Saturday, September 12, 2020

PeaceData.net on Reddit

Graphika published a report on the PeaceData.net network, which was attributed to Russia's Internet Research Agency.  The website never reached a wide audience, but it's still interesting to look at the IRA's activity.

In addition to the main website (PeaceData.net), the network also consisted of social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  One of the Twitter profiles was "Alice Schultz" (@AliceSc14113509), which was created on June 3, 2020.  I looked on Reddit and a found a user named /u/AliceSchultz25, which is just about the fakest-sounding username you could come up with.  Alice's account was created on June 1, 2020.  She shared two links to PeaceData.net in /r/History and made another self-post in /r/PoliticalDiscussion (which likely contained a link to PeaceData.net).  All three links were removed by the automod and none of them got any upvotes.

I went onto RedditSearch.io, and found 10 other submission to PeaceData.net.  The most successful of these posts received 6 upvotes.

One post came from /u/Thisisntthespace, which is a shadowbanned account, so I can't see when the account was created.

So I assume /u/AliceSchultz25 is a sockpuppet, and perhaps /u/Thisisntthespace was a sockpuppet, too.  None of the other submissions came from accounts that I would say are sockpuppets, but I'll give a summary for the sake of completeness.

Three posts came from /u/gregorjamessmith40, which is a four-month old account with a lot of posts about Turkey and Syria and the Middle East.  He shares a lot of links to sites I haven't heard of, such as LibyaPolicy.com and TheArabWeekly.com.

Two posts came from /u/kavabean2, which is a 12-year-old account with 112,000 karma points.  KavaBean2 is a moderator of /r/Labour and he shares links to a lot of left-wing sites such as PeoplesWorld.org and PeoplesDispatch.com.

One post came from /u/IntnsRed, which is a 14-year-old account with 400,000 karma points.  IntnsRed is a moderator of /r/WorldPolitics2, and he shares links to a ton of websites, including The Guardian, Newsweek, and CounterPunch.

Two posts came from /u/captainwaffles, which is a 10-year-old account.  CaptainWaffles also shares links to videos from Jimmy Dore and articles by Aaron Maté.

One post came from /u/human-no560, and he was sharing the link in order to highlight an example of Russian propaganda, so that doesn't really count. 

Below are all the links:

AliceSchultz25:
https://www.reddit.com/r/history/comments/gugch5/war_crimes_committed_by_british_troops_peacedata/
https://www.reddit.com/r/history/comments/gugpx0/western_special_services_role_in_the/
https://www.reddit.com/r/PoliticalDiscussion/comments/gugynt/brazils_ailing_welfare_state_clashes_against/

Thisisntthespace:
https://www.reddit.com/r/inthenews/comments/h9h4my/indian_government_is_abusing_the_covid19_lockdown/

Gregorjamessmith40:
https://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews2/comments/hi1sxx/how_erdogans_government_is_hiring_mercenaries_for/
https://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/hi1rjz/how_erdogans_government_is_hiring_mercenaries_for/
https://www.reddit.com/r/socialmedianews/comments/hi1sls/how_erdogans_government_is_hiring_mercenaries_for/

KavaBean2:
https://www.reddit.com/r/Labour/comments/i7r06n/housing_how_coronavirus_has_exposed_this/
https://www.reddit.com/r/socialism/comments/i7r2f9/housing_how_coronavirus_has_exposed_this/

CaptainWaffles:
https://www.reddit.com/r/InformedTankie/comments/igr827/svetlana_tikhanovskayas_deleted_webpages_show/
https://www.reddit.com/r/LateStageImperialism/comments/igr7tf/svetlana_tikhanovskayas_deleted_webpages_show/

IntnsRed:
https://www.reddit.com/r/worldpolitics2/comments/i4lb98/does_the_us_military_assassinate_journalists_the/

Human-no560:
https://www.reddit.com/r/ActiveMeasures/comments/ikzshh/this_is_the_website_the_russians_were_using_to/

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Why was Carpe Donktum beefing with Luke O'Brien?

Here's something I was planing to write a while ago.  It will be interesting to approximately five people on the planet. 

