On Monday night, the New Yorker released their latest article highlighting an Israeli cyber firm named Psy-Group. Interestingly enough, I had been working the Israeli angle based on the latest news of the Karma hack that came out in recent weeks. This led to a long line of links between General Flynn, his prosecutor Zainab Ahmed, George Nadar, Cambridge Analytica, and Joel Zamel. It was a long winded adventure that I have been trying to map out on Twitter with a few other threaders who also seem to understand the bigger picture.
It is an extremely interesting story that has led me down the road to figuring out how there has seemingly been a paradigm shift towards right wing politics. It may be my implemented bias, but the legacy media had been extremely effective in promoting left wing values over the airwaves.
When Britain voted to leave the EU in the summer of 2016, it took the world by surprise. A few months later, Donald J. Trump upset the heavy favorite Hillary Rodham Clinton to win the presidency. There were a few other races that the ‘fringe outside candidate’ had a shot at winning, like in France and the Netherlands, but nothing significant happened until Salvini won in Italy summer 2018.
As more details of SpyGate come into the fold, some of these underdog victories start to make sense.
Before the New Yorker piece, I had already known about Zamel and his two companies: Psy-Group and WikiStrat. WikiStrat is an intelligence gathering firm, like Fusion GPS, who produced the infamous dossier. Psy-Group is like Cambridge Analytica, which was caught up in a Facebook scandal recently. With Cambridge, they harvested data from Facebook in order to create personalized ads to target specific demographics. This was seen as an invasion of privacy even though Obama had used a similar tactic in his 2012 run. Psy-Group on the other hand uses what they call avatars to influence.
An avatar is a fake account that is created to look like a real person. Most people know the general basis of avatars from it becoming popular due to people catfishing. Catfishing is creating a fake account in order to trick someone into falling in love with an online identity, not the real person behind the computer. Companies like Psy-Group will create fake accounts in order to try to influence groups on the inside. Formula is pretty simple: Create account, build a history, get people to notice you, find the target, start interacting, build trust, extract info from target, gently persuade target on what is real and what is not in order to influence their decisions.
My hype for Trump started from social media campaigns because he was the political outsider who was a living meme. It was fun supporting him. Interacting with people on Reddit’s /r/The_Donald forum and watching him BTFO the competition with other MAGApedes was enjoyable. I was pretty naive in 2015 and 2016 and I can see now that most of that stuff was not organic, but part of a massive online campaign in order to persuade public opinion towards The Donald. Also warping reality to 4D Chess moves is still entertaining.
This campaign strategy was genius because it looked like any political smears from his history look exaggerated or false. I think we would be fools to believe that Donald Trump was a political outsider at this point considering all of his connections to Neocons, Israeli’s, and Russians. Just look at the flow chart for CA.
This social media manipulation is so effective, Trump actually hired an offshoot for his 2020 campaign. The new company is Data Propria.
This leads me to the point of this post. This cyber warfare is the new way that propaganda is done in order to influence voters. While Hillary’s camp was using their stranglehold of the legacy media in order to push forward her agenda, Trump took a backhanded approach that used personal interaction with potential voters in order to win the election. Just being on Twitter I have probably interacted with many of these sock puppet accounts unknowingly.
What these avatars do is push your viewpoints more to one side and rationalize anything you may disagree with by subtle persuasion. Enough of this and a group think mentality is herded which increases the effectiveness tenfold. People will hold back opinions in fear of not being attacked by the group think mob.
Personally, I do not support this method of influence at all. I consider it an unwarranted intrusion into someone’s mind. Knowing what I know today, I can only make a few suggestions to others who feel the same way about this that I do.
The first thing you should do is the obvious answer of spending less time on social media and interacting with people who you know are real. Social media addiction is real and fighting that addiction is the first step of taking back your mind. From a brain perspective, addiction causes a loss in grey matter.
The second thing is to diversify your opinion. For the people on the right, in your effort to discredit Steele’s Dossier, did you ever try to validate any of it’s points? I know I didn’t. Read some stuff from the left wing perspective, follow accounts like AP who most of the time just give blurbs, and finally don’t assume everything that is negative about the person you support is false. This only feeds your confirmation bias on the subject and prevents you from seeing the truth.
The third and most important thing is to always question your belief system. You should prove your thoughts to yourself before spreading your theories to others. If this is not done, your thoughts and the thoughts that have been implanted upon you from others become obfuscated and you’re leaving your mind open to the manipulation. This is done by having half-truths seem true and new information feeds that half-truth making it seem more real.
I wrote a quick thread in response to the New Yorker article which holds true to this post. Consider it a TL;DR.
With all of the above, I shall leave you with a song.