Purposely creating controversy to stir the pot and ferment discord and disharmony, is the act of evil doers. The only reason certain people do this, is because they have malice within their heart — their goal is to hurt, hate and hinder. Their intent, is purely poisonous.
Today, the United States is under attack in an insidious form of warfare. Nefarious “actors” are posing as regular people and using our very own social media networks to spread lies, dis-information, controversy and hatred. These posers are everywhere and the words they use are meant to sow discord by stoking the flames and escalating tensions. What makes this evil, is the fact that they post lies to work good, honest people into a state of frenzy.
A recent article in McClathchy speaks well to this very issue:
By Tim Johnson And Greg Gordon
An organization that monitors Russian trolling has spotted a peculiar similarity between certain types of social media postings that went up immediately after the Oct. 1 Las Vegas festival shootings and again after last week’s shootings at a school in Parkland, Fla.
The pattern: A day after the tragedy, the trolls tweet on all sides of the gun control debate. A day later, they push conspiracy theories.
It’s a formula designed to stir up emotions over mass violence and gun laws, and more broadly to foment anger and exasperation over the U.S. political system.
“The purpose is to stoke tensions,” said Bret Schafer of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, which is financing researchers following 600 or so Twitter accounts suspected of being operated by Russian “trolls” — pro-Kremlin mouthpieces aiming to encourage discord in the United States.
“It is also bait to attract a larger following from American users by talking about issues that we care about.”
The 600 accounts monitored by the project known as Hamilton 68 put out an average of 20,000 tweets a day, Schafer said, and they often focus on hot topics that divide Americans.
“Russia’s role is to sort of boost the signals of these fringe-y conspiracy theories and just circulate them a bit wider. Specialists were directed to create ‘political intensity’ through supporting radical groups, users dissatisfied with [the] social and economic situation and oppositional social movements,” the indictment says. The indicted Russians “also regularly evaluated the content posted by specialists … to ensure they appeared authentic – as if operated by U.S. persons.” – Bret Schafer, the Alliance for Securing Democracy
The Russian-origin Twitter accounts followed by Hamilton 68 appear to largely focus on the U.S. political right, although Schafer said other Russian troll farms have the U.S. political left as an audience. All don identities of U.S. persons and tweet somewhat in sync.
“It’s a sensitive, raw wound or point in American society, so ‘Let’s poke at it. The Kremlin wants Americans to feel exasperated by the dysfunction of U.S. government. The Russians are acting to foment discord in our society, in our institutions.” – Glenn Carle, former CIA Senior Operations Officer
“It’s a pattern of exploiting wherever they can the divisions in U.S. society and making Americans question facts, question their own government and set them against each other,” Stent said. “We’re set against each other anyway, but again (they are) exacerbating that because that’s a way they have of retaliating against the West.” – Angela Stent, Russia scholar at Georgetown University
Throughout history there have always been people who cause trouble just for the sake of it. But with the advent of modern technologies, these instigators now have the means to spread their malicious and destructive lies instantly.
There is no question that the political divide in the United States has grown dangerously wide and we’re now discovering that hateful agitators have played a big role in creating and stretching that divide.
What can be done?
There is a lot we can do to combat the lying trolls. Some things we should all consider:
- Life is not all about politics. We’ve become obsessed with politics and this gives Russian and other agitators an entry point. The truth is, no politician is perfect and most likely, none are evil incarnate — like you and me, they’re just human. They will probably never solve all the woes in the world and probably won’t create them either. We have so many checks and balances in place to protect us from extremes.
- Open our minds – why must we be one extreme? Is it really beneficial to be only conservative or strictly liberal? Isn’t there a middle ground?
- Our differences make us stronger, not weaker. Your neighbor may be a raging liberal, whereas you’re a staunch conservative. So? Do you really want to hate another human being because they have a differing political view? Learn from each other — talk calmly and share your views, but be willing to know when to stop the debate. Being different is not a bad thing — after all, look at country’s like Nazi Germany or Communist Russia…having just one political view is rarely a good thing.
- Remember history. Political debates have always existed and the battle between Democrat and Republican is nothing new. That differing political ideology didn’t stop America from becoming a global superpower. But, if we allow the divide to widen, it most certainly could weaken us — and that seems to be the goal.
- Consider the source. The comments section of articles, the postings on Facebook…the Tweets…are they legit? Maybe not? These agitators are spreading lies and creating hysteria on purpose, so bear that in mind. And we should remember, just because someone claims to be from Madison Wisconsin, doesn’t make it true — they could be sitting behind a computer in Moscow, Beijing, Paris…
- Call or write your elected Representative. If an issue is important to you, rather than hashing it out with complete strangers online, get involved and reach out to your Congressperson or Senator — some guy online can’t change things, but our elected government officials can.
- Walk away. Too many people are living their life on Facebook and Twitter. Maybe its time to just read a good ole’ fashion newspaper? Maybe we should be outside, actually living life?
“When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel.” – Harold Kushner
Analysis of Kremlin-linked Twitter accounts show an active campaign to ‘stoke tensions’ in the U.S., particularly after mass shootings.