back to article So, tell us again how tech giants are more important than US govt...

It's something that everyone in public policy learns sooner or later: governments may be slow and cumbersome, they may be rife with hypocrisy and lacking in understanding, but they are still the government. And your money-making business is not. Yesterday, top lawyers at Facebook, Twitter and Google went through a bit of a …

  1. Mark 110

    Interesting stuff

    Most interesting is why everyone is being so coy about letting us know what the content of the dodgy ads was. Bizarre. Especially in the American system which usually is quite open about whats going on in comparison to the UK.

    Can we have the details please . .

    ==

    P.S. Theres a bad sentence in the article "on nothing by Kremlin-devised myths and urban legends" - should be 'but' not 'by'. </pedant>

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Interesting stuff

      Nobody would trust another political ad again. Tech and politics would both lose if that happens.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Interesting stuff

        Nobody would trust another political ad again.

        FTFY

        When you combine two professions where lying to your customers and misleading them into taking decisions detrimental to their self-interest is the foundation of all success - politics and advertising - you get exactly what you would expect.

      2. big_D Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Interesting stuff

        @Dan 55 ... And that is a bad thing, because?

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Interesting stuff

        Nobody would trust another political ad again.

        Why would anyone trust one in the first please? (Absent confirmation bias). As has been observed before, politicians only have three laws:

        1. Get elected

        2. Stay elected

        3. Make sure that all the sleazy stuff that they do to ensure (1) and (2) never comes to light.

        (Add a (4) for the US politicians - make sure that the campaign donors get their moneys worth..).

      4. Kiwi Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Interesting stuff

        Nobody would trust another political ad again. Tech and politics would both lose if that happens.

        There are actually people who believe these things? I thought they were a myth!

    2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: Interesting stuff

      They aren't being that coy but they don't really want people to see the ads since the vast, vast majority of them are quite laughable. No really, see for yourself. There are also a few winners at politico.

      Does anyone honestly think these swayed the vote? Frankly I find it insulting that our "dear leaders" believe us to be this gullible. No wonder they all look at 1984 as a 'how to' manual.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Interesting stuff

        Does anyone honestly think these swayed the vote? Frankly I find it insulting that our "dear leaders" believe us to be this gullible. No wonder they all look at 1984 as a 'how to' manual.

        Well, let's just say I go by the results. Don't forget that these ads are part of a larger campaign that involves really fake news, massive amounts of trolling and encouraging other idiots to help, like Saint Jules™ who by now would probably feature in a pee video himself out of desperation for some publicity. I mean, there's only so much you can do in an Ecuadorian embassy..

      2. Danny 5

        Re: Interesting stuff

        Wait what?

        "I find it insulting that our "dear leaders" believe us to be this gullible"

        You might not be, but the vast majority is, my good man!

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Re: Interesting stuff

          You might not be, but the vast majority is, my good man!

          And that's exactly the kind of scatological elitist disdain which brought about a backlash that got Trump elected. Look, it's pretty simple.

          1. Do those ads play well to the half-wits who already agree with them? Sure it's 100% echo chamber material but it doesn't change any of these votes. It's also unlikely to change any votes if the ad portrayals were reversed.

          2. Do they get anyone who would typically be a Hillary or Blue team voter to switch their vote to Trump? Absolutely not. Just like reversing the ads wouldn't change anyone already in bin 1, the folk in bin 2 are largely fixed.

          3. Would they sway any of the fence sitters trying to decide between the choice of rat shit (Hillary or Trump as you please) and bat shit (the other one)? Highly unlikely since as fence sitters they undoubtedly realized that both options sucked greatly making them largely immune to the vast amount of hyperbole coming from all sides. This over the top silliness was far from being a camel back breaking straw.

          Unfortunately too many of bin 3 decided to hold their nose and vote for one of the two shit choices or not vote at all instead of making the logical choice of a third party candidate with whom their beliefs much more closely align because they didn't want to "throw away their vote", they feel their vote doesn't matter, they lost faith in the system, or some other reason. None of this means they're sufficiently gullible to be swayed by these type of nonsense ads.

          1. Dal90

            Re: Interesting stuff

            You forgot #4:

            4. Will the ads influence the enthusiasm of the voters to turn out to vote?

            These ads may be simplistic, naked propaganda. And that is all they need to influence turn-out for those on the edge whether they'll bother to go down to the polls to vote.

            The best thing about the last year online is it has shown the 30% or so who are right-wing are just a bunch of sheep like the left, and the 30% of left wingers are just as bat shit crazy.

            1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

              Re: Interesting stuff

              That's true it may have bumped up voter turnout a bit but it isn't like it was anything special. The estimate at wikipedia is only 55.5% which while up a tick from 2012 is lower than '04 and '08 and a long way from the pathetic high in 1960 of 62.8%. So still in line with the expected average.

              How does everyone feel now knowing that our current president won on the backs of ~25.6% of eligible voters? If only a third party could get the other 44.5% of voters off their sofa we might have a chance.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Interesting stuff

                @Eddy Ito

                The point wasn't to get a random selection of extra voters to the polls.

                It was to get a decent chunk of unthinking people (the kind usually least likely to vote) enthused/angry enough to turn out and protest their petty resentments by voting for Donald Trump.

                A small percentage of the large number who don't usually vote can make a huge difference.

                1. Swarthy Silver badge

                  Re: Interesting stuff

                  The other goal of the ads was to be divisive. They ran ads on both sides' issues. Putting the Cheeto-in-Chief into the office, was most likely a secondary "nice-to-have" the primary goal was to get both sides spitting mad, and so fueled by their own echo chambers that "the other guys" would be perceived as worse than Russia.

                  Let us tear ourselves apart, and Russia saves on bombs and casualties. (It's the same thing the Intelligence Agencies have been doing for 50 years)

                2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

                  Re: Interesting stuff

                  @AC, That's just it. There were more people who turned out against Trump especially in places like California. Given that statistically there was little deviation from any other election you could make exactly the same argument that the ads suppressed the vote because it acted as a turn off to rational thinking people. It would take a tremendous amount of research and close inspection of the exit polls to even get any feeling of whether these ads had any impact at all. Single sided conjecture saying that these ads definitively tipped anything other than most folks BS meter is silliness.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Interesting stuff

        Frankly I find it insulting that our "dear leaders" believe us to be this gullible

        Sadly, IQ is very much a bell-curve.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Sadly, IQ is very much a bell-curve.

          Bell-end, that is.

        2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Re: Interesting stuff

          Sadly, IQ is very much a bell-curve.

          IQ is also a largely pointless exercise. Its utility as a predictor of performance or success is severely limited and I'd wager a random sampling of 537 people would get a higher total IQ than the 535 members of congress plus potus and vp going back to 19591.

          1. It merely requires a smaller sampling to go back even further to account for the smaller number of states.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Interesting stuff

      You can see some of them on the London Subway. King's Cross if memory serves me right.

      https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=london+subway+russia+today+advert and switch to images.

