back to article Where hackers haven't directly influenced polls, they've undermined our faith in democracy

What a difference a year makes. This time last year, Twitter pooh-poohed any suggestion that Russian agents ran accounts on its platform for purposes of subverting the US election. A month ago, it was forced to eat its words, owning up to maybe just a few paltry 201. Last week, in the course of a Congressional grilling, that …

  1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    The biggest UK hackers of the lot then?

    Murdoch, Dacre and whoever currently owns the Express.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: The biggest UK hackers of the lot then?

      The Barclay brothers are probably feeling left out...

    2. Dr Stephen Jones

      Re: The biggest UK hackers of the lot then?

      Murdoch Dacre and "whoever own the Express" (it's still Richard Desmond - great research, kiddo) make a convenient scapegoat when the public have rejected your ideas.

      No self-examination or honesty required when you can blame "false consciousness".

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: The biggest UK hackers of the lot then?

        "Murdoch Dacre and "whoever own the Express" (it's still Richard Desmond - great research, kiddo) make a convenient scapegoat when the public have rejected your ideas.

        "

        You don't even know what my ideas are, so how do you know?

        Also, I have noted that some of my comments get voted on quite a long time after I made them. Desmond still owns the Express now. He may not next week even, as it's known to be up for sale.

        For someone who claims to be a PhD, you seem to lack elementary analytical skills. As well as basic politeness. Perhaps you're really that fat bloke from The Sun who was so truthful about Hillsborough.

      2. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: The biggest UK hackers of the lot then? @Dr Stephen Jones

        I'm not sure that "the referendum got the result I wanted" justifies failure to consider whether a hostile foreign propaganda source that has been found to be active in the US might also be attempting to influence the UK*.

        (* though I'm more inclined to point to the costs associated with being in an economic union looking outsized after ten years of economic turmoil that made the benefits look slender; probably worth a quick peek under the covers though, wouldn't you say?)

    3. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: The biggest UK hackers of the lot then?

      You forgot convicted (in the US) fraudster Conrad Black, who was hacking the public mind for much of the same time as Murdoch. Colonials getting revenge on Blighty for having colonised their countries?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The biggest UK hackers of the lot then?

        Why would the Colonials want revenge on the nation that established their Colonies? Now, the original inhabitants, that might be a different matter...

        1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

          Re: The biggest UK hackers of the lot then?

          While we're on the subject of election hackers, don't forget

          Cambridge Analytica

          I don't think they or their targeted messages have any place in national or local elections. Same goes for all other similar organizations. Their use by political parties should be banned and any candidates or parties found to have employed them should be removed from the election results. Retrospectively if needed, with an immediate bye-election to fill the now-vacant seat.

      2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

        Re: The biggest UK hackers of the lot then?

        Conrad Black was born in Canada. The US has plenty to answer for, but not I think Conrad Black.

    4. BillG Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: The biggest UK hackers of the lot then?

      ...financiers with deep pockets were hard at work influencing the outcomes of national elections...

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

      I'm shocked, shocked, that gambling is going on in this establishment!!!

      This kind of crap has being going on since the Romans. Investigations are always hypocritical. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, it's only illegal when spoken of in the third person, as in "their corruption". It's only when it's spoken of in the first person as in "our corruption" that these activities are legal.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That makes no sense, the people that voted for brexit were apparently very old and/or thick with no money so wouldn't have had access to the internet anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My attempt at the use of irony to mock or convey contempt seems to have failed.

      I hang my head in shame.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Nil carb

        As one of the very thick old people who voted for Brexit, who have no money and no access to the Internet, I sympathize with you.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      the people that voted for brexit were apparently very old and/or thick ......

      But not quite all of them. And some were just self-interested or prejudiced.

      AC because if you can, so I can.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I always post AC.

        I think labelling either side as being one thing or another is not a good idea because it doesn't help and only serves a purpose of sowing division amongst the people, something the media is very fond of doing, I was using sarcasm based on the media reaction.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          "I always post AC."

