Thirty countries use 'armies of opinion shapers' to manipulate democracy. Governments in Venezuela, the Philippines, Turkey and elsewhere use social media to influence elections, drive agendas and counter critics, says report.

Thirty countries use 'armies of opinion shapers' to manipulate democracy. Governments in Venezuel...

<looks round reddit>

Checks out.

Spoiler Alert the US does it too.

hey it's me ur opinion

This should not come as a surprise to anyone.

News: presented to you by an army of opinion shapers from a country not on this list.

They used to use missiles, now they use imbeciles.

So I was in a thread couple of days ago and I'm helping one guy argue against another, only suddenly the guy I'm helping starts arguing with me using other guys arguments. Takes me a couple of replies to realize they are both the same guy with two accounts!! Only he got switching between them fucked up, probably because he is managing lots of accounts on lots of threads. When I call him on it he calls me a troll. Really. But here's the weird thing, then the whole tread goes quite, no more comments or replies. So I'm still asking myself, how many of the people in that thread were just that guy?

Yeah I thought it was funny how the title implied that the US doesn't do that.

Governments in Venezuela, the Philippines, Turkey and elsewhere, because it's not like we'd ever do anything like this. Oh wait...

The UK intelligence agency GCHQ has developed sophisticated tools to manipulate online polls, spam targets with SMS messages, track people by impersonating spammers and monitor social media postings, according to newly-published documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden

Among the programs revealed in the document are:

• GATEWAY: the "ability to artificially increase traffic to a website".

• CLEAN SWEEP which "masquerade[s] Facebook wall posts for individuals or entire countries".

• SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE for "perfect spoofing of emails from BlackBerry targets".

• UNDERPASS to "change outcome of online polls".

• SPRING BISHOP to find "private photos of targets on Facebook".

The document also details a range of programs designed to collect and store public postings from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, and to make automated postings on several of the social networks. Capabilities to boost views of YouTube videos, or to boost the circulation of particular messages are also detailed.

By not mentioning the US, which is likely the biggest culprit, in the title.

The interesting about that is this is governments fighting their own citizens.

The CIA is supposed to have a "perception management" team for Reddit; I suspect large corporations (McDonalds, KFC, Apple etc) do too.

Yeah, PM and PPM or PPS (public perception management or public perception shaping) are the new "politically correct" terms for targeted propaganda.

Mass market strategies knicked from advertising combined with a good dose of behavioural analytics, cross realm data mining, bit of game theory etc.

It's basically weaponised psychology when you get right down to it.

I'm surprised almost everyone has already forgotten about Correct the Record.

There were entire PACs designed to manipulate re-shape opinion online.

And my axe!

Am I doing it right?

Goverments like the USA use social media to start revolutions.. Just saying

It has gotten weird around here, hasn’t it?

The USA originated by using social media to start its own revolution. Consider the Federalist Papers- published under pseudonym, pushing a position on proper government. has always been used for this purpose

Don't you see what's happening?

Manipulation and disinformation tactics

I think the guy you were replying to was talking more along the lines of this:

And anyone in this thread would be crazy to assume that the United States doesn't use the same social media manipulation.

But hey, the article conveniently leaves that out and so does the report that the article is based on -

I'd like to see the list of the 30 countries.

Yep. I have seen way too much of the creepy and unbelievable comments in the past 18 months.

Surely some of it is just normal radicalized people repeating talking points, but that doesn't cover it all.

I weep for the future. I'm gonna have to go back to just talking to people IRL cause it's impossible to tell who is just a shillbot online nowadays.

More and more I think we are gonna see the online conversation shaped by National government influence campaigns. Machine learning and cheap labour make it easy.

I don't know about the US but in the UK it's a brigade of the Army:

That could be because people with a soapbox are going to use it, and Hollywood has a good number of liberals and progressives.

the US government-funded charity said. 

Remember, the Republican and Democratic political parties are private organizations that are not beholden to the voters or a democratic process. Political Action Committees are also not beholden to campaign finance laws.