      I am not surprised they are so coy about them as there is nothing particularly controversial about them. The whole thing at this stage is a blame game combined with a case of "Taleban leader finding his new bride is the village bicycle".

    4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "everything argued over last year..nothing but Kremlin-devised myths and urban legends."

      Because there's nothing the Con-gress hates than realizing they have also been taken for suckers, just like a voter?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interesting stuff

      Most interesting is why everyone is being so coy about letting us know what the content of the dodgy ads was.

      Well,

      (from the article) Revealing exactly what was smeared all over the internet during the 2016 elections would, we reckon, be like opening Pandora's box: it would allow citizens to join the dots between Kremlin-crafted lies, the gradual acceptance of those lies online, the discussion and even promotion of said lies on mainstream news networks, resulting in, presumably, dozens of clips of senators responding with indignation about made-up information. In short, everyone is going to look like a chump if it turns out everything argued over last year was based on nothing but Kremlin-devised myths and urban legends. Rumors, in other words, designed to destabilize American politics and perhaps install a preferred candidate in the White House.

      There's your reason: releasing the contents would show that the current candidate didn't actually have the voting margin to win without this influence, and both sides are sh*t scared they are the ones to lick off a constitutional crisis. Well, it's more like confirming a crisis, because Trump itself is already a crisis of impressive proportions. I can see why the Kremlin wanted him in: incompetence, boundless ego and too much power never made for a good combination.

      This is also why this investigation itself is so hairy: it shows Russia had the US voters by the short & curlies by simply playing on their prejudices, of which there are many. As far as I can tell, this is as close to a declaration of war as they've ever been with the US, but nobody is going to bring that up in front of the Orange One because he's Putin's mate since they apparently bought his loyalty with some cash.

      Boy, what a mess. And we are to consider these the "leaders" of the "free" world? Give me a break. They couldn't lead themselves out of a paper bag with a torch and a map.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Interesting stuff

        They couldn't lead themselves out of a paper bag with a torch and a map.

        To get out of the bag they're trying a novel approach: setting it on fire.

    6. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Interesting stuff

        Revealing exactly what was smeared all over the internet during the 2016 elections

        The issue is "By whom".

        RT was not alone and in fact, it was just a miniscule fraction of the influence.

        It is impossible to reveal what they added to the 2016 stench without dragging into the open the various other efforts such as the Cambridge Analytica targeted Trump adverts, paid for (by both campaigns) Macedonian manufactured fake news as well as the targeting into which facebook and twitter feeds to inject them and many, many, many other things.

        If that Pandora's box is opened, it will be inevitable that the even smellier Referendum Pandora's wheelie bin is opened and tipped onto the Westminster front lawn.

        It will be inevitable that the 20+ elections (that is just by Cambridge Analytica) which UK and USA paid to be influenced lately will add extra smelly maggots to the rubbish pile.

        Not a single one of the currently elected politicos or mainstream news outfits would do this - it is a political death wish to do this.

        "Do you consider Russia Today to be a regular media organization?"

        They are as regular as the beeb. The beeb in one of the languages of countries where we still try to exert influence is an interesting sight. You need to listen to their their Persian or Russian services for a while to understand the real gripe the powers that be have with RT. RT is a mirror image of what we have been doing to "THEM" for 50 years - Beeb foreign services, Radio Free Europe, etc. Similarly biased and similarly serving its pay master.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Interesting stuff

          If that Pandora's box is opened, it will be inevitable that the even smellier Referendum Pandora's wheelie bin is opened and tipped onto the Westminster front lawn.

          It will be inevitable that the 20+ elections (that is just by Cambridge Analytica) which UK and USA paid to be influenced lately will add extra smelly maggots to the rubbish pile.

          Not a single one of the currently elected politicos or mainstream news outfits would do this - it is a political death wish to do this.

          I so hate only having one upvote..

        2. S C

          Re: Interesting stuff

          Yes. This.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Interesting stuff

        They do investigative journalism

        Indeed. The finest 'investigative' journalism that local politics can buy..

    7. Naselus

      Re: Interesting stuff

      Because the official position is basically a contradiction. It states:

      1) The Russians definitely interfered in the US election.

      2) This interference did not have any impact on the result.

      Both sides know that it's important to accept 1), because, well, it's true, and it's a massive attack on the United States' political system which is likely to happen again.However, both sides ALSO have to accept 2), because they don't want to shake public confidence in the democratic process, and there's no mechanism for dealing with it (somehow, the all-powerful, all-knowing pantheon of the Founding Fathers didn't manage to anticipate Twitter or the Internet in 1787, though accepting that the 27-times amended constitution is a perfect document and has always been a perfect document is a vital part of the US's self-image).

      This leaves all discussion somewhat absurd, as 1) requires treating this with almost super-human gravitas, while 2) suggests that the problem doesn't actually exist. And yet congress must hold both ideas as true simultaneously. The more information is made public, the harder it is for the public to maintain the cognitive dissonance; it's not hard to accept two mutually-contradictory ideas as both true if you don't know anything about the topics, but if you have a reasonable grasp of the facts then you need a lot of training to keep agreeing with both.

      So, if the US population sees, say, a mass advert was targeted at Wisconsin Democrats telling them they could vote by text, then agreeing that this had no impact in a state Trump carried by 0.7% becomes a lot harder. And if that's the case, then the validity of the election is called into question, and a democracy only works if the losing side agrees that they lost (which is why losing presidential candidates always publicly concede and tell their followers to accept the situation, and why there was outcry when Trump threatened not to do so prior to the election). That's why even Democrats in congress keep stressing that they don't think the result was changed, even though they (and, tbh, even some elected Republicans) now pretty clearly believe that it was.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Interesting stuff

        it's not hard to accept two mutually-contradictory ideas as both true if you don't know anything about the topics, but if you have a reasonable grasp of the facts then you need a lot of training to keep agreeing with both.

        Perhaps a slight adjustment to your initial points will make it simpler..

        1) The Russians definitely interfered attempted to interfere in the US election.

        2) This interference did not have any impact on the result.

      2. strum Silver badge

        Re: Interesting stuff

        >2) This interference did not have any impact on the result.

        Really? Then why the fuck did they do it?

  2. edge_e

    I'm confused

    when the article states:

    Most of the real-life followers had no idea they were being caught up in these webs that were later utilized to push an array of disinformation, including state-led propaganda, fake news and divisive content.

    Are they talking about the republicans or the democrats?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm confused

      both oh both

    2. MK_E

      Re: I'm confused

      Yes.