          I think thats why your attempt at sarcasm failed. Text is a hard enough meduim to convey subleties and intonations as it is , doing it anonymously just adds another barrier.

          1. Brent Beach

            "anonym[it]y just adds another barrier" - and is at the root of this entire problem.

            Cambridge Analytica happens to be very good at what they do. They are hired guns. They will work for anyone with the money. Most of their work is done through anonymous posting on social media. They need not reveal who hires them or how much they are paid. Can this go on?

            Who gave DUP 420,000 pounds?

            We seem to think anonymity is important. Is it important enough to risk our electoral systems?

  3. Solarflare

    "100,000 signatures means the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament."

    Key word there be considered of course...

  4. King Jack
    Headmaster

    Democracy

    The real way democracy works is that you get to vote for someone who lies their asses off and promises things that they will never deliver. Then when in power they take the stance of a dictator who has a job for life and do whatever they like for a few years. When the next election looms they suddenly become caring, they even venture into the real world to influence the mentally challenged with more bullshit. Rinse and repeat.

    Fiddling polls makes no odds.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Democracy

      When a dictator fails, they swing from a lightpost.

      When a democratically elected politician fails, they write a memoir and retire to the House of Lords.

      The most efficient system would be a benevolent dictator. No shortage of available dictators, problem is the benevolent part!

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Democracy

        The most efficient system would be a benevolent dictator.

        Unfortunately that system, to be most efficient, also requires a compliant citizenry to be in complete agreement with the thoughts and intentions of the benevolent dictator.

        Welcome to the Borg Collective.

        1. AMBxx Silver badge

          compliant citizenry to be in complete agreement

          That's where the benevolence ends and the secret police start.

      2. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Democracy

        I have lived under several benevolent dictators (not in the UK, of course, ours aren't very benevolent). Juan Peron, Dr Salazar, Habib Bourguiba... for most people, life wasn't noticeably different from life in Britain today. Certainly a few people disappeared alarmingly, and many of them were never seen alive again. But that happens here and now, too. It's just that our politicians and our media are dedicated to ignoring or minimizing those disappearances, because, you see, they happen to BAD people.

        The arguments for a benevolent dictator are quite strong, and of course go back to Plato and long before. A fortiori, monarchy also has its attractions - see the writings of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, for instance. A monarch has a big investment in his or her country, especially if (s)he hopes to hand it on to the offspring.

        The big speed bump is the word "benevolent". How on earth can you find someone who not only is benevolent now, but will remain benevolent when given power? There are your Marci Aurelii and your Frederick IIs, but they are few and far between.

        The big question is whether power corrupts, or merely attracts the corruptible.

        "All governments suffer a recurring problem: [p]ower attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted".

        - Frank Herbert, “Chapterhouse Dune”

        "The nature of power is such that even those who have not sought it, but have had it forced upon them, tend to acquire a taste for more".

        - Aldous Huxley, “Brave New World Revisited”, Chapter 1

        The more one reflects on the ramifications of these knotty problems, the more attractive seems the solution proposed by Philip K. Dick in his novel "World of Chance". Supreme power over the world government is bestowed completely at random by a (presumably unhackable) computer, which at any moment of the day or night may designate any human being, from anywhere and any walk of life, to be President of Earth. Such a person gets protection and advice, but must rule as best (s)he sees fit. And, of course, may be replaced as suddenly and arbitrarily as (s)he was raised to power.

        The bottom line is that human beings did not evolve to live in communities of more than a hundred or so. Thus it is likely that there is no ideal way of governing them in communities of millions or billions.

    2. Palpy
      Pint

      Re: Democracy and cynics

      Cynicism is one of the small deaths by which cowards die daily, King Jack. ;)

      Cynicism did not give rise to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, nor the Clean Water Act of 1972. Nor the Emancipation Proclamation. The 19th Amendment, giving all women the right to vote in the USA, was not sparked by cynicism.

      No hard feelings, just sayin'. Have a beer anyway.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Democracy and cynics

        Contrariwise, as a student of British history I see cynicism and selfishness as the greatest force behind every liberalizing change going back to Magna Carta and before. British people have never had a disinterested desire for everyone to be free; individually and severally they have had a strong desire NOT to be oppressed by others, and they have cut up very rough indeed when it came to the crunch.

