Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.
The tag 'dark money' is associated with 2 posts.

FTR #1039 Miscellaneous Articles and Updates

In FTR #718, we warned [back in 2010] that Face­book was not the cud­dly lit­tle enti­ty it was per­ceived to be but a poten­tial engine of fas­cism enabling. Momen­tum for the remark­ably timed immi­grant car­a­van that became a focal point for Trump/GOP/Fox News pro­pa­gan­da dur­ing the recent­ly-con­clud­ed midterm elec­tions was gen­er­at­ed by a fake Face­book account, which mim­ic­ked a Hon­duran politician/human rights activist, Bar­to­lo Fuentes. Sig­nif­i­cant aspects of the event:

1.–” . . . . Face­book has admit­ted the account was an imposter account imper­son­at­ing a promi­nent Hon­duran politi­cian. But it is refus­ing to release infor­ma­tion about the account, who may have set it up or what coun­try it orig­i­nat­ed from. . . .”
2.–” . . . . In response to a query from Buz­zFeed News, a Face­book spokesper­son said the pho­ny account ‘was removed for vio­lat­ing [the company’s] mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion pol­i­cy,’ but declined to share any fur­ther infor­ma­tion, such as what coun­try it orig­i­nat­ed from, what email address was used to open it, or any oth­er details that might reveal who was behind it. Face­book added that, bar­ring a sub­poe­na or request from law enforce­ment, it does not share such infor­ma­tion out of respect for the pri­va­cy of its users. Fuentes said he believes it’s impor­tant to find out who was behind the rogue account — but hasn’t got­ten any answers from Face­book. ‘Who knows how many mes­sages could have been sent and who received them?’ . . . .”
3.–” . . . . Fuentes has been unable to get any infor­ma­tion from Face­book about the account, but one small detail stood out. Who­ev­er cre­at­ed it list­ed the Hon­duran cap­i­tal of Tegu­ci­gal­pa as Fuentes’s home­town, rather than the San Pedro Sula sub­urb of El Pro­gre­so. That might seem like a minor error, but it’s the sort of mis­take a for­eign­er — not a Hon­duran — would make about the well-known for­mer law­mak­er, whose left-wing par­ty stands in oppo­si­tion to the cur­rent president’s admin­is­tra­tion. . . . ”
4.–” . . . . It oper­at­ed entire­ly in Span­ish and pre­cise­ly tar­get­ed influ­encers with­in the migrant rights com­mu­ni­ty. And rather than crit­i­cize or under­mine the car­a­van — as oth­er online cam­paigns would lat­er attempt to do — it was used to legit­imize the event, mak­ing a loose­ly struc­tured grass­roots event appear to be a well-orga­nized effort by an estab­lished migrant group with a proven track record of suc­cess­ful­ly bring­ing Cen­tral Amer­i­can peo­ple to the US bor­der. . . .”
5.–” . . . . before the account got start­ed not many peo­ple seemed to be join­ing. Only after the account kicked into gear did enthu­si­asm and par­tic­i­pa­tion spike. The account also claimed false­ly that the car­a­van was being led by a migrant rights orga­ni­za­tion called Pueblo Sin Fron­teras. Lat­er, once the car­a­van swelled to a mas­sive scale, the Pueblo Sin Fron­teras did get involved, though in a sup­port rather than lead­er­ship role. . . .”
6.–” . . . . It appears that this account helped the car­a­van gain key momen­tum to the point where its size became a self-ful­fill­ing prophe­cy, spurring even more to join and groups which hadn’t been sup­port­ive to get involved. . . .”
7.–” . . . . It’s hard to believe one Face­book account could play that deci­sive a role. But the account seems to have been sophis­ti­cat­ed. And it is equal­ly dif­fi­cult to believe that a sophis­ti­ca­tor oper­a­tor or orga­ni­za­tion would have gone to such trou­ble and lim­it­ed their efforts to a sin­gle imposter account. . . .”

Christo­pher Wylie–the for­mer head of research at Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca who became one of the key insid­er whis­tle-blow­ers about how Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca oper­at­ed and the extent of Facebook’s knowl­edge about it–gave an inter­view last month to Cam­paign Mag­a­zine. (We dealt with Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca in FTR #‘s 946, 1021.)