    3. Marshalltown

      Re: I'm confused

      As others have already said, "both." The ads collectively don't target some specific candidate and support another. Instead they are directed at social fault lines in the US and the political process. Were I to speculate, and I am, then I would not be surprised of the attack reaches back much farther in time. Consider the crop of candidates available by the time of the election. How many were really good choices? What the US ballot needs is a "none of the above" as a choice for president. It would require some sort of interim "caretaker" system - possibly carrying over the incumbent for one year or something similar, while the parties take in the message and look for genuinely qualified candidates.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: I'm confused

        What the US ballot needs is a "none of the above" as a choice for president.

        I would like, in general, a preference voting system where you can vote for or against candidates, and you have a number of points to assign as you see fit. So, with 20 points as an example:

        Fairly Sensible Boring Candidate: +1

        Not Just No But Fucking Hell No Candidate: -9

        Monster Raving Looney Candidate: +12

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm confused

          would like, in general, a preference voting system where you can vote for or against candidates, and you have a number of points to assign as you see fit. So, with 20 points as an example:

          Fairly Sensible Boring Candidate: +1

          Not Just No But Fucking Hell No Candidate: -9

          Monster Raving Looney Candidate: +12

          So far, you've distributed only 22 points out of your 20. Where do you want to put the remaining -2 points?

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: I'm confused

            So far, you've distributed only 22 points out of your 20. Where do you want to put the remaining -2 points?

            That's to compensate for the people who can't be arsed to vote (that percentage being way more than 10, but meh)

    4. Naselus

      Re: I'm confused

      Yup, definitely both. The Russians pretty clearly favoured Trump to win (many pro-Trump ads, very many anti-Hillary ads), but they were pushing shit onto gullible voters on both sides. They were also pushing general conflict - so they had pro- and anti-BLM groups simultaneously, pro- and anti-secession groups, pro- and anti-gun groups etc. There's probably a fair few vocal pro-Bernie groups waiting to be uncovered, too, ones that then declared for Stein or advocated not voting.

      Basically, I suspect they started out just looking to push buttons - try and get everyone fighting in the streets and make the whole process as divisive as possible. This began to get all Pro-Trump because they could see that his presidency would more or less automatically fall to pieces - even if Trump himself wasn't so manifestly incompetent, dishonest, venal, corrupt and incapable, his acrimonious relationship with the establishment of both parties was likely to cause significant problems in government, leading to an understaffed and inexperienced administration that would struggle to get any legislation through congress. The aim was always to paralyze the US, rather than take over, and it's been hugely effective.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    when FB, Tw, Go tells the specific users that reposted fake news

    the day of "total disclosure" arrives

    ROFL

    I saw SO many examples not directly (we use adblockers) but from "friends" sending us news that really made no sense.

    Posting anonymously. Of course.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I wish your CEOs were here. They need to answer for this." "I'm disappointed that you're here and not your CEOs."

    On one hand, I get that talking to the lackeys rather than the leaders feels like the corporations are not taking this seriously. On the other hand, I doubt that they would have obtained anything very intelligible from the man-children in power. I can't say for Jack Dorsey, but Larry Page and Zuck are not really known for being great conversationalists.

    If the point is to humiliate the corporations and make them look like idiots in front of the media, then by all means Congress should have demanded to see the CEOs. But for any useful exchange, I'd say the lawyers were a better choice.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: But for any useful exchange, I'd say the lawyers were a better choice.

      Hmmm. And how much do you usually charge for an opinion?

    2. nijam

      > "I wish your CEOs were here. They need to answer for this." "I'm disappointed that you're here and not your CEOs."

      Presumably, the natural response would be "Funny, I was thinking much the same about you."

    3. veti Silver badge

      Because lawyers are so good at being transparent and honest and authoritative?

      Zuck in particular is rumoured to have political ambitions himself. If nothing else, it would be a useful training experience for him.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My albeit limited experience of Americans (probably about 2 dozen) who I have gotten to know and those I have spoken to (I'm a curious fellow) would never have fallen for a bullshit "You can text by vote", in fact no one of any nationality that I have known or know would fall for that bullshit.

    This just feels like grandstanding bullshit to deflect from the fact that everyone was talking bollocks.

    1. Jim Mitchell

      To misquote Menchen: "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."

    2. Mark 65

      Believe me there are some idiots out there of all nationalities. Maybe the means and location by which you meet Americans i.e. ones that have passports and travel perhaps, eliminates the segment of society that was being targeted.

    3. Marshalltown

      Your opinion is is nice to see ...

      ... but, being American (USian) I have to say that the sad truth is that there are loads of people with barely room-temperature IQs out there that definitely would jump at the chance to "text" their vote, rather than mustering at a polling place. Every year the IRS reminds everybody that will pay attention that they do not contact someone over the phone for the purposes of informing them of an audit or other action. Yet every year people receive phone messages explaining that the caller if from "the IRS" and that to avoid further action the individual receiving the call can send check, money order or use their credit card to pay the delinquent amount.

      1. DCFusor Silver badge

        Re: Your opinion is is nice to see ...

        Yeah-but,

        It's a topic of laughter among...well, anyone with the means to even have a CC when these guys call up.

        Being the target of a scam doesn't automatically mean you fall for it, in fact there are plenty of youtube clips of guys doing fun stuff like hooking the fake IRS scammers to the Microsoft support ones and recording the ensuing hilarity...

        If you want to insult yourself, fine.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: Your opinion is is nice to see ...

          Ask yourself: if no-one is dumb enough to fall for scams, then why are the scammers still doing it?

          Remember how naive you were when you first went to college? Now, consider how many people are in their first year at college right now.

          Then think, those people are by definition already above-average in terms of education.

          Maybe you don't know anyone who'd fall for it (although I'd question that assumption, too). But the set of "people you know" is limited by the neighbourhood you live in, the people you talk to at work, the forums you hang out on online - all of which are selected by you based on your own preferences, status and interests. That's how bubbles are formed.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Your opinion is is nice to see ...

            Most people aren't stupid, but that doesn't mean they're always thinking about what they're doing. If politics is a low priority for you, then you may not have many fixed opinions about things, because you don't spend any real time thinking about it. Almost nobody wants to talk about it.

            So think how many very intelligent people you know who do really stupid things with computers. Most of them are technically capable of understanding this tool they use every bloody day of their lives, they just can't be arsed. Life's too short. Worse, when you try to explain, they get angry with you, both for wasting their precious time and (I suspect) pointing out their ignorance.

            Now change the word computer for politics. I think it's a similar process. We all over estimate our abilities at making snap decisions on "gut-feeling". Particularly if we've not built up a pool of knowledge to train that gut feeling. And that, I suspect, is why people make the weird-seeming political choices they do.

            I will now give 2 examples to back up my case:

            Example 1 - In the year after the 2010 election, polls showed that about 10% of UKIP's new supporters were ex Lib Dem supporters. So here we have people who say they voted for a socially liberal, economically slightly left of centre party (publicly derided for joining a coalition and moving too far right) which was also the most pro-EU party in the country. Now they're saying they support a socially conservative, economically confused (between libertarians and protectionists) party dedicated to leaving the EU. So what happened? The pollster's argument as that they're the "anti-politics / I hate them all" vote, who could no longer vote Lib Dem as they'd actually got into government for the first time.