        Imagine how much political liberty we would have today if King John had crushed the barons by force, or if King Charles I had not had his head cut off. His son King Charles II was often heard to say, explaining his readiness to submit to Parliament, that "I have no wish to go on my travels again". And King James II actually was obliged to flee abroad, being replaced by William of Orange and his wife Mary (James' own daughter).

        That was one of the political principles on which Thomas Jefferson was keenest. He far preferred the spirit of the French Revolution to the comfortable, repressive, property-centric ethos of the American Revolution. And he often actually declared that he hoped there would be a revolution, however small, every few years, as the shedding of a little blood (especially that of nasty tyrants and bankers) was far preferable to the gradual loss of liberty. (Which has in fact transpired, until the USA today is a place that would probably drive Jefferson stark raving mad if he could see it).

    3. Eddy Ito Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Democracy

      To quote Gary Strand, "A democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch."

    4. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Democracy

      Actually, your diagnosis is a little too optimistic. When the next election approaches, they know perfectly well that the voters have no one else to vote for who would be any better, so they really don't need to change anything.

  5. Andy Mac

    Why must democracy be digitised?

    I get that counting votes by hand is laborious, expensive and prone to error, but isn’t trust in our democratic processes worth more than what can be saved with voting machines?

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Why must democracy be digitised?

      You trust a system that makes no attempt whatsoever to verify that people walking into a polling station are who they say they are?

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Why must democracy be digitised?

        You trust a system that makes no attempt whatsoever to verify that the people that are campaigning for votes are who they say they are OR will do what they say they will do.

        IOW, practically all of civilization relies on a degree of trust that cannot be guaranteed for even the short term. Humans simply don't work that way.

      2. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Why must democracy be digitised?

        You trust a system that makes no attempt whatsoever to verify that people walking into a polling station are who they say they are?

        Does it actually matter who they are unless you're trying to exclude certain classes of people from the electorate? There may be an argument for making sure that people vote only once, but anonymous voting is arguably quite desirable - especially if you accept the assertion of certain politicians that the security services had a habit of rifling through ballot boxes to determine who might have voted for leftist causes.

      3. strum Silver badge

        Re: Why must democracy be digitised?

        >You trust a system that makes no attempt whatsoever to verify that people walking into a polling station are who they say they are?

        Yes. If the alternative is some barrier which excludes some legit voters.

        There is very little evidence of personation in elections in this country (in person). The problems come when there's a piece of paper/card which says who you claim to be.

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Why must democracy be digitised?

      This exchange from the Simpsons might explain the enthusiasm for voting machines:

      Homer: Do you want the job done right or do you want it done fast?

      Marge: Well, like all Americans... fast!

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Why must democracy be digitised?

      "I get that counting votes by hand is laborious, expensive and prone to error, but isn’t trust in our democratic processes worth more than what can be saved with voting machines?"

      Counting by hand isn't that laborious actually. And not that prone to error. And it is done by volunteers, so I'm not sure whether using voting machines would actually save (that much) money. The ballots used plus all the paperwork that goes with the counting and collating is archived until a couple of months before the next election, which usually works out to 3.5 years, so plenty of time to check on any possible irregularities.

      I've been in charge of a polling station (not always the same one) in every election in my area since 2002. Federal/general, state, local, referendums, public petitions to get a referendum, run-offs, what have you. Some 20+ elections by now; I would have to flip through my old diaries to get the exact number. This year, it was two, state and general.

      I can highly recommend it. For the first time in 2002, I was kindly persuaded to "volunteer"; I've been genuinely voluteering ever since. It's interesting and fun. And every now and then I can invest a day of my own time in something that is important.

      But yes, trust in the process is essential, so cost must not be the first thing to consider.

  6. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Georgia

    Why would the current Republican rulers of the US state of Georgia want honest elections - the current electronic voting machines make it easy for them to stay in power.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Georgia

      Gerrymandering and voter suppression can't have been enough for them.

