Trolls, Bots, and the Hacking of Democracy…

The internet was designed to be anything but secure… Over a quarter century ago when I first dialed in nobody demanded proof that I wasn’t a dog, troll, or a bot that we only dreamed of then. Other than your ISP wanting assurance that you’re a paying customer, nobody seems to care if you’ve got a dozen or better yet thousands of identities… Heck, your driving up their ad revenue! Back in that heyday of usenet I witnessed not even a handful of activists use multiple identities to start a whole little movement that even succeeded in securing a six figure grant to fund their nonprofit.

They were mere amateurs by today’s standards of internet hijinks… A horde of shadowy operators will shamelessly sell you thousands of bots to puff up ratings of your products or bash a competitors. Thanks to the rise of increasingly cheaper computing capacity and smarter artificial intelligence, by 2012 foreign elections were being manipulated by social media trolls. Having honed their dubious skills abroad, Russia’s trolls attacked our 2016 presidential election, dragging most likely to fail candidate Trump to a technical victory while promoting derision between the Bernie and Hillary supporters and dragging Hillary down with serial lies that though unbelievable looked authentic enough to be believable by the gullible.  Even Daily Kos wasn’t immune… I used to have pretty good luck getting my diaries promoted to the Rec or Community Spotlight lists, but looked like Kos’ algorithms had been hacked and I got ban threats instead of recs.

So here we are in 2018, the trolls are smarter and the bots are cheaper, and all the publicity will probably make them multiply. The internet is as insecure and anonymous as ever, And here in Minnesota we’ve got enough enough competitive races to darn near flip the U.S. Hose and Senate alone, AND we’re electing the governor who will approve or veto redistricting. The social media manipulating trolls and their bots may have already orchestrated the take down of Franken and there’s been a suspicious rise in traffic attacking our leading candidate for governor lately. Our social media will be polluted with the misleading trolling of bots, our websites hacked, and the lazier traditional media will even echo the lies.

Get ready.

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