            Example 2 - It's the 2005 election. Blair up for re-election, Iraq getting quite a lot of play. I'm talking to a friend who rarely bothers with the news or politcs. She's not stupid, just a busy single Mum with 2 jobs. And she says something like, "that Tony Blair. Lots of people are saying he shouldn't have go involved in that place. Now where was it?" For quite a few people in the UK, Iraq is the single biggest political issue of this century - clearly they're a minority, and I bet a few of them would be shocked by how much space many people keep in their brains for thinking about it. i.e. None.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Your opinion is is nice to see ...

        I have to say that the sad truth is that there are loads of people with barely room-temperature IQs out there

        That's quite generous, with your measuring still in Fahrenheit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Your opinion is is nice to see ...

          That's quite generous, with your measuring still in Fahrenheit.

          It's only the 2nd of November and we already have the Insult of the Month™, grin. Beautiful.

      3. Old Coot

        Re: Your opinion is is nice to see ...

        >"text" their vote, rather than mustering at a polling place

        I would definitely go for it. Going to the polling place requires me to look away from my phone for as long as 3 minutes. I might miss out!

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Your opinion is is nice to see ...

          Old Coot,

          Why would that be? Surely you can drive to the polling station with the phone clamped to your face, walk in and do all that pesky social interaction stuff while dourly staring at your phone, then get back into the car and drive home the same way?

          Or is that just the people where I live?

  6. DougS Silver badge

    Applying pressure on Twitter

    If they push too hard, Twitter doesn't have to be based in the US. They have only a few thousand employees, and could probably relocate to Vancouver over a period of a few years - to give time for employees who want to move with them to do so, and replace those who won't move and don't do something they could continue to do remotely.

    There wouldn't be anything the government could do about it - sure Trump might complain and issue his usual meaningless threats. But the fact he would tweet those threats would show how toothless they were!

    1. Grade%
      Coat

      Re: Applying pressure on Twitter

      "There wouldn't be anything the government could do about it"[...]

      I wouldn't be too sure about that. El Trumpo could well declare Twitter a strategic national resource and have it nationalized. After all who uses it to effect? Trump of course. Who is the most important person in the world? Trump of course.

      There's even the national security angle to consider. All that lovely meta data. I suspect if the threat to leave were made...we would see, something interesting. ;)

      citation: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/13/business/worldbusiness/13iht-nationalize.4.16915416.html

      Mine's the one with the FM 21-76 in the pocket.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Applying pressure on Twitter

        > "After all who uses it to effect? Trump of course."

        Precisely. Twitter provides Trump with a direct line to many millions of people who can then pass on his utterances to many others. This is a new thing for Republicans. Previously they were more or less beholden to the liberal press for getting out their stances, unless they wanted to do huge ad buys.

        Now Trump just spills his guts on Twitspace regularly and makes the Enemedia play catchup every day. The Left can no longer control their precious 'narrative' like they used to, and this has caused them to react rather badly, basically going off the deep end. The near-insane hatred and 24/7 lies about Trump simply add power to his tweets.

        If the Left were to just cool it for a while, Trump would be deprived of his primary weapon (Twitter) and might then lose in 2020, but that ain't gonna happen. The Left has emphatically burned their bridges and now they have their backs to that cold, uncaring political river.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Applying pressure on Twitter

          The only thing Trump is using Twitter for is helping build the case against him that will ultimately result in his impeachment (though interviews with the "Enemedia", especially after Comey's firing, have been at least as damaging but still are his own words)

        2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: Applying pressure on Twitter

          " Previously they were more or less beholden to the liberal press for getting out their stances,"

          I hear that there not only is there a TV network dedicated to the GoP perspective, but that Trump watches it with great regularity and likes to tweet about it.

          So now you have a BS story aired on Fox (which they disavow pretty quickly once the lawyers get involved), but by that time it's been tweeted on by Trump, and then it's suddenly total fact. Because POTUS would never open his mouth without making sure his facts tally with some form of reality.

          "If the Left were to just cool it for a while,"

          If Trump managed to go 24 hours without provoking a scandal, or having one of his many existing scandals float to the surface, then the media coverage on his actions might die down.

          But then there might be some awkward looking at how Trump's policies and political appointments are going on. Like the continuing failure to actually staff many agencies, which is either incompetence or deliberate sabotage. But he's pushing through judicial appointments (which I believe are for life) like no-ones business.

          Too many people are focusing on the dumpster fire that is DJT, and not on what the GoP is working away on behind the scenes. But DJT loves the attention and the GoP (like all politicians) would rather people looked elsewhere while they go about the business of ruling the country.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Applying pressure on Twitter

            But DJT loves the attention and the GoP (like all politicians) would rather people looked elsewhere while they go about the business of ruling raping the country.

            FIFY.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Applying pressure on Twitter

          Precisely. Twitter provides Trump with a direct line to many millions of people who can then pass on his utterances to many others. This is a new thing for Republicans. Previously they were more or less beholden to the liberal press for getting out their stances, unless they wanted to do huge ad buys.

          @BJ, in that respect, the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings just held up a flaming large stick and no carrot: they raised the question why they should not be regulated like the other news outlets, as they clearly were no longer "just conveying user opinion" as they were before - they were publicly warned that their FCC exempt status was being looked at again in the light of their support for nefarious activity. If that happens, Trump tweets may end up being curated too, as they should have been.

          I mean, if you want to pretend to ban inflammatory content instead of handily profiting from it you may be forced to apply that policy consistently, and that alone would have seen the Trump account closed years ago.

        4. Kiwi Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Applying pressure on Twitter

          The near-insane hatred and 24/7 lies aboutfrom Trump

          FTFY. You're welcome.

          (As of a couple of weeks ago drumpf had been found out in some 1,800 lies since getting into office. I'm in my mid 40's and am pretty sure I'd be struggling to have managed that many in my LIFE!)

      2. oldcoder

        Re: Applying pressure on Twitter

        If they WERE to move, they are also smart enough to move first, then announce that they had moved.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Applying pressure on Twitter

      They may not need to be located in the US but you might want to look at the fact these companies are listed and where they are listed. That is where you apply pressure.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Applying pressure on Twitter

      "If they push too hard, Twitter doesn't have to be based in the US."

      If they push too hard none of the multinational tech businesses have to be based in the US as legal entities. Running down the US-based resources could take longer but could happen. All the US govt would then be able to apply pressure to would be a local subsidiary or, for added distance, a local franchise.

    4. Old Coot

      Re: Applying pressure on Twitter

      You better check to see what the exit wealth tax is for corporate expatriation. I expatriated in January and know that, for individuals, it's quite high, in the 30-40% range (after a low threshold).