  7. P. Lee Silver badge

    >There are two sets of hackers in this world: those targeting the machinery of voting and those seeking to corrupt the debate

    The first set of hackers are dangerous.

    Those who consider the second set of people dangerous are dangerous.

    "Corrupting the debate" by adding ideas (good or bad) implies the debate should only follow along a prescribed line of thought and that alternative viewpoints should not be heard.

    That is a corruption of democracy. I despise those who would rather win power than have and promote moral and logical ideas. De-platforming is for those with no argument.

    We need to promote a culture of truth over one of winning.

    1. Xamol

      "Corrupting the debate"

      P.Lee, you make a fair point.

      I see the corruption of the debate as something different from the addition of new ideas though. The corruption is from the hardening of already held beliefs through the creation of echo chambers. This means that rather than adding to the debate, they're drowning the other side out.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: "Corrupting the debate"

        Corrupting the debate is sometimes using access to the media to push people further along the road to where you want them to go. Such as blaming minorities for current failures, or advancing bar-room views that have no basis in logic or fact. Find a mild prejudice and whip it along.

    2. Frank Gerlach #2

      BINGO

      "We need to promote a culture of truth over one of winning"

      At least one candidate was using dirty methods to get the nomination. Now she and her followers whine about "foreign intervention". I would say rotten folks don't succeed 100% of time, as it should be.

    3. Archtech Silver badge

      Pipe dream

      "We need to promote a culture of truth over one of winning".

      Much as I agree with your sentiment, it is impractical. One of the best short definitions of culture is "those customs and practices that cannot be legislated for, imposed, or forbidden".

      In short, culture is precisely that which cannot be "promoted" (or, for that matter, "demoted").

  8. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Voting Machines vs ATM

    If a hacker can Jackpot an ATM, what hope is there for voting machines?

    Here in the US the debate is running in tiny circles, there's no way that the Republicans will ever admit that they might have lost the election without Russian help.

  9. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Basically what you have here with 4chan , and now reddit is the internet version of a bunch of teenagers hanging out in a shopping maul making a nuisance of themselves.

    "Script kiddies" would be a term used correctly , for once*

    * usually the term is used by someone who wants to insinuate their own skillz are far better / madder / realer / sicker

  10. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    "batch-voting bots for Windows and JavaScript, supplemented by a Tor-based Linux app, designed to get past the meagre safeguards put in place by poll host PollDaddy"

    When i started reading that part of the story I assumed the poll was a quickie knocked up by IT staff at the radio station and put on there website. It seems however that the poll is hosted by a business whose sole purpose is to take polls. You'd think they would have given it a bit more thought and put in less "meagre" safeguards . It cant be that hard.

  11. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Where hackers haven't directly influenced polls, they've undermined our faith in democracy

    Really?

    Main thing that undermines my faith in democracy is politicians....

    Hackers, dodgy and inappropriate advertising or tax revelations are merely adding extra cohorts of burrowing animals to the issue.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Where hackers haven't directly influenced polls, they've undermined our faith in democracy

      I find the idea of "faith in democracy" and the implicit "we have not undermined what they have democratically elected" quite entertaining.

      60+ cases in Latin America in this century alone. Post WW2 Iran, Post fall of the wall Eastern Europe (something I have observed first hand from very close), you name it. In most cases replacing democratically elected governments with dictatorships and cleptocracies. This is in addition to replacing "their" dictatorships and cleptocracies with "ours" of course - these probably contribute 60 more (at least) in the second half of the 20th century alone.

      We have no moral ground to bitch about "them" influencing public opinion. If you cannot take the heat get out of the kitchen.

  12. wolfetone Silver badge

    0.7% of Facebook posts and about 0.9something% of Twitter posts were by these people.

    That's hardly influencing anything is it? More people tweet about Harry Styles' Kiwi fruit than that.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Those figures are barely relevant. It's the percentages of politically-related posts and tweets which matter more.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        I think the fact Clinton campaign have started this Trump/Russia alliance matters most of all, especially when John Podesta's company are involved in colluding with Russia.

