The Democrats’ new online troll fighters make 2020 debut in Iowa
By Donie O’Sullivan, CNN
Updated 4:57 PM EST, Sun February 02, 2020
Des Moines, Iowa(CNN)Days after the 2016 Iowa caucuses, the instructions were clear.
“[U]se any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump — we support them),” they read.
The guidance had been circulated among a group of Russians who were covertly running a vast network of social media accounts seeking to divide Democrats and push the candidacy of Donald Trump. (The instructions were later found during special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.)
Four years later, unhappy with Silicon Valley's efforts to curb the manipulation of its platforms, the Democratic Party has developed capabilities of its own to monitor and tackle online disinformation.
The first-in-the-nation caucuses here Monday will be the Democrats' first 2020 test of its new team on a day when voters have their say.…
“Both Republicans and foreign actors, like Russia, have an incentive to divide the American electorate and may try to use the Iowa Caucus to further that goal,” the DNC wrote in a “counter disinformation update” sent to campaigns on Thursday.
Among the new weapons in the Democrats’ online arsenal is a monitoring tool called “Trendolizer.” When stories from websites known to peddle misinformation mention candidates and begin getting shares on social media, Trendolizer detects it and an alert is sent to the relevant campaigns.
Another tool built in-house at the DNC monitors Twitter traffic. On Monday, it’ll watch for misinformation about how and where to caucus. Variations of the word “rigged” had been loaded into system when CNN was shown it Saturday — attempts to undermine legitimate vote results using disinformation is something Democrats are watching out for. …
Officials from the Iowa Democratic Party plan on posting responses to online activity on caucus night. Additionally, campaigns seeing suspicious activity have been asked to report it to the DNC’s counter disinformation team that are in regular contact with representatives from the major social media companies and government agencies. …
Overseeing all things technology for the DNC is Nell Thomas. After working data analytics for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, Thomas spent more than two years at Facebook before joining the DNC last May…
Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager, says misinformation makes Facebook money. …
The company has hired former intelligence officials to root out coordinated misinformation campaigns, and its public disclosures have provided some of the best insight into how foreign countries target Americans with disinformation. It has also partnered with fact-checking organizations that downrank false posts and articles which reduces their engagement and have brought in a slew of new rules aimed at combating election misinformation.
… In recent weeks the DNC told campaigns that “hashtags casting 2020 presidential candidates in a negative light” had reached Twitter’s coveted trending section.
Engaging with the hashtags, even to push back against them, could help promote them further, the DNC warned. The committee instead advised campaigns to encourage surrogates “to promote a positive alternative” hashtags.
Positive alternative hashtags sound like the lamest things imaginable.[Comment at Unz.com]