    5. EveryTime

      Re: Applying pressure on Twitter

      When you suggest that Twitter could easily move from the U.S., you are neglecting that the people that control Twitter are not the managers, they are the big shareholders.

      The managers could easily move, and new employees hired (albeit not without significant disruption). But the financial structure behind Twitter still hopes to have big returns, or at least use the losses as a tax break. Leaving the U.S. would throw all of that value away.

  7. grizewald
    FAIL

    So much bullshit

    It's not OK for a foreign entity to use the media to influence US voters, but it's just fine for the political elite of the US to do so.

    I fail to see the difference between one group of propagandists and the other.

    This has always been a case of "How dare the Russians interfere in our propaganda machine?"

    Time to cut those transatlantic cables, close all the ports and complete the total isolation of the US population to ensure that nobody can interfere with the ministry of truth's unquestionable monopoly.

    1. Marshalltown

      Re: So much bullshit

      The difference is "in house" versus "out of house." With Republicans and Democrats we know they are both lying their ***** off, but the issues are clear cut enough to decide which side you are leaning toward. The Russian ads are not directed in support of some specific candidate but toward disrupting social coherency. They take explicit points being argued within US society (gun control, police shooting, racism, etc.) and amplify them into outright conflicts. The evidence resides in the fact that once Trump won the election, the campaign did not stop. The "liberal" protests following the election were actively "supported" by the very same Russian sources that targeted Clinton. The purpose is social decohesion in the US that would limit our productivity and ability to respond coherently to common threats.

      1. DCFusor Silver badge

        Re: So much bullshit

        The support was by George Soros, who isn't exactly popular around the world...He's funded all the NGOs that are doing this crap. Get a better info source, my friend.

        1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: So much bullshit

          "Get a better info source, my friend."

          Care to cite yours then?

          Soros being painted as the cackling jew master manipulating snowflakes is a pretty common theme on certain alt-fact sites, but claiming he's the ONLY one running the mad libs is pretty impressive even then.

          As for information sources, you're usually stuck with a choice between an edited and fact checked media (where the facts are presented to produce a certain narrative) and the alt-media who have a very clear narrative that is entirely independent of verifiable facts. Then the various sides get to argue about whose narrative is more appealing.

          If you're lucky, you can get a look at the reality of a situation, which almost always is going to be massively more complex and nuanced than anything that will make it into the media. But since "it's complicated" and "it's not just about choosing team red or team blue" aren't popular on either side of the aisle, it's doubtful if anyone will pay attention to you.

      2. ee_cc

        Re: So much bullshit

        So something like the usual CIA psyops playbook also ran in South America, Indonesia, Iran. Those things that over the last decades caused unrest, coup d’etat, massive killings in those ex-colonies that had interesting ores or were backdrop for proxy confrontations between superpowers?

        1. Naselus

          Re: So much bullshit

          "So something like the usual CIA psyops playbook also ran in South America, Indonesia, Iran"

          Not really, no. The CIA generally produced false news to try and achieve a specific aim - to convince people that the CIA-backed candidate was Good and the other person was Bad. An example of CIA'backed intel attacks of this kind would be consistently suggesting the enemy candidate wanted to abolish private property, and their own candidate was the ally of the Common Man (which he invariabl wasn't).

          The Russian approach is referred to as 'The Firehose of Bullshit' in intelligence circles, and basically involves generating as much crap as possible so people just stop trusting anything. They produce stuff with deranged and impossible-to-believe allegations (like 'Hillary is an alien'), but do so about both sides... and everyone else they can, too.

          The idea is that critical thinking is hard, and so the brain gets tired after having to do it for a while, so if you barrage people with enough total bullshit they give up trying to filter it out and just accept whatever confirms their existing biases. Putin used it internally with great success over the last decade, and now they're trying to use it on outside parties (as are the far right media in the US, Brexiteers in the UK, The Front Nationale in France etc).

  8. Kev99

    US Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter once said the right to free speech does not allow you to yell "fire" in a crowded theatre. When the billionaire social networks begin to be platforms tat undermine the safety and security of US citizens is when they are beginning to yell "fire" in a crowded theatre. This ranks on a par with the news media continually giving aid and comfort to the enemy by repeatedly publishing the minutest details of US and allied weapons and force plans.

    1. snoggs
      Headmaster

      Oliver Wendell Holmes, arguing for the legality of jailing socialists who distributed anti-draft leaflets during WWI. Generally viewed as a bad decision today and long since reversed.

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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      So, tell us again how tech giants are more important than US govt...

      @Kev99 ..

      You're talking total b****x, if you don't mind me saying so.

    3. eldakka Silver badge

      @Kev99

      US Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter once said the right to free speech does not allow you to yell "fire" in a crowded theatre.

      Firstly, that comes from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.'s ruling opinion from Schenck v. United States in 1919. And you left out one very important qualifier, the word "falsely". Even under Holmes, you could shout fire if it was true.

      Secondly, you have left out that this was overturned in 1969, in Brandenburg v. Ohio, which limited the scope of banned speech to that which would be directed to and likely to incite imminent lawless action (e.g. a riot).

      So, the speech has to both incite imminent action - not some theoretical future action - and that action so incited also has to be lawless.

      So, while falsely yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre may incite imminent action - fleeing the fire - the action of fleeing a fire isn't lawless action. Therefore such speech would be perfectly legal.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This ranks on a par with the news media continually giving aid and comfort to the enemy by repeatedly publishing the minutest details of US and allied weapons and force plans.

      Ah, I can just hear these sage words being uttered by my grade-four political education teacher. Except of course he was talking about the Mother Russia, and the next passage was about all the good that everybody's dear uncle Joseph Vissarionovich did by shooting and locking up all those traitors who would babble the state secrets to anybody who'd listen.

      Ah yes, the good old times. Thank you, Comrade, for this trip down the memory lane!

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Headmaster

        That's rather inefficient

        that everybody's dear uncle Joseph Vissarionovich did by shooting and locking up all those traitors

        If you shoot them you can dispense with the locking up. At least if you do the shooting first.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's rather inefficient

          If you shoot them you can dispense with the locking up. At least if you do the shooting first.

          By locking them up, you get some slave labor for your pet construction projects. Once you are done, then you shoot them. It's only the common sense.

  9. The Nazz Silver badge

    Perspective

    Get some perspective.

    OK, so the electorate were influenced by fake news, fake stories to elect the "wrong" candidate, one of two obnoxious maybe dangerous candidates. A bought politician, just bought by the "wrong" side.

    Few, if any, were hurt by this. Though undoubtedly the tech co's did profit handsomely.

    Yet Tony Blair, using fake news, blatantly lied to the country to start a crazy illegal war resulting in millions of deaths, dreadful injuries and immense numbers of displaced persons.On which the US no doubt played a leading role. And no doubt profited handsomely.

