This whole debacle is making me lose what tiny shred of faith I had in tumblr social justice bloggers. People’s response to tumblr reacting to the revelation that fake news was being spread on this site (a fact which had already been exposed over a month ago) is incredibly sobering to me, but I shouldn’t be surprised.
People are either falsely claiming that the Russian government’s fake news op on here is a conspiracy to censor real, progressive bloggers OR, like you, are pivoting the issue to complain about tumblr’s failure to police problematic blogs on here, while framing the issue of fake news as less important. I literally saw someone say that porn bots were a bigger problem than fake news/interference in our democracy and tumblr staff was incompetent for tackling fake news but not prioritizing porn bots! Of all things!
As my friend kafkinated stated, propaganda doesn’t have to persuade you of anything. It can also “exhaust, distract and demobilize” you from other issues or changes going on by playing into your “pre-existing worldviews.” Misinformation can even lull you into a sense of security that doesn’t exist. Whatever you want to believe or not, the fact remains the same: thousands of people working on behalf of the Russian government impersonated progressive bloggers on tumblr, many of them impersonated Black bloggers. They purposefully disrupted conversation and discourse on this site to sow distraction and exhaustion and appropriated Black suffering and issues to help elect a white supremacist president.
That people don’t care MORE about fake news and these threats is very sobering to me. The fact people want to either sweep what happened under the rug, create some conspiracy theory to explain it away, or downplay its importance is also disturbing. The more people act this way, the more victories you hand to Russia’s fake news campaign. It seems Russia hardly needed even put so much effort into misleading and distracting people when, through your own cognitive dissonance, you’re doing it to yourselves.
If posting facts and realities of police brutality can be compared to insighting naziism and white nationalism (Russian ‘bots’ or not) then you are pretending like these issues are opposite ends of a balance; where center is what exactly???
How did these bots undermine of the election system if, from what I have seen of their posts so far, they are basically echoing actual Americans/non-bot bloggers who have these opinions and concerns about our government?
What/where is the misinformation they spread? How did these bots exhaust and distract? Were there really only bots in the ‘social justice/BLM’ section of Tumblr?
Why can’t there be transparency about the posts by these blogs so we can observe whether there was misinformation? Do we get to know how they specifically found and purged these bots? When are they purging this site of people and bloggers promoting hate and Nazi ideology as well?
I think it’s fair to say this leaves a lot of unanswered questions and lack of transparency. Not sure how these concerns are a cognitive dissonance as they are critical thinking.
All the questions you pose here are justifiable, but they aren’t unanswered at all? They’ve pretty much all been addressed and are easy to Google. Tumblr staff worked with the Justice Department and found the blogs by tracking their IP addresses back to known Russian troll farms, as well as talking to Americans the Russians had recruited (the Americans did not know they were communicating with Russians) – here is some information on that. This is the same thing that was done on all other social media outlets that were found to have had this problem. Here is the report from the DOJ, with a link to the actual indictment at the bottom of the page.
The blogs exhausted and distracted by the same means all heavily circulated media does – by being highly and repeatedly visible. This… is not new information? We see stuff constantly, we absorb it. Consciously or not, we absorb it. Everything from psychology to marketing has confirmed this. It’s literally what the entire advertising industry is built on. As for the specific misinformation they spread, they took quotes and pictures completely out of context to fuel an anti-Clinton narrative among progressives. Here’s an example.
And no, there were not only bots in the social justice/BLM section of Tumblr. You can find the list of the bots, and there are some like “guns4l1fe” that were clearly geared toward a more conservative/right-wing audience. This was a widespread campaign – again, not new information. None of this is an indictment on BLM or progressive efforts in general. And frankly I’ve yet to see a single person actually claim that BLM itself was a Russian operation. I’ve only seen people bending over backwards to deny the Russian campaign existed on Tumblr, and using that as a rationalization to ignore the evidence.
Listen, I got the email. That means I reblogged some of this shit. I get that it’s unpleasant and uncomfortable to realize you got played, but we did. Because this was masterfully done. They undermined the system by being thoroughly convincing. These blogs were very well designed to look legitimate, partly by not being only political – they peppered humor, popular culture references, etc. into the political posts. They knew how to imitate Americans and American political/ideological concerns, gain followers, and get traction. And the fact that a lot of what they posted was true added to the effectiveness of the campaign. If it had all been obviously fake, we would not be here.
This is not a smear tactic for progressive bloggers or causes. It’s a crucial acknowledgement of what happened during the 2016 election, and even more to the point it’s an acknowledgement of an ongoing threat. Russia’s still doing this, and it’s another election year. And these mental gymnastics to avoid facing something that could very well affect us again in November are disingenuous and irresponsible.
living in the god tier of swing states, i would be surprised if i HADN’T been affected by the russian interference.