Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 03, 2017

The "Russian Ads" On Facebook Are Just Another Click-Bait Scheme

Congress is investigating 3,000 "suspicious" ads which were run on Facebook. They were claimed to have been bought by "Russia" to influence the U.S.presidential election in favor of Trump.

With more details now known we can conclude that these Facebook ads had nothing to do with the election. The mini-ads were bought to promote click-bait pages and sites. These pages and sites were created and promoted to sell further advertisement. The media though, has still not understood the issue.

On September 6 the NYT asserted:

Providing new evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Facebook disclosed on Wednesday that it had identified more than $100,000 worth of divisive ads on hot-button issues purchased by a shadowy Russian company linked to the Kremlin.
The disclosure adds to the evidence of the broad scope of the Russian influence campaign, which American intelligence agencies concluded was designed to damage Hillary Clinton and boost Donald J. Trump during the election.

Like any Congress investigation the current one concerned with Facebook ads is leaking like a sieve. What oozes out makes little sense. If "Russia" aimed to make Congress and U.S. media a laughing stock it has  surely achieved that.

Today the NYT says that the ads were bought by "the Russians" "in disguise" to promote variously themed Facebook pages:

There was “Defend the 2nd,” a Facebook page for gun-rights supporters, festooned with firearms and tough rhetoric. There was a rainbow-hued page for gay rights activists, “LGBT United.” There was even a Facebook group for animal lovers with memes of adorable puppies that spread across the site with the help of paid ads.

No one has explained how these pages are connected to a Russian "influence" campaign. It is unexplained how these are connected to the 2016 election. Both is simply asserted because Facebook said, for unknown reasons, that these ads may have come from some Russian agency. How Facebook has determined that is not known.

With each new detail from the "Russian ads" investigation the framework of "election manipulation" falls further apart:

Late Monday, Facebook said in a post that about 10 million people had seen the ads in question. About 44 percent of the ads were seen before the 2016 election and the rest after, the company said.

The original claim was that "Russia" intended to influence the election in favor of Trump. But why then was the majority of the ads in questions run after November 9? And how would an animal-lovers page with adorable puppies help to achieve Trump's election victory?

More details via the Wall Street Journal:

Roughly 25% of the ads were never shown to anyone. That’s because advertising auctions are designed so that ads reach people based on relevance, and certain ads may not reach anyone as a result.
For 50% of the ads, less than $3 was spent; for 99% of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent.

Of the 3,000 ads Facebook originally claimed were "Russian" only 2,200 were ever viewed. Most of the advertisements were mini-ads which, for the price of a coffee, promoted private pages related to hobbies and a wide spectrum of controversial issues. The majority of the ads ran after the election.

All that "adds to the evidence of the broad scope of the Russian influence campaign"? "...designed to damage Hillary Clinton and boost Donald J. Trump during the election"?


But the NYT still finds "experts" who believe in the "Russian influence" nonsense and find the most stupid explanations for their claims:

Clinton Watts, a former F.B.I. agent now at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, said Russia had been entrepreneurial in trying to develop diverse channels of influence. Some, like the dogs page, may have been created without a specific goal and held in reserve for future use.

Puppy pictures for "future use"?



The pages described and the ads leading to them are typical click-bait, not part of a political influence op.

The for-profit scheme runs as follows:

One builds pages with "hot" stuff that hopefully attracts lots of viewers. One creates ad-space on these pages and fills it with Google ads. One attracts viewers and promotes the spiked pages by buying $3 Facebook mini-ads for them. The mini-ads are targeted at the most susceptible groups.

A few thousand users will come and look at such pages. Some will 'like' the puppy pictures or the rant for or against LGBT and further spread them. Some will click the Google ads. Money then flows into the pockets of the page creator. One can rinse and repeat this scheme forever. Each such page is a small effort for a small revenue. But the scheme is highly scaleable and parts of it can be automatized.

This is, in essence, the same business model traditional media publishers use. They create "news" and controversies to attract readers. The attention of the readers is then sold to advertisers. The business is no longer limited to a few rich oligarchs. One no longer needs reporters or a printing press to join it. Anyone can now run a similar business.

We learned after the election that some youths in Macedonia created whole "news"-websites filled with highly attractive but fake partisan stories. They were not interested in the veracity or political direction of their content. Their only interest was to attract viewers. They made thousands of dollars by selling advertisements on their sites:

The teen said his monthly revenue was in the four figures, a considerable sum in a country where the average monthly pay is 360 euros ($383). As he navigated his site’s statistics, he dropped nuggets of journalism advice.

