The Gizmo™: Correlation Doesn’t Equal Adversary Nation

For days, reporters have been mis-using The Gizmo™ (the name I use for the “disinformation dashboard” from the German Marshall Fund, a black box that purports to show “Russian propaganda efforts on Twitter in near-real time”) to claim that Russian-linked accounts are pushing the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign calling for the public release of Devin Nunes’ politicized memo attacking the FBI.

As the effort lead by some Republicans to curtail special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into the election meddling has heated up, Russian-linked accounts helped amplify a Twitter hashtag calling for the release of a memo the group hopes will help discredit Mueller’s work, according to Hamilton 68, a research firm that tracks the malicious accounts. The #releasethememo hashtag was tweeted by these accounts nearly 4,000 times in the last couple of days, the firm said.

As always with such reporting, the articles don’t provide even the nuance the project’s most responsible contributor, JM Berger, lays out on their methodology page.

  1. Not all content in this network is “created” by Russia. A significant amount—probably a majority—of content is created by third parties and then amplified by the network because it is relevant to Russian messaging themes.
  2. Not all content amplified by this network is pro-Russian. The network frequently mobilizes to criticize or attack individuals or news reports that it wishes to discredit.
  3. Because of the two points above, we emphasize it is NOT CORRECT to describe sites linked by this network as Russian propaganda sites. We are not claiming that content producers linked by this network are Russian propaganda sites. Rather, content linked by this network is RELEVANT to Russian messaging themes.

Such reports certainly don’t consider the validity of drawing conclusions from such analysis that the authors have refused to have vetted by a third party. What does it mean to openly profess to be pro-Russian, for example? Do non-consensus views on Syria or Ukraine count? Does skepticism about Russian involvement in the election count?

And the reports don’t note the serial false positives, such as the time Jim Lankford used The Gizmo™ to claim Russia was stoking tensions around NFL players taking a knee during the anthem. More responsible analysis showed that,

[B]oth #TakeAKnee and #BoycottNFL were genuinely viral movements, generating high volumes of traffic from large numbers of accounts, but both received an additional boost from bots.

The bots which amplified #TakeAKnee were primarily non-political; they appear to be bots for hire, repurposed to amplify specific posts. Of these, the most significant group is that which retweeted @DianneLogic, given its previous use in online harassment campaigns in the context of Russia and the far right. However, the evidence of its prior behavior is suggestive but not conclusive. It cannot be taken as proving Senator Lankford’s claim.

The accounts which amplifed #BoycottNFL are a different breed. They are largely cyborgs, rather than bots, posting authored content in between slews of retweets. They are also political, rather than commercial. Their sole purpose appears to be boosting far-right American posts.

In both cases, the bots were functionally anonymous, providing no verifiable information on the identity of the user behind them. There is thus no independent information which would allow us to say definitively whether they were American, linked somehow to Russia, or managed from another country entirely.

In short, in spite of this thing being shown to measure something entirely different from what reporters continue to report — correlated traffic (and that, based on unpublished criteria) rather than causal traffic — nevertheless Russia got credit for a campaign clearly driven by right wing Americans backed by a far more extensive propaganda infrastructure.

And then, even as Twitter started leaking initial analysis saying just that — that Russia wasn’t to blame …

[A] knowledgeable source says that Twitter’s internal analysis has thus far found that authentic American accounts, and not Russian imposters or automated bots, are driving #ReleaseTheMemo. There are no preliminary indications that the Twitter activity either driving the hashtag or engaging with it is either predominantly Russian.

In short, according to this source, who would not speak to The Daily Beast for attribution, the retweets are coming from inside the country.

… Two members of Congress from California, Adam Schiff and Dianne Feinstein, called on two California companies, Twitter and Facebook, to confess further manipulation by Russia.