Last year, I collaborated with BuzzFeed on an article about Carpe Donktum, the pro-Trump memesmith.  At the time, few people knew Carpe Donktum's real name, and the BuzzFeed article talked about how Carpe used a fake alias (Dennis F. Charles) while appearing on an OANN program.  The article  didn't reveal Carpe's real name, and, admittedly, the whole thing came off kind of clunky.  It was posted on July 15, 2019.

A few days later, Carpe Donktum got into a Twitter spat with Luke O'Brien of the Huffington Post.  Carpe claimed he'd received an e-mail from an INSIDER at HuffPost who said the site was planning to dox him in an upcoming piece, and that the author of this upcoming piece was Luke O'Brien.

I trust Carpe was telling the truth when he said he received an e-mail.  But I have my doubts as to whether the e-mail really came from an INSIDER at the Huffington Post.  My guess is the e-mail came from some random dude.  Carpe took the e-mail seriously, and he sent a text message to a Huffington Post editor about the non-existent article. 

The next sequence is a bit hazy, because Carpe Donktum's Twitter account has since been suspended.  I think he made some tweets about how Luke O'Brien was planning to dox him, which caused people to contact Luke O'Brien, which then caused Luke to send out this tweet on Saturday, July 20th:


Carpe then displayed some poor reading comprehension.  He thought he was being accused personally of having sent Luke O'Brien a DM (which is something he'd never done).  Carpe then got indignant and accused Luke O'Brien of lying.

At this point, Luke O'Brien figured "Screw it" and he decided to tweet out Carpe Donktum's real name (Logan Cook).  The name was already floating around Twitter at that point, so it wasn't like Luke had to do much digging.  I don't think he planned any of this in advance.  He was simply reacting to all the weird tweets he was getting.  The drama had become a self-fulfilling prophecy:  Carpe Donktum accused Luke O'Brien of planning to dox him, and so Luke O'Brien went ahead and doxed him.  Carpe Donktum then released a prepared video message which revealed that his name was, in fact, Logan Cook.


Over the next week, Carpe Donktum kept saying Luke O'Brien was a liar, and Luke O'Brien, in turn, called Carpe Donktum a liar.  I don't think Luke O'Brien ever challenged the specific claim that there was an INSIDER at the Huffington Post.  He said repeatedly that HuffPost was never planning to run the article, but I don't think he ever addressed how the misinformation sprouted in the first place.

It seems Carpe Donktum is still sore at Luke O'Brien.  After getting suspended by Twitter, Carpe posted an image on Facebook complaining about how Luke O'Brien's Twitter account was still active.

I feel like this whole spat could've been short-circuited with a single pointed question delivered at the right time.  All someone would've had to do was ask Carpe Donktum about the e-mail.  I realize there's a chance it came from a legitimate insider, but I would bet it didn't

In any case, I transcribed some of Carpe's interviews and Periscopes from around this time.  Three of the four videos are gone (only the one from Ali's Perscope is still up), so you'll have to trust that these transcripts are accurate.