Wylie recounts how, as direc­tor of research at Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, his orig­i­nal role was to deter­mine how the com­pa­ny could use the infor­ma­tion war­fare tech­niques used by SCL Group – Cam­bridge Analytica’s par­ent com­pa­ny and a defense con­trac­tor pro­vid­ing psy op ser­vices for the British mil­i­tary. Wylie’s job was to adapt the psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare strate­gies that SCL had been using on the bat­tle­field to the online space. As Wylie put it:

“ . . . . When you are work­ing in infor­ma­tion oper­a­tions projects, where your tar­get is a com­bat­ant, the auton­o­my or agency of your tar­gets is not your pri­ma­ry con­sid­er­a­tion. It is fair game to deny and manip­u­late infor­ma­tion, coerce and exploit any men­tal vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties a per­son has, and to bring out the very worst char­ac­ter­is­tics in that per­son because they are an enemy…But if you port that over to a demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tem, if you run cam­paigns designed to under­mine people’s abil­i­ty to make free choic­es and to under­stand what is real and not real, you are under­min­ing democ­ra­cy and treat­ing vot­ers in the same way as you are treat­ing ter­ror­ists. . . . .”

Wylie also draws par­al­lels between the psy­cho­log­i­cal oper­a­tions used on demo­c­ra­t­ic audi­ences and the bat­tle­field tech­niques used to be build an insur­gency. It starts with tar­get­ing peo­ple more prone to hav­ing errat­ic traits, para­noia or con­spir­a­to­r­i­al think­ing, and get them to “like” a group on social media. The infor­ma­tion you’re feed­ing this tar­get audi­ence may or may not be real. The impor­tant thing is that it’s con­tent that they already agree with so that “it feels good to see that infor­ma­tion.” Keep in mind that one of the goals of the ‘psy­cho­graph­ic pro­fil­ing’ that Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca was to iden­ti­fy traits like neu­roti­cism.

Wylie goes on to describe the next step in this insur­gency-build­ing tech­nique: keep build­ing up the inter­est in the social media group that you’re direct­ing this tar­get audi­ence towards until it hits around 1,000–2,000 peo­ple. Then set up a real life event ded­i­cat­ed to the cho­sen dis­in­for­ma­tion top­ic in some local area and try to get as many of your tar­get audi­ence to show up. Even if only 5 per­cent of them show up, that’s still 50–100 peo­ple con­verg­ing on some local cof­fee shop or what­ev­er. The peo­ple meet each oth­er in real life and start talk­ing about about “all these things that you’ve been see­ing online in the depths of your den and get­ting angry about”. This tar­get audi­ence starts believ­ing that no one else is talk­ing about this stuff because “they don’t want you to know what the truth is”. As Wylie puts it, “What start­ed out as a fan­ta­sy online gets port­ed into the tem­po­ral world and becomes real to you because you see all these peo­ple around you.”

In FTR #1028, we high­light­ed the killing of Mol­lie Tib­betts not­ing that:

1.–The killing may have been a provo­ca­tion, direct­ed at focus­ing the elec­torate’s ire toward ille­gal immi­grants and away from Don­ald Trump.
2.–The announce­ment about the loca­tion and arrest of the sus­pect­ed perpetrator–Christhian Rivera–came on the same day that Michael Cohen copped a plea and Paul Man­afort was found guilty. Was River­a’s arrest timed as a dis­trac­tion?
3.–There are super­fi­cial indi­ca­tions that Christhi­an Rivera may have been sub­ject­ed to mind con­trol, a la Sirhan Sirhan.
4.–Rivera worked at a dairy facil­i­ty con­trolled by the Lang fam­i­ly, promi­nent Iowa Repub­li­cans.

Now, we learn that Eric Lang, Craig Lang’s brother–is mar­ried to Nicole Schlinger, a promi­nent GOP fundrais­er with strong oper­a­tional and his­tor­i­cal links to the Koch broth­ers’ net­works and oth­er GOP post-Cit­i­zens Unit­ed dark mon­ey net­works.