We understand Facebook and Twitter have developed significant expertise in identifying inauthentic and malicious accounts.  Further, your forensic investigations into Russian government exploitation of your platforms during the 2016 U.S. election have helped expose to the American public the vast extent of Russia’s covert influence efforts. We therefore request that your companies conduct an in-depth forensic examination of this real-time activity on your platforms to determine:

  1. Whether and how many accounts linked to Russian influence operations are involved in this campaign;
  2. The frequency and volume of their postings on this topic; and
  3. How many legitimate Twitter and Facebook account holders have been exposed to this campaign.

Given the urgency of this matter, we ask that you provide a public report to Congress and the American public by January 26, 2018.  In addition, we urge your companies to immediately take necessary steps to expose and deactivate accounts involved in this influence operation that violate your respective user policies.

Nothing in this letter explains why Facebook should have to do this work, as The Gizmo™, the sole piece of evidence Schiff and Feinstein rely on, doesn’t track Facebook.

But even the demand to Twitter was based on yet another misreading of what The Gizmo™ actually measures. And, having never asked The Gizmo™ to explain the methodology behind its serial panics, a Senator representing both Facebook and Twitter demanded that they check its work, rather than vice versa.

If I were a forewoman in a Russian troll factory, there would be no easier way to boost my career prospects than to use a few of my bots to manipulate The Gizmo™’s sloppy methodology to claim credit for an obviously American-generated hoax. “Ивана! Давайте претендовать на последнюю республиканскую пропаганду!” Doing so would set off a self-fulfilling prophecy, precisely the kind of thing The Gizmo™’s authors claim to want to prevent, boosting Russia’s ability to sow discord with virtually no effort.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

67 replies
      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I think that’s the better question.  The answers seem to lurk in the Trump organization’s twenty-year history of doing business with the Russians, at a time when its sources of credit were bone dry.

        As for the Russians, what better outcome could they hope for than chaos and discord in an opponent that has regarded Russia as an existential threat since 1917?  America’s loss of prestige has been enormous, it’s clay feet are breaking in the flood of derision and just criticism over Trump’s crude, violent, isolationist actions.  Not to mention his total disregard for any personality or people other than his own.

        NATO and the EU are less functional,  opening space for Russia to fill.  In fact, the edifice of international relations in place since 1945, under threat since Shrub, is now under full assault as vehement as the full court press the Republicans are mounting to keep Donald from his self-inflicted doom.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The international edifice in place since 1945 was built to keep Russia in check.  Undoing it will have been a generations long objective of Russia’s leaders; achieving it is now in sight.  For them, the current administration has been a boon.

          It’s been pretty good for the worldwide 1%, too, which last year “earned” more than the “bottom” 82%.  It’s not been so good for most Americans, especially and ironically, the cultural conservatives addicted to the myth of Donald as being their guy.  PT Barnum lives.

        • uncle tungsten says:

          Prestige! what prestige? The Cuban cicada occupation of the US embassy was the end of US prestige.

      • Avattoir says:

        It’s all very white of them. Not easy to tell a Rus from a Norwegian or one Georgian from another.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Follow the money and the Panama Papers.  The key players now aren’t ideologues, but oligarchs looking out for their assets.  I have something on the last thread on it.

      The Russians think (correctly) that the GOP is a more reliable protector of their asset-based privilege as the Rs have demonstrated their willingness to bend into pretzels to justify giveaways to the rich, as evidenced by the tax bill.  Recall the reason that particular process started (according to LyinRyan IIRC) was because the GOP was told by its donors that the checkbooks would be closed until the bill was passed and signed.

    • News Nag says:

      Authoritarian/fascistic mutual admiration society, plus the usefulness for their sadistic authoritarian/fascistic goals.  Seems obvious.  Together they increase the shift toward authoritarianism inside middle to eastern Europe.  And consolidate such power with other authoritarian leaders such as the butcher of the Philippines, et al.

  1. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Joe Magadude with the eagle-flag avatar is always more likely to be the racist relative who forwards chain emails with offensive photoshopped images than a creation of the St Petersburg troll factory. There are a lot of them, showing their worst selves in public, and it’s somehow more acceptable for the press to talk about The Gizmo™ than to say “wow, our discourse is being driven by a bunch of fucking assholes.” (See also the permanent residency of national journalists at the Pleasant Pancake Diner.)