    Is it a bad thing that the US actually try and colloborate and work with the Russians, and others, rather than see them as perpetual adversaries?

    There must be many other issues, reasons and ways to control the tech co's. Just do it.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Perspective

      No, only by Russian fake news.

      More than $3bn spent by both main candidates and the lies published by them and their supporters had absolutely no effect on the electorate, but $100,000 of Russian ads totally swayed it.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Perspective

        More than $3bn spent by both main candidates and the lies published by them and their supporters had absolutely no effect on the electorate, but $100,000 of Russian ads totally swayed it.

        You're ignoring two rather influential factors: swing districts, and the electoral college.

        With proportional representation, those 6 million roubles would have gone nowhere indeed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Perspective

          With proportional representation, those 6 million roubles would have gone nowhere indeed.

          With or without proportional representation, that's not even enough to pay Bill Clinton's or JWB's speaker fees for a single, two-hour appearance. You can just as well spend 6 trillion Zimbabwean dollars on a cup of covfefe - the result is going to be the same.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Perspective

      Yet Tony Blair, using fake news, blatantly lied to the country to start a crazy illegal war resulting in millions of deaths, dreadful injuries and immense numbers of displaced persons.On which the US no doubt played a leading role. And no doubt profited handsomely.

      The Nazz,

      If you're going to complain about fake news, then you have no place posting something as totally ignorant and fact-free as this.

      So, let's take it in order:

      1. Tony Blair did not lie about the idea that Iraq had WMD, seeing as he believed it to be true himself. Hence the worst it can be is a mistake, as it doesn't meet the definition of lie. There is no evidence to suggest otherwise, as all the Western intelligence agencies and the UN all thought Iraq was still in possession of WMDs before the war. That's because the UN had found evidence in the 90s for most of Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear programs and yet had only destroyed about 70% of what they thought Iraq had.

      2. Illegal war. Debatable. The UK and US, and various other countries, were able to get their legal establishments to declare the war legal. Even without up-to-date UN mandate. This is partly because Iraq was in still breach of the UN resolutions that wound up the last war in 1991. They actually fired Scud missiles in the second war, so even if they didn't have any active WMD programs or stocks, they were still in breach. It's arguable, because it's one of the faults of international law that there's no proper court system, and so no way of resolving disputes between well-argued legal opinions. It's precendent in actual cases that makes for a working legal system.

      3. "Resulting in millions of deaths." Bollocks! There was a BMJ study which held that the invasion of Iraq caused 500,000 deaths. Not millions. But that got quite badly demolished. That's also going to depened on what you mean by "led to", given that coalition forces didn't kill anything close to that many people directly - though many more were killed in an ensuing civil war. It's pretty likely that inter-communal violence would have happened on Saddam's death anyway, given that 1 section of the Iraqi population had a stranglehold on power in Saddam's regime, and that regime had visited repression, and sometimes genocide (the Marsh Arabs) on other sections. Are the US/UK also responsible for the deaths caused by the Iranian-backed Shia militias? Even the ones happening today? How far do you go back? Do we also blame Sykes and Picot? What about the Prophet Mohammed?

      4. Finally, how clear is your memory of these events? You seem rather unclear on the US role, given that Blair was overtly speaking in support of the US position - and of course it was a majority of US troops in the coalition that invaded.

      Anyway I suggest that you calm down with the hysterical language and try basing your arguments on the facts.

    3. strum Silver badge

      Re: Perspective

      >Yet Tony Blair, using fake news, blatantly lied to the country

      We have since had six inquiries into these events, and not one of them has turned up any evidence of Blair lying - yet people like you are still repeating the Gilligan lie?

      Grow up.

      1. Missing Semicolon

        Re: Perspective

        Sorry - I read the Hutton report.

        And the only sensible conclusion to the evidence was that the dossier was indeed "dodgy" and had had the drafting lead very firmly by the JSC, under the direction of Blair. The JSC did not write the words - they just sent it back until it contained the words they wanted.

        The actual conclusion of course, was the usual whitewash. David Kelly died in vain, unfortunately.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Perspective

          The Hutton report did not say that. If it had accused the Blair government of actually lying, then it would have fallen.

          They can legitimately be accused of "sexing up" the dossier, in that they didn't put something like 'the UK has some evidence (which it has so far been impossible to verify) that suggests Iraq has chemical weapons it can deploy at 45 minutes' notice'. They didn't do that, or from memory caveat the phrase much at all - rather they said that UK intelligence indicated that Iraq had WMD that could be deployed at 45 minutes' notice.

          This was a relatively un-controversial matter at the time in a report that didn't really say anything all that interesting. I read that dossier, and it basically pointed out all the stuff that we knew Iraq had got, because the UN had tracked its existence in the 90s, but not managed to destroy it before the weapons inspectors were finally kicked out.

          It also pointed out that Iraq still had the scientists and information to reconstruct their WMD programs as soon as sanctions were removed, which was definitely true. And that they were still in violation of the UNSC resolutions because they were still keeping SCUD missiles, which they later used.

          So the Hutton report was quite damning because of the all the criticism of process and sofa government. It accused them of stripping the qualifying language out of the report, not lying. There's a massive difference.

          The question wasn't do we think Iraq has WMD, as almost everyone believed that to be true. Even if not, once they had the cash they still had the scientists and the knowhow - so in intelligence terms they retained the capability. The question was did they have useable WMD? If so, was it actually deployable?

          That was much more controversial, because apart from the SCUDs and the mustard gas, the Iraqis were pretty shit at WMD. They weren't all that hot at getting the purity high enough in their nerve agents, which meant they couldn't store them very long, and their biological program was a pretty big failure. As was the nuclear program. They also failed to get a chemical delivery system that fitted on a SCUD, and I seem to remember their air-dropped munitions were pretty shit as well. What they had lots of was mustard gas shells. Which I guess is why the Iran-Iraq war was basically WWI with extra sand.

          But you can't accuse Blair of lying - because by definition a lie is someobody saying something that they know to be false. And all the evidence and enquiries point to Blair, the government and the intel community believing that Iraq had WMDs - there was no good reason to think otherwise, given the information availeble. The only question was whether they were actually useable - let alone deployable.

          Groupthink, spin, poor decision making processes and planning are the accusations the various reports level. They're bad enough. You don't have to make the shit up about lying, which is transparently untrue. That loses you any chance at the moral high ground.

  10. scrubber
    Paris Hilton

    The government/populace you deserve

    If you keep screwing your education system to such a degree that the people get their news from an online BBS then you can have no complaints that some people might use that to spread discord in your country.

    Also, are US citizens not more than capable of finding divisive subjects on their own without Russian help?

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You're wrong El Reg...

      Technically they did put

      "That is, of course, absolute nonsense – you have to physically turn up at a specific location and have your voter details checked alongside a register before you can vote in person. "

      So whilst not answering the question of "are you able to vote without appearing in person?" they did caveat their statement. Whether that was intentional or not is a different matter.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: You're wrong El Reg...

