Russian Bots and Bernie Lovers

by on March 22, 2017 · 9 comments

in Civil Rights, Election, Media, Ocean Beach, San Diego, World News

Last Tuesday night on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow did an extensive report on how Russians used information warfare during the 2016 presidential campaign to undermine the Hillary Clinton campaign. And, she said, they are still using those cyber tactics to this day.

One of the main ways the Russians worked to throw sand on the Clinton electoral machine, was to sow discord among Bernie Sanders supporters and divide them from pivoting after the Primary to give Clinton their donations and volunteer hours.

The primary example Maddow used when she was drawing attention to the Russian information warfare effort against the United States was a fake Bernie Sanders supporters Facebook page that appears to be part of the Russian game plan. It’s called Bernie Sanders Lovers, and despite what the home page says about it being from Vermont, it’s actually out of Albania.

But the point is, the fake page brings genuine Bernie supporters in, and then floods them with lies about Clinton. This definitely added the division of the Sanders movement. Here’s what Doug Porter said about the divided Bernie movement over at San Diego Free Press:

The role of misinformation spread on social media in splintering the left wing of the Democratic Party remains understated. Suffice it to say many Sanders supporters were effectively discouraged from remaining politically involved for reasons going beyond the effetism of core Democratic leadership.

Here’s what Rachel Maddow said on her show Tuesday:

“When The Huffington Post did their dive on how Bernie supporters online got targeted in this Russia attack in part on a Bernie Sanders Facebook page called Bernie Sanders Lovers which says it is based in Burlington, Vermont.

It is not based in Burlington, Vermont. It’s based in Albania, and nobody who’s not from Albania appears to have anything to do with that site.

The important thing here is that Bernie Sanders page run out of Albania. It’s still there. It’s still running. It’s still churning this stuff out. Now. This is not part of American politics. This is not partisan warfare between Republicans and Democrats. This is international warfare.”

She’s right. The fake website is still up and operating. Here it is.

Here is a recent post – put up just 13 hours prior to my view of the page – alleging that some guy has proof that “voting machines were rigged in every Hillary win”:

Since Maddow’s exposure, liberals and progressive have flooded the page to fight back.

Here’s a screen capture of the facebook page:

Looks innocent on the surface, doesn’t it?  Scroll down and you’ll find the garbage.

Rachel Maddow during last night’s exposures, brought up a San Diego Democratic activist, John Mattes, who uncovered Russian tapering with his own pro-Sanders website. Mattes, whose early suspicions about the sources of anti-Clinton posts on his pro-Bernie Facebook pages pointed to foreign involvement, conducted a six-month investigation about Russian interference.

Doug Porter probed into the Mattes story, the San Diego example, and here’s his report:

A Buzzfeed article published on November 8 discussing pro-Trump spamming websites included an early look at John Mattes’ inquiry.

This summer, just after the Democratic National Convention ended, John Mattes noticed a sudden influx of new people asking to join his San Diego Berniecrats Facebook group. Mattes approved them and soon came to regret it. The accounts started spamming his Bernie Sanders group with links to anti–Hillary Clinton articles from strange websites he’d never heard of.

“Around the time that Hillary collapsed in public, our page became increasingly populated with fake stories full of Hillary hate,” Mattes told BuzzFeed News. “People were accusing Hillary of murdering opponents. It was alleged that she utilized body doubles.”

Mattes, a lawyer, former journalist, and former investigative counsel to the US Senate, investigated the Facebook accounts and the sites they were promoting. What he found was that the websites being promoted were run by people in Veles, a town in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Some of the Facebook profiles also listed that as their location…

…Mattes said his Facebook group splintered along pro- and anti-Clinton lines and lost members. “By September, Bernie supporters had left our page in droves, depressed and disgusted by the venom,” he said.

More recently, the Huffington Post ran a story including Mattes’ observations with the headline: Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Faced A Fake News Tsunami. Where Did It Come From?

The Huffpo story included more accounts with Sander’s supporters either quitting or being driven out of the movement, tarred with the brush of being ‘Hillbots.’

Like the crowds attending Trump’s post-election rallies, the antipathy towards Clinton driven by those spammers lives on in dark corners of the left.