    I’d be much more interested in seeing how many bots are calibrated to amplify fuckers like C*rn*v*ch and J*ck P*s*b**c, and how that amplification takes place, because they clearly receive information from people in high places. One way to measure that would be to examine the propagation of hashtags they push and don’t really catch on, either for the Joe Magadudes or the bots.

    • Silence Hand says:

      An apt term for well-calibrated bot action, as well as action directed by товарищ Иван Магавич might be “kindling” instead of or in addition to “amplification”.  A few puffs of the bellows helps the tinder ignite.  But the tinder is basically there and ready to go up anyhow.  That’s the more germane problem.

      As is having our national discourse driven by a bunch of fucking assholes.

    • earlofhfuntingdon says:

      I’ve seen a small part of this at work, people forwarding to their whole contact list e-mail drivel and cringe worthy photoshopped images.  It’s fun for them, it rewards the way they feel about the non-conservative opposition, it exacerbates differences, especially of race, sex, etc.  It’s not far removed from propagating the idea of German soldiers, skewering Belgian babies on their bayonets, that was all the rage circa First World War.  The amplification is tremendous, whatever the source of the sound.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Some years back, I saw a bunch of batshit forwarded emails from in-laws that propagated via a current Fox News commentator in the chain. I won’t identify who it was, but seeing that person’s name (and private email address) opened my eyes to how this isn’t a separate parallel nutso thread for wingnut bullshit, but instead how it’s woven into the fabric. It’s just more visible on Twitter and Facebook than it was on email.

  2. Willis Warren says:

    Why do Republicans love the Russians so much? I suspect that’s easier than the converse. Republicans love money. Putin has shitloads. They probably admire his ability to steal so much and still have high approval ratings.

    One of the prop or not guys argued to me that the Kochs don’t have much influence and that they don’t like donald trump. Uh, yeah, right. I see the Koch’s goals and Putin’s goals as pretty much the same.

  3. lefty665 says:

    Facts, hysterical Dems don’t need no steenkin’ facts. They know it’s all Trump/Russian collusion all the time. Doesn’t mean the Ruskies are innocent naive naifs, or that the Trumpies are not incompetent scheming buffoons.

    The spread of fact free cynical spin exploiting useful idiots ala Feinstein, Schiff and Warner is scary.

    Thank you for continuing to bring rational analysis to the conversation. Eventually we may come to our senses.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      This is fairly trolly. Everything has some trollishness these days.

      There is a political challenge in saying that the daily cycle of public discourse is now swayed by a bunch of easily-manipulated Real Americans™ who spend chunks of their day broadcasting their tribal dumbness in real time like hamsters on wheels. Invoking The Gizmo™ has become a workaround for that.

      • lefty665 says:

        Not trolly, you can go fuck your hysterial tantruming Dem self. Just like Marcy, rational observation and analysis of what’s going on. I don’t like Trump any better than I do Hillary, hysterical Dems or the other hangers on and exploiters.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          Projection’s a weird thing. I’m arguing that the call is coming from inside the house, and that whatever Sergey and Svetlana are doing for their vodka ration, it wouldn’t be effective if the conditions weren’t ripe for it and the political infrastructure weren’t so fragile. And I think that’s a problem, because if that attack on institutions is allowed to succeed, it won’t be replaced by gay space communism. Don’t you agree?

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, this is absolute garbage. There are all kinds of facts an evidence demonstrating that the Mueller investigation is extremely substantive, and if you have not seen those here, you are not reading things correctly, and that includes from Marcy.

      • Avattoir says:

        But he is

        Just like Marcy, rational observation and analysis of what’s going on

        just without any observation, rational or otherwise, and stripped of any nexus between that and analysis, which is also missing.

