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Truthy Project Uncovers Political Astroturfing On Twitter

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the no-really-go-vote dept.

Communications 99

An anonymous reader writes with a follow-up to the launch of the Truthy Project we discussed last month. "Tens of thousands of tweets this election season have turned out to be automated messages generated by employees of political campaigns, Indiana University researchers have found. Quoting: 'In one case, a network of nine Twitter accounts, all created within 13 minutes of one another, sent out 929 messages in about two hours as replies to real account holders in the hopes that these users would retweet the messages. The fake accounts were probably controlled by a script that randomly picked a Twitter user to reply to, and a message and a Web link to include. Although Twitter shut the accounts down soon after, the messages still reached 61,732 users.'"

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99 comments

I am glad I don't use twitter (4, Insightful)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34105746)

companies, famous people, and now political people. Twitter is spam central unless you only follow your close friends.

Re:I am glad I don't use twitter (5, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34105806)

Even then it can be... disappointing... [penny-arcade.com]

Re:I am glad I don't use twitter (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106176)

Sir, when I click on that Penny Arcade link, it damn well be the poop/twitter mashup.

Re:I am glad I don't use twitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34107694)

You will not be disappointed.

Strangely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34109332)

A democratic researcher looking for abuse of online social systems found only one instance of abuse (our politicians only cheated ONCE ? How likely is that ?). Obviously the only abuse he found was conservative.

If you're going to research this and you can't find at least one scumbag from either party, I'm not going to believe for a second you're impartial, or that you've got anything interesting to say about "abuse in general". You're just propagandizing.

Let's not pretend it's hard to find a lying scumbag in either party. This is politicians we're talking about. They're about as honest as a lawyer who likes to eat young virgins on friday night talking to the police.

Re:I am glad I don't use twitter (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34109870)

I use Facebook to keep in contact with old work colleagues. One of them recently posted that their daughter had just started potty training.

I posted that link, and commented "I'm fairly sure that in 16 years time, your daughter will be a little freaked out that you publicly documented her first instance of not shitting herself."

Re:I am glad I don't use twitter (-1, Redundant)

Ruvim (889012) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106014)

What is this twitter thing people are talking about?

Truth is the antidote to lies (3, Insightful)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106606)

It's about time we start using the information age to separate false from true. Centuries-old practices of paid rumor-spreaders and disinformation should have some more chance of being tracked down and exposed. We are all tricked every day, it's time we all start to figure out what is going on, and not just be fed our opinions via factoids filtered for angle and timing.

Re:Truth is the antidote to lies (3, Insightful)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106726)

Any tool you make for that purpose, can still be used against that purpose.

Even your own mind is susceptible.

Re:Truth is the antidote to lies (3, Insightful)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | more than 3 years ago | (#34107000)

I'll go one step further and say your own mind is always the absolute weakest link. If people don't like the truth, they will almost never believe it.

Re:Truth is the antidote to lies (2, Funny)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34107262)

I'll go one step further and say your own mind is always the absolute weakest link. If people don't like the truth, they will almost never believe it.

I don't believe you.

Re:Truth is the antidote to lies (0, Redundant)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34107732)

OMG you have no idea how hilarious this conversation looks with my special Slashdot super-vision powerup XD

(You and the GGP are thinking the same thing, but the GP is thinking the total opposite)

Re:I am glad I don't use twitter (2, Interesting)

Huntr (951770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106644)

I used to be in that same boat, but I've come around a bit. I follow mainly sports writers and feeds about my sports teams. Its a good way to keep up on a lot of sports news of interest to me. I don't think I'd use it for serious stuff. You might find twitter feeds from tech writers interesting, if you're into that.

Re:I am glad I don't use twitter (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 3 years ago | (#34108152)

You might find twitter feeds from tech writers interesting, if you're into that.

Following a few select users has been fairly valuable for me in keeping up to date on the iOS jailbreak stuff and learning about new tweaks that hit the Cydia store. Otherwise speaking, most of the stuff on Twitter's rather annoying.

Re:I am glad I don't use twitter (2, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106648)

Twitter is spam central unless you only follow your close friends.

It's not just Twitter.

All social media outlets are heavily infested with marketers trying to spin their products or trash their competitors. As soon as a service becomes popular, they're all over it like flies on rotting garbage.