“You have to write what people want to see, not what you want to show,” he said, scrolling through The Political Insider’s stories as a large banner read “ARREST HILLARY NOW.”

The 3,000 Facebook ads Congress is investigating are part of a similar scheme. The mini-ads promoted pages with hot button issues and click-bait puppy pictures. These pages were themselves created to generate ad-clicks and revenue. Facebook claims that "Russia" is behind them. We will likely find some Russian teens who simply repeated the scheme their Macedonian friends were running on.

With its "Russian influence" scare the NYT follows the same business model. It produces fake news which attracts viewers and readers who's attention is then sold to advertisers. Facebook is also profiting from this. Its current piecemeal release of vague information keeps its name in the news.

The mystery of "Russian" $3 ads for "adorable puppies" pages on Facebook has been solved, Congress and the New York Times will have to move on. There next subject is probably the "Russian influence campaign" on Youtube.

Russian Car Crash Compilations have for years attracted millions of viewers. The "Russians" want to increase road rage on U.S. highways. This again help - according to expert Clinton Watts - "amplify divisive political issues across the political spectrum".

The car crash compilations, like the puppy pages, are another sign that Russia is waging war against the United States!

You don't believe that? You should. Trust your experienced politician!

Samantha Power @SamanthaJPower - 3:45 PM - 3 Oct 2017

This gets more chilling daily: now we learn Russia targeted Americans on Facebook by “demographics, geography, gender & interests,” across websites & devices, reached millions, kept going after Nov. An attack on all Americans, not just HRC campaign…

This nonsense indeed gets more chilling. It's fall after all. But it also generates ad revenue.

Posted by b on October 3, 2017 at 18:09 UTC | Permalink


"Russian interference" in Western faux democracies is just more Fake News that distracts from the real issues. And all those real issues come down to this: the need to reign in the oligarchs.

This is very easy to do via progressive taxation (with no loopholes).

<> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>

The two words that the establishment fears most: Progressive Taxation.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 3 2017 18:32 utc | 2

Oh dear intrepidus, why are you still talking about MSM's favorite weapon of mass distraction?

Even though you make a fine point or two, at this stage, you're actually adding to the whirling stupidity by indulging it it yourself, methinks.

I'm so very, very over Russiagate and it's non-existent tentacles. Pfft!

Posted by: Taxi | Oct 3 2017 18:32 utc | 3

Thanks, b.

You're presenting a very good concept/meme to understand: Fake news is click bait for gain.

The same can be said for any sensationalism or shocking event - like the Kurdish referendum, like the Catalonia referendum, like the Vegas shooting - or like confrontational or dogmatic comments in threads about those events.

Everywhere we turn someone is trying to game us for some kind of gain. What matters is to step back from the front lines where our sense is accosted and offended, to step back from the automatic reflex, and to remember that someone triggered that reflex, deliberately, for their gain, not ours.

We have to reside in reason and equanimity, because the moment we indulge in our righteous anger or our strong convictions, the odds are extremely good that someone is playing us.

It's a wicked world, but in fact we live in an age when we can see its meta characteristics like never before.

Posted by: Grieved | Oct 3 2017 18:49 utc | 4

Jesus Christ, every friggin day we hear about Russians and then the next the lies falls apart, STILL the stupid dumb liberal media keep coming up with new conspiracies spread them as fact, and then try justify them even when they get debunked!
These people are indeed lunatic.

What we see is the biggest psyop., propaganda disinformation campaig ever in the western media, far more powerful than "nuclear Iraq" of 2003.
Still, and this should be a warning, majority of people in EU/US believe this nonsense.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 3 2017 18:49 utc | 5

$3 ads on facebook seen by nobody:

"russian meddling! their puppies hate our freedom!"

pharmaceutical ads on every evening news show and boeing/lockheed sponsoring the "p"bs news hour?"

"nothing to see here! take off your tin foil hat you f_cking alex jones putinbot!!!!"

you'd think by now most americans would realize the actual threat is other americans. the rest of the world realized it long ago.

Posted by: the pair | Oct 3 2017 19:07 utc | 6

I lol'd. But seriously the next step is a false flag implicating Russia. They're getting nowhere assassinating Russian diplomats and shooting down Russian aircraft, both military and civilian. Even overthrowing governments who are Russia-friendly hasn't seem to provoke a response.

But I consider the domestic Russia buzz to be performance art, and I imagine it's become even grating to some of its participants. How could it not be, unless everyone is heavily medicated(a lot certainly are)? Anyway it's by design that the western media and the political classes they serve need a script, they're incapable of discussing actual issues. Independence has been made quaint.