        It’s as if there’s a tendency in some folks to read something unquestionably smart, recognize they could never do that, adopt the author as their personal saint & champion, then commence to prove their faith by volunteering as online Bundinis.

      • Desider says:

        Ironically, a year ago post-election, the “nothing to see here” crowd on the left started citing Marcy as saying there is no collusion, when she was mostly saying the media/Twitter speculation was getting ahead of itself as far as absolute conclusions and proof go. Now they largely wave their hands, bring up Hillary & uranium or this new Sproz (sp?) “scandal” and pretend there’s been no news nor indictments/pleas in the last 6 months. After the Steele Dossier came out, they including Greenwald kept insisting everything had to be proven 100% a priori before it could be discussed.
        So the m.o. that the Russians have used is to mix it up and cause confusion, not certainty. There won’t be an absolutely toe-the-line Russian position, but if you do a scatter plot, you find large majorities match up, while even the chaos and uncertainty further their goals.
        Trump’s Twitter backers are mentioned as showing the bot spammers are homegrown, though it’s been claimed that 80% of Trump’s followers are inactive and 9% fake , which makes about 4.3 million fake followers if accurate, so I’m not sure what Twitter is trying to say, that local source = non-Russian? Hard to imply that when there have been Russian sources inside our borders all along (incl those Long Island and SF consulates where a lot of shady likely Russian spies hung out.

        • Silence Hand says:

          Boom!  I agree with the “need to prove 100%”  statement.  This is a cognitive trap that contrarians of all stripes end up in.  Academic climate change skepticism is often similar (and there are academic skeptics).  HIV denialism: ditto.  I could go on.

          The problem comes when contrarianism itself confers a degree of celebrity.  In too many cases, diehard contrarians become drunk with the accolades of those who benefit in some way from their assessment.  I will admit to some animus towards Greenwald that comes from seeing how HIV denialism consigned many, many humans in Africa to suffering and death.

    • uncle tungsten says:

      Thank you lefty665, ALL of the above! A plague on all their houses. It is the oligarchy and their shared mafiosi mates like Mogilevitch and Sater etc that are the curse on humanity. It is the oligarchy that rules Russia as much as it rules USA and the gullible fools from all major parties are just evil mouthpieces for distraction games and applying taboo systems on open discourse. The MSM meekly follows along sniffing their turds and barking.

      My sneaky suspicion is that the USA establishment (or deep state etc) was so alarmed at the Bernie Sanders campaign capacity to get the people out to town halls etc that they actually shat themselves. That is one reason why the ‘Russian menace’ canard is out and being hammered so hard. It suits both parties to be bashing the democratic socialist economic model that they have spent a century trying to kill off. The deep state hasn’t been this anxious since the Russian revolution and the first Bolshevik government was formed.

      Mind you, there are times when I find it so absurd that I have to laugh.

  4. Rapier says:

    It’s what I call ‘the bridge too far’ style of reporting.  Where reporters grab onto the most sensational and easily understood scandal narrative and run with it while ignoring the quite terrible more complicated facts. See the Gary Webb story. (I have  not seen the movie yet, Kill the Messenger. I sort of assume they miss the nuance of this.

     

    Webb learned of Contra aligned people  trafficking cocaine.  The DEA and more local enforcement agents were warned off pursuing them, by let’s call it the CIA.  Cut and dried true. The CIA admitted  knowing 53 (I recall) individuals who were Central Americans or accomplishes who were trafficking cocaine and  did not sever any relationships with them nor move against them

    After the CIA admitted guilt, in a white paper and a press conference, everyone said Webb was wrong. How can that be? Because he heard/concocted a tale that the CIA planned and executed the crack cocaine epidemic to destroy the ghetto. Never mind simple chemistry and know how with an almost zero barrier to market entry into crack production made every half assed gang in every city in the US an instant crack empire within months. No, the CIA did it. Almost all reporting on the case was about the CIA plotting to kill black people.  An absurd idea that could never be disproven. The perfect thing to suck all meaning out of the story, and so it did.

