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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.


28 Comments

  1. Jimbo says

    Nick Cohen, David Aarononvitch, Melanie Philips, Richard Littlejohn etc etc ad nauseam – these people are all cut from the same cloth. Hate-filled moralising idiots, completely lacking the power of critical thought.
    It IS difficult to know who to believe on the internet. ‘Putinbots’ may have written on this very site (there is no way an outside observer could know) but, what if some ‘agent’ (from whichever ‘side’) were to write the truth? Would it matter what the source was, as long as it was the truth?

  2. Pingback: the Guardian mods are terrified the ‘Putinbots’ will turn us all into pod people | ukgovernmentwatch

  3. Dear Mark,
    Chill out, bro. Just do what the CBC has done and get The Guardian to hire this firm to weed your garden for you:

    ICUC: Social Media Management Services for Brands and Agencies.

    Yup, among other things, these whores specialize in “Social Media Content Moderation.”

    Check it out: http://icuc.social/

    Regards,
    Norman Putinbot

    P.S. I hear Sibel and James are looking for a job. Maybe they’re cheaper than ICUC.

  4. Davide says

    I was just called a ‘Putinbot’ (I’m a Canadian, ethnic Italian university student, but okay) for the very first time, for suggesting that it was unlikely that a Russian jet that allegedly spent 17 seconds in Turkish airspace was shot down over Turkey, and for pointing out that Turkey allows ISIS to smuggle oil and terrorists through its territory. The editorial in question is this one: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/24/russia-proof-jet-syrian-airspace-turkey#comments

    The left in the west is dead, you’ll read the same thing in those other supposed bastions of progressive thought, the New York Times and Washington Post. Socially liberal but economically conservative, and fiercely anti-“red” even though the Russians aren’t red anymore. Western media always emphasizes that a lot of Russian mass media is state-owned and therefore must be all propaganda, but being owned by capitalists has never stopped western media sources from publishing lies to further their own agendas.

    My hypothesis is that the Guardian and many other media sources are anxious about the idea of a world in which the US isn’t the only great power, but who knows?

  5. Exactly as you say, now we’ve been told why we were banned even though one knew it wasn’t for breach of their terms of use. I’m a veteran banned IP from The Guardian and they never told me either though I knew then the reason was not anything on their terms of use policies which I’d adhered to after years of Internet practice and knowing how such conservative orgs work. It was specifically matters around the Snowden case at the outset and having shortly before banned me for comments about Israel/Gaza previous to going full IP ban. The Guardian is dead as far as being media of any worth, except as a voice of it’s masters. Where do I sign up for some sort of membership or association with this site?

    • Hey Muhammad and welcome! We don’t have membership as such, but you can follow us here, and that way we can add you to our mailing list. And we are always especially interested in getting contributions – articles, comments – from ex-CiFers. Because that’s why we’re here.

  6. Paul Harvey says

    At first I thought that the comments ascribed to Mark Burrows were a clever pastiche, but you know what they say: the truth is indeed even stranger than fiction…

    “The most difficult challenge is that… many commenters legitimately seem to post the same comments as the teams of paid online commenters.”

    This is the trouble with believing your own propaganda, you end up writing the most insane gibberish imaginable, and it is worth reading the above quote 2 or 3 times just to really appreciate how nonsensical he sounds.

    There are consequences to The Guardian becoming nothing more than a proxy mouthpiece of NATO’s psychological warfare division; anyone with even a modicum of intelligence will feel the urge to counter the propaganda with an opposing view. However, rather than accept this simple fact, the Guardian moderators need to create the mythical construct of a phantom army of ‘Putin-bots’ (in the same way NATO needs the fantasy of the ‘moderate Syrian rebel’ to justify their insane opposition to working with the Syrian government to defeat the Islamic State and to maintain their deranged logic of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my enemy’.)

    Mark Burrows seems to have a deep, almost pathological need to be on the side of the ‘truth’ and portray himself as a defender of ‘a focused and informed discussion’ – yet whenever he comes across a comment that doesn’t follow The Guardian’s pro-NATO rhetoric, he seems unable to codify it in any other form than ‘Russian propaganda’.