From one of Carpe Donktum's Periscopes on July 20, 2019, titled "Sir, I am going to use love for political purposes, and love will win":
The guy that works for Huffington Post, the guy that was gonna write an article on me finally posted something.  A scathing review of me, where he mentioned that I was somebody that was in his DMs.  That's a lie.  I've never sent Luke any DMs, which is kinda hilarious because it's so easy to verify.  All he has to do is post the DMs...I did, however, send a text message to his editor.  His editor has their cell phone number on their profile, so it was pretty easy to get in contact with him.  I sent him a text message which I also posted, which was basically just saying:  'Hey, your guy, your employee, didn't reach out to me even though they were gonna write a story about me where they printed my real name without my consent.'  And I never received a reply back from the editor, but Luke is obviously upset, obviously upset about that.  And I believe what he said is that I "cried" to his editor, which is not what I did...It's obvious fake news.  And I talked to Ali for a little bit, live, about it.  It's pathetic, really.
This is what the mainstream media does.  They try to write pieces about people and they never reach out for comments.  They write slanderous things.  They don't even bother to reach out for comment.  I provided them--Huffington Post--with the opportunity to get a comment but they never responded.  They also never posted a piece.  Here's the funny part about all this is that they never reached out for comment, I never would have known that they were gonna publish it if I hadn't had an insider that had told me in advance that they were running a piece.  They would have published without talking to me. They wouldn't have even reached out to me at all.  I'm sure in the piece they would have said 'We reached out to Carpe Donktum for comment but he did not respond.'  I'm sure that's what it would've been had I not found out about it beforehand and gotten ahead of it.  But that's how the media operates.
From another of Carpe Donktum's Periscopes, titled "Have a few minutes":
BuzzFeed was gonna dox me on Tuesday.  And then they decided after getting pummeled on Twitter, they decided not to do it.  And then the next day I got an e-mail from an insider somewhere around Huffington Post saying "Hey, Huffington Post is preparing to release your name too."  Then we did the whole release statement and Rick-Roll and all that stuff.  Then I heard back that they weren't planning on running that story anymore.  So Huffington Post retracted.
...
I was lucky though that somebody sent me an e-mail, because I would have had no idea that Huffington Post was even going to do a story because they never contacted me.  I ended up calling the editor of the guy that was gonna do the article--I'm not even name his name--but I called his editor and left him a--well, it went straight to voicemail so I texted him and I just said, 'Hey, I was gonna give you an opportunity to comment before you ran my name against my will, and give you an opportunity, because nobody has contacted me from your publication about this story.  So just thought you guys would want to at least get my comment before you get yourselves in a world of hurt.'
From an interview with Owen Shroyer of InfoWars TV, dated June 22, 2019):
It actually started on Tuesday of last week with BuzzFeed wanting to publish my name.  They decided not to after some public outcry, and then the next day I got a message from somebody from the Huffington Post saying they were gonna print it.  My source told me that it was Luke O'Brien from the Huffington Post.  Later that night they didn't actually print it, but then the next day and over the midnight hour Luke threw a giant fit on Twitter, and then the next morning he ended up doing the thing that he said he wasn't planning to do, and he actually exposed me on--I think it was Thursday.
From one of Ali's Periscopes, titled "Late night with Ali and Carpe calls in":
This Huffington Post guy, though, man, he's got some cajones on him...The DMs don't exist.  I've never DM'ed the dude, and he's never DM'ed me as far as I know.   

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Scott Adams denies saying thing which he clearly said on video

Scott Adams has made lots of tweets and Periscopes lately attacking Joe Biden over what Adams calls “The Charlottesville Hoax.”  The notion of the hoax is that Joe Biden is lying by omission when he quotes the famous Donald Trump remark from the August 15, 2017, press conference about how there were “very fine people” on both sides in Charlottesville.  There was another part of the press conference where Trump said neo-Nazis and white nationalists "should be condemned totally," and Adams gets mad when people don’t highlight that part.     

Personally, I don’t agree that this thing is a “hoax,” but that’s the word Adams is pushing.

Last Saturday, a Twitter user named @reasonablemitch responded to Adams with this image:


That quote is from Scott Adams’s Periscope video on August 12, 2017, which was the same day the attack in Charlottesville occurred.  This was shortly after Donald Trump had made some public remarks on the matter.  The quote from Adams happens at the 1:15 mark. 



Adams responded to @reasonablemitch and said it was a "Fake quote."  When another person asked where the quote was from, Adams replied: "Nowhere. Fake quote. They are coming at me hard today."  That was an odd reply, because clearly the quote is real.  There's video of him saying it, and the video comes from his own Periscope.   

So what's going on?

One possibilityand this is a long shotis that Scott Adams is quibbling because the person who designed the image had put “other hate groups” at the end when Adams simply said “hate groups.”  I doubt Adams would really split hairs over that, but you never know.

Another possibility is that, in his mind, the quote is "fake" because it lacks context.  Any quote can be labeled"fake" (or a "hoax") because you can always add more and more and more context to try and adjust its meaning.  If people on the internet are wrongly interpreting what's in his mind, then Adams can say those interpretations are "fake," because the folks on the internet don't have access to the same thought process Adams had when he said the quote.          

Another possibility is he simply forgot he ever said it.