    The dossier and this Russian bots thing is exactly the same.  Nobody, the CIA back in the day or the Russians now, have to push these narratives. Their production is a natural part of the media and human nature. It is true the LA Times assigned multiple reporters to push back against the whole story and who with knowledge aforethought sought to destroy Webb. They did. Divorced, almost jobless, he killed himself. Still, Webb with the crack story was supplying his own rope.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Gary Webb was correct.  Like Cassandra, no one wanted to believe him (or Alfred McCoy for that matter).  The rope was the MSM’s and its patrons in the CIA and elsewhere.

      It was the FBI under Hoover that had a record of killing African American activists.

      • Rapier says:

        No. Webb was wrong that the CIA invented the crack mania. There was nothing to invent.

        I am loath to get into such spats and will stop now.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I’ll let you take that up with the CIA.  Its Inspector General concluded in July 1998 that much of Gary Webb’s reporting was correct, as has subsequent reporting and a Senate investigation by John Kerry.

        The CIA did not invent crack cocaine.  It did fuel the pipeline to accrue funds to pay for its Reagan-era insurrectionist campaign in Nicaragua against the Sandinistas, which violated congressional legislation.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As an aside, the GOP are already working on a high-energy, detailed grass roots campaign for 2018 and 2020.  The Dems threw theirs away when Obama tossed his progressive wing days after his election in 2008 and went full conservative establishment.  Establishment Dems also desperately fought the Bernie wing, which attempted to revivify democratic grass roots activism.

    Establishment Dems had best come to a truce in their civil war with progressives, or the party will again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  In that case, establishment Dems could go back to their corporate and banking gigs and pontificating from CNN’s studios.  But the rest of us would be left out in the cold, selling pencils outside the boardroom, and hoping that the abattoir in Abilene, the Wal-Mart in Sioux Falls and the Amazon factory in the middle of nowhere will have work for a few days more.  That’s not likely to end well for establishment Dems or their rump of the party, however long it takes.

    • Desider says:

      Uh, Obama’s election was fueled by that hopey/changey promise as anti-“establishment” Hillary and then Bernie’s gang tried the same play but not effectively (esp since the first turned out to be a joke). So no, your kabuki stage design and deep-voiced warnings doesn’t carry much weight.

      • J-Mann says:

        Uh, such brilliant political analysis in the comments here.

        I gotta remember to stop reading at the point where Marcy’s post ends.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        LOL.

        Obama’s election was indeed fueled by that hope and change mantra.  It was desperately wanted after eight years of Bush/Cheney.  His devoted base of small people and small change contributions were important for getting out the vote, if not for filling his coffers.

        Obama won.  He tossed his progressives on the way to the White House.  Hillary’s effort was wooden.  Bernie’s was effective, but not sufficient in scale to compete against establishment Dems.

        That was 2016.  This year and 2020 are likely to show that the progressive base is indeed willing to get out and work for candidates that actually represent their interests.  Not really a novel concept, but it is normally expressed between establishment politicians and corporate supporters.

        I know little about traditional Japanese theater, but it is usually the players, not the set design, that captures attention.  I applaud your decision to worry about what you’re already carrying; it seems heavy enough.

        • Pete says:

          Post on The Intercept seems apropos here: https://theintercept.com/2018/01/23/dccc-democratic-primaries-congress-progressives/

          My sense from down here in the land of DWS this is truly an impediment for grass roots progressives and new blood displacing the Dem establishment.

           

          Pete

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Thanks.  Good article on the feud between establishment Dems, attempting to control primary candidate selection, training and support, and the progressive base, which wants candidates to represent someone besides Goldman Sachs.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            The article also raised what may be the elephant in the Democrats’ living room:  Pay-to-play.

            In this case, it’s the party establishment’s demand that winners devote four hours a day to calling high-rollers.  That’s a third of the work day.  (In Donald’s case, a lot more.)

            The money raised pays for “participating” in Congress: so much for being there, so much for committee assignments, more for better committees, a lot more to be chair or deputy chair.  Otherwise, you can sit in the back of the bus.

