Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Inflection point approaching rapidly

We are most likely approaching an inflection point in the Trump regime. As the TrumpRussia scandal grinds through - we will see Donald Trump and his allies carry out significant attacks on the freedom of the press. Targeting will likely occur through twitter and other social media and physical assaults on reporters and news services are highly probable. 

As of yesterday - the Twitter Audit Pro site reported a 1.7M increase in fake followers of Donald Trump's personal account. The rise occurred over the last five days. Per Twitter Audit Pro's algorithm the percentage of Donald Trump's fake followers has crossed levels it reached during the 2016 Campaign. 

If we combine this information with reports of a "social media" based strategy being used by Trump's "War Room" to combat the fallout of the TrumpRussia scandal, it becomes clear that we are watching Trump's people set the stage for a major information operation.

The arrival of the twitter bot armies to Trump's defense signals RIS support for whatever Trump is doing. It also explains why he was begging Putin last week by dissing our European allies so publicly. 

A bot army is slowly assembled by people in poor countries like Pakistan, who use cheap labor to set up millions of twitter accounts. These accounts are usually broken up into 1000 account packets ("battalion?") that are bought and sold for bitcoin. An intermediary (most likely RIS) buys up the packets and assembles a larger formation. Once interlinked - the bot army can out play any human network in disseminating information on social media. 

Twitter for its part helpfully provides tools to cross link twitter with facebook, instagram and other social media. That ensures that any idea injected into Twitter goes straight into other media as well. A bot can tweet several thousand times a day - a rate that no human can match. 

Buzzfeed has correctly reported that many other celebrity accounts have seen an increase in bot following. This is extremely worrying as the bot army typically tends to follow celebs and each other to enhance apparent credibility with low information awareness people. 

An additional issue which first appeared on TheJester's TL is that people were finding that their twitter accounts were turning into zombies, retweeting things without their permission and following Donald Trump's account without their explicit approval. 

Twitter had seen several mysterious outages last week, I am beginning to wonder if a security breach has occurred that changes the auto-follow and auto-reply scripts to allow permissions on a real twitter account to be reset remotely.

Another disturbing development is the sudden resignation of Trump's WH communications director, Mike Dubke. This suggests that Trump is pulling a stunt that Mike does not want to be part of. This is a red flag for serious illegal activity.  

Since so many reporters rely on twitter to get advance notice of breaking news - the deployment of a twitter army could disrupt adverse news coverage of Donald Trump. It will be weeks before Twitter and other social media outlets stamp out the problem. This will give Donald Trump's people complete control over the media for a short period of time. 

It is unclear to me what Trump could hope to achieve in such a short time, but the deployment of such a massive information weapon would be impossible without RIS support. From Pres. Putin's utterances it is clear that RIS has identified the media as an enemy of its interests. Putin does not want  blame for whatever is going on in the Trump WH. It is reasonable to assume that he has directed his people to reduce the US media's ability to spread messages adverse to him.

The appearance of RIS support also indicates something I have suspected for a long time, that Putin is holding the weaker card in this game, that he can make Trump beg for help, but he has to give Trump the help he asks for because to do otherwise would lead to a situation that massively bad for his image. If Putin denies Trump visible help, he will end up losing face with his other allies who may feel that he doesn't have their back. 

In terms of physical violence against  the media, I feel we need to be extra vigilant. As the TrumpRussia scandal grows in visibility, Trumpers will be very upset and they will eventually physically assault the media as Trump has programmed them to do. Depending on how widespread this criminal behavior is traditional law enforcement may or may not be able to respond effectively such events. 

The following measures need to be put into place immediately

1) Major media houses like CNN and MSNBC need to up their physical security. 
  • Recognize the fact that you are targets, you will be attacked by Trumpers - it is only a matter of time. A large number media houses in places like Indian Punjab didn't realize this until it was too late and their paid for that mistake in blood. 
  • Install static security teams as a screen on the streets outside our offices and restrict entry into the building on a need only basis. Secure the block around your main offices - Keep all reporter travel plans secret. 
  • Install hexa barriers and IED defenses in the lobby. These have worked quite well in AFG, they should work well here too. 
  • Seal maintenance entrances to your buildings especially main sewer lines near your building, ensure that all maintenance teams are accompanied by building security. This is usually a major weakness in physical regimes.  
2) Minor media outlets need to increase security awareness
  • Recognize the fact that you will be targets but you cannot afford to spend large amounts of money on physical security like the big guys. 
  • Set up an internal forum to gather hate-mail and other threats to reporters. Identify patterns and high risk clusters. 
  • Create a map of high risk areas where reporters may face a significant risk of physical assault and ensure that reporters travel in pairs when they pass through such areas. 
  • Have a crisis communication plan to inform your reporters of emergent threats. 
  • Have designated safe houses for reporters to seek shelter in if they are confronted by hostile behavior by groups of individuals.
I am putting these suggestions out in all seriousness as I strongly believe that an ounce of prevention is better than weeping at funerals. 

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