Monday, June 12, 2017

How The Kremlin Keeps The Internet Under Its Control

Alexey Kovalev, Wired: How Putin keeps the internet under state control

State-sanctioned trolling ensures online sentiment remains safely in Putin's grip.

Before Facebook and its powerful local competitors VKontakte and Odnoklassniki arrived, the blogging platform of choice for the web-savvy minority of Russians was LiveJournal, then owned by US-based company Danga Interactive. But, in August 2008, something happened that prompted rapid change: a short, brutal, televised war erupted between Russia and its neighbouring ex-Soviet republic of Georgia. Online coverage of the war provoked widespread sympathy for Georgians across the world, prompting the Kremlin to wake up. It realised that its propaganda machine had atrophied - it was neglecting a nascent medium that had developed entirely outside its control.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The internet in Russia is definitely not as open as it use to be 10 years ago. Still .... the border-less nature of the web makes it difficult for the Kremlin to control and/or block content .... relying instead on using bots and trolls to influence opinion .... especially on social media. But the problem (for the Kremlin) is that most users of the web are knowledgeable enough to know what is fake and what is not .... and speaking for myself .... the Kremlin message is (at least for me) always easy to spot.

Update: The above article focuses on Russia, but there is also a debate in the U.S. that President Trump's supporters used bots and other tools on the web to influence public opinion .... The billionaire GOP patron behind Trump's social media bot army (NYDaily News). Did it have an impact on the election .... supporters for Hillary Clinton believe that it did. As to what is my take .... I am sceptical. In fact .... the counter-argument is that social media platforms like Facebook slanted their trending news-feed to favour liberal causes .... specifically positions that Hillary Clinton supported .... Facebook Updates Trending News Section A Year After Criticism Of Liberal Bias (Daily Caller). If given a choice between having bots to influence public opinion or having Facebook itself give you an "edge" on their trending news-feed .... I would go with Facebook any-day.

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