            The money also pays for an increasing roster of party hangers on.  They seem to be metastasizing like university “chiefs of staff,”, vice presidents, assistant vps, deans and deanlets.  (Faculty, like union members nationally, are on their own.)

            In the Democratic establishment, these are called consultants, advisers, professional organizers and fundraisers, and party apparatchiks of all shapes and sizes.  More staff create more staff, it’s the global neoliberal phenomenon.  In business, they’re called MBAs.  In party politics, one might say that puts the cart before the donkey.

            In the establishment Dem process, win or lose the election, the party apparatus wins.  In the progressive model, the party and the people win when they govern.  I hope that only one of those has a future.

  6. рука молчания says:

    полезные идиоты. мне все равно, товарищ Вячеславовна.

  7. Silence Hand says:

    Marcy nails the fundamental Russian motivation, as other commenters note. Their PRIMARY OBJECTIVE is to sow chaos. Create confusion and delay, to quote The Fat Controller. In this, they have no preference for Republican or Democrat. Both sides have useful idiots, ready to work for free. L’affaire Trump is that rare and special circumstance that benefits their strategic goals NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS.

    In other words, they’re fully up in our OODA loop and aim to stay there. I don’t think the situation is lost, but we gotta get wiser.

    • Rapier says:

      Their primary tactic might be to sow chaos but their primary objective is to be given respect and be allowed a ‘sphere of influence’ in order to defend themselves militarily. They are touchy on that since they have been invaded multiple times. The last time killing 20 some million of them

      200 years ago President Madison declared no European nation could deploy troops in this hemisphere,  right down to the tip of South America. Kiev is 500 miles from Moscow and Ukrainian nationalists happily declare they want to burn down Moscow.

      • Silence Hand says:

        That’s a really important perspective.  We’re geographically hardwired for navel-gazing and high-minded hegemony.  We just don’t have anything like the pretty recent national trauma embedded in the Slavic psyche. Moreover, generations of leadership since has done all it can to keep the memory of that really fresh.

        I’m not sure I’m fully with you on that Russian strategic objective, because it’s kind of vague.  More proximally, I’d say they’d be:

        1.  Permanently convert Ukraine into a Russian client state, effectively annexing it a-la Belarus

        2.  Dissolve NATO

        3.  Dissolve the EU

        4.  Set up financial mechanisms to exercise leverage on the world financial system

        4b.  Enable facile money laundering by Russian “financial elites”

        • earlofhfuntingdon says:

          I’m not sure how impressive it is to have the president of a small, new country, lately at war with its original colonizer, declare that the entire hemisphere in which he finds his country to be off limits to the most powerful countries of the day.  Mirthful.  The self-assertion was hope, often ignored.  It became fact about 150 years later, much to the chagrin of our co-inhabitants in this hemisphere.

        • uncle tungsten says:

          Hmmmm I think Ukraine being inside the NATO and EU embrace will definitely lead to their demise at worst and severe ill health at best. Hence Russia will achieve its ends by just looking after the Russian peopled enclaves. It will be irritating for the Russians perhaps but what a price to pay to be free of Ukraine and see the western europeans wondering how this came about. Maybe I am cynical today.

      • Darby says:

        Interesting way to describe Russia’s imperialistic quest, starting in the 19th Century, and including being at the vanguard of aggression and hostilities in WW2. Casting Russia as victim is pretty revisionist. Germany lost millions of people and was invaded in WW2. Doesn’t sound right when you say it that way though.

        It may be practical world affairs to bequeath to Russia its sphere of influence (though I think you’ll find it’s view of that expansive). But no one should confuse what that means for the besieged peoples on its periphery.

      • Desider says:

        Uh, I believe it was the Monroe Doctrine, back when we had slavery and all. Things change – the Baltics have independence, the south slavic states have split up, the Ottoman Empire dissolved, as did the Soviet Union. Russia had its 70 years of subjugating Eastern Europe as a buffer zone – that isn’t enough? Germany and France *gasp* share a border. If the Russians want to be so alone, they should have colonized Australia.