Posted by: sejomoje | Oct 3 2017 19:08 utc | 7

Hi Grieved--

I posted this link at the Vegas thread, but the item's contents are valid here too, and speaks to the content of your above comment,

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 3 2017 19:10 utc | 8

The line between politics and product marketing has gone.

But no matter if "the Russians" influenced the US election or not - after all that is what most countries do to each other - the FBI is correct that to be able to target audiences according to demographics and individual traits is a powerful tool.

Like the double hoax of "The War of Worlds broadcast".

The newspapers had a clear agenda. An editorial in The New York Times, headlined In the Terror by Radio, was used to censure the relatively new medium of radio, which was becoming a serious competitor in providing news and advertising. "Radio is new but it has adult responsibilities. It has not mastered itself or the material it uses,” said the editorial leader comment on November 1 1938. In an excellent piece in Slate magazine in 2013, Jefferson Pooley (associate professor of media and communication at Muhlenberg College) and Michael J Socolow (associate professor of communication and journalism at the University of Maine) looked at the continuing popularity of the myth of mass panic and they took to task NPR's Radiolab programme about the incident and the Radiolab assertion that “The United States experienced a kind of mass hysteria that we’ve never seen before.” Pooley and Socolow wrote: "How did the story of panicked listeners begin? Blame America’s newspapers. ... AND IT'S NOT A GOOD IDEA TO COPY ORSON WELLES . . . In February 1949, Leonardo Paez and Eduardo Alcaraz produced a Spanish-language version of Welles's 1938 script for Radio Quito in Ecuador. The broadcast set off panic. Quito police and fire brigades rushed out of town to fight the supposed alien invasion force. After it was revealed that the broadcast was fiction, the panic transformed into a riot. The riot resulted in at least seven deaths, including those of Paez's girlfriend and nephew. The offices Radio Quito, and El Comercio, a local newspaper that had participated in the hoax by publishing false reports of unidentified flying objects in the days preceding the broadcast, were both burned to the ground.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 3 2017 19:11 utc | 9

Jackrabbit 2
No - the two words the Capital system fears the most are SURPLUS VALUE , the control of the 'profit principle' for social not private ends .

Posted by: ashley albanese | Oct 3 2017 19:13 utc | 10

Jesus Christ, every friggin day we hear about Russians and then the next the lies falls apart, STILL the stupid dumb liberal media keep coming up with new conspiracies spread them as fact, and then try justify them even when they get debunked!
These people are indeed lunatic.

The "Russiadunnit" thingy has turned into a business in the US. And when a new market is launched in the US, as people depend on it for their living and careers, it generally doesn't go away.

Posted by: Lea | Oct 3 2017 19:42 utc | 11

god bless amerika

Posted by: OJS | Oct 3 2017 19:45 utc | 12

@ Posted by: somebody | Oct 3, 2017 3:11:44 PM | 9
The American panic was a myth, the Equadorian panic in 1949 not so much. I listened to this Radiolab podcast about same ... the details of how they pulled it off in a one-radio station country pre-internet are interesting and valuable (they widely advertised a very popular music program which was then "interrupted" by the hoax to ensure near-universal audience (including the police and other authorities). Very very fews were "in on the joke" and it wasn't a joke.
whole page on WooW
specific could it happen again?

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Oct 3 2017 19:55 utc | 13

Great article.
I especially like the tactful way that modern clickbait farming is obliquely tied to the MSM business model.
Facebook and Google have a lot to answer for.

Posted by: c1ue | Oct 3 2017 19:58 utc | 14

Russian Trolls outed as kids from Oregon ...

"Lankford shocked the world this week by revealing that "Russian Internet trolls" were stoking the NFL kneeling debate. ... Conservative outlets like Breitbart and Newsmax and Fox played up the "Russians stoked the kneeling controversy" angle because it was in their interest to suggest that domestic support for kneeling protests is less than what it appears.... The Post reported that Lankford's office had cited one of "Boston Antifa's" tweets. But the example offered read suspiciously like a young net-savvy American goofing on antifa stereotypes "More gender inclusivity with NFL fans and gluten free options at stadiums… We're liking the new NFL #NewNFL #TakeAKnee #TakeTheKnee." ... The group was most likely a pair of yahoos from Oregon named Alexis Esteb and Brandon Krebs. "

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Oct 3 2017 19:58 utc | 15

Pity Rolling Stone got caught up in that fake college rape allegation, they have actually done some solid reporting. Every MSM outlet has had multiple fake stories, so should RS be shunned for life for one bad story?