        Look it up.

  13. theOtherJT

    "Tiger teams"

    Really? And how exactly will that help?

    The voting machines will have to all be tested before they're installed in polling stations to check that the software running on them is actually what we're told it is. And this will have to be done by completely re-installing the software from the firmware level upwards, otherwise we have no way of knowing that the result of any "test" isn't a pre-defined "Everything's great!" left there by whoever compromised them.

    See again a great video on the subject.

  14. wayne 8

    Candidates undermined voting

    Every four years the Big Two parties offer up two twits for the Electorate.

    Nothing ever really changes.

    That undermined our belief that voting matters.

    "Faith" belongs in Religion.

    "Trust" is the word you wanted to use.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Candidates undermined voting

      I find your lack of faith disturbing...

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Candidates undermined voting

      Nothing ever really changes.

      That is demonstrably false.

      There are a completely different bunch of ex-Goldman Sachs people running the Whitehouse than if the other lot had got in

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No mention of rigged primaries

    UraniumOne deals or billionaires who are still paying to undermine democracy, no it was hackers wot done it!

    It must be getting harder and harder to push these lines, people are waking up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No mention of rigged primaries

      In this topsey turvey world where the Russian Hacking allegations were bought and paid for by the DNC and Clinton, Fake News is easy to spot by seeing who omits to mention this inconvienient truth.

      What people should be asking is if the DNC and Clinton paid for the Russian hacking allegations, and the Russian hacking allegations are undermining our faith in democracy. Shouldn't it be the DNC and Clinton who are brought to book, for undermining the process they pretend to be part of ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No mention of rigged primaries

        You mean the research that was started by an opponent of trump and then picked up by Clinton later? Or the actual fact that the Russians were actively trying to hack and influence the election?

  16. D Moss Esq
  17. RockBurner

    Voter apathy is the main issue

    Until it actually makes a physical difference to a person, they don't really care who's in power (It seems).

    The main issue with any democracy is the non-voters, especially when they are the majority of the electorate and so unaffected by the outcome of voting that it's not worth the hassle. How many can say that the result of a major election has actually physically affected them? Not many these days, where the general flow of society doesn't really change.

    An analogy would be a river - when it's a small stream a big rock heaved into it makes a huge difference in it's direction of flow, as a large river, that same rock is virtually irrelevant, there might be a splash, but pretty soon it's sunk to the bottom and no longer has any effect on the river.

    So - the upshot is that we get politics driven by the very vocal minority viewpoints (which are often almost totally irrelevant to actual societal cares) and a flow of morons in power, which in turn creates even more voter apathy, until you get some complete muppet in charge who actually makes such overwhelmingly stupid decisions that society suddenly goes 'wtf??'.

    Lets just hope it's not too late when that happens.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Voter apathy is the main issue

      "An analogy would be a river - when it's a small stream a big rock heaved into it makes a huge difference in it's direction of flow, as a large river, that same rock is virtually irrelevant, there might be a splash, but pretty soon it's sunk to the bottom and no longer has any effect on the river."

      But then there are cascade effects. Your little stone may not do much at first, but it may actually disturb the flow just enough that it causes the banks to erode and cause a mudslide that results in a major alteration to the flow. Next thing you know, the river's stopped flowing to your village. Worst part it, because the catalyst was so insignificant, you can't really know that it was that little stone that set it off.

    2. Tinslave_the_Barelegged

      Re: Voter apathy is the main issue

      > Until it actually makes a physical difference to a person, they don't really care who's in power

      If the issue of voter apathy is on the table, then First Past The Post also needs to be critiqued. What is the point of voting for what you believe, if it is not a majority view, if your vote will always become irrelevant. One could most legitimately put the blame on voters if no votes were wasted.

