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Pentagon Reports 2000% Increase in Russia Trolls Since Friday (axios.com) 465

An anonymous reader shares a report: Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in Saturday's briefing that there has been a "2,000% increase in Russian trolls in the last 24 hours," following the coordinated strike against Syria on Friday night.

Pentagon Reports 2000% Increase in Russia Trolls Since Friday

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  • Oh no (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So we're now calling people who dissent to bombing another country without the approval of congress trolls. Isn't this McCarthyism?

    • Re:Oh no (Score:5, Informative)

      by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @11:44AM (#56441185)

      So we're now calling people who dissent to bombing another country without the approval of congress trolls. Isn't this McCarthyism?

      Except in this case there's every reason to think that the majority of these people are directly (or indirectly) in the employ of the Russian government and under orders to advance Russian interests by influencing public opinion in the US.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HornWumpus ( 783565 )

        'every reason': No, it's just the narrative that has been pushed since the bitch blew the election.

        We have 'every reason' to be very suspicious of this narrative.

      • Re: Oh no (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And the Pentagon is under orders to advance the US imperialistic agenda by manipulating the public too. What's the difference? And why do you trust the info from the Pentagon if you're so concerned about people's motives?

        • So is an American reading your trolling supposed to slap his face like Curly and go "Woo woo woo woo woo woo" and start punching things randomly?

      • Re:Oh no (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Frank Burly ( 4247955 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @02:06PM (#56441823)
        I can't speak for the parent (who was modded down for no discernible reason), but I took "every reason to think" to refer to statements that had no good-faith evidence, like that the UK poisoned a former Russian spy with Russian nerve poison, or that the people Syria were faking their exposure to nerve poisons.

        There are all sorts of good reasons reasons to be against military intervention (by the U.S. and Russia) but the troll arguments typically blossom only when the US and EU forces are the ones intervening, and their post-truth framing of the issues is often a tell.

        Honestly, the cries of McCarthyism about this issue are also evidence of either being a mark, or in on the con.

    • Re:Oh no (Score:5, Insightful)

      by flopsquad ( 3518045 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @12:21PM (#56441339)
      Troll checklist:
      1) Strident
      2) Inflammatory
      3) Illogical non sequitur
      4) Anon
      5) First post
      Confirmed troll. If I had to wager, I'd put money on alt-right false flagger rather than Russian, but anymore that could be the same thing...
  • by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @11:02AM (#56440975)

    So... what???

    This obsession is insane.

    I predict a 3000% increase in Rickrolling.

  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @11:08AM (#56440997)

    Basically, anything Trump flavored has had a pretty heavy tilt in its moderation, towards the pro-Trump. I've worked in a lot of rural areas, and the brand of angry conservatism/superlibertarianism is pretty rare among IT/Software guys. But for some reason, it's hyper-represented on Slashdot in the past few years.

    Not that folks can't hold that view - it just seems disproportionate, compared to the population.

    Ryan Fenton

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The media, hollywood, most comedians, all of the big tech companies, and most social media is 24-7 hardcore anti-Trump for almost 2 straight years now. You see a couple of posts on slashdot that are right-leaning get modded up and all of a sudden it's "wildly conservative" now.

      Might want to get your sensitivity meter adjusted just a touch.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        The media, hollywood, most comedians, all of the big tech companies, and most social media is 24-7 hardcore anti-Trump for almost 2 straight years now. You see a couple of posts on slashdot that are right-leaning get modded up and all of a sudden it's "wildly conservative" now.

        Might want to get your sensitivity meter adjusted just a touch.

        Not to mention the story selection and summaries are massively tilted left.

      • It's more the down modding of any dissenting opinions that are critical of trump that are the problem. Even when they do end up with a positive score there are always troll and flamebait mods too.

        • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @11:51AM (#56441205) Homepage Journal

          It's more the down modding of any dissenting opinions that are critical of trump that are the problem. Even when they do end up with a positive score there are always troll and flamebait mods too.

          Try sorting the dissenting opinions into "insults" versus "insight".

          Almost all the "dissenting opinions" here are just simple name calling and deserve to be modded down.

          Most of the rest are simple "I think $THE_OPPOSITE", with no background or support.

          If you look at comments with that filter, I think you'll find that it's the insults that get modded down.

          True insightful posts tend to get modded up.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            The post you are replying to has been modded "troll".

            Can you explain how it is insulting or of lower quality than yours? There is no insulting language, it doesn't use any name calling, it's a simple statement of opinion in the same manner as yours.

            This thread is proof that this happens, and if you examine affected posts you will find it happens all too often.

            • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

              That's just probably a you thing. You are the one that is normally name calling and insulting anybody that doesn't agree with you. So people just don't even want to see your bullshit anymore.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by NaCh0 ( 6124 )

              Complaining about meta subjects such as comment moderation traditionally gets voted down Slashdot.

              Do you think you are exempt from that pattern?