The issue might not be that the media is state-run, but that the state is corporate owned.

It's definitely official. The US is the worst offender. Hell our own media network is only 6 conglomerates shaping narratives based on the koche brothers, boeing, whoever gives them money. The washington post has a deal with the CIA worth more than their company.

No, they are not paid for it, it's their opinions they express. The shills have made it their job to manipulate and divide. Edit: governments programs' shills that is. Us, Russia, nobody is not guilty

Yup, more strange everyday.

Political opposition can also use this; not just the pro-government.

How did the title imply that?

and ur hand!

This is so frustrating, because not a dollup of this astroturfing would be effective if people simply exercised a mild degree of critical thinking when confronted with incendiary claims and propaganda.

Ask yourself:

Can you identify a fact, event or realization that would change your mind about fundamental aspects of your worldview? What specifically would that be?

Consider the most incendiary talking points that frequently crop up on social media. Does one of them push your buttons? Does it target you, specifically? If so, are you taking any active measures to protect yourself from misinformation?

Being honest - when you go online to seek political news, are you primarily seeking knowledge, or outrage? Outrage is a cheap fix for those otherwise deprived of meaningful emotions, and if it's something you find yourself actively seeking, then you might well be a walking, talking target for hostile foreign actors seeking to weaponize your bias.

When was the last time you admitted that you were wrong, either to another person or to yourself? Would you feel too ashamed to admit to being mistaken in a casual political debate among friends?

Given five or six sentences, can you clearly articulate the world-view of the side opposite to you in a way which the other side would recognize as accurate and fair?

The dwarven gestapo. I see these guys all over reddit.

Anyone can use this. Governments. Opposition parties. Rebels. Corporations. Non-profits. Bored trolls. Without a lot of effort or money you can promote whatever view you want.

The recipe for success is pretty easy, too. Make it some kind of A vs. B issue because people LOVE to take sides and be in the right and tell others they are wrong. Relate it to a topic that one side of A vs. B cares about (there's plenty) or at least is currently being told they care about (the world is your oyster and Reddit is a good barometer for this). The other side will follow suit and somehow make it a partisan issue and take the opposite stance. Very few on either side will actually care about the facts and truth of the issue but will instead resort to parroting whatever they're told they should be saying. You can even play both sides of the "debate" to make the issue receive extra attention.

Is Fox news accountable ? Is CNN accountable ? The only people who hold US media companies accountable is the public. This is no different with Facebook and YouTube.

Try saying other countries beside Russia do it in /sub/politics and you will be downvoted to hell.

Reddit also likes to overstate it's own importance. Vast majority of the US population have never heard of reddit

The title mentions Phillipines, Turkey, Venezuela but not the US.

Mate, we are comparing concerted efforts on the part of governments to pay MASSES of people to go online, falsify their opinions, create bots, and do any number of things that goes above and beyond any fundraising event on earth. This isn't a DNC or RNC thing, who, funnily enough, both pay for all sorts of sponsorship, ads, etc. we are talking about INSTITUTIONAL TECHNOLOGICAL efforts to adjust public opinion online on a MASSIVE scale.

Downvote me all you want, but you need to stop being so damn blinded by your anti-Dem bias.

Also, are you implying that the celebrities are lying and professing opinions that are not their own? Are the Dems so rich wealthy and powerful that they can force incredibly wealthy people to profess opinions that aren't their own? You don't believe that, do you?

You should also be including the US in that list,

Oh, so you're saying anyone advocating their views/agenda is part of an army of opinion shapers?

Israel To Pay Students For Pro-Israeli Social Media Propaganda

Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda

The US has Hollywood. That's the largest propaganda and manipulation machine.

In Canada the government maintains a division in each department for social media. They claim their job is to "correct misinformation on the internet." There are a lot of them and they crawl through social media and make replies on fake accounts with fake names to "correct the information."

When news of this came out 4-5 years ago /sub/canada had to invent a new rule, you're not allowed to accuse anyone of being a shill. Anyone who had pro-Conservative opinions were being accused of being a shill in order to invalidate any points they made because everyone just assumed that they were government. Today it has flipped where everyone who is pro-Liberal is a Liberal shill.

