Suharto dictatorship.

Yuwono said police blockaded the forum on Saturday because organizers hadn’t requested permission for it.

Setiawan said police had violated the constitutional rights to freedom of association and assembly. The meeting on Sunday was intended as a discussion of challenges to democracy in Indonesia, he said.

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Fake news about communism in Indonesia blamed for triggering riot in Jakarta

By Jewel Topsfield

Fake news about Indonesia’s omnipresent bogeyman – communism – has been blamed for riots in Central Jakarta that injured five police officers and damaged vehicles in the early hours of Monday morning.

Police were forced to fire tear gas and water cannons to disperse anti-communist protesters who began to pelt police with water bottles and stones and attempted to force their way into the offices of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute.

A weekend seminar on the 1965 anti-communist purge – a dark chapter in Indonesia’s history that remains extremely sensitive today – had already been banned by police on the grounds the organisers had not applied for a permit.

But this did not stop crowds chanting “Crush the PKI” (the now defunct Indonesian communist party) and surrounding the institute building.

The Indonesian Legal Aid Institute claimed “clearly hoaxes or false news have been broadcast … with instructions for attacking (the institute) done systematically and extensively”.

It asserted false claims included that the planned historical seminar was a re-emergence of the PKI and participants intended to sing genjer-genjer, one of the most controversial songs in Indonesia.

Genjer-genjer, which was adopted as a protest song by the PKI, was banned under the Suharto regime, amid military claims that female communists had tortured six generals while singing the song.

“People said we are PKI – that’s the hoax,” Muhammad Isnur from the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute told Fairfax Media.

“They said PKI was holding an event. It’s not true. We wanted to hold an academic discussion about what happened in 1965.”

Police have arrested five people suspected of provoking the riots.

Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono told Fairfax Media that police had informed the institute that the planned seminar could not go ahead because the organisers did not have a permit.

But Mr Isnur said the police were “just making it up”. “Why would we need a permit for an internal, closed door discussion in our own office? We hold discussions every day.”

The 1965 tragedy was triggered by the kidnapping and murder of several high-ranking army officers, which was blamed on the PKI.

Last month Indonesian authorities disbanded a workshop in East Java on the findings of an international tribunal into the 1965 massacre – also on the grounds organisers didn’t have a permit.

In 2015 the Ubud Writers Festival cancelled sessions discussing 1965 – the first act of censorship in the history of the popular international event.

Amnesty International issued a statement last month saying there had been at least 39 cases since 2015 where authorities disbanded events related to 1965.

“These actions are a clear violation of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” Amnesty said.

Asked if hoax news had inflamed tensions at the weekend, Mr Argo said: “Listen, if people get together to make speeches, discussion, dialogue, they must notify the police, this should be understood by people who work in the legal business.”

Fake news was a huge problem in Indonesia in the lead-up to the gubernatorial election in February, with much of it targeting the ethnicity of former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.

Hoax news included that Indonesia was being flooded by 10 million Chinese workers, that its new currency bore an image of the banned communist hammer and sickle, that Ahok’s free Human Papillomavirus vaccine program could make girls infertile and that China was waging biological warfare against Indonesia with contaminated chilli seeds.

Smear campaigns during the last presidential election also asserted President Joko Widodo was a Christian and communist.

“Don’t forget, negative (news), slander, reproaching each other, hoax and fake news are spreading in social media today. They also become our challenge in the future,” President Jokowi told a group of boys scouts in Central Java on Monday.

Last month police arrested three people accused of spreading hoaxes against President Jokowi and Ahok, among others, on a “news” website known as saracen, which allegedly charges clients to publish and spread fake news.

“There is clearly a growing industry around the production of disinformation (false information spread to deliberately deceive) in Indonesia and elsewhere around the world,” says Australian National University academic Ross Tapsell, an expert on social media in Indonesia.

“Of course, Indonesia has a long history of government and non-government anti-PKI propaganda designed to incite and enrage,” he said.

“So the material may not have changed, but the technology used to disseminate it is changing rapidly.”

http://www.smh.com.au/world/fake-news-about-communism-in-indonesia-blamed-for-triggering-riot-in-jakarta-20170918-gyjuxv.html

Photographers Respond to Trump’s Comments on Sweden — Protecting The Image, Ignoring Many of the Facts

September 12, 2017

STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s leading photographers are launching a new exhibit and publishing a book in response to President Donald Trump’s criticism of the country’s immigration policy.

During a rally in Florida in February, Trump said that terrorism was growing in Europe, and “look what’s happening last night in Sweden.” But the comment baffled many Swedes because there had been no extraordinary trouble that night in Sweden, a country welcoming to immigrants.

Publisher Max Strom commissioned “Last night in Sweden” in an effort to present a more diverse and multi-faceted portrait of Sweden.

Photographer and publisher Jeppe Wikstrom told The Associated Press before the exhibit’s opening that “we felt we had to react because we didn’t recognize Sweden at all in his words.”

The crowdfunded book hits the shelves Tuesday.

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