In my opinion this is an incredibly important and incredibly disturbing discovery. If ATS management decides to take action on this, great care must
be taken with respect to how this is dealt with, I feel, for several reasons.
1) It may be tempting to now perceive virtually anyone with a given pro-Israel opinion as a propaganda shill. For example:
Originally posted by SmedleyBurlap
User 'Yitro' is one of these bots.
All of their posts are identical with minor adjustments made to the later copypasta.
It's possible of course, but we don't know
that. The last thing we need on ATS is a witch hunt or drumhead in my opinion.
2) Given that this is ostensibly a non-profit organization, the people participating in it are, on an individual basis at least, just individual
people with strong pro-Israel opinions. It is this program
, and its specific goal of "countering" negative popular opinion of Israel, and its
of the expression of those opinions en mass
, and potentially overwhelmingly and disproportionately to differing opinions,
which is the threat in my view - not the opinions themselves
(even though I do not personally agree with the pro-Israel position.)
And 3) There is already deep division and heated conflict between pro-Israel and Israel-critical assertions, opinions, and statements here. If the
response to this is not calibrated carefully, we run the risk of increasing that unproductive strife, replacing meaningful and productive discussion
with further division and uncivil discourse.
With all of that having been said, in my opinion at least, it is clear that if
this program has targeted or is now targeting ATS, then steps
must be taken to counter it completely and immediately. We must at least attempt to do so without denying the individuals
pro-Israel opinions the right to post here of course, whether I agree with them personally or not, while countering the disproportionate influence of
If it's here, it should not be allowed to persist in my view.
[edit on 6/1/2010 by AceWombat04]