And yet another possibility is that Scott Adams has re-wired his brain in such a way so that things which are real to most other people aren't real to him.  Now you might read that last sentence and go "Huh?"  But, of the four possibilities I've mentioned, I think that's the closest to hitting the mark.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

People on Reddit think /u/MaxwellHill is Ghislaine Maxwell

Here's a weird conspiracy theory which sprang out of nowhere.  /u/MaxwellHill is a long-time moderator on Reddit.  He's the #2 moderator on /r/WorldNews and a prolific submitter, having accumulated over 14 million karma points.


However, he hasn't posted anything in the last seven days.  This led people to speculate that /u/MaxwellHill is the online alter ego of Ghislaine Maxwell.  The reasoning is that Ghislaine was arrested this past week, and the two of them have "Maxwell" in their names, so...maybe they're the same person?!


I assume there's no connection between /u/MaxwellHill and Ghislaine Maxwell.  I get why people might fool themselves into thinking there's a connection, but there's no substance here.  Nonetheless, users on /r/Conspiracy and /r/Epstein are digging through MaxwellHill's commenting history (Pizzagate style!), looking for any corroboration that he's Ghislaine.  For instance, he shared an article seven years ago titled "Three Reasons Possession Of Child Porn Must Be Re-Legalized In The Coming Decade."  He also allegedly stopped posting for about three days at the same time when Ghislaine Maxwell's mother passed away.

Here's the thing with MaxwellHill:  He's a semi-mysterious fellow, and he carries some weird baggage with him.  People have complained before that he pushes his own agenda in /r/WorldNews, and there was a controversy several years ago when he turned /r/Technology into a "total shit-storm" (per the Daily Dot).  He's a bit obtuse, and he seems to have no interest in nipping this conspiracy theory in the bud.  A fellow moderator from /r/WorldNews named Hasharin says he spoke with MaxwellHill earlier today to give him a heads up about the conspiracy theory.  Here was MaxwellHill's response:


Hasharin also mentioned that MaxwellHill is a Malaysian man, and that the username is inspired by a place in Malaysia which is literally called Maxwell Hill:   



Several Twitter usersmost notably Joe Leonard (@maelfyn)have shared speculation about MaxwellHill.  Joe Leonard's tweet thread has 5,400 re-tweets and 16,400 likes so far.  There have also been threads on 4Chan's /pol/ board filled with speculation.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Bringing Down the House and Iraq

Bringing Down the House, the 2003 film starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah, was #1 at the box office for three straight weekends.  Its final domestic gross was $132,716,677.  It was a definite hit, and I've always wondered how much of its success was attributable to that random joke in the trailer where the kid goes, "Dad, what's a rack?" and Steve Martin's character responds, "It's a country."


No, I'm being serious.  The movie was released on March 7th, about a week before the invasion of Iraq.  So the joke was weirdly topical, but not political.  If you wanted an escape from the stresses of the world, you could rest assured Bringing Down the House would ONLY mention Iraq in the context of a sexual pun.

Tomorrow, I'm going to investigate how much of the success of Bad Teacher was attributable to that joke in the trailer about LeBron James.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Saturday, May 16, 2020

/r/WorldPolitics fallout

Here's something no one will care about:  Reddit moderator /u/cojoco is out of /r/WorldPolitics.  I don't think it was his decision.  I asked him why he wasn't a moderator for the subreddit anymore, and he replied, "Good question."  I also asked the top moderator of /r/WorldPolitics, /u/IAmAnAnonymousCoward, what happened,  and he replied: "I'm sure [cojoco] can give you his version. As you can imagine it got a bit hectic while we tried to keep both the subreddit and its freedoms alive."