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Oct 3 2017 20:00 utc | 16

It is time that sane part of independent media understood that there is no more need to rationally respond to psychotic delusions of Deep State puppets in Russia gate, since it is unnecessarily mentally exhausting and intellectually futile, it is namely pure provocation and as such it should be ignored and not proliferated even in its criticism making a fakes news a real news by sole fact of mentioning it on the respectable independent sites.

There are only two effective responses to provocation namely silence or violence, anything else plays the book of provocateurs.

Posted by: Kalen | Oct 3 2017 20:03 utc | 17

Now they're seriously undermining their claims of intentionality ... as well as their wildly inflated claims effect on outcome or even effective "undermining" ... again, compared to Citizens United and the long-count of 2000 ... negligible....
and still insisting that Hillary Clinton is Russia's Darth Vader against whom unlimited resources are marshalled because she must be stopped ... even though she damn near won... and the reasons she lost seems unrelated to such vagaries as the DNC e-mails or facebook campaigns (unless you believe she had a god-given right to each and every vote)

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Oct 3 2017 20:13 utc | 18

Lucky for us that television "news" doesn't use this business model. /s

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 3 2017 20:13 utc | 19

Why do you think this is important enough to make the effort to write another blog entry B? Everyone who wants to know that this is all fantasy knows by now.

Posted by: Pnyx | Oct 3 2017 21:02 utc | 20

'Congress is investigating 3,000 suspicious ads which were run on Facebook. These were claimed to have been bought by "Russia" to influence the U.S. presidential election in favor of Trump.

this is the same US congress that regularly marches off to israel to receive orders

those who dont obey orders:

Posted by: brian | Oct 3 2017 21:09 utc | 22

@ Posted by: Pnyx | Oct 3, 2017 5:02:54 PM | 20

This isn't about the "truth" (or lies) wrt Russian involvement, it's about the increasingly rapid failure of the Government/Establishment's narrative ...

Increasingly they can't even keep their accusations "alive" for more than a few days ... and some of their accusations (like the one here, that some "Russian" sites were created and not used, but to be held for use at some future date) become fairly ridiculous ... and the "remedy" to "Russians" creating clickbait sites for some future nefarious use, I think can only be banning all Russians from creating sites ... or maybe using facebook altogether ... all with no evidence of evil-doers actually doing evil...

It's rather like Jared Kushner's now THIRD previously undisclosed private e-mail account ... fool me once versus how disorganized/dumb/arrogant/crooked is this guy?

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Oct 3 2017 21:36 utc | 23

Sorry to be off topic but yesterday the Saker of the Vineyard published a couple of articles about Catalonia. The first was a diatribe, a nasty hatchet job on the Catalan people which included the following referring to the Catalan people:

“The Problems they have because with their corruption, inefficiency, mismanagement, inability and sometimes the simplest stupidity, are always the fault of others (read Spaniards here) which gives them “carte blanche” to keep going on with it.”

“... They (the independistas) are NATIONAL SOCIALIST (aka NAZI) in their Ideology”

Then Saker published an article by Peter Koenig that was reasonable and what we have come to expect. Then he forbade all comments on either of the two articles. My comment was banned, which simply said in my opinion from working for fourteen years in Spain that the Catalans were extremely efficient in comparison with their Madrid counterparts.

Posted by: Lochearn | Oct 3 2017 22:43 utc | 24

I must admit that I became a fan of watching those Russian car crashes that were captured by the cams many russian drivers keep on their dash boards. Some of these were very funny. I was not aware that made me a victim of Putin propaganda. In any case, they are not that interesting anymore once they were commercialized. That was about 10 years ago.

Posted by: ToivoS | Oct 3 2017 23:32 utc | 25

The unlinked article is tangentially related to the ultimate subject of this thread--the fake news and censorship in service of RussiaGate by the Outlaw US Empire and its vassal tech companies: Google, You Tube, Facebook. The subject is Syriagirl. I can't add the link because wordbook automatically sends any comment containing a link to SouthFront to the spam bin since that site was deemed to be a Fake News promoter by actual Fake News promoters. An excerpt:

"In our interview, SYRIANGIRL explained that she suspects that somehow her Facebook account got caught up in the tempest in a teapot around the $200,000 Russian-related entities supposedly spent trying to influence the US election. As one of our articles pointed out today:

"'Oh, Putin’s bringing out the big guns now! A couple hundred thousand dollars worth of ads! Lordy, that’s a hell of an investment…'

"So here is a concrete example of how the big Russia-gate lie is leading in a circuitous way to successful, respected, and influential independent media being shuttered.

"All independent, alternative media should rally behind her and raise hell. Her case is a precedent – if they get away with gagging her, we are next on the list."