Sometimes when you have admitted literal Liberal shills they get treated with a lot more respect than people who aren't actually ones.

=/. Who do you think used to enlist in the army after an impassioned speech

"weaponised psychology" that is so apt! I might used that myself from now on.

And I totally agree with your point.

Flooding different channels of information with lies and misinformation to promote your own interests is objectively bad. Doing so smothers competing ideas (which usually includes the truth), creates a false illusion of consensus, and typically only benefits the few at the expense of the many.

Propagandists are the lowest form of life on the planet.

Orson Scott Card predicted this in his book "Ender's Game" in 1985. The protagonist's sociopathic brother, Peter Wiggin, uses multiple pseudonyms on the "Nets" to influence political opinion:

Peter convinced his younger sister Valentine to create pseudonyms that would allow them both to write political commentary on the Nets, using their father's Citizen Access. The two siblings would argue political positions between each other to stir up opinions among the populace. They used several different names at first, refining their skills, but once they were perfected, took unchanging screen names. Peter was "Locke", a political analyst who attempted to stay neutral and take no sides in international discussions, and was later hired to write weekly columns often arguing against Valentine's "Demosthenes." The writings proved to be incredibly popular and all the while Peter kept his true identity - now a thirteen-year-old-boy - hidden from the world.

Reddit is sitting at #8 most visited website in the world, above Twitter, Amazon, and Instigram


Media has never been so prevalent and influential as it is in this day and age. I think comments like these are unintentionally dismissive of that fact. It's not just like world war 2 media propaganda. It's literally governemnt workers trolling the internet pretending to be normal people interacting in every day social media encounters to subtly engrain an opinion into peoples mind.

It is exactly weaponized psychology. The base of modern marketing and PR was laid down by Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, who's research influenced his marketing campaigns. The term 'public relations' was invented by Bernays as an alternative to the term 'propaganda', which had acquired negative connotations at the time.

Social MEDIA. The fuck do you think its for? The problem is, most people can't even see how manipulated they are by those simply in their circle, the non-state actors.

The most effective part of the social media brainwashing is that you don't hear something from a traditional media outlet, you are hearing about it from people in your inner circle, lowering your chance to challenge it, and raising the chances you buy it, hook, line, sinker.

If you agree with everyone you hang out with, you're part of the problem.

are you primarily seeking knowledge…?

The vast majority of people who regularly comment here, or in /sub/politics, etc. don’t want to become informed or engage in mature discussion. They’re here to emote, or take out their negative feelings about their life on others, or to make lame jokes.

and the US doesnt?

They should have wrote Everywhere

Wew, no wonder we are such a target for propaganda.

But our own governments don't. Pinky promise.

That's because the deep state is working against the Trump administration. No-one in Washington DC wanted Trump to become POTUS.

Edit: removed redundant word

I was wondering how US was not at the top of this list, however I remember that in the US they just skip over the entire opinion sharpers and straight to paying off the politicians with PAC, Super PAC and lobbyists.

Who's saying that? I didn't say that. Hey remember this?

Most people aren’t paid. They either make stuff up on their own or support other made up strategies due to ignorance and/or because it confirms their bias.

I'd say he's calling out double standards more than anything.

They're not being paid to parrot political talking points though. The problem is money & power creating its own narratives, not people voicing genuine opinions.

For a lot of them it is literally their job to do so.

I've been online since the BBS days and some where in the late 90's it became clear to me that being unable to prevent the sharing of accurate information, both online and through the all the new cable channels that emerged then, purveyors of bullshit were just going to flood those mediums with ever increasing rivers of misinformation. I mean they still suppress good info when they can, look at all the bullshit DMCA takedown notices.

In USA noone rich is accountable...

Otherwise Flint water crises would have severe repercussions...

Literally poisoning people is even worse than election meddling.

You'd have a hard time finding 30 countries that don't do this.