And in other numbers, there is a billion-dollar disinformation campaign to reelect the president in 2020:
Presiding over this effort is Brad Parscale, a 6-foot-8 Viking of a man with a shaved head and a triangular beard. As the digital director of Trump’s 2016 campaign, Parscale didn’t become a household name like Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway. But he played a crucial role in delivering Trump to the Oval Office—and his efforts will shape this year’s election.
Parscale has indicated that he plans to open up a new front in this war: local news. Last year, he said the campaign intends to train “swarms of surrogates” to undermine negative coverage from local TV stations and newspapers. Polls have long found that Americans across the political spectrum trust local news more than national media. If the campaign has its way, that trust will be eroded by November.
Running parallel to this effort, some conservatives have been experimenting with a scheme to exploit the credibility of local journalism. Over the past few years, hundreds of websites with innocuous-sounding names like the Arizona Monitor and The Kalamazoo Times have begun popping up. At first glance, they look like regular publications, complete with community notices and coverage of schools. But look closer and you’ll find that there are often no mastheads, few if any bylines, and no addresses for local offices.
When Twitter employees later reviewed the activity surrounding Kentucky’s election, they concluded that the bots were largely based in America—a sign that political operatives here were learning to mimic [foreign tactics].
Their shit looks really real: https://kalamazootimes.com until you start looking at all the articles at once: https://kalamazootimes.com/stories/tag/126-politics
I have been hosting weekly hackathons to measure and weigh them over at r/MassMove. After three weeks we have found 700+ domains posing as local journals with hundreds of Facebook pages, thousands of Facebook accounts and tens of thousands of Twitter followers. And now have them pinned to an interactive heat-map: https://arcg.is/0KmXKK.
We are working on an open-source repository on GitHub: https://github.com/MassMove/AttackVectors, using everything from basic Google searches to advanced Google hacking techniques with the HTTP Archive project and Google BigQuery: https://www.reddit.com/r/MassMove/comments/fe170z/googlebujinkanbud%C5%8Dtaijutsu_advanced_google/
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