Further excerpt providing a bit of SouthFront's opinion:

"Our videos are routinely de-monetized on YouTube without just cause, or just banned altogether with ominous threats to shut down our whole channel – yes this happens on YouTube, that purveyor of skank, vulgarity, and soft porn to teenagers. We know exactly what SYRIANGIRL is facing, but with her, they have now taken it much further.

"Actually, I think this kind of heavy-handed banning of dissent is a great thing – because it will force people to wake up and realize they have to do something about this – regulate the big tech companies as public utilities" (My emphasis)

It appears that RussiaGate isn't just about Russia more than ever as the attempts to censor all manner of media using the internet escalates. That's why b continues to write blog entries on this topic.

https:// southfront dot org To get to SouthFront's site, remove the spaces and replace the word with the symbol, then scroll down page to the Syriagirl article.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 3 2017 23:32 utc | 26

I'm waiting for the expose of the Russian mail-order bride business (Do they still exist?)

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Oct 3 2017 23:43 utc | 27

Very good analysis.

The whole digital media and ad business that have built the Google and Facebook media juggernauts is all a giant scam. Smart advertisers like P&G are recognizing it for what it is and will slowly pullback. It is only a matter of time before others catch on and these companies will bleed ad revenues.

Posted by: ab initio | Oct 4 2017 0:29 utc | 28

Jackrabbit @ 2: Yep!!

And here is another part to the puzzle:

Posted by: ben | Oct 4 2017 0:30 utc | 29

Your answer can be found ...right

Posted by: Chipnik | Oct 4 2017 0:42 utc | 30

OT - more from comedy central - daily usa press briefing from today...

"QUESTION: On Iran, would you and the State Department say, as Secretary Mattis said today, that staying in the JCPOA would be in the U.S. national interest?


QUESTION: Is this a position you share?

MS NAUERT: So I’m certainly familiar with what Secretary Mattis said on Capitol Hill today. Secretary Mattis, of course, one of many people who is providing expertise and counsel to the President on the issue of Iran and the JCPOA. The President is getting lots of information on that. We have about 12 days or so, I think, to make our determination for the next JCPOA guideline.

The administration looks at JCPOA as – the fault in the JCPOA as not looking at the totality of Iran’s bad behavior. Secretary Tillerson talked about that at length at the UN General Assembly. So did the President as well. We know that Iran is responsible for terror attacks. We know that Iran arms the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which leads to a more miserable failed state, awful situation in Yemen, for example. We know what they’re doing in Syria. Where you find the Iranian Government, you can often find terrible things happening in the world. This administration is very clear about highlighting that and will look at Iran in sort of its totality of all of its bad behaviors, not just the nuclear deal.

I don’t want to get ahead of the discussions that are ongoing with this – within the administration, as it pertains to Iran. The President has said he’s made he’s decision, and so I don’t want to speak on behalf of the President, and he’ll just have to make that determination when he’s ready to do so."

Posted by: james | Oct 4 2017 0:44 utc | 31

Gee, even if you use the word SouthFront, your comment gets sent to the spam bin as I broke down the URL hit preview to make sure it didn't post as a link of any sort. The host for this site is just as bad as the Fake News mongers b writes about.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 4 2017 1:06 utc | 32

Articles debunking these "Russian" ads should make clear that an IP address that maps to Russia isn't necessarily in Russia. Wikileaks has its Domain registrar in Russia (a wise move that stops the US taking the domain down), but one of the Russian IP addresses they were given is in fact physically located in Norway.

I'm coming to this website with the IP address [] but I'm not in South Africa. There's no telling where I am without the US seizing the server logs of a physical computer in Hong Kong, and I'm not there either.

Anyone wanting to cover their tracks can use a Russian proxy server - there are websites devoted to maintaining lists of current proxy servers around the world and plugins for Firefox that look them up and arrange your browser requests to proxy through them.
Why not? - its all free. So this "Russian ads" thing is all nonsense. Another sign of an aging empire that doesn't know how to deal with the new post-empire world, other than by bombing it.

Posted by: Palloy | Oct 4 2017 2:15 utc | 33

Evidence at least by the MSM doesn't mean "actual evidence" anymore. It means "evidence" that wasn't such yet a few dutiful corrections were made, yet is now evidence of evidence. Like one of those Russian dolls (omg Russia) couching into each other six or seven times. But at the bottom the doll is found erroneous.

It's distressing how anyone old enough to remember Judith Miller and the like would instead now believe this. They should all have a history/memory.