High-tech may be the future of Trump’s much-bal­ly­hooed wall with Mex­i­co, with a tech­nol­o­gy dubbed AVATAR seen by some as the future of bor­der secu­ri­ty: “A vir­tu­al bor­der agent kiosk was devel­oped to inter­view trav­el­ers at air­ports and bor­der cross­ings and it can detect decep­tion to flag human secu­ri­ty agents. The U.S., Cana­da and Euro­pean Union have test­ed the tech­nol­o­gy, and one researcher says it has a decep­tion detec­tion suc­cess rate of up to 80 per­cent — bet­ter than human agents. The tech­nol­o­gy relies on sen­sors and bio­met­rics, and its lie-detec­tion capa­bil­i­ties are based on eye move­ments or changes in voice, pos­ture and facial ges­tures. . . .”

Futur­ist philoso­pher and author Yuval Noah Harari appears to be a dystopi­an futur­ist, envi­sion­ing a future where democ­ra­cy is seen as obso­lete and a tech­no-elite rul­ing class run com­pa­nies with the capac­i­ty to essen­tial­ly con­trol the minds of mass­es. Those mass­es that will increas­ing­ly be seen obso­lete and use­less. Harari even gave a recent TED Talk called “Why fas­cism is so tempt­ing — and how your data could pow­er it. So how do Sil­i­con Valley’s CEO view Mr. Harari’s views? They appar­ent­ly can’t get enough of him:

We con­clude with a look at how the SCL/Cambridge Ana­lyt­i­ca dynam­ic has man­i­fest­ed in the Rus­sia-gate Psy-Op.

Adding fur­ther per­spec­tive to the utter­ly fan­tas­tic nature of the Rus­sia-Gate “psy-op” is analy­sis of a recent New York Times pro­pa­gan­da piece hyp­ing Rus­si­a’s manip­u­la­tion of Face­book to influ­ence the U.S. elec­tion. “. . . . The fur­ther research into an ear­li­er Con­sor­tium News arti­cle shows that a rel­a­tive­ly pal­try 80,000 posts from the pri­vate Russ­ian com­pa­ny Inter­net Research Agency (IRA) were engulfed in lit­er­al­ly tril­lions of posts on Face­book over a two-year peri­od before and after the 2016 vote. [Just HOW a post gen­er­at­ed after the elec­tion was sup­posed to influ­ence the elec­tion was not explained by The Gray Lady–D.E.]. . . . The news­pa­per [The New York Times] failed to tell their read­ers that Face­book account hold­ers in the Unit­ed States had been “served” 33 tril­lion Face­book posts dur­ing that same peri­od — 413 mil­lion times more than the 80,000 posts from the Russ­ian com­pa­ny. . . .”

How the Murder of Mollie Tibbetts Shined a Light On the GOP’s Dark Money Propaganda Machine

What does the mur­der of Mol­lie Tib­betts have in com­mon with down­fall of Amer­i­ca? If you had asked Fox News or Pres­i­dent Trump in the days fol­low­ing the rev­e­la­tion that Mol­lie’s mur­der­er was ‘an ille­gal’, they would have told you ille­gal immi­gra­tion is what the mur­der and Amer­i­ca’s down­fall have in com­mon. But as we’re going to see, the real com­mon link between Mol­lie’s mur­der and the down­fall of Amer­i­ca was dis­cov­ered and the right-wing noise sud­den­ly stopped talk­ing about Mol­lie’s mur­der almost entire­ly. Because that com­mon link turned out to be Nicole Schlinger, an influ­en­tial GOP fundrais­er and an impor­tant fig­ure in one of the most impor­tant GOP 501(c)(4) (‘social wel­far’) polit­i­cal super­PACs: Amer­i­can Future Fund (AFF). And as we’re going to see, the sto­ry of AFF is the sto­ry of how the explo­sion of dark mon­ey in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics was exe­cut­ed. And as sto­ry of how it was pri­ma­ry right-wing mega-donors behind this explo­sion. It’s a sto­ry illus­tra­tive of how the kinds of pro­pa­gan­da net­works that would exploit the mur­der of an Iowan col­lege stu­dent for polit­i­cal gain oper­ate and the dom­i­nance of these net­works in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, so it real­ly is a sto­ry about the down­fall of Amer­i­ca.