There was a brief few years when you could read Slashdot with the expectation that people expressing an opinion about a product actually held that opinion. Now it's more likely to come from a script or checklist.

Re:I am glad I don't use twitter (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 3 years ago | (#34107246)

That's not true. Apple is great, and the iPad is not a "walled garden". It's a "curated experience", like the most awesome touch-screen museum in the world^H^H^H^H^ sorry, wrong script.

Afro-American Racism Against Whites and Asians (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34107220)

During the election, about 95% of African-Americans voted for Barack Hussein Obama due solely to the color of his skin. See the exit-polling data [cnn.com] by CNN.

Note the voting pattern of Hispanics, Asian-Americans, etc. These non-Black minorities serve as a measurement of African-American racism against Whites (and other non-Black folks). Neither Barack Hussein Obama nor John McCain is Hispanic or Asian. So, Hispanics and Asian-Americans used only non-racial criteria in selecting a candidate and, hence, serve as the reference by which we detect a racist voting pattern. Only about 65% of Hispanics and Asian-Americans supported Obama. In other words, a maximum of 65% support by any ethnic or racial group for either McCain or Obama is not racist and, hence, is acceptable. (A maximum of 65% for McCain is okay. So, European-American support at 55% for McCain is well below this threshold and, hence, is not racist.)

If African-Americans were not racist, then at most 65% of them would have supported Obama. At that level of support, McCain would have won the presidential race.

At this point, African-American supremacists (and apologists) claim that African-Americans voted for Obama because he (1) is a member of the Democratic party and (2) supports its ideals. That claim is an outright lie. Look at the exit-polling data [cnn.com] for the Democratic primaries. Consider the case of North Carolina. Again, about 95% of African-Americans voted for him and against Hillary Clinton. Both Clinton and Obama are Democrats, and their official political positions on the campaign trail were nearly identical. Yet, 95% of African-Americans voted for Obama and against Hillary Clinton. Why? African-Americans supported Obama due solely to the color of his skin.

Here is the bottom line. Barack Hussein Obama does not represent mainstream America. He won the election due to the racist voting pattern exhibited by African-Americans.

African-Americans have established that expressing "racial pride" by voting on the basis of skin color is 100% acceptable. Neither the "Wall Street Journal" nor the "New York Times" complained about this racist behavior. Therefore, in future elections, please feel free to express your racial pride by voting on the basis of skin color. Feel free to vote for the non-Black candidates and against the Black candidates if you are not African-American. You need not defend your actions in any way. Voting on the basis of skin color is quite acceptable by today's moral standard.

Re:Afro-American Racism Against Whites and Asians (1)

kryliss (72493) | more than 3 years ago | (#34115024)

Didn't you know? Only whites can be considered racist, prejudice or discriminating. Every other race is just "Expressing pride in their color."

Re:I am glad I don't use twitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34114974)

companies, famous people, and now political people. Twitter is spam central unless you only follow your close friends, bands you are interested in, skiers that you are fans of, designer's that you love the work of, and multitudes more twitter accounts that actually are not spam central.

For the sake of America... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34105750)

... I hope they don't let twitter users vote.

No shit, Sherlock... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34105758)

Virtually all communication on the Internet is faked by somebody out to make a buck. BUY CHEEP V1AGR4!!! [buycheepviagr4.com]

Re:No shit, Sherlock... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34105904)

That is a really good point, and I heartily agree with you, good sir. MY V1AGR4'z CHEEPR [myv1agr4zcheepr.com]

Really? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34105762)

Really? Politicians and political action groups - people who are willing to do just about anything to get elected or extend their power - are willing to 'astroturf'? Seems like a small sin compared to the shenanigans they normally stoop to.

Re:Really? (1, Offtopic)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34105876)

It's worse then the epople who get elected, far worse. In most cases there not that bad at all. I suspect the regulation regarding disclosure are why.

It's the other groups that are the worst. The ones not directly affiliated with the politicians. Those people are the worst. A bunch of Zealots who think because things didn't got they way they want, the system is 'broken'.

Re:Really? (3, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106124)

Not only that, but they are openly stating that if they don't get their way, "Second ammendment remedies" may be the only option. Whoah. That is truly scary. Don't get our way? Start a violent revolution! After all, your political opponents are godless communist muslim monsters bent on destroying America, so revolution is justified. Or something.

as the saying goes: (0, Troll)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106762)

Soap, ballot, jury, cartridge. In that order.