Yet now the MSM, and the war-state, is counting on a few things: that some folks are young enough to not experience the Iraq debacle, or that some are old enough yet too stupid/ignorant. In either case, some of the same MSM warmongers are promoting war.

Whether Putin, Trump, etc. interfered in the US election, it's a VERY GOOD THING that Syria is and will apparently continue to be a sovereign state.

Posted by: Soft Asylum | Oct 4 2017 2:56 utc | 34

@33 Amen..

Posted by: Lozion | Oct 4 2017 3:28 utc | 35

Jackrabbit @2


Posted by: Castellio | Oct 4 2017 5:01 utc | 36

@jachrabbit No.2

YES and YES. I used to think that no US president could be more stupid than George W Bush and then Trump arrived and I thought perhaps stupidity had reached its deepest point. And now Zuckerberg arrives with stars and stripes in his eyes. OH SH!T.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Oct 4 2017 9:27 utc | 37

Taxi | Oct 3, 2017 2:32:34 PM | 3

Indeed, boring, boring, boring; stop f**king talking/writing about it!
Let that crap roll off like water off a duck's back, and move on to the meat, TPTB try to deflect.

Posted by: V. Arnold | Oct 4 2017 9:41 utc | 38


Just don't use your smartphone or pictures made with your smartphone or a notebook with gps connection or do anything location based like a router with GPS.

Facebook uses GPS-data.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 4 2017 9:48 utc | 39

Every single time a dumbass US politician or media rants about "Russian meddling or influence", replace "Russian" with "Israeli", and look again. How does it look like now? And how do you think these same US pols and media would react if one were to make the same asinine statements about Jewish people instead of about Russia and Putin? If it would look a tiny bit racist or antisemitic, then fully discard the original accusation against "Russian" stuff as utter nonsense; or maybe as gross hypocrisy.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Oct 4 2017 9:56 utc | 40

This anti-russia propaganda has become a total joke of itself, but nevertheless a large part of the population still reads those articles without bursting out into laughing and many are influenced by them or actually believe these crude theories..

Posted by: justathought | Oct 4 2017 9:59 utc | 41

They all do it. The idea that the cyber tools anybody develops will not be shared by all is laughable.

From state of art information warfare in 2005.

Over the past 24 hours, seven people have checked into hospitals here with telltale symptoms. Rashes, vomiting, high temperature, and cramps: the classic signs of smallpox. Once thought wiped out, the disease is back and threatening a pandemic of epic proportions.

The government faces a dilemma: It needs people to stay home, but if the news breaks, mass panic might ensue as people flee the city, carrying the virus with them.

A shadowy media firm steps in to help orchestrate a sophisticated campaign of mass deception. Rather than alert the public to the smallpox threat, the company sets up a high-tech "ops center" to convince the public that an accident at a chemical plant threatens London. As the fictitious toxic cloud approaches the city, TV news outlets are provided graphic visuals charting the path of the invisible toxins. Londoners stay indoors, glued to the telly, convinced that even a short walk into the streets could be fatal.

This scenario may sound like a rejected plot twist from a mediocre Bond flick, but one company is dead set on making this fantasy come to life.

Strategic Communication Laboratories, a small U.K. firm specializing in "influence operations" made a very public debut this week with a glitzy exhibit occupying prime real estate at Defense Systems & Equipment International, or DSEi, the United Kingdom's largest showcase for military technology. The main attraction was a full-scale mock-up of its ops center, running simulations ranging from natural disasters to political coups.


In another doomsday scenario, the company assists a newly democratic country in South Asia as it struggles with corrupt politicians and a rising insurgency that threatens to bubble over into bloody revolution. SCL steps in to assist the benevolent king of "Manpurea" to temporarily seize power.

Oh, wait, that sounds a lot like Nepal, where the monarchy earlier this year ousted a corrupt government to stave off a rising Maoist movement. The problem is, the SCL scenario also sounds a lot like using a private company to help overthrow a democratically elected government. Another problem, at least in Nepal, is that the king now shows few signs of returning to democracy.

The company, which describes itself as the first private-sector provider of psychological operations, has been around since 1993. But its previous work was limited to civil operations, and it now wants to expand to military customers.

Cambridge Analytica of Donald Trump and Brexit fame belongs to SCL Group.
Anybody who pays may be their customer. They are controlled by shareholders - who may be anybody with money to pay.

But yes, the trail goes to Israel, not to Russia.

It was mainly Netanyahu who rooted for Trump not Putin.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 4 2017 11:39 utc | 42

And - of course - the US government uses SCL, too

The website of SCL Group, a private British behavioral research company, featured the State and NATO logos and used language touting their "approval" of the company's "methodology" until last week.