    The real tragedy (or tragic-comedy, depending on how you look at it) is the fact that Mark Burrows has ended up becoming the epitome of the very totalitarian principles he ascribes to Russia: a rabid, paranoid Stasi/1984 caricature who sees a vast, nefarious conspiracy at work behind every comment that doesn’t resonate with his own vision of consensus reality ‘truth’. A man who spends his time banning IP addresses of any dissenter and one who sees no irony in writing “we know to look for specific tropes in language but these change regularly”. Spoken like a a true paranoid! Damn those constantly transforming tropes!

    Poor Mark Burrows is trapped in his own “wilderness of mirrors” , a labyrinthine prison of his own making and I imagine in the end, like the Bob Arctor character in Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly, his brain will end up collapsing under the weight of paranoia and mistrust – either that or he will end up banning everyone’s IP address except his own as a solution to the problem of those devilishly clever ‘Putin-bots’. Eventually he will be found wandering the streets mumbling “in order to save the Guardian comments section, we had to destroy it”.

    • Well apparently Putinbots are paid in Vodka (who’d have known it was so easy to transport, must be via Amazon) which means as pone of his Muslim Putinbots I am just stuffed. If my vodka ration ever turns up I’ll redirect it your way if it will help ease the pain fellow traveller. (in some things anyway)

  7. Putin bots. WTF? I agree with the hypothesis put forward by the author but I wonder why he/she has not even considered the possibility that UK and US internet troll army, such as the 77th Brigade could be using classic disinformation techniques to appear as if its a Russian troll army? We know that this is the US ‘Defence’ doctrine.

  8. Eric_B says

    So The Guardian’s Community Standards as published to commenters are in effect a lie.

    Staying within the standards means nothing except that your post might or might not be deleted, along with you.

    Thank you for clearing that up Mark Burrows.

  9. Seamus Padraig says

    It has gotten to the point where I feel proud to be called a ‘Russian troll’ on MSM sites. That way I know I’m hitting them where it hurts!

  10. mog says

    This in The Intercept about the same book:
    https://theintercept.com/2015/09/08/how-putin-controls-the-russian-internet/
    Is that valuable journalism? Opinionated endorsement of a book? Can we see a pattern in TI coverage of Russia and Ukraine?
    I am actually quite interested in how the surveillance and censorship strategies of major states like Russia and China compare to the 5eyes psychosis, D notices, National Security Letters and the rest of it, but its all so stacked behind geopolitical propaganda that, …well……keep up the good work is all I can say.

    • I checked your link to the Intercept, since somehow I had missed their story on this subject. Needless to say, I was somewhat surprised to find such positive review of this book. This isn’t the first article like this to turn up on the Intercept. They also posted a very flattering article about some of the Right-Wing Groups fighting in the Ukraine, as did the Guardian. Neither that story, nor the story to which you linked, was received very well by the Intercept’s Readers, most of whom are just there to read Glenn Greenwald in any case.

      Here’s a copy of the comment I left at the Intercept, which linked to today’s articles at Off-Guardian. I try to post links to sites like Off-Guardian whenever I can. The journalism here is frequently better than at the Guardian and the writers here are honest and well-informed.

      Brad Benson ↪ tony
      Sep. 10 2015, 2:29 p.m.

      Well Tony, it’s not just here. Over at the Guardian, Russophobe writers and editors believe they are up to their necks in Putin Trolls and have even written a story about it. In the article, the Guardian Editor claims that there are so many Russian Trolls that their threads have been totally disrupted.

      He further notes that there are so many other people on their site that have been “convinced” by these Russian Trolls that the formerly somewhat left of center Guardian has had to remove pretty much anyone that disagrees with their official narrative. In other words, they actually admit that they are censoring opinions of all those that disagree with their slanted narrative.