Re:as the saying goes: (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106884)

And the government's SWAT teams and un-manned drones will wipe all four of your boxes off the face of the planet like so many rural Pakistanis.

Re:as the saying goes: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34107924)

"rural Pakistanis"? Hardly. Every one of those strikes has targetted foreign militants in pakistan, or Pakistanis who were followed back from Afghanistan. So much for your thruthiness.

Re:as the saying goes: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106906)

Soap, ballot, jury, cartridge. In that order.

Ah, the Tyler Durden Option...

You know what they say about having "enough soap", right?

Re:as the saying goes: (1)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34107512)

Soap, ballot, jury, cartridge. In that order.

Your predictable battleplan is your weakness. Mix it up a little the keep The Man on his toes.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34108538)

Yes, we may have to start shooting. Scared yet?

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34108676)

Well, consider America owes its existence to people not getting their way and choosing "second amendment remedies" (they didn't call it that, of course, because they hadn't written a second amendment yet) -- while seeing the clearly positive result makes it easy to rationalize that and accept that their cause was right, are you sure you'd have found their willingness to start a violent revolution any less "truly scary" at the time?

Re:Really? (3, Interesting)

Keen Anthony (762006) | more than 3 years ago | (#34109260)

You're an idiot, even as far as anonymous cowards go. This country owes its existence to learned men with great foresight coming together after the Revolution to form a republic with a spirit of compromise and optimism. The way you casually describe it, this republic could be the natural result of any armed uprising anywhere. America doesn't owe its existence to people not getting their way any more than it owes its existence to a king not granted his subjects their way. Revolutions do not create countries. That's simplistic, poetic fantasy. Revolutions are destructive, and they lay waste to everything they touch. It's what may fortunately come afterwards that creates countries. These "second amendment remedies" idiots are far from being learned, optimistic individuals with great foresight. They can't get beyond ten word bumper sticker statements of values. They couldn't build a country if they had a box of LEGO bricks and a nicely drawn sheet of instructions.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34129434)

Not the same anonymous coward. While I pretty much completely agree with your assertions/argument, I am really put off by any posting that opens with "You're an idiot" or its equivalent. It undermines the strongest reasoning for me. Of course it may just be that I'm an idiot.

Re:Really? (1)

Keen Anthony (762006) | more than 3 years ago | (#34132716)

Ordinarily, I would agree, and it wasn't gentlemanly of me. In retrospect, I should have omitted that, and I apologize to the original AC.

However, when the point is reached in a debate where the stalemate between two sides becomes based on something other than legitimate ideological differences, for example private agendas and irrational fear and hatred, you have to call it for what it is. Some statements are just idiotic, and they cannot be tolerated, but tolerance of stupid things results in a stupid populace. We would not tolerate assertions that the earth is flat and is orbited by the sun and other planets.

Similarly, we ought not tolerate assertions that the Tea Party acts with the same spirit or even the same moral manifest destiny of the original American Revolution and the Founding Fathers. This is an idiotic statement, proven incorrect with just the most casual comparison of the movement to the words and actions of the Founding Fathers.

You would probably prefer an approach that's less like taking a hand to the back of the head, but I don't. The media hasn't done a good job at calling out this movement of stupid pseudo-anarchists for what they are, and Americans aren't doing a good job at questioning the legitimacy of the Tea Partier's outlandish claims. We're starting to tivo our political beliefs now, adopting beliefs and "facts" from the fringe just because they have been welcomed by mainstream politicos we trust.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34111032)

Get out you godless commie prophet mohammed!

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106130)

Epic grammar fail.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34109390)

It's worse then the epople who get elected, far worse. In most cases there not that bad at all. I suspect the regulation regarding disclosure are why.

Perhaps you haven't been listening to the news and have thus been overtaken by events -- the fallout from the SC decision on Citizens United has put the final nail in the coffin of disclosure.

Just so you know, we yesterday had nationwide elections that verified the death of disclosure.

OMG, politicians aren't saints? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34105780)

If politicians are willing to sell out the citizens in exchange for campaign contributions as low as a few hundred or measly few thousand dollars, is there any possibly doubt they might just maybe engage in less than ideal campaign practices.