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Are you seeing some different version of /. than I'm seeing? Does /. do some sort of tailoring of the scores to the logged in user? Because I've witnessed the opposite. Lots of inane junk like "fuck trump" getting a "+5 insightful", while well-reasoned, thought-out posts that use some logic to defend a particular action of his getting modded as troll, presumably by someone who didn't have any logic to argue back with.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2018 @11:22AM (#56441049)

      Have you ever considered that might be the work of Russian trolls?
      They're known to play both sides so they can control the dialogue completely.

    • So true. Maybe slashdot has aged and become more far right leaning, but I think this hypothesis is more likely.

    • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @12:48PM (#56441475)

      noticed.

      I'm very liberal and when I post my strong dislike for the R's that are ruining things for all of us, I get modded down very unrealistically, compared to how slash used to be (note, I do have a low enough number to know what slash used to be like in the early days).

      IT is not conservative; slash is mostly IT based and yet the R's come here in storm and mod things down in a pretty organized manner.

      I'd say there are definitely paid shills and trolls here and have been over about 10 years, now.

      I dont' really care; since I realize that this place has long been invaded and ruined. I still speak my mind and the message still does get out. but it is a shame that the invasion of social media has mostly ruined it, as a true communication medium.

      • I'd say there are definitely paid shills and trolls here and have been over about 10 years, now.

        I dont' really care; since I realize that this place has long been invaded and ruined. I still speak my mind and the message still does get out. but it is a shame that the invasion of social media has mostly ruined it, as a true communication medium.

        Or it could be that a larger proportion of reasonable people simply disagree with you.

    • Are you shitting me? The past year and a half we had multiple stories every day criticizing Trump and not related to tech at all. Its only calmed down lately since people started bitching. This site was always more towards the libertarian side.

    • Basically, anything Trump flavored has had a pretty heavy tilt in its moderation, towards the pro-Trump.

      It does seem like the extremes are over represented, but I suspect those are mostly just a few people using sock puppet accounts or AC. For my part, I find that if you arrive at a divisive story shortly after it’s been posted, the comments that have been moderated up disproportionately represent one side or the other. If you come back through a day or so later, things will have settled more in alignment with the general Slashdot groupthink.

      I find that I’m much happier with the state of Slashdot

    • Basically, anything Trump flavored has had a pretty heavy tilt in its moderation, towards the pro-Trump. I've worked in a lot of rural areas, and the brand of angry conservatism/superlibertarianism is pretty rare among IT/Software guys. But for some reason, it's hyper-represented on Slashdot in the past few years.

      Not that folks can't hold that view - it just seems disproportionate, compared to the population.

      Ryan Fenton

      I've always thought that a big part of allowing the trolls to continue was just a matter of tracking them down.

      Same with hate speech and some of the more fringe groups. Allowing them on the platform is a great way to keep tabs on them.

    • But for some reason, it's hyper-represented on Slashdot in the past few years.

      I think you’re still seeing Slashdot as it was when people like you and I joined. Back then, the active membership seemed to be mostly made up of working people in IT-related professions, with a fairly wide range of ages.

      Nowadays I see a lot of posts - political or not - which lead me to believe a fair number of our active seven-digit members are young guys in the 16-30 age range who are probably still interested in tech, but may not actually be employed in the field (or at all). It’s a differen

  • by GrBear ( 63712 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @11:26AM (#56441079)

    The story doesn't even provide any evidence.. just some two paragraph statement that we're supposed to take as fact. The story itself is pretty vague.

    Trolling where? Examples?

    Sounds and smells like fake news.

    • by Major Blud ( 789630 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @11:36AM (#56441133) Homepage

      Agreed, I have never heard of Axios until I just now clicked the link to check out this story.

      Judging by some of the other articles on their website, I can't tell if they're biased, sneaky, or just plain sloppy.

      For example, they are running an article on "How Congress reacted to the strikes on Syria", with the reactions being "for" or "against". They labeled the following from Lindsey Graham as "against":

      Sen. Lindsey Graham said in a statement: "President Trump deserves credit for working with our allies and ordering this strike against Assad...But I fear that when the dust settled this strike will be seen as a weak military response...It's not the type of sustained, game-changing strategy that will lead to Assad, Russia, or Iran changing or reevaluating their strategy in Syria."

      I'd hardly label this call for more of a "sustained, game-changing" strategy as being "against" the airstrikes.

      • I don't know anything about Axios and I'm not arguing for or against trusting it generally. But...

        The story is saying that the Pentagon announced there was an increase in Russian trolling. The Pentagon did indeed announce an increase in Russian trolling. Loads of other news sources have reported the same thing.