      Instead, what we tend to get with FPTP is a hegemony for N voting cycles, after which the incumbents have become mad with power, often literally, and they get slung out to be replaced by the less mad alternative for N cycles. Any system that breaks the waste of both the cycle and the waste of a vote must be better than the lunacy of FPTP. It's hard to think of any advantage to FPTP, in fact, other to those currently in power, on their way to the madness brings.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Voter apathy is the main issue

        "If the issue of voter apathy is on the table, then First Past The Post also needs to be critiqued. What is the point of voting for what you believe, if it is not a majority view, if your vote will always become irrelevant. One could most legitimately put the blame on voters if no votes were wasted."

        Votes are going to be wasted no matter what, and people will complain about that waste. It's a simple matter of so many candidates and so few positions. SOMEONE has to lose as a result. Because of this, there are, were, and always will be pros and cons for any voting system you can think of.

    3. Frank Gerlach #2

      Re: Voter apathy is the main issue

      Given that some people in power were truly corrupt agents of the war industry and they failed spectacularly, I would say democracy works quite nicely.

      The handwringing by the 1% and their media outlets from CNN to The Econimist should simply be discounted. These folks expected "their" candidate to succeed plus sweetalking of yet more wars against helpless countries in the middle east.

      Didnt happen. Great !

  18. Commswonk Silver badge

    An Alternative Viewpoint...

    Where hackers haven't directly influenced polls, they've undermined our faith in democracy

    I think that I am more concerned about the fact that people may form their political views from what they read on social media; that undermines any faith I might have had in my fellow human beings as being "sentient".

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: An Alternative Viewpoint...

      It's not so much they formed their views online. It's that they had the opinions already (part of the human condition) and that the online sessions merely reinforced them: echo chambers.

    2. Frank Gerlach #2

      As Opposed To ?

      Getting their news about "long range missiles" and "superdevilish vials" from "Iraq".

      Face it, the mainstream are proven mass liars.

  19. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    Happy

    Paper-plus-electronic voting machine

    Proposal:

    Voting machine has the usual touch screen.

    Plus, a transparent window that lets you view a till-roll-style strip. The machine has several 100's of feet of paper, so it need not be opened until the poll is over.

    You vote.

    Vote is printed in an OCR-able form on the paper.

    You confirm the vote (through the window) on the paper is as you voted.

    The votes get stored both electronically, and as 4 inches of paper on the roll in the machine.

    When a recount is requested, you can take the long reels of paper and count them either in another machine, or, in extremis, by hand.

    So, the primary count is electronic, but it can be backed-up by two levels of physical re-count.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Paper-plus-electronic voting machine

      What's to stop a Kansas City Shuffle where the rolls themselves get switched out covertly?

  20. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Lefty, right, and sentry

    First, what is "lefty leaning", as you describe Mr. O'Brien? Somebody not ideologically committed to be left-leaning, yet with a soft spot in his heart for tunes such The Red Flag and the Internationale?

    Second, you describe Georgia as rejecting help with its voting systems as "a power grab from the centre". By "centre" do you mean the federal government? It is never so called in the US, and for that matter only real-estate developers ever spell the word "centre".

    Finally, faith in democracy is my experience pretty rare. At any given time, a large chunk of the US would like to disfranchise another large chunk of the US, mostly on grounds that come down to "not voting my way". The jurist Learned Hand once said that in his worst nightmares he was the defendant in a trial by jury; what he thought of being governed by system that requires not unanimity nor even a majority, I haven't read.

    1. Frank Gerlach #2

      Re: Lefty, right, and sentry

      "Left" is code-word for supporting bankers in their attempts to sell out their compatriots. At least in the 20xx years.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. c1ue

    Sadly, the ugly details under the picture being painted by Facebook, Twitter (and Google) is less than supportive of the narrative.

    Basically any ads, of any kind, that aren't directly "I'm with Her" were considered pro-Russian. Quite a number of them contradict each other.

    But the most important detail is: if the Russians are really so good, the bidding war for their services over Robbie Mook, David Axelrod et al should be getting to stratospheric heights by now.

    Putin should just get himself elected as President of the United States then.

    He's got 3 years to establish a reality show first.

    The last point I find particularly revealing is the distinction (or lack thereof) between the many interested parties.