Distractify wrote about the situation in /r/WorldPolitics, and I feel they botched the narrative a little bit.  The Distractify post quoted heavily from a thread in /r/OutOfTheLoop, and the commenters in that thread kept repeating the assertion that the moderators of /r/WorldPolitics had failed to remove rule-breaking posts.  The implication was that users were now revolting against the moderators over their failure to enforce the rules:
"These posts, aside from not being world politics, angered the users as they break reddit rule number four, which states that 'asking for votes or engaging in vote manipulation' is strictly prohibited," the commenter explained.  
"Despite demands from users to mods to remove these rule-breaking posts, the moderators refused. In retaliation, the users determined that if the mods aren’t going to do their job completely, they may as well not do it at all."
The Reddit content policy does have a section regarding vote manipulation, which states:
Vote manipulation is against the Reddit rules, whether it is manual, programmatic, or otherwise. Some common forms of vote cheating are: 
  • Using multiple accounts, voting services, or any other software to increase or decrease vote scores. 
  • Asking people to vote up or down certain posts, either on Reddit itself or through social networks, messaging, etc. for personal gain. 
  • Forming or joining a group that votes together, either on a specific post, a user's posts, posts from a domain, etc.
To be clear, that's a site-wide rule, and it's not something the moderators of /r/WorldPolitics ever put forth themselves.  But here's the thing:  I don't think the rule applies to posts with titles such as: "Epstein!  Upvote this post so it's the first result in Google Images'"  I think those posts are okay as long as there isn't any vote manipulation taking place, or as long as people aren't soliciting upvotes from other sections of Reddit.  I don't know of any instance when that type of post was found to be in violation of Reddit's site-wide rules.  (A while ago, I wrote about a post in /r/PrequelMemes which followed the same format.)  I'm sure there are moderator teams that would remove such a post, but the moderators of /r/WorldPolitics don't really care.  They allow just about whatever.  They were probably amused by it.  They are essentially running an experiment that goes: 'What happens if we don't remove anything that we don't have to?'     

Well, you get waves of porn.  That's what happens.  For now.  The porn wave is actually drying up, and the current top posts are Warhammer memes.

Tim Pool also covered the situation at /r/WorldPolitics, and, in typical Tim Pool fashion, he simplified things in a manner that didn't make sense.


I listened to the first 5 minutes of Tim's video.  (Any longer would risk rotting my brain.)  There are a couple things wrong with his analysis.  First of all, the /r/WorldPolitics subreddit has not collapsed.  It still has 1.2 million subscribers.  It's just a shitshow right now, and that shitshow will soon dissipate.

Second, the subreddit itself was not biased.  Tim doesn't know how to differentiate between Reddit as a whole and individual moderator teams.  The top moderators of /r/WorldPolitics/u/IAmAnAnonymousCoward and /u/FreeSpeechWarriorstrike me as more Libertarian than anything else, although I don't know their politics for cerain.  Also, the alleged "rule-breaking posts" didn't break any of the rules of /r/WorldPolitics.

There is an argument to be made that the top decision-makers at Reddit have a liberal biasI'm thinking of the the admins and of certain powermoderators.  But the top moderators of /r/WorldPolitics aren't part of what I'd consider the "powermod" group.  Actually, let me put it even plainer terms:  The moderators of /r/WorldPolitics are anti-censorship.  Tim Pool himself is anti-censorship.  So, yes, Tim Pool is an idiot, and he doesn't recognize that he would actually agree with the modearting principles of the people he's criticizing

Thursday, May 7, 2020

/r/WorldPolitics has turned into 4chan

/r/WorldPolitics is "reddit's free speech political subreddit."  It has 1,242,995 subscribers and it is currently being overrun with shitposts.  The shitposts consist of anime porn, regular porn, pictures of potatoes, and other things of that nature:


The top moderators of /r/WorldPolitics don't believe in removing content.  That's their philosophy.  They barely believe in moderation to begin with.  The three senior mods are /u/IAmAnAnonymousCoward, /u/cojoco, and /u/FreeSpeechWarrior.  My impression is they only remove content which violates Reddit's site-wide rules—things like doxxing, violent threats, etc...  Everything else is allowed.

The trouble began on Sunday when a user posted a photo of Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein, titled: "Epstein! - Upvote this picture so it’s the first thing people see when they google Epstein."  The post stayed up, collecting 147,000 upvotes and reaching the front page of /r/all.  This was followed by similar posts from other users.  (I believe the original OP deleted their Reddit account soon after, but that's beside the point.) 

Now the subscribers of /r/WorldPolitics have FINALLY figured out that everything is allowed.  Hence all the hentai.  Seriously, the new queue is just dozens and dozens of hentai images.  That's why I'm saying that /r/WorldPolitics has now morphed into 4chan.   

/u/IAmAnAnonymousCoward made an announcement a short while ago, saying "Don't post anything that might get this subreddit banned or quarantined."  I'm guessing they'll be okay as long as the posts don't become overtly racist of QAnon-esque.  We'll see how things are in a few days.