      But don’t take my word for it and don’t bother going to the Guardian to read their article when you can read several good articles about the individuals involved in this censorship here:

      http://off-guardian.org/2015/09/10/the-guardian-mods-are-terrified-the-putinbots-will-steal-their-essence/

      and here:

      http://off-guardian.org/2015/09/09/luke-harding-enemy-of-the-state/

      First Salon and then later the Guardian began to eliminate and censor long time members who disagreed with their official Western Narratives. Each time, the censorship began after Glenn Greenwald had departed for greener pastures.
      I sure hope Glenn isn’t jinxed! More likely, the well-informed readers that he brought with him to both sites still lingered for a time after he left and continued to speak truth to power and propaganda.

      • Orion says

        The author of that glowing review in the Intercept is Masha Gessen, a virulent Russophobe and likely a US intelligence asset. She often writes for the Guardian

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masha_Gessen

        It’s pretty hard to figure why an alternative outlet dedicated to challenging the mainstream would choose this lady to review a book that’s basically an anti-Putin hit piece. You’d think they’d want to get a more balanced reviewer if nothing else just to counter the ferocious bias in the book. The review they are carrying would not be out of place on New East Network. I don’t entirely trust Greenwald or the Intercept.

        • Nino says

          Yes the author Masha Gessen is a horrible, horrible Putin and Russia hater, she built her carrier on it and she is […] complete nutcase. Don’t think I’m joking or exaggerating. Here is a quote from her NYT article “What the Russians Crave: Cheese”

          “It is cheese that Russians write home about when they go abroad. “It’s my first time in Europe after all that’s happened,” the journalist and filmmaker Inna Denisova, a critic of the annexation of Crimea, wrote on her Facebook page in February. “And it’s exceedingly emotional. And of course it’s not seeing the historic churches and museums that has made me so emotional — it’s seeing cheese at the supermarket. My little Gorgonzola. My little mozzarella. My little Gruyère, chèvre and Brie. I held them all in my arms — I didn’t even want to share them with the shopping cart — and headed for the cash register.” There, Ms. Denisova wrote, she started crying. She ended her post with a sort of manifesto of Europeanness and a question: “Je suis Charlie et je suis fromage. I want my normal life back — can it be that it’s gone forever?”

          [minor edit for ad hom]

          • I especially admire the way in another article she regards young VVP owning a watch at school and “keeping” all the money he earned doing construction work as an early sign of his legendary ‘corruption’!

            Is there any actual evidence for that corruption BTW? With the west’s media and intelligence services metaphorically going through his trash, it’s kind of odd that the worst thing they can find to accuse him of is a couple of unsubstantiated rumours.

          • Eric_B says

            There, Ms. Denisova wrote, she started crying. She ended her post with a sort of manifesto of Europeanness and a question: “Je suis Charlie et je suis fromage. I want my normal life back — can it be that it’s gone forever?”

            Well Ms Denisova is certainly cheesy.

            She’s another Radio Free Europe asset like Masha Gessen, having just researched her ‘journalism and film making’ career.

  11. Guest says

    Wow, all I can say is thank you for the Internet where contrary voices can still be heard.

  12. Nino says

    “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 Guardian 2015

    HORRIFIC absolutely horrific,

    “Jewish propaganda posted in the letters is a constant issue for our team: steering discussion off topic, undermining genuine conversation and preventing regular letter senders 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 Jewish contingent is fairly sophisticated. They mask sender addresses, use false locations and send letters that seem legitimate. We know to look for specific tropes in language but these change regularly, making the false posts tricky to weed out.” – Der Stürmer 1938

    That whole babbling about Guardian and Mark Burrows, the “Graun’s Senior Putinbot Detector” err sorry “Community Moderator” talking about detecting “Russian propaganda” in comment is just saying we don’t like anyone posting anything that proves our propaganda, we can’t prove these comment are “Russian propaganda”, as a matter of fact they are obviously comments from people who’s IP and location we know but we will ignore that and say they are FSB cause we don’t like them so we are gonna remove them. I mean that is quite literally what they are saying just a bit twisted.
    And this WTF “We know to look for specific tropes in language but these change regularly”, translation; after we have proven that this person is from North London and stalking his address to confirm identity we have still decided to call him Putinbot and Russian propagandist because of a grammatical error he made in his comment, an obvious indication of an FSB agent. The tragicomic irony, they are discussing “censorship in Russia”. Can this get any more fascist or ironic? I don’t think so

  13. Dipset says

    Hahahahaha!