  8. Rapier says:

    This isn’t the place to go into it but Ukraine is Russia. Up to the Dnieper River anyway. Since before there was America. Now you can pick nationalist sides if you want and cheer but in these old Bloodlands there will be blood if you don’t work to prevent it.

  9. SpaceLifeForm says:

    @emptywheel

    “Why are Agents texting about CI cases on SMS, at all? ”

    Maybe because one side is trying to extract info and have it recorded?

    Yes, over 300 texts per day is plausible, spread over 8 to 10 hours, if that is all one side is doing and the other side is infatuated.

    • Trip says:

      I went back at looked at a variety of news reportage. Originally, it was reported that the total # of all texts on the server was 50k, not specific to only the two agents. Then it morphed into 50k between the two (which is where I caught up with it, later).

      “Six congressional committees made a request to the Department of Justice for FBI text messages between two FBI employees from July 1, 2015 to July 28, 2017, which the Department agreed to produce as quickly as possible,” Sessions said. “After reviewing the voluminous records on the FBI’s servers, which included over 50,000 texts, the Inspector General discovered the FBI’s system failed to retain text messages for approximately 5 months.————-

“Investigators have reviewed 50,000 text messages on FBI servers looking for all exchanges between anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page during the 2016 election, Fox News reported. The revelation comes as investigators are seeking the whereabouts of approximately five months’ worth of text messages between Page and Strzok.” (And this one is Breitbart, of all places*)

      The time period of collection was from July 1, 2015 to July 28, 2017, so (low-balling) 2 years, minus 5 months (each month low-balling @ 30 days), would be apprx 87 texts per day, give or take. If the 50k was just between the two, which is still a lot (by my standards anyway). I suppose it depends on how many words are in each text, or if a conversation is really stretched out, with few words per text, but executed rapidly. Again, that is, if the 50k was comprised of only their communication and not the total of all agents of that location, on the server, within that time frame.

  10. Darby says:

    There was that NFL tweet geolocated to Vladivostok, but that doesn’t prove anything other than that the Russian disinformation campaign goofs sometimes too. Still though, I think it’s hard to know what is or isn’t true. Social media forensics are proving to be pretty primitive.

  11. Michael Keenan says:

    I guess Senator Feinstein never hear what you had to say again.
    https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=97189E2F-C6AE-48B9-AE6C-BBEB1660C9DE
    Her source: http://securingdemocracy.gmfus.org/blog/2017/08/02/hamilton-68-new-tool-track-russian-disinformation-twitter
    The tracker:
    http://dashboard.securingdemocracy.org/
    To wit:
    Top Themes
    Updated on January 17, 2:16 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.”

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Hush, hush, whisper who dares, secret societies are saying their prayers.

    Donald Trump is seeing Masons as he twitters asleep.  He sees Bonesmen, secret societies and final clubs standing across his path to Great Leadership.  They populate his Department of Justice, his FBI, the private and government agencies that oppose His Greatness.  If Dear Leader were asking to be tested for dementia, this would be a sign that it’s not needed.

    There are secret societies, final clubs and a deep state in America.  But they don’t play the role and are not peopled by those Donald Trump summons in his fever dreams.

    Mr. Trump is an outsider, a rigid, dull buffoon who would probably not be admitted to any of them, even if daddy ponied up for a new meeting house.  He would not reveal his own secrets, he would never keep a society’s, nor could he be relied upon to provide the loyalty, the mutual aid, that holds such societies together.  He would break the rules whenever it suited him, putting that society in jeopardy of exposure, of derision, of criticism for failing to vet and police its own.

    America has similar problems with him.  Its biggest is his deceit.  Donald has probably invented his secret societies to discredit those who would hold him accountable to the law, to his obligation to fully and fairly enforce it, without fear or favor.  Those are for dummies.  Don’s a smart guy.

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