In reply to all the people who say that democracy is dead and we just have to live with this corrupt system, may I introduce you to the one (admittedly very difficult and long-term) alternative that actually has a chance of freeing us from politicians entirely?

Read: http://metagovernment.org/ [metagovernment.org] and before you criticize it... remember that the only other alternative is this disaster we have now. That or authoritarianism.

Re:OMG, politicians aren't saints? (2, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34105892)

Metagovernment can't work, Google and most of the other search engines ignore metas these days. /duck

Re:OMG, politicians aren't saints? (2, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106184)

Clearly we need government by robots.txt!

I personally welcome our new robots.txt overlords.

Re:OMG, politicians aren't saints? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106802)

What about a jackbooted-thugs.txt?

If somebody's Roomba wants to vacuum my kitchen, I'm fine with that.

Re:OMG, politicians aren't saints? (1)

Dr Herbert West (1357769) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106050)

The only alternative to our current disaster is a wiki page? I'm all for trying out new things, but it looks like there's not much there besides... well, more pages.

You want to free us from politicians, great-- where do I sign up to put motherfuckers up against the wall?

Re:OMG, politicians aren't saints? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106166)

It's a wiki page leading to a dozen free software projects [metagovernment.org] (plus lots more projects [metagovernment.org] ) which are being built to replace politicians.

If you want to put the motherfuckers up against a wall, you are likely to find that the tables (or walls) will be reversed quite soon enough, and you will be up against the wall. The difference with Metagovernment is that it is not reliant on violence, illegality, or anything that may get you near that wall. It just makes politicians obsolete by ignoring them.

Re:OMG, politicians aren't saints? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106204)

#include "stdio.h"
#include "executive.h"
#include "legislative.h"
#include "judiciary.h"
#include "campaign_contributions.h"
#include "corruption.h"

Well, we tried....

OMG! The electorate is a bunch of idiots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34118740)

Yeah, lets create more software that lets nutcases create polling sites that lead them to believe their twisted worldview is a majority opinion. Sorry to break it to you, but half the people in this country have a two digit IQ. Direct democracy would quickly result in a racially segregated country, with an official state religion of Conservative Protestant (Lutherans, Methodists and other Devil Worshipers need not apply), where the teaching of evolution is punishable by death, with a tax rate of 0%, but everyone would still be guaranteed Medicare and Social Security.

We saw yesterday what happens when the stupid leave their TVs to vote. Imagine if they could vote on every issue right from their TV. With Fox News telling them how to vote on each issue. That would be great. At least with representative democracy it takes the electorate longer to fuck up the country because not everyone they elect is a congenital idiot. You're expecting people who believe their income taxes are too high even though they aren't paying any income taxes to manage the economy?

When people enter the military, we expect them to give up some rights. They no longer have unlimited free speech. They no longer have privacy. They are, in theory, held to a higher standard of behavior than others. I don't see why we can't do the same for political candidates. If you want to run for congress or for a federal office, you give up your right to lie with impunity. A $10,000 fine for each lie should do it, and lets say the 11th lie is a felony that gets you a little jail time, costs you your right to vote, and gets you dropped from the ticket.

Re:OMG, politicians aren't saints? (3, Insightful)

Miseph (979059) | more than 3 years ago | (#34107624)

Lol, no. There are some things I cannot entrust to a piece of software, and the monopoly on legitimate violence is absolutely on that list.

Beyond that, anyone who claims that democracy is dead, that corruption and fraud have finally become so ingrained in the system that it simply doesn't work as intended, etc. needs to actually learn some basic history of electoral politics. Plain and simple, this shit has been happening since long before day 1. Hell, most of the guys who wrote the fracking Declaration of Independence weren't even elected, and many of the ones who wrote the Constitution were either effectively self-appointed or elected by a process that can only charitably be described as "deeply flawed"... not that it mattered much, since the only people actually allowed to vote were older white men with sufficient means to show up at whatever obscure building was chosen for polling in the middle of fall harvest, and when you've got an almost wholly agrarian, rural society possessing no faster transportation than horseback that's the sort of thing that seriously cramps voter turnout.

The fact of the matter is that, for all the dishonesty and shenanigans that happen every year, American politics are more open, transparent and free from tampering than they've ever been. Democracy is dead like nobody uses the internet.