        Yeah...I know. I'm doing penance over this... No beer for me tonight.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang a sec! Vote by text!

    Over to the cell phone companies! Seeing as those misguided individuals were taken out of the real voting system completely, how effective was the 'Vote by text' ad?

    1. Naselus

      Re: Hang a sec! Vote by text!

      No, there's a very serious danger that we'd get actual numbers from that. It is vitally important that NO HARD IMPACT NUMBERS ARE EVER FOUND. The Russian campaign must be found to have had a devastating impact while simultaneously not having effected the results in any state.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Russia Today and Sputnik propaganda outlets?

    "Russia Today and Sputnik propaganda outlets". As compared to Faux News and the BBC I suppose, both guilty of pushing the 'White Helmets' narrative. It's also amusing how the BBC experience a technical fault on the line whenever anyone expresses an unorthodox opinion on the telephone. The Russian story is totally bogus, designed to distract from the real manipulators of public opinion in the US media, that would be the CIA, who have agents embedded as pretend journalists in all the major US media outfits.

    My reading is that, Clinton and Drumpf have both been leaked against possible by two competing elements of the US intelligence community, for reasons yet to be determined. And then we have the 'golden shower' dossier concocted by the same people that found evidence of "Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Even if it were true that Russia was buying targeted adverts on Facebook/Twitter, is the average American dumb enough to be so influenced by blatant propaganda or is it after a lifetime of being exposed to Faux News, they can't tell the difference.

    "Congress now has a dossier on the estimated 3,000 Kremlin-masterminded ads .. precious little information on them has actually been released."

    Translation: we're just making this shit up.

    1. Naselus

      Re: Russia Today and Sputnik propaganda outlets?

      Most coherent thing aManfromMars has ever posted.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Russia Today and Sputnik propaganda outlets?

      Translation, you're just making this shit up.

      Sputnik and Russia Today are state sponsored propoganda. In the same way that Radio Moscow was, back in Soviet days.

      The BBC is not. The BBC is kept at arms length from the UK government, which does not have direct control of either it, its staff appointments or its finances. The BBC may still be part of "the establishment", though more the liberal slightly lefty bit of it, but it is not directly controlled by government.

      Fox News is a private company that takes a certain editorial line in order to maximise its profits. It may also be to push Murdoch's agenda, who knows. I think he is a tabloid kind of guy. But US TV media, and most of the big newspapers, used to be quite similar editorially, so Fox were able to exploit a gap in the market on the right that wasn't well covered.

      All these organisations are different, and do what they do for different reasons. If you can't see a difference it's either because you're not looking or you don't want to.

      1. pxd

        Re: Russia Today and Sputnik propaganda outlets?

        I ain't Spartacus, too. Idiots that try to portray the independently funded and operated BBC as no different from Fox News (operated to achieve maximum commercial profit) or RT (operated to further Putin's goals) are guilty of the worst sort of wilful obfuscation. pxd

  14. eldakka Silver badge

    Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) asked: "Why should you be treated any differently to the press?" All three California outfits responded with a version of the fact that they are "platforms" and not publishers, that their content is user-created, and that they protect people's right to free speech and expression. Cornyn made it clear he was not persuaded. "They may be a distinction lost on most of us," he said.

    My response to the Senator would have been something along the lines of:

    "For anyone who fails to grasp that distinction, I would question their competence to be on this committee"

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      "My response to the Senator would have been something along the lines of:

      "For anyone who fails to grasp that distinction, I would question their competence to be on this committee""

      Then you would have been an idiot. Free speech is not untrammelled, for example with respect to political speech, where there are rules and regulations. Speech is free amongst yourselves, as a group of individuals, but Facebook is more like an online campaign rally than a chat at the pub, Twitter even more so. There are regulations on this type of speech, that currently do not apply to Twitter. Why?

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        What's that got to do with my point? My point has nothing to do with free speech or political speech.

        My point was that if you lack the intelligence to understand the difference between a publisher and a platform, then you shouldn't be on that committee.

        If one understands the difference, but still decides to treat them the say way that is one thing, it is an informed decision made based on knowledge, on understanding.

        But if one is unable to comprehend there is a difference so lumps them together because they are unable to understand the differences, that is something different, it is a decision made in ignorance.

  15. Ubermik

    All this "Russian" nonsense is just a smoke screen, just the stories posted by the mainstream media itself could be viewed by many as being "fake", "misleading" and "a national security issue" in some indirect respects

    It wasn't the Russians publishing outright lies about the polling data to try and "dupe" the American voters into putting a sociopath into the whitehouse it was the media

    As for "free speech" that's laughable, if youre a tree hugging communist who buys into conspiracy theories like man made global warming you have free speech on sites like google, facebook and twitter but if youre any more "right wing" that ultra Marxist they want to censor or delete your posts or close down accounts

    And hell, who really cares about Russia?

    China is a much bigger threat and one of "Killarys" biggest financial "owners" wants to collapse the US dollar and make China the worlds financial powerhouse. The same candidate who is also partially bought and paid for by Islamic fundamentalist financiers and leaders yet not a murmur about that "influence" either. Killary, the candidate funded by a man who thinks only the rich should have a say in who gets to vote and that poor people shouldn't because they don't understand politics

    Yet the MSM google and twitter were all openly pro Killary and shut down many accounts that were pro trump yet then try to play the "free speech" card lol

    As stern as the wording might have been this just feels like another scam being enacted on the US population to pave the way for more censorship and a greater ability for companies like these to stamp out "free speech" that isn't the types of opinions they support so they can claim "the government made us do it"

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Bloody hell.

      The loons are out in force today...

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      What lies about the polling data? The polls mostly showed that Clinton would win the popular vote. Clinton won the popular vote. They were broadly right at the end.

      Whether the changes they showed during the campaign reflected actual reality is harder (actually impossible) to measure. The only true test of polling accuracy is an election, which they called broadly correctly.

      The state-by-state polls I didn't follow, but I seem to remember reading vary in quality a lot more than the national ones.

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    American corportate delusion "We are citizens of the world."

    Bulls**t.

    1) A Corporation is not a person, unless they are an immortal sociopath who's single goal is to make profit pretty much regardless of anything else.

    2) You obey the laws of the country you were formed in. US corporation --> US laws.

    3) WTF about "Can we be excluded from anyone knowing which politicians we fund?" Are you f**king kidding me?

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: American corportate delusion "We are citizens of the world."

      2) You obey the laws of the country you were formed in. US corporation --> US laws.

      As well as the laws[1] of the countries you (wish to) operate in. If those result in mutually exclusive restrictions on operating conditions, then you stay out of that country.

      [1] C.f. Germany and Nazi/Holocaust propaganda.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why are big corps more important?

    Because they pay for your policies silly.

