According to their website, The Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) is a bipartisan transatlantic national security advocacy group. Their
self-styled mission is countering what it claims is an "unprecedented attack" on United States democracy by Russia.
In general, the ASD appears to be a respectable organization with some decent credentials. I of course question their conclusion's veracity,
considering we've seen no substantive evidence (only Crowdstrike has even gotten to look at this evidence, per Wikipedia and other media sources). I
won't go into the myriad of reasons why this is a speculative conclusion though or how this Russia threat is hyped-up for politics/increase security
budget, and instead will be focusing on a specific method ASD goes about carrying out their mission.
They appear to be engaging in open-source intelligence collection via Twitter (with plans to expand into the other social media giants) likely through
some creative API uses. Of course they don't hide this fact, you can actually visit their live feed and see some of the accounts for yourself. This is
yet another reason to avoid social media, because after looking at the list of their so-called "Russian bots, or those re-posting the Russian
government's 'general opinion' and others" it appears to include a lot of genuine simply right-wing themed accounts.
The means by which they categorize these accounts are disturbing, and it is curious what they are using this information for. Given the statistics
they've presented, we at least know they conduct some type of analysis in order to determine the %'s they have.
Updated on January 17, 5:16 PM
Between January 2 and January 13, we examined 97 unique articles that were among the top URLs shared by Kremlin-oriented accounts on Twitter. As with
past weeks, attacks on liberals/Democrats were prominent (featured in 27% of all URLs). The most common targets were the Clintons (11 articles), Oprah
Winfrey (4 articles), and Barack Obama (4 articles). However, Republicans John McCain (2 articles) and Marco Rubio (1 article) were also targets.
Other prominent themes were discrediting Fusion GPS and the Steele dossier (14% of examined URLs) and pushing "deep state" narratives/conspiracies
(13%) -- (note: there was a significant amount of overlap between those two themes). Anti-immigration was another key theme (8% of all URLs), with
promoted articles bashing both DACA and Europe’s migration policies. The focus on immigration and migrant crimes made the EU (7% of all URLs) the
most prominent geopolitical topic (6 of the 7 articles focused on migration issues; the other one discussed crypto-currency in Estonia). Iran (6%) and
Ukraine (5%) were the two other main areas of focus. Articles on Iran had two main themes: blaming the Obama administration for the Iran nuclear deal
and suggesting the U.S. was engaging in "regime change."
Surprisingly there is probably nothing illegal about their actions. These aren't private communications after-all, and no one has an expectation of
privacy when posting to social media. Still, I can't help but feel concern at the potential for abuse by this private company taking extreme action
based in specious allegations and evidence-less conjecture. Shouldn't they wait to see what the various investigations uncover before acting on
Crowdstrike's word-alone and engaging in potentially hostile actions against U.S. Citizens?
My question is, who else is on there? What are they using the information for? Couldn't find anything about this on ATS, so I figured I would see if
someone had seen this before.
I will applaud their effort to combat propaganda/misinformation, however I feel this may not be the best solution. The part I take issue with is the
opaque and possibly discriminatory means by which these "bots" are identified vs. a real person stating their opinion. I don't need to point out that
real people expressing their opinions (even if it coincides with a Russian POV) is never propaganda. They should be working to educate and mitigate
this very real and very common nuisance of misinformation, not tread along the lines of labeling legitimate opposition a "troll/propagandist/what
edit on 1/22/2018 by JBurns because: (no reason given)