Another recent story on the Facebook spamming/misinformation on Rachel Maddow/MSNBC, drew personal attacks aimed at Mattes i.e, “full boar(sic), lying a** Hillary troll.” I guess in a world where more Americans can identify the Three Stooges than the three branches of government, there’s room for these kinds of delusional fools.

Part of Rachel Maddow’s show the other night was to shine a spotlight on news reports about a foreboding speech in Russia by a Kremlin computer security official back in February 2016, warning that Russia was about to “unleash a cyber nuclear attack” on the US to force Americans to deal with them on an equal footing.

Here’s the story from  McClatchy in their coverage of Russian ‘bots’ and the FBI investigation (also quoted by Porter):

Russia’s offensive might have been anticipated from a speech a top Kremlin official made in February 2016.

In the speech in Moscow, Andrey Krutskikh told a conference of Russian computer security officials that the Putin government would be unleashing a cyber nuclear attack reminiscent of Russia’s 1949 development of the atom bomb.

Krutskikh, whose speech was first reported by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius and independently confirmed by McClatchy, also reportedly said the offensive would cause U.S. officials to gain respect for Russia’s cyber capabilities.

“Russia has again figured out from its old Soviet playbook that its greatest weapon in the world is information,” said Lauren Goodrich, senior Eurasia analyst at the Stratfor Corp., a global intelligence firm based in Austin, Texas. “Its information and disinformation campaigns have skyrocketed.”

She said the Kremlin’s budget for “public information” had quadrupled this year as it mounted similar cyber attacks on behalf of right-wing candidates in France, Germany and other European countries.

This is all troubling, indeed, and seems very close to home, when you realize that an OB Rag– associated Yahoo account was also probably hacked by Russians. (More on that.)

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Jan Michael Sauer March 22, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Also, now we know that the Trump campaign was under FBI investigation well before the November election, but Fascist James Comey did not tell the American people about that. Instead, he chose to drop his bombshell ( and that’s the word the news media continually used) on Hillary and that is what made the difference in the election. Comey had to understand the possible ramifications of both his actions and his inactions. Comey is of course a registered Republican and he even had a sign supporting Trump in his front yard. Most Americans are to busy living their lives to keep up with this, but judging by Trump’s plummeting poll numbers I think that they are catching on.

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avatar Bearded OBcean March 24, 2017 at 9:15 am

So that made two presidential candidates under investigation by the FBI. And they were the best we could come up with? Ridiculous.

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avatar Lauren Steiner March 22, 2017 at 11:54 pm

This is a BS story. And I had one of the principals of that article Aleta Pearce on my show a week ago to debunk it. She was VERY unhappy about how her words were twisted to imply a message she never intended to send. She asked that her comments be removed from the HuffPo story and they refused. Watch my show to see the truth.

https://www.facebook.com/Lauren.Steiner.LA/videos/vb.1138104490/10212231467318701/

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avatar Frank Gormlie March 23, 2017 at 10:42 am

I checked out Lauren Steiner’s link and on the page with with that link is a link to one of her videos about the need to co-opt the Indivisible movement in order to get it to focus on “real” issues and not ‘Russia, Russia , Russia”.

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avatar Frank Gormlie March 24, 2017 at 11:48 am

Patty, could you explain what a bot is?

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avatar Patty jones March 24, 2017 at 12:13 pm

A bot (short for robot) is an application designed to do a repetitive task. Like leaving thousands of spam comments an hour or reminding you to call your mother. Just like any sci-fi movie they can be programmed to do good things or bad.

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avatar Nima March 27, 2017 at 10:59 am

Bullshit neoliberal apologism for Hillary disastrous campaign against the most unpopular candidate in history. Russia was paying the CLINTON FOUNDATION and cutting uranium deals. foreign governments lobby our corrupt politicians, big whoop. Let’s talk about the Clinton’s Saudi connections and how that influenced her foreign policy in Syria….

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avatar Frank Gormlie March 27, 2017 at 7:09 pm

Wow!

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avatar layla September 1, 2017 at 6:13 pm

nima is telling a lie. Russia did not ‘pay” Hillary anything. perhaps she/he needs to look up the foundation, see what it is about and how many countries made donations. It is amazing your life is so shallow, you have to make up shit to get attention

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