        You can be annoyed that the Pentagon didn't provide evidence, but it doesn't really make sense to start bad-mouthing Axios for accurately reporting what the Pentagon said without also providing t

      • by Lord_Jeremy ( 1612839 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @04:07PM (#56442401)
        Axios is a major news site that was launched by a group of guys from Politico. Their mission statement is to be anti-clickbait and anti-advertising [wikipedia.org]. Some of the commentators I listen (like FiveThirtyEight) have mentioned that Axios gets a lot of deep scoops from within the administration, compared to some of the household name outlets these days. They're definitely not right-wing, but I don't believe that automatically makes them left-wing. They don't have any editorials and the articles I've read have been pretty matter-of-fact.
    • Seems like the kind of thing that becomes self-fulfilling since you can just point to any dissent about the article itself or the message as signs of increased troll/shill activity.

      So therefore we can logically conclude that you and whoever moderated you up are Russian trolls. Normally we might not assume that, but there's a 2000% increase in activity and you're now proof of it.
    • statement that we're supposed to take as fact.

      I believe it. In other news there has been an infinite% increase in the amount of US Pentagon reports on Slashdot since Friday. Seriously the Russians better lift their game.

    • Well, it's not fake news precisely, since the Pentagon spokesperson did, in fact, say this (pretty easy to confirm via google). But yeah, whether what she said is accurate is up in the air. A fair number of other news sources reported on this quotation (I saw a Newsweek article) and it doesn't appear that she offered up any additional details (and as far as I can tell, no news sites have have even guessed at what kind of activity she might have been talking about).

    • by neo00 ( 1667377 )
      Some source after quick googling:
      Source 1 [newsweek.com]
      Source 2 [thehill.com]
      Source 3 [twitter.com] (video clip from the briefing)

      People, before calling fake news, try googling first.
      • This is the problem. Just because a number of "news" sites have reported about it doesn't mean that it is not fake, or untruthful.

    • I sometimes look over the comments that follow Washington Post Articles. There are many many troll comments there. Like every 3 or so. They only appear in articles mentioning Trump for the most part.

    • by pots ( 5047349 )
      The story is about an increase, it's not claiming the existence of trolling. That has already been established. You can't provide examples of an increase, anything you gave would be anecdotal and thus contrary to the point of conducting a statistical analysis.
  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @11:30AM (#56441099)

    Well, there's no need to panic until it's over 9000%.

  • ... not a fucking 3-pointer in the whole thread.

  • by fibonacci8 ( 260615 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @11:39AM (#56441159)
    I take this to mean that American trolls are slacking. This calls for massive tariffs on imported troll posts so that the balance shifts to locally sourced, free-range, gluten and asbestos free troll posts. Step it up folks! Those likes, reblogs, and follows won't generate themselves!
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @11:59AM (#56441245) Homepage Journal

    Not without knowing the criteria the Pentagon is using to brand an actor as a "troll".

    That said, I doubt an increase in activity of that magnitude from state agents is feasible. You don't keep 95% of your workforce slack. So for this to be true, either they hired a lot of people in a hurry, or they moved a lot of their trolls off of other projects onto the anti-America beat. But the thing is, that takes specialized language skills and training for a Russian.

    I don't doubt that paid Russian anti-American trolls are working overtime, but I very much doubt they've upped their output by 21x. We are very likely to be looking at an increase in activity by a mix of paid mindfuckers and Internet randos who are doing it for their own reasons.

    • it's not like Russia cares much about security. We had tons of stories about these troll farms during the last election. They don't need to hide it. It's like the Nigerian scams. You want it to be a little obvious because you're not after people who can think their way through stuff.
    • Not without knowing the criteria the Pentagon is using to brand an actor as a "troll".

      That said, I doubt an increase in activity of that magnitude from state agents is feasible. You don't keep 95% of your workforce slack. So for this to be true, either they hired a lot of people in a hurry, or they moved a lot of their trolls off of other projects onto the anti-America beat. But the thing is, that takes specialized language skills and training for a Russian.

      I don't doubt that paid Russian anti-American trolls are working overtime, but I very much doubt they've upped their output by 21x. We are very likely to be looking at an increase in activity by a mix of paid mindfuckers and Internet randos who are doing it for their own reasons.

      I think it's two things.

      1) Russian has a huge internal propaganda industry, there's probably enough of those folk with English skills that you can reassign a bunch to US/international propaganda when you need a boost.
      2) There's a lot of ordinary Russians with English skills who love Putin and love to argue for Russian interests on US site. You have a few internal propagandists stir the pot in Russia and those ordinary Russians decide to spend an evening mixing it up online.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @12:00PM (#56441253)

    It could be literally this simple "Russians curious about what is going on are checking US media and social media"... literally that.

    I mean, who thinks they're doing quality control on that number?

  • Pepsi's a pretty good soda, though.
  • So... Russia hired 20 times as many trolls for this special event? Because 20 times as many English-speaking Russians were unemployed and just sitting out waiting and hoping to get some job... any job to... even to troll? Umm.. what? Ok. I guess sanctions have worked. Even the well-educated Russians can't find work anymore.

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