  18. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Wikileaks

    "This kind of attitude I would submit is not acceptable to a large majority of Americans"

    I find it very interesting and revealing that the US Government views a service which tries to publish the truth about major invasive surveillance and all manner of underhand and shady practices against its own constituents, as an enemy of "America and its people"; and then goes on to suggest that all of those very same constituents would find the publishing of those truths "not acceptable".

    Totally fu**ed up. All of them.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Wikileaks

      Wikileaks stopped being a publisher of "truth" and became a news organisation the moment they started editing their data. Which was as early as the "Collaterol Murder" video, where they edited out the guns carried by the people the helicopter shot at.

      Weirdly I've seen arguments that the only bit of that video that could arguably be called a war crime was also edited out. It's the bit at the end when they shoot into a building, after people have hidden in it. Which could be argued to be a disproportionate use of force in a mixed civilian/military environment. Everything else they did was self-defence.

      To be fair Wikileaks eventually published full and edited videos, but the point is that once you edit it yourselves, you become journalists or campaigners.

      Assange's repeated interventions in the presidential campaign with leaked emails, was again either journalism or campaigning, depending on your point of view. If he was doing that at specific times to influence the campaign with data given to him by Russian intelligence (or those linked to it), as is alleged, then we move from journo/campaigner to the rather more serious foreign agent.

      Whatever you believe, Wikileaks are not a neutral organisation merely dedicated to facilitating leaks.

  19. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Ads are 'user-created content'?

    "Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) asked: "Why should you be treated any differently to the press?" All three California outfits responded with a version of the fact that they are "platforms" and not publishers, that their content is user-created, and that they protect people's right to free speech and expression. "

    As far as I'm concerned, online ads (whether delivered from one's own servers or from an ad farm's) should be subject to the same rules as print ads instead of generic user-created content (which is what they appear to be saying here), and even high school newspapers vet the ads they want to place.

    But ads are what brings in the money for FB/Twitter/Google, so they're not going to be looking at them beyond the bare minimum required by advertising standards.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    equivalency between the Central Intelligence Agency and Russia's intelligence services

    absolutely

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    willing to put the interests or our country above – not on a par with – our adversaries,

    in other words: democracy and fairness - good. OUR RULE - better. MUCH BETTER!!!!!!!

  22. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Offski

    Of course the problem even the US govt has is that if they push Twitter too hard it can simply up sticks and move head office to somewhere like Iceland, out of the reach of Uncle Sam, then gradually move the server farms to Canada and the like.

    Also fake accounts and buying ads are hardly equivalent to letting the CIA have a backend into the whole thing. A logic fail by the Senator there. It seems the big bad bogie of the Russians has some in the US losing their sense of perspective.

    And since Voice of America has been beaming propaganda into Russia for many decades my heart fails to bleed. So arms in the info wars are more equal, a bit like Iran reverse engineering that Predator then using theirs to buzz US warships in the Gulf.

    1. teebie

      Re: Offski

      "Also fake accounts and buying ads are hardly equivalent to letting the CIA have a backend into the whole thing."

      Thank you.

      I didn't see where twitter wouldn't let the CIA place ads, or where they gave the russian security services a backdoor.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Offski

      Twitter can move of course. But it still needs Silicon Valley VC money. It still makes massive losses. Plus it may feel it still needs the infrastructure of suppliers and pool of staff to use.

      Also it does rather well from the exemption it got from the US gov for responsibility for what it publishes. As do Google and Facebook. By continuing the lie that they're not publishers. Other jurisdictions may not be generous or easygoing. If it was so easy, how come almost all the tech giants are US based?

      It's clearly possible of course. But the US government still has them by the balls if lots of their execs are citizens and ever want to go home, or a majority of their revenue comes from US sources.

      Any government with a sufficiently large economy can make waves internationally by targetting payments to companies that piss them off. This is a major component of foreign policy now, and is one of the main reasons why Iran made that nuclear deal - i.e. international pressure on its companies and trade. It's also why the Russian economy has suffered so badly from relatively light sanctions over their invasion of Ukraine. Because they've been targetted at screwing over their banking oil and gas sectors.

  23. Miss_X2m1

    Whose truth anyway???

    I should listen to a fucking politician telling me what is truth? Fuck them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whose truth anyway???

      Quite.

      As if they don't have a (well deserved) reputation for lying already.

  24. veti Silver badge

    What do they think "publishing" is?

    It's interesting how Twitter, Facebook and Google think they're not "publishers", because their content is "user-generated"...

    (Which is itself a patently false claim if we're talking about their newsfeeds.)

    What do they think "publishing" is?

    Hint: it means taking someone else's content and identifying those people who want (/will pay) to consume it, and giving those people the means to do so. That's what publishers do, it's what they've always done, it's the only thing they do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What do they think "publishing" is?

      Do keep up old chap.

      Facebook et al are not publishers, they are content aggregators, after all, publishers only take a share of the profits......

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: What do they think "publishing" is?

        Tell that to, e.g., Charles Dickens...

        Publishers take as much of the profit as they can get away with. Quite a lot of the time, that's "everything".

  25. Potemkine! Silver badge

    "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them"

    QED.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the big media fallacy

    is the assumption that ONLY Russia interfered, and ONLY towards one side consistently. The concept that China can and does do the same, for their own agendas, is a rabbit hole Media and Congress refuse to acknowledge even exists, much less willing to go down. "Mao Brigades" were a term that ANYONE involved in internet information exchange knew about years ago-but no mention at all about such things in the Blame Russia game.

    Methinks a lot of this is mostly Bread and Circuses. West Coast politicians believe they control enough of the social media market to keep it benefitting them in the low-info voter market. But pretend to care about Russia while ignoring other foreign actors, shows a comprehensive cleanup is NOT their goal.

    1. Marshalltown

      Re: the big media fallacy

      There's little evidence advanced that any agency other than Russia interfered. What is interesting though is that the evidence made available indicates that the purpose of the interference was not to get the Duck elected but instead to aggravate existing rifts in the US social structure.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You have an obligation under the First Amendment...

    ... to notify people who you know have been deliberately misled.

    Errr, since when?

    Are they just making this stuff up?

    Does it apply to lawmakers as well?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TLDR

    Lawmakers really, really, don't like to be made to look complete fools of by foreigners, so they have to take it out on somebody.

    If they were any way half competent anything they didn't want tech companies to allow would already be illegal. But it isn't.

    So they're also made to look fools by their own side.

    And then they have the audacity to ask the companies which side they're on :/

  29. Kiwi Silver badge
    Coat

    Would these match...

    it would allow citizens to join the dots between Kremlin-crafted lies,

    Would these match the 1,800+ trump lies"alternative facts"?

  30. R69

    the clue is in the name...

    Social media - the clue is in the name - how are they not subject to the same regulation as all other media platforms?

    Newsprint is a platform, radio is a platform, the TV is a platform - whats different here??

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