Fake Accounts? (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34105874)

On Twitter? Unpossible!

Actually, the only thing I'm surprised to learn is that there may, in fact, be some legitimate accounts on Twitter. 99.999% of it seems to be spam judging by my few visits to the site, although maybe calling it spam is unfair; after all, you have to sign up to the individual streams of advertising.

Re:Fake Accounts? (-1, Troll)

harlequinn (909271) | more than 3 years ago | (#34105974)

Just to clear things up, all of the accounts on Twitter are real. The person that registered the accounts (or wrote the script that registered the accounts) is also real. Even the content is real.

The only thing that might be fake is if the account represents a fictitious person (but as above, it is still a real account - it just represents a fake person).

Re:Fake Accounts? (4, Interesting)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106540)

It's a fair point, but I've been fairly surprised by Twitter. Just to be clear, I'm not generally a fan of social networking - I don't have a Facebook or Myspace page, and frankly believe that if people can't be bothered finding my email address or blog then I don't really want to hear from them.

Twitter seems to self-censor quite well though. I follow about 50 people, mostly geek types like Marcus Chown (cosmology author) and a few work related people. I get almost zero spam in my feed, in fact the only real spam is spammer following me to try and get me to reciprocate. I do, by clicking "report spam" and hearing no more...as TFA points out, these accounts were swiftly shut down by the users who presumably did just that.

I've actually found some very interesting people with Twitter, and very little spam, and I'm as surprised by that as anyone.

Professional astroturfing is hardly new (4, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34105894)

These types of services have been available for a very long time. Why would it surprise anyone that professional shill's would pick up newer comm methods like twitter?

Without doubt professional shills have accounts ready to go on just about any type of news site you can think of. Without question certain subjects bring up certain shills time after time on sites like Slashdot. Anymore this is just one more form of a perception management service to be offered by PR firms.

The best thing to do would be to have a law that would require disclosure of such shilling (similar to advertising shill regulation for places like amazon.com). It wont stop many of the shills, but the cost of discovery could be punitive enough to give pause to those that hire them.

Who needs tweets with twits like (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34105922)

Rand Paul [youtube.com] :

"The Democrats tripled the U.S. debt!"

From the man who will

1. Privatize Social Security
2. Privatize the Veterans Administration
3. Replace the U.S. Federal Income Tax with a national sales tax.
4. Change the Moon to green cheese.

Go Rand ! all the way to the insane asylum.

Yours In Moscow,
Kilgore T.

Re:Who needs tweets with twits like (3, Informative)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 3 years ago | (#34105970)

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face--for ever." - one of Rand's paid employees took that quote to heart.

All the way to the insane asylum. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34105988)

a.k.a. The Senate

Thankfully the Dems had a cakewalk because those tea party crazies nominated a fool. NOT!

Rand by 10+.

AND Rand was to the LEFT of the dem on the drug war and the war war.

Rand will be a fine principled senator. Just like his dad in the house. The question will be what can he accomplish. But the nonsense of the parent is little more than team red team blue nonsense.

Go Rand.

Re:All the way to the insane asylum. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106114)

He wants to privatize the VA.. hes a fucking idiot.

Yours truly,
A veteran.

Re:All the way to the insane asylum. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34108786)

Not to poopoo your sentiment entirely, but take a look at the Senate's two-faced handling of VA benefits. They sit there cheering and cheering the war (because their campaign contributors are giving them fat kickbacks for it) and chanting "SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!" while the CUT VA BENEFITS DURING AN ACTIVE WAR. I actively opposed the Iraq war (while agreeing that we had to go in to Afghanistan), but their cutting of VA benefits while sending out soldiers to "protect" us through war profiteering was simply monstrous behavior. Particularly because my stepbrother was one of the troops impacted by it.

He got home, suffered major depression and shell shock after honorable discharge due to dislocated shoulder in a mortar attack. The VA fixed his shoulder up, then denied all further coverage. My father, a private doctor, performed tests himself on his own buck, found that my stepbrother's body no longer produces testosterone. They go back to the VA, ask for payment for the test, and ask the VA to fix the problem now that they've shown the depression has a physical cause.

VA denied coverage. So much for supporting our troops.

