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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

There has been, as we know, much fuss over how Russian Twitter ‘bots backed both Brexit and Donald Trump. This is an interference with our democracy which just cannot be lived with, something must be done. You know, regulate Twitter so that nothing so appalling as anyone ever using it to support non-progressive causes can ever happen again. That not being quite how free speech nor freedom of the press is supposed to work of course.

Expect some of this to die down a little now that we know that those same Twitter ‘bots – from Russia, you know – backed Jeremy Corbyn at the last General Election.

Tim Worstall

21 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • George Atkisson

    Corbyn was going to win anyway, so those ‘bots don’t matter. Trump and Brexit should have lost. THOSE ‘bots are unacceptable interference and therefore the results must be thrown out post haste. Ah, the Progressive mind. Even the Red Queen would be impressed by their ability to hold impossibly contradictory ideas while simultaneously defending both.

  • How is a Twitter bot that different in its effect from The Guardian publishing anti-Trump pieces?

    Obviously if the former is done by a foreign government, then it’s improper (although Western governments have long interfered in other countries’ elections.) And if it involves deception, it’s improper. But the left seemed to be incensed not by those things, but the the very idea that foreigners would seek to influence Brits and Americans into voting the wrong way.

  • Mr Ed

    Twitter is electronic flatulence, some people, perhaps those who like the smell of their own farts, treat it as important. However, in the real world, the vast majority of the population neither know nor care about any ‘Twitter storms’, but for journalists, politicos and PR departments, they are treated as useful substitutes for real work and thought.

  • It may be flatulence, but legislation and governance in the UK and the US these days are increasingly driven by leftists on social media. What Twitter is like now may be what the real world is like in twenty years — hell, it’s heading that way even now — so I would caution against just laughing it off.

  • Mr Ed

    Hector, I do not dispute that this is a window on an SJW future, what is urgently needed is for the political class that is not socialist to realise that Twitter is a vast echo chamber of political flatulence, and no so much ignore it as highlight it as the Ship of Fools that it is and to defy it.

    E.g. if the BBC runs a story again and again about a politician, and it is nonsense, just accuse them of wasting taxpayers’ money from the licence fee, and of being boring and ignore them. John Major did not do this, he ran in front of them, and also did a George Bush with taxes and lost, letting in the Labour menace. He did not believe in what he professed, he was wholly cowed by the media. The first lesson is not to be cowed.

  • Russia backs western losers to weaken western winners, but, through the idiocy of believing western MSM, can be wrong about who will win. Corbyn did better than expected. Brexit and Trump won. This was not because they were supported by Russian bots; it was because the Russians relied on western MSM to tell them who was sure to lose.

  • Jacob

    Anybody can write anything on Twitter, Facebook, in blogs, or in the written press. He can be American, Russian, Hungarian or Hottentot.
    What’s the problem?

    Seems the liberals complaining about “interference” are totally insane.

  • Włodek P.

    Because no one wants a damn Hottentot using the twitters to trick the mindless lumpenproletariat into voting based on false consciousness 😛

  • Ed, I agree with your prescription, the problem is that there are only a handful of actual right-wingers left in politics. Most of the political class, including almost all the Tories, are not being cowed by the media, or social media, they’re all in it together. Theresa May, for example, is not some natural conservative who’s reluctantly going along with the internet SJWs for the sake of votes. She’s a natural Blairite who sometimes pretends to be a Conservative (although she’s bothering with that less and less now). Most of them want this future. They’re not being led by social media, they’re happily holding hands with it and leading the way together. And the younger generation are being taught to regard Twitter lunacy as normal.

    We need a new generation of conservative/libertarian politicans. But who in their right mind would go into politics now?

  • Jacob

    Ok. I get it. We can’t have false consciousness.

  • Runcie Balspune

    What about the Obama Twit Bot that infected public TV here and told us not to vote for Brexit because we’d be “back of the queue” in trade negotiations with the US? Surely an example foreign interference at its peak?

  • Fraser Orr

    I don’t think there is much evidence that the Russians backed Trump at all. I think the evidence is that they wanted to sow confusion and discord (for example, they set up anti-Trump and anti-Hillary rallies, sometimes on the same day.)

    As the the confusion and discord, they have certainly succeeded in that.

    The truth is that the Russians are far more likely to have supported Hillary. One of the key Russian foreign policy goals is to maintain a high level for the price of oil, since about a third of their export dollars comes from oil sales. Who can seriously suggest that Trump would cause a larger rise in gas prices than super green Hillary? The idea that the Russians backed Trump over Hillary doesn’t have much evidence and is utterly illogical from the perspective of the best interests of Russia. Discord though? Yup. That makes much of our press, Muller and a large portion of the Democrat party as Russian dupes, doing their bidding.

  • Complaining that Twitter breeds mindless propaganda is like complaining that prostitution breeds STDs.

  • Jacob

    Funny thing:
    In the 1940s and 1950s communist (and socialist … not big difference) ideas were branded un-American. They were bad (it was claimed) not because they were anti-human, but because they were un-American, i.e. foreign. Those damn foreigners (and foreign ideas) polluting the pure and great American spirit.

    (Solzhenitsyn went further and accused the Jews of polluting the great benevolent and pure Russian folk and spirit with the filthy ideas of communism – again a foreign influence….)

    Now the wheel has turned. It is the anti-socialist ideas of Trump (very mildly anti-socialist) that are “foreign” (promoted, god forbid, by Russian devils). The pure and noble spirit of “good” Americans would never dream of opposing the messiah (Clinton) if it weren’t for those damn foreigners (Russians).

  • Flubber

    Who needs Twitter bots when you have the House of Lords?

  • Also, what is happening on Twitter is just a reflection of what is happening in the the circles of power, which do affect us, and can’t just be brushed off. For example, this sort of thing:


  • Paul Marks

    The internet companies support the left – and often censor conservatives, in various ways.

    Like so many the “educated” (the Economist magazine crowd spring to mind) the internet companies are dominated by people who support the left – who support people who would raise their taxes higher-and-higher to fund impossible universal government benefits and cradle-to-grave “public services”. It is the great paradox of our age – Big Business and much of the rich, support the very forces that would DESTROY THEM. And destroy everyone else.

    Such is “education”.

  • Regional

    Hector, are you saying it was improper for Britain and America to interfere in German Elections? and

    Paul Marks, it’s individuals who can’t stand up to their wives and willful daughters.

  • Agammamon

    Hector Drummond, Vile Author
    April 30, 2018 at 10:35 am

    Obviously if the former is done by a foreign government, then it’s improper

    I’m not seeing the ‘obviously’ here.

    If someone can take actions that can affect you, you would, naturally, try to exert influence on what actions they take. The United States is the premiere military and economic power in the world right now and we have . . . pretty much no compunction about *completely destroying* government’s that we don’t like, let alone the constant ‘influencing’ we do – through foreign aid (bribes), military equipment transfers to support favored regimes (even, or rather, especially, dictatorial ones nominally friendly towards us), etc.

    Given what my country does on a day-to-day basis to interfere in the internal politics of foreign nations – and has done for several decades all over the world, from South America to Asia – a few Twitter-bots and paid ads are babytown frolics. Amateur hour.

    Nothing the Russians are claimed to have is illegal beyond them not filing the proper paperwork to get permission. Permission no one should need in the first place.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Who needs the NSA when you have Facebook? Or is Facebook the public face of the NSA?

  • APL

    Interesting to hear Mr Bob Seely MP thinks the Russians have their fingers more than one pie.