The company was awarded State Department contracts this year to help fight ISIS recruitment and has taught behavioral change science at a NATO-affiliated training program.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 4 2017 11:53 utc | 43

This here is a profile on Nigel Oakes - SCL groups founder

SCL and CA, whose board until recently had Trump's chief strategist Stephen Bannon on it, are backed by the enigmatic American billionaire, Republican mega-donor and model train enthusiast, Robert Mercer.

The consultancies are deploying "military-grade data firepower" and expertise in behavioral analytics to find strategic communications solutions for clients in governments, militaries and humanitarian and commercial organisations across the world. The endgame is to mould public opinion to suit the client's end. Oakes himself had once described what they do as "mindbending".

SCL has been especially active in the developing world, in markets as far flung as South Africa, Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nepal, and India, among others. Its contracts, as listed on the company's website that's often rather obtuse and limited in its descriptions, includes a "voter-suppression" project in Nigeria.

In August 2000, Oakes had to flee Indonesia post-haste after a botched attempt to save the image of then President Abdurrahman Wahid who was embroiled ..

But perhaps the most startling yet effective summary of Oakes' brand of mass persuasion was provided by him in a 1992 interview with British trade magazine Marketing where he said that in order to get people's agreement on a functional level you've got to appeal to them on an emotional level. He began with, "We use the same techniques as Aristotle and Hitler."

Posted by: somebody | Oct 4 2017 12:10 utc | 44

@24 -- Yeh, he acts like a spoilt little tyrant on his 'community' blog. Also spat it recently when Sputnik dared to 'edit' his own wise words, lol. Comes up with a lot of
good stuff as well. I don't buy his "I'm an outsider" spiel either but his blog is a useful communication service for certain alternative views etc.

Posted by: x | Oct 4 2017 12:52 utc | 45

$1,000,000,000 vs $150,000

Hillary Clinton vs Russian FB ads

The propaganda is strong and their brains weak.

Posted by: Laura Roslin | Oct 4 2017 14:16 utc | 46

Yes, it's lunacy, a symptom like Trump of a deeper syndrome of madness in the American psyche.

It's an irruption out of the collective unconscious like what Carl Jung observed in the dreams of his German patients in the early 1930's.

I agree with others that the US has emerged in the early 21st century a fascist rogue state. Others call it the Fourth Reich.

The US is on a trajectory to disaster that will drag some portion of humanity with it.

Posted by: AriusArmenian | Oct 4 2017 14:26 utc | 47

The line between politics and product marketing has gone. somebody

I have a curious example: here in CH last week one of the biggest (or the biggest?) retail by internet cos. started an ad campaign with fake i.e. bogus, made-up, but not humorous or satirical, political ads. Ex. sthng like: “No to European Judges for technical standards”, with a picture of an electric plug, wiring. In small letters: buy your plugs at Galaxy. They know that ppl pay great attention to all political ad posters. Ppl note them, photograph them, analyse them, and they are often displayed all in one place together, so that citizens can see which group is for/against what. It may backfire though, I heard a lot of ppl in the bus saying this was dégoutant.

In the trivia bin, ok.

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 4 2017 14:46 utc | 48

Why do you think this is important enough to make the effort to write another blog entry B? Pnyx at 20.

Because it deals with the MSM, its credibility, position, role, and actions (or inaction..), who controls it, etc. Imho for part of the PTB - the Dem apparatus of the Clintons, but not only Dem - is looking for all the usual reasons for a scapegoat and an enemy.

The renaissance of Russia (= R) after its destruction, decimation by Gorby->Yeltsin .. was a very unwelcome development and R as the long-term hated rival is a perpetual target. R-hate was massively upped after the various DNC leaks, Podesta e-mails, Killary e-mail scandal, etc.

“Fake news” and Russia hacking/meddling etc. in the election took off pretty simultaneously - imho R has the missing Killary e-mails + bad dirt, recall the Valdai club Putin speech where he explicitly mentioned US pedophilia, Satanism. R turned not only into a global trad rival but a specific threat to US PTB legitimacy. Putin dared to make the threat, he does not speak without planning, the R intervention in Syria was certainly being discussed then (2013, link.) Trump (who knows a lot imho) has also threatened the Dem aisle on pedophilia and the like, in unsublte ways, and he proposed a solution, a deal. It was not accepted, and Trump was, is, demonised, along with R, which is why the media concentration is on the ‘election’ because that is the only place Trump and R could hypothetically ‘join’ in interest (i.e. against Clinton.)

