28

the Guardian mods are terrified the ‘Putinbots’ will turn us all into pod people

by BlackCatte

We urge everyone to check out the Guardian’s latest and strangest attempts to build a wave of terror in its readership about Putinbots. In the thin guise of “discussing” (i.e. hyping) a book about how evil Putin controls the Russian web, they roll out their usual complement of Russophobes objective non-agenda-driven journalists to warn us not to listen to anyone who questions the official western geopolitical narrative , because they are all – all – working in the same Kremlin basement, and if we listen to anything they say they will zap us with Putinbot mind rays and we’ll turn into pod people.

This is why the Guardian has to silence them. Not because it is defending an indefensibly narrow imperialistic perspective, but because these people are dangerous and want to wreck our way of life.

Here’s Mark Burrows, the Graun’s Senior Putinbot Detector Community Moderator telling us just how bad things really are on the front line of this war.

“…Russian propaganda posted in the comment section is a constant issue for our team: steering threads off topic, undermining genuine conversation and preventing regular readers from enjoying a focused and informed discussion.

We know it happens, but stamping down on it is difficult. Unlike other coordinated trolling and spam we see on the site, which is relatively easy to spot, the Russian contingent is fairly sophisticated.They mask IP addresses, use false locations and create accounts that seem legitimate. We know to look for specific tropes in language but these change regularly, making the false posts tricky to weed out.

The most difficult challenge is that the “trolls” aren’t the only voices expressing these opinions. The propaganda of Russian state media is very effective and many commenters legitimately seem to post the same comments as the teams of paid online commenters..

The most frustrating consequence of this is the atmosphere of distrust it fosters below the line. The most toxic conversations become bad parodies of a 70s cold war thriller, where everyone is a double agent. It’s hard to know who to trust and what is real – which, of course, is the point...”

This does explain an awful lot about what goes down on CiF doesn’t it. “Oh my Gaaahd…the trolls are everywhere – even when you can’t see them!” It looks like Luke Harding isn’t alone in his conspiracy-haunted world, and that some degree of paranoia is a bit of a requisite for admission into the increasingly embattled Guardian paradigm. I suppose seeing themselves as fighting a valiant Aragorn-style last stand against the encircling hordes of Mordor is a bit easier to live with than the idea they are simply stifling free debate at the bidding of their bosses. Makes it easier to sleep at night and look into the innocent flower-like faces of their children.

But Mark – did it occur to you even once that maybe the hordes of Russian trolls you are searching for so obsessively are so hard to spot because they are not, in fact trolls? Did you think maybe they aren’t “hiding their IPs” but actually live where the address says they do? That their accounts “seem legitimate” because they are? You have admitted you censor people based on the opinions (sorry, “tropes”) they express. If they are pro-Russian, or anti-western you know they must be trolls, even if they look “legitimate”, because only a troll could possibly be freakish enough to say such things. So you delete their comments, pre-moderate their comments, and when all else fails, ban them. Right?

I think you need to realise this is nuts. What you are doing is censoring opinion and pretending to yourself you’re not.

I know such a thing seems grotesquely improbable to you, but there really are people so twisted and bizarre they genuinely do not agree with the US-dominated “consensus” you seem to believe is a universal article of faith. I am one such myself, as are the other two co-founders of OffG. We were all banned from CiF multiple times, not for discourteousness or any other crime in the list of “community guidelines”. In fact you never told any of us why you did it. Though you have told us now. You banned us, and all those others like us, for having the wrong opinions.

podpeople

And have you ever paused to consider that banning by IP, as you also admit you do, is essentially about preventing Russians – any Russians – from commenting? Do you not see how distorted and racist your thinking is? Would you ban Washington IPs on a story about Iraq? Tel Aviv IPs on a story about Gaza? I’m guessing you’ve had no memo coming down suggesting you do that, have you? So, when you get outside the collective Guardian mindset which translates all your actions into benevolences, what actually are you being asked to do? I think it’s called protecting an agenda Mark. I think it’s called narrative-control.

Without even realising it you, like so many once-upon a-time soft-left liberals, have drifted into authoritarian Manichean thinking, in which a largely imagined moral superiority empowers you to eliminate dissent in the name of truth. You are beyond entertaining the possibility, however small, that the poor deluded fools in Russia could be right. Or, as a corollary, that you could be wrong. The way you talk about those benighted Russians lost in error is absolutely identical to the way the Inquisition talked about heretics, or McCarthy talked about Communists, or ISIS talk about infidels. You probably need to watch that.

BTW, I love this section from your live feed:

“…By 2005, more and more Russian journalists were losing their jobs, squeezed from TV channels and the press as part of Putin’s offensive against independent media.

For many of these journalists, the internet was the only place to express their opinions, and many reporters turned to writing columns on blogging platforms such as LiveJournal.com.

A phenomenon was born: highly opinionated, sometimes brilliantly written journalism that was highly critical of the Kremlin, spurring the government to find new methods to drown them out.…”

Does the irony or applicability of this strike you even slightly? You don’t think it might be worth reflecting that one person’s hero journalist is another person’s troll?

No?

Oh well, never mind.


Filed under: latest, On Guardian