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Conspiracy Theory

Russia social media influence efforts ongoing, report says

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia’s sweeping political disinformation campaign on U.S. social media was more far-reaching than originally thought, with troll farms working to discourage black voters and “blur the lines between reality and fiction” to help elect Donald Trump in 2016, according to reports released Monday by the Senate intelligence committee.

And the campaign didn’t end with Trump’s ascent to the White House. Troll farms are still working to stoke racial and political passions in America at a time of high political discord.

The two studies are the most comprehensive picture yet of the Russian interference campaigns on American social media. They add to the portrait investigators have been building since 2017 on Russia’s influence — though Trump has equivocated on whether the interference actually happened.

Facebook, Google and Twitter declined to comment on the specifics of the reports.

The reports were compiled by the cybersecurity firm New Knowledge and by the Computational Propaganda Research Project, a study by researchers at the University of Oxford and Graphika, a social media analysis firm.

The Oxford report details how Russians broke down their messages to different groups, including discouraging black voters from going to the polls and stoking anger on the right.

“These campaigns pushed a message that the best way to advance the cause of the African-American community was to boycott the election and focus on other issues instead,” the researchers wrote.

At the same time, “Messaging to conservative and right-wing voters sought to do three things: repeat patriotic and anti-immigrant slogans; elicit outrage with posts about liberal appeasement of ‘others’ at the expense of US citizens, and encourage them to vote for Trump.”

The report from New Knowledge says there are still some live accounts tied to the original Internet Research Agency, which was named in an indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller in February for an expansive social media campaign intended to influence the 2016 presidential election. Some of the accounts have a presence on smaller platforms as the major companies have tried to clean up after the Russian activity was discovered.

“With at least some of the Russian government’s goals achieved in the face of little diplomatic or other pushback, it appears likely that the United States will continue to face Russian interference for the foreseeable future,” the researchers wrote.

The New Knowledge report says that none of the social media companies turned over complete data sets to Congress and some of them “may have misrepresented or evaded” in testimony about the interference by either intentionally or unintentionally downplaying the scope of the problem.

The Senate panel has been investigating Russian interference on social media and beyond for almost two years. Intelligence committee Chairman Richard Burr said in a statement that the data shows how aggressively Russia tried to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology and erode trust in institutions.

“Most troublingly, it shows that these activities have not stopped,” said Burr, a North Carolina Republican.

One major takeaway from both studies is the breadth of Russian interference that appeared on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook and was not frequently mentioned when its parent company testified on Capitol Hill. The study says that as attention was focused on Facebook and Twitter in 2017, the Russians shifted much of their activity to Instagram.

The New Knowledge study says that there were 187 million engagements with users on Instagram, while there were 77 million on Facebook.

“Instagram was a significant front in the IRA’s influence operation, something that Facebook executives appear to have avoided mentioning in congressional testimony,” the researchers wrote. They added that “our assessment is that Instagram is likely to be a key battleground on an ongoing basis.”

The Russian activity went far beyond the three tech companies that provided information, reaching many smaller sites as well. The New Knowledge report details sophisticated attempts to infiltrate internet games, browser extensions and music apps. The Russians even used social media to encourage users of the game Pokemon Go — which was at peak popularity in the months before the 2016 presidential election — to use politically divisive usernames, for example.

Russia Fake News

The report discusses even more unconventional ways that the Russian accounts attempted to connect with Americans and recruit assets, such as merchandise with certain messages, specific follower requests, job offers and even help lines that could encourage people to unknowingly disclose sensitive information to Russia that could later be used against them.

The Russians’ attempts to influence Americans on social media first became widely public in the fall of 2017. Several months later, Mueller’s indictment laid out a vast, organized Russian effort to sway political opinion. While the social media companies had already detailed some of the efforts, the indictment tied actual people to the operation and named 13 Russians responsible.

Also notable is the study’s finding that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was favorably treated in posts aimed at both left-leaning and right-leaning users. The New Knowledge report says there were a number of posts expressing support for Assange and Wikileaks, including several in October 2016 just before WikiLeaks released hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The Oxford study notes that peaks in Internet Research Agency advertising and organic activity — or posts, shares and comments by users — often corresponded with important dates on the U.S. calendar, crises and international events.

The researchers from Oxford said that organic postings were much more far reaching than advertisements, despite Facebook’s sole focus on ads when the company first announced it had been compromised in 2017.

Other findings in the studies:

— During the week of the presidential election, posts directed to right-leaning users aimed to generate anger and suspicion and hinted at voter fraud, while posts targeted to African-Americans largely ignored mentions of the election until the last minute.

— Establishment figures of both parties, especially Clinton, were universally panned. Even a tag targeted to feminists criticized Clinton and promoted her primary opponent, independent Bernie Sanders;

— Several posts promoted the Russian agenda in Syria and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

— IRA’s posts focused on the United States started on Twitter as far back as 2013, and eventually evolved into the multi-platform strategy.

— Russian activity on Twitter was less organized around themes like race or partisanship but more driven by local and current events and made use of occasional pop culture references.

— Facebook posts linked to the IRA “reveal a nuanced and deep knowledge of American culture, media, and influencers in each community the IRA targeted.” Certain memes appeared on pages targeted to younger people but not older people. “The IRA was fluent in American trolling culture,” the researchers say.

___

Associated Press writer Matt O’Brien contributed to this report from Providence, Rhode Island.