I feel horrible for our troops. You guys haven't had a truly justifiable war (i.e. fought in self defense or fighting an opponent that truly posed a threat to us) in years. That's simultaneously good (there really AREN'T bad guys that can wage true war with us anymore) and bad (the military has been widely deployed the past two decades in a world like that). So basically you're asked to go out there and make sacrifices for a bunch of rich guys to get richer. THEN while you're deployed those same rich assholes take away your benefits, depriving you of care needed for the injuries and trauma suffered to protect their corporate interests.

Privatizing doesn't sound like a very great answer, but neither does leaving it in control of the assholes in power. It's between a rock and a hard place there, if you ask me.

Re:All the way to the insane asylum. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34110212)

Amen to that, brother. Amazing how many people are ignorant of the hypocritical actions of the politicians who wave the flag on one hand and then cut benefits to the people fighting for our country. I hope your stepbrother gets better care soon.

Re:All the way to the insane asylum. (1, Offtopic)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106142)

Yeah, I can't wait for the money supply to be controlled by international gold traders and/or mining cartels.

We won't have any economic crises after that.

Re:All the way to the insane asylum. (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106244)

Grand total inflation when gold and silver were the currency (between 1776 and 1913) was 14%.

Since then, it is tough to estimate, but at least a thousand percent.

Re:All the way to the insane asylum. (2, Insightful)

oiron (697563) | more than 3 years ago | (#34107426)

Some amount of inflation is necessary for an economy to grow. And grow, it has to, when you're trying to take care of everyone, and not just the plantation owner. Gold only works if you have a static economy.

Besides, Gold standard introduced to the US (I assume that with the mention of 1776, you're talking about the US): 1873 [wikipedia.org] . At various points in time, currency was backed by gold, silver, others and nothing, the "nothing" periods primarily being wars (war of 1812, Civil War, etc).

With gold, you also have the exact opposite problem - deflation, when the gold supply grows at a rate slower than the economy.

But don't let basic economics distract you from talking points and sound-bites, inconvenient as they are!

Re:All the way to the insane asylum. (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34115642)

No, inflation is not necessary for the economy to grow. Inflation economies punish savings, and inflation-proof economies punish savings and push people toward investing (read gambling) in the market (read casino) to maintain their worth.

If you care to look at how the currency worked, it was unnecessary to "back" a gold or silver coin with anything. Gold and silver coins being currency in those days, they were their own backing.

Basic economics is what got us into this mess, starting on Jekyll Island in 1913. Experimental, wet-dream banker economics.

Re:All the way to the insane asylum. (1)

oiron (697563) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136494)

And just how much gold/silver can you have to back all the currency in circulation? How do you increase the gold supply to meet the demands of a larger population? Remember, most of the easily accessible gold has already been mined - what we have is a diminishing supply, which by your plan would necessarily be shared among a growing population.

Also, there are situations where you can have over-supply of the commodity being used to back your currency. Suppose you're backed by gold, and an alchemist the philosopher's stone. Just any way by which the supply can increase like crazy. Suddenly, your entire currency is rendered worthless. All those gold dollars under your mattress that you spent your life accumulating are now equal to something that a guy in a dark room dressed in a weird robe can conjure up in a few seconds. Where's your self-backed currency now?

Re:All the way to the insane asylum. (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34154824)

The problem is that an unbacked currency, combined with the now accepted idea of monetizing debt, has already caused hyperinflation.

Bankers realized that making worthless money from cotton is so much more profitable than anything else they ever tried. Coin money, backed by itself, is more or less inflation proof. Supply and demand take care of the rest. So population increases faster than the gold supply, that just means that goods will cost less as there is less money chasing them. The actual amount of gold per human is moot. The people who save in such an economy don't need to gamble in the market just to maintain their wealth. All they need is a jar and a backyard.

The real magic trick was convincing people that worthless paper has some sort of value. Paper money, backed by debt, is only good for bankers and stealing resources from brown people.

Re:All the way to the insane asylum. (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119102)

I call bullshit. In 1776 inflation rate was about 20%. In 1777 it was 25%. In 1778 it was 30%. During the war of 1812 it hit 20%. In between were periods of deflation in there that hit 20% They may have added up to 14% (it's hard to tell from the document I'm looking at), but there was a hell of a lot of inflation and deflation in those periods and a whole lot of pain because of it. Deflation cripples the economy. Technically telling the true what propagating a false story (the gold standard prevents inflation) is still lying.