    Brilliant.

    The narrative is fast unraveling and as a response, the hsyteria in the Establishment’s mouth piece du jour become even more shrill. I saw the following on the Telegraph earlier and followed the link they provided from the original source, The Daily Beast (I know, I know- forgive me).

    YWMD all over again……

    More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials, The Daily Beast has learned.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/09/exclusive-50-spies-say-isis-intelligence-was-cooked.html#

    Yup, WMD all over again.

    Interesting times.

    🙂

  14. Excellent piece! This confirms something that I had suspected, but had not previously been able to corroborate.

    During the two years that I participated in CIF before being banned, I often posted extensive comments in the Russian and Ukrainian Threads. These comments were nearly always in dispute with the Guardian’s Official Western Version and typically linked to more knowledgeable people than myself (e.g., Dr. Stephen Cohen, Ray McGovern, Robert Parry, Sharon Tennison). On several occasions, I received a pop-up message that the “host” was seeking to verify my location and asking for me to permit this by hitting the “OK” Button. Your article confirms my suspicions that they were checking to see if I was a Russian Troll. Isn’t it ironic that they would waste time and resources to do this when it is has now become clear that they were eliminating contrarian dialogue regardless of its origin!

    This is part of the “asymmetric warfare” that is currently being conducted by the US Intelligence Services and their “Five Eyes” Brethren. They, like Mark Burrows, realized a long time ago that they were losing the information war and that the insertion of their own Western Trolls into these threads was not an effective countermeasure to confront the truth against so many people with access to so many sites.

    As a result, in an Internet which they largely control, the US Intelligence Agencies and their minions have begun to apply pressure on previously “liberal” sites to identify and remove the most effective dissenting opinions. The desired result is that we are slowly being isolated to non-MSM Sites such at The Intercept, Off-Guardian, Consortium News, Information Clearing House and others, which further restrict the chances to speak truth to power.

    This is not to say that sites like this one are not important and, in fact, they are the real frontline in the battle for truth. However, for the most part, the people that currently populate these sites are largely preaching to the choir and the isolation planned for dissenters remains the result. Therefore, the next step is to visit as many MSM Sites as possible and link to sites like this one.

    As noted here, the Guardian is already fairly expert at removing links to Off-Guardian. They are not as good at eliminating links to some of the more truthful sites mentioned above. If enough of us get out there and post links, the media manipulators will have lost another round.

  15. What’s going on, PWest, is that the Graun has been infiltrated and taken over by moneymen from DC, as a result of its recent potentially-terminal money crises, and what we’re now seeing in the bastard descendant of Scott’s only mildly-impressive rag is a fully-taken-over covert front organisation for Beltway Bozos of the rabidly-insane neo-con persuasion.

    That’s the suggestion, anyway, from one commenter over on b’s Moon Of Alabama blog. I must say – looking at the Graun’s hilariously-ridiculous performance since the Wiggy/Viner switchover, I must say that that hypothesis has a certain persuasiveness to it.

    • Eric_B says

      The Guardian is in partnership with an acknowledged US government funded propaganda organisation, Radio Free Europe.

      It rebroadcasts their hitherto obscure propaganda material to a very large audience.

      If RFE is paying The Guardian for that, The Guardian is in the pay of the US government.

  16. What on earth is going on at the Gruan? This smacks of the worst type of paranoia. What irks me most really is seeing the daily decline of a paper I read and trusted for years. It is a regular reminder that the neocon consensus is embedded throughout the land and indeed the world let alone the political class. Good piece, thanks for posting.

Please note the opinions expressed in the comments do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or of OffG as a whole