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Conspiracy Theory

Alleged Philadelphia shooter Maurice Hill attended radical Wahhabi Islam mosque: report

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Alleged Philadelphia shooter Maurice Hill attended radical Wahhabi Islam mosque report

Wahhabism, the anti-American fundamentalist Islamic sect that drives the religious culture in Saudi Arabia, has as one of its stated goals to spread their beliefs around the world through any means necessary. Mosques promoting their radical ideology have been popping up across America over the last few years, including in Philadelphia. Alleged cop-shooter Maurice Hill attended one of them.

According to Clarion Project:

The mosque, called Masjid Ahlil Hadith Wal Athar, is known for preaching the Islamist ideology promoted by Saudi Arabia referred to as “Wahhabism.”

Clarion Intelligence Network has been aware through its sources that the area where the shootings took place is known for trafficking in guns, drugs and counterfeit items. This criminal market has a strong Islamist element that includes extremist gangs.

Hill’s older sister said he “occasionally attended” an unnamed mosque, confirming initial reports from our sources that Hill is a Muslim. The sources do not yet have first-hand evidence of the shooter being personally involved in Islamist extremism.

Clarion Intel’s sources report that Masjid Ahlil Hadith Wal Athar is a Salafi mosque which follows the theocratic teachings of Saudi Arabia’s top Wahhabist scholars.

At this point, there is no indication that Hill’s shooting of police officers was motivated by Islamism or anything other than a desire to resist arrest.

Today, a march was scheduled to “Free Maurice Hill” by Black Community Control of Police, a group adamantly opposed to law enforcement. There are no indications the group is aligned with Masjid Ahlil Hadeeth Wal Athar, but it is a common practice among radical Islamic groups to disguise their associations and operate apparently independent from one another.

The details surrounding the gunfight seem to indicate it was not prompted by Wahhabism as Hill was apparently approached as a result of a separate warrant enforced against a neighbor. But the clear disregard for police authority and the willingness to attempt to murder multiple law enforcement officers indicates an ideology that is prepared to kill and die. Was this ideology sparked at the radical mosque Hill attended?

As expected, the appetite of legacy media to cover Maurice Hill died down quickly despite the rampant calls for gun control. His story has too many things that go against the progressive media’s narrative.

Any connections to Islam in situations like these are automatically dismissed as Islamophobia. But it’s highly unlikely Maurice Hill’s alleged actions were completely disparate from the radical teachings of the mosque he attended.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Conspiracy Theory

Conservatives, don’t let #EpsteinSuicide become our #MuellerReport

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Conservatives dont let EpsteinSuicide become our MuellerReport

Jeffrey Epstein probably didn’t commit suicide. The circumstances behind his death are too bizarre, from sleeping guards and malfunctioning cameras to broken neck bones and odd bed sheet strangulation techniques. But we’re never going to know the truth whether he killed himself or not. This is above all of our paygrades and therefore pondering and conspiracy theorizing about it can be a distraction at best, a backfiring ploy at worst.

It’s interesting, especially considering all of the powerful men within his circle who could be implicated. But the system won’t allow them to be implicated in a meaningful way. The entire Jeffrey Epstein episode can yield no fruit and is, in fact, a consciousness trap that can draw us away from much more important issues. As for getting justice for the victims, again, that’s also above our paygrades. If there’s any justice, it won’t come as a result of us Tweeting out conspiracy theories or ranting about the Clinton Kill List.

This has been on my mind for a couple of days, but a Twitter thread I just read brought it home.

There’s no need for conservatives to dwell on Jeffrey Epstein. If you think the investigation will yield fruit to use against Democrats, you’re almost certainly mistaken. Let’s not get caught in the same unhinged hopes the Democrats had for Mueller.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Conspiracy Theory

Don’t disregard Jeffrey Epstein’s death as a murder conspiracy theory

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Dont disregard Jeffrey Epsteins death as a murder conspiracy theory

It seems as if the alleged suicide of Jeffrey Epstein is already being swept under the rug. Some of this is due to the fact that he was a monster and few people in America are sad to see him gone. But there seems to be a concerted effort to label any talk of irregularities in his “suicide” as conspiracy theories, with even the President being accused by left-wing legacy media of propagating falsehoods.

But there are serious concerns, questions that must be asked, and answers that will likely never come. Most of the conspiracy theories revolve around motive; Were Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, and other lawmakers worried of being implicated by Epstein? This one isn’t a conspiracy theory. It’s well known that powerful men have been named in connection with Epstein’s child sex ring. More will likely be named. And Epstein’s word is the one that everyone wanted to hear on the matter. Would he name names to get a lightened sentence? Some indicators before his death said yes.

The real conspiracy theories lie in the unknown. If he was on suicide watch, why was he not being watched? If he was taken off of suicide watch, who’s the idiot who thought that was a good idea? Why were surveillance cameras allegedly “malfunctioning” at the most inconvenient time possible? If guards were supposed to check on him every 30 minutes, why is there a gap between the time of his death and the time his body was found?

We’re hearing all kinds of excuses. The guards were on overtime. The cameras weren’t malfunctioning, but the files are corrupt. He wasn’t really on suicide watch because he was acting happy and ready for trial. There’s no investigation because federal law enforcement do not investigate apparent suicides. We’re hearing anything and everything from the DoJ and others involved in the seemingly simple task of making sure Jeffrey Epstein didn’t die.

But, as Michael Corleone said in The Godfather, Part II, “If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.”

It is almost certain we will never know the truth about Jeffrey Epstein’s death or the people he could have implicated had he not been “taken off the table.” But that doesn’t mean we stop asking questions. Don’t let labels drive you from the truth.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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