The economy was largely stagnant during much of that time and there were repeated depressions that got successively worse until the great depression. Gold isn't money, it's a commodity and its value will fluctuate like any commodity even if you hold large quantities in reserve. That destabilizes the money supply and during those years you got periods of inflation and deflation. If you look at the actual annual inflation/deflation rate (page 6 of this [oregonstate.edu] ) you will see that prices have been far more stable since we've gone off the gold standard and into an actively managed economy. You'll also see that GDP growth has taken off much more than the total inflation has.

The only way you get a stable value for gold is if you only compare it to gold. Compared to other things its value isn't even close to stable.

Re:All the way to the insane asylum. (1)

ikkonoishi (674762) | more than 3 years ago | (#34107752)

As opposed to the banks? Or the privately run "Federal" Reserve. At least with gold they can't just make infinite free (to them) money by dropping the reserve requirements to zero. We have to find some form of currency that is tied to the actual value of the goods in the market.

Re:All the way to the insane asylum. (1)

pinkwarhol (1913356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34107962)

We have to find some form of currency that is tied to the actual value of the goods in the market.

If you did some research, you'd find at least a couple of alternatives (not saying you don't have any in mind). Unfortunately, they kinda break the current corporate/global system...

Re:Who needs tweets with twits like (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34109450)

Wow, it's a real person. I assumed it was some kind of fictional cross between Ayn Rand and Ron Paul. And is that really what passes for news in the USA? It sounds like she's asking a list of questions that he submitted before hand to make him look good.

Automated messaging is good, no, bad! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34105930)

http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/mimssbits/25964/?p1=A4

"The result is the Twitter chatbot @AI_AGW. Its operation is fairly simple: Every five minutes, it searches twitter for several hundred set phrases that tend to correspond to any of the usual tired arguments about how global warming isn't happening or humans aren't responsible for it. It then spits back at the twitterer who made that argument a canned response culled from a database of hundreds."

Evil, no wait!

No proof the accounts are spamming (3, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34105940)

I would argue the findings don't matter a bit, because they didn't reach people not interested in seeing the messages sent.

So what if one holder generated twenty accounts in a second? The accounts exist in a void, and are only "truthy" if they trick people into following them. THEN I would say there was skullduggery at work, but they showed no proof of that.

On top of that, Twitter is a terrible outlet for spam because the first time you see someone you don't care about from someone you just unfollow them or never follow them to start. What good did it do? Again, the people actually following and receiving those messages WANTED to see them. I don't generally like or use twitter much myself but that is a huge benefit twitter has as a communications channel, in that it's immune from sent spam (now people who follow you just to spam you with presence, that's another matter but not under discussion).

On a side note I like how the only people they named explicitly were republicans and unnamed were some of the bigger supposed problem accounts. This was pretty obviously a kind of astroturfing, in and of itself... make up a problem where none exists and claim Republicans are at the heart of it, all on election day. Smooth.

Re:No proof the accounts are spamming (1)

elFisico (877213) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106144)

I second that. Twitter is in principle spam-proof... if people would stop using auto-re-follow- and auto-retweet-apps. To get followers on twitter you have to provide some kind of interesting content, even if it is only retweets of news messages. Advertisers really have to invest some time and keep the spam-to-content ratio low or people just cut the link and unfollow them.

Re:No proof the accounts are spamming (1)

scot4875 (542869) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106300)

In other words: "I'm going to rationalize that it's ok because it's my guy that's doing it."

--Jeremy

Re:No proof the accounts are spamming (2, Insightful)

farnsworth (558449) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106348)

What good did it do? Again, the people actually following and receiving those messages WANTED to see them. I don't generally like or use twitter much myself but that is a huge benefit twitter has as a communications channel, in that it's immune from sent spam

I frequently see re-tweets of tweets that I'm not interested in seeing via people that I follow. So it's not exactly pub-sub -- messages can and do leak across explicit "follows".

Re:No proof the accounts are spamming (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106376)

I would argue the findings don't matter a bit, because they didn't reach people not interested in seeing the messages sent.

From the _summary_:

The fake accounts were probably controlled by a script that randomly picked a Twitter user to reply to...