The MSM, as ‘modernists’ and ‘service’ cos. not industry, manufacturing, agri, etc. are instrumentalised by those who have a propaganda agenda to push and can pay for it, so by definition in such an unregulated ‘capitalist’ system news *inevitably* becomes ‘more fake’ over time.

just one reading of the events pointed on some of the aspects, many other are important

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 4 2017 15:00 utc | 49

Pardon the OT question, but,I heard, in an unauthorized release of photos from the Vegas shooter's room, there was a picture of a hand written note on a table. Anyone heard anything on that?

My source was a News broadcast on my local independent radio station KPFK in L.A. Haven't heard a peep anywhere else, which doesn't surprise me, especially if the note deviated from the current "hooray for the empire" narrative.

Again, sorry about the OT..

Posted by: ben | Oct 4 2017 15:37 utc | 50

Yesterday the Washington Post had an editorial on Catalonia which -- incredibly -- blamed Russia for the turmoil there.

Posted by: lysias | Oct 4 2017 17:04 utc | 51

I just finished reading an article in the latest issue of Smithsonian magazine on the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution which ended with a claim that Russia's interference in the U.S. election was a continuation of policies originated by Lenin to interfere in other countries. No mention of the crucial role played by czarist Russia in the American Civil War, when Russia played a major role in deterring Anglo-French intervention on the side of the Confederacy

Posted by: lysias | Oct 4 2017 17:13 utc | 52

and today the NYT has a front page article (from the Magazine, Technology sector, not an editorial)

What if Tech Platforms Are Too Big to Regulate? Attempts by governments to rein in companies like Facebook might instead have to resemble diplomacy.

cow gone / barn door unlocked / too late -- it has always been too late ... because tech was supposed to save the farm (sorry, block that metaphor) by the creation and maintenance of American global tech dominance ...

D'yall see that Yahoo revised the number of accounts "hacked" in 2013 upward by two-thirds, from one-third of total to every-single-one ... only took 4 years for that transparency ... (hint)

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Oct 4 2017 19:44 utc | 53

Well, I found this on the Wall Street Journal,

So Russians are practicing the usual and normal SIGINT activity, if what the article says is true.

But the true stupidity is that any military force, especially the US Army, is using personal cell phones in a combat zone. I don't know what happened to the notion of opsec over the years but personal cell phones should be the #1 banned item from any operational unit.

Or, because it's the WSJ, it's a fake story and just disregard until some field commander calls his girlfriend and the call gets sent to his wife as a voice mail.

Posted by: Stumpy | Oct 4 2017 23:38 utc | 54

Samantha Power @SamanthaJPower - 3:45 PM - 3 Oct 2017
This gets more chilling daily: now we learn Russia targeted Americans on Facebook by “demographics, geography, gender & interests,” across websites & devices, reached millions, kept going after Nov. An attack on all Americans, not just HRC campaign…

In other words, standard marketing as practiced by good capitalists everywhere.

Posted by: Stumpy | Oct 4 2017 23:45 utc | 55

More on ADL partners Facebook and Youtube blocking Syrian Girl, here:

Last year, I spent some time unsuccessfully trying to explain to a virtual friend (who I used to know in person) that this is the sort of thing the push against "hate speech" online would result in.

Posted by: RudyM | Oct 5 2017 1:50 utc | 56

Pardon the OT question, but,I heard, in an unauthorized release of photos from the Vegas shooter's room, there was a picture of a hand written note on a table. Anyone heard anything on that?

There is what appears to be a hand written note in one of the photos here. Warning: graphic post-suicide (?) photo of Paddock:

Posted by: RudyM | Oct 5 2017 2:02 utc | 57

Just hysteria, or the war drums beating?

New level of crazy: Johns Hopkins University says 'nyet' to Russian language program

Posted by: PeacefulProsperity | Oct 6 2017 8:50 utc | 58

The "Russians" were selling fake BlackLiveMatters T-shirts on Facebook says CNN:
Exclusive: Russian-linked group sold merchandise online
Or maybe someone who wanted to make a few bucks? CNN did not ask that question ...

Here is some helpful advice for those who also want to become "Russian influencers" on Facebook: How to Make Money Using Facebook

There are lots of ways to earn money on Facebook, from using link-type advertising programs to creating a fanpage and then selling the posts. You can even use Facebook to advertise and sell your products.

That is exactly what those ghastly "Russians" did ...

Posted by: b | Oct 6 2017 16:13 utc | 59

@59 b... those evil ruskies are just up to no good i tell you... how dare they compete with western corporations!! sacrilege!

Posted by: james | Oct 6 2017 16:53 utc | 60

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