    1) Republicans - if the concern was dividing the Democrat base, the RNC is the single greatest benefactor. Not Russia.

    2) Ad fraud - ad fraud is a huge business, and cookie stuffing is a big part of that. The one thing that really irritates me about sloppy attribution is the ongoing belief that IP address locations mean diddly. They don't. Between that and the massive ad fraud networks, it is far from clear that there is a nation state involved as opposed to a bunch of cyber criminals seeking their share of a $2B election ad spending pie. Affiliate marketing makes roadside ad twirlers look positively statesmanlike.

    3) Cambridge Analytica. Perhaps Facebook/Twitter/Google should reveal the overall numbers from the direct campaign spend ads vs. PAC ads vs. ad services supplier ads vs. ad nauseam. I really have grave doubts over just how well the FTG folk know or care who the real buyers are.

    1. Frank Gerlach #2

      Indeed

      The Russkies are claimed to have spend 0,1% of what the two major candidates spent. But they are supposed to have had serious impact.

      Occams Razor: this is just the B.S. of Sore Losers on the left side. They want to shift blame somewhere, because that is easier than fixing their own corruption (e.g. how they booted out Sanders).

  23. Archtech Silver badge

    Nonsense

    How is it possible to "undermine" something that is buried in a half-mile-deep tunnel at the bottom of the Marianas Trench?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Nonsense

      Go through the mantle?

  24. Chris Miller

    Hillary's campaign spent $1.4 billion on the presidential election (Trump about $750 million). Coca-Cola spends $4 billion every year to persuade people to buy their fizzy water. The notion that the Russians could swing an election with a few hundred tweets is a risible conspiracy theory (unless you're desperately seeking someone to blame for your own incompetence).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I suspect that there may be quite a bit of marketing puff in this: what better promotion for advertising on these social media platforms than "admitting" that you sold the $100k of ads which swung the election. It is like saying "come here, your impact is more than a millions times effective than using conventional methods".

      There is a whole lot to gain for admitting to selling the offending ads, and a lot to lose in denying it. This is why they have quickly got onto the bandwagon.

  25. Zakhar

    And so what

    Isn't democracy about influencing people to vote for who you want?

    Is it the fault of these poor (alleged) Russians that some people that can't even connect two dots and are easily influenced... and that they have the same vote than a Nobel Prize which is much harder to convince?

    So now you want to decide that the "National Official TV Network" (whatever its name in any country), and the "National Official Press" have the right to influence people with their propaganda, but Facebook or the like have no right to influence anyone? How would this be democratic? I believe in the U.S. a company (like FB, Google, or any one) has the official right to support a candidate of its liking, why would you want to deprive them from this right?

    It makes me laugh, same as when people were shocked when Berlusconi "bought" his election (yes, he owns TV, that was easy!). At least Berlusconi did it with its own money, not with tax payers' one.

    Wake up. Democracy is a game with its rules. Some understand the rules better than others.

    Is it the Russian's fault if the game is rigged?

    1. Frank Gerlach #2

      Re: And so what

      Also funny how the mainstream media demonized Berlusconi. He was painted as a superevil man. Having sex with a 17 year old and similar grave crimes.

      At the same time GWB and Tony Blair threw Iraq into the gutter of civil war, 100k Iraqis killed. But hey, Berlusconi was the badman !!!

      (The actual reason for demonizing Berlusconi was his foreign policy contacts with Russia, which the Anglos did not like)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The only relevance of anything you read or see or hear anywhere except IRL

    ..is that it hints at whose spending how much to put ideas in your head.

    EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad EU good Brexit bad EU good brexit bad .....

  27. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    "so one of their first acts would have be extending or rescinding Article 50."

    [Theresa May: 12 Dec 18]

    Run that past us again. Hmm, rescinding Article 50? Why has this suddenly materialised as a valid option?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "so one of their first acts would have be extending or rescinding Article 50."

      Because it's probably preferable to a hard crash Brexit that could seriously hamper matters in the UK for years to come, if not permanently damage it? Are is the UK truly so masochistic they'd PREFER to suffer the hard crash?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019