You don't have to be followed/following to reply to someone else's tweets. And they'll still see it.

Re:No proof the accounts are spamming (2, Insightful)

elewton (1743958) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106642)

The fake accounts can give weight to a shill statement which is available in the search for aggregators and analysts.

Re:No proof the accounts are spamming (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34107448)

On a side note I like how the only people they named explicitly were republicans and unnamed were some of the bigger supposed problem accounts. This was pretty obviously a kind of astroturfing, in and of itself... make up a problem where none exists and claim Republicans are at the heart of it, all on election day. Smooth.

Bloomington Indiana is a blue island in a red sea.

Re:No proof the accounts are spamming (1)

Mukashi (826020) | more than 3 years ago | (#34109588)

You're forgetting hashtags. We saw similar things happening in the Australian election, where Twitter shills and bots (acting primarily for the Labor party, which appeared to be a bit more switched onto social media overall than was the Coalition) were used not only to spread messages, but also to retweet favourable messages (sometimes posted by themselves, sometimes just ones from the general public) so as to artificially promote certain messages to top tweets for the #ausvotes hashtag.

No wonder Iranian gov worries about twitter... (1)

pighead77 (1315131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34105958)

No wondering other non-western countries hold a very cautious and suspicious view of it. I bet during chaotic periods and time leading to it when tweet volume exploded, twitter wasn't so keen, quick or even willing to detect and shut down suspicious accounts and activities (read, CIA, NED, etc)

How obvious was it? (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106110)

Was it as obvious as the "hot chick" named Tanya486 who follows you, is following 56000 other people, and has 2 followers?

Re:How obvious was it? (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34107878)

Was it as obvious as the "hot chick" named Tanya486 who follows you, is following 56000 other people, and has 2 followers?

Or the 500,000 Facebook "users"?

There goes my last hope for the federal government (3, Funny)

avatar139 (918375) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106396)

Personally I'm outraged by this news!

Most politicians (and by that I mean Congress) waste enough time on my nickel (speaking as someone who would be a taxpayer if I made enough money for the federal government not to refund pretty much all of it ;) that quite honestly I would prefer that they would be required to Tweet every 15 minutes so we can account for every moment of their time in office!

I'd also like a requirement that Pictures and Geotagging have to be included, not just to ensure against fraudulent Tweets, but also to be used in evidence in the next (and there will always be a next time) sexual misconduct charge! In fact, given the fact that anyone in public service should not have any expectation of privacy, let's include a requirement for an entry whenever a member of congress enters the restroom! This way we can clearly establish not just who took the last square of toilet paper and/or soap without reporting it to maintenance, but whether or not a congressman really is reaching for a paper left on the floor and not, in fact, asking for sexual favors from the man in stall next to him in a restroom!

Wrong focus (2, Insightful)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106538)

If people are voting based on what Twitter tells them then we've got much bigger problems.

Re:Wrong focus (4, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106874)

As opposed to people voting based on what TV or newspapers tell them?

Re:Wrong focus (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34107854)

That's right.

With web/tv/radio/print, it's possible to communicate complex ideas (even though most so-called journalists never make use of that capability). With Twitter, the medium actually makes it impossible to say anything that won't fit on a bumper sticker.

Re:Wrong focus (3, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34107920)

With web/tv/radio/print, it's possible to communicate complex ideas

It's possible, but it's the sharp, stingy and false single-liner slogans which are the most cost-effective way of affecting the voters regardless of the medium used to transmit them, so that's what is used. It has nothing to do with the laziness or inability of journalists to communicate more complex idea - it's just not needed (in fact, it is undesirable!).

Re:Wrong focus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34109048)

With web/tv/radio/print, it's possible to communicate complex ideas

So you're saying, you can spread better lies on web/tv/radio/print?

It's politics. Why does it matter what or how much anybody says? It's all lies, propaganda, misinformation and dragging the opponent through the mud anyway. When was the last time politicians said the truth and mean it?

It doesn't matter how elaborate they phrase their PR. A lie's a lie.

New Name for Old Lies (1)

donak (609594) | more than 3 years ago | (#34109232)

Instead of calling it AstroTurfing, lets call it:

TurfHogging
or
TurfHacking
or
Lies
or
BrainWashing
or
BullShit by any other name would smell as sweet ...

Vote Early, Vote Often!

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