Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 02:16:46 PM EST
Just caught this article by Buzzfeed:
"Inside The Private Chatrooms Trump Supporters Are Using To Manipulate French Voters - Welcome to "The Great Liberation Of France.""
Just as I was starting to hope that the left was catching up with the right in terms of online-to-offline mobilisation, reading this article gave me a reality check.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Snippets from the article below (bold text from the original article). Curious whether you think this is a tempest in a teacup article, or could be onto something significant:
The user who initially invited BuzzFeed News to "The Great Liberation Of France" wished to remain anonymous and said he believes the Discord group is mostly made up of 4chan users.
"Some chats are very strict on entrance and thoroughly `vet' people in order to verify their claimed identity," he said. "The one I'm referencing to is planning a meet up in the near future."
The large majority of the work being done in "The Great Liberation Of France" is based around creating fake Facebook and Twitter accounts to manipulate French social media users.
The users in "The Great Liberation Of France" want to create as much chaos on social media as possible to make right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen and her supporters in the Front National (FN) seem like the most legitimate voice in French politics.
In screenshots provided to BuzzFeed News, as well as conversations BuzzFeed News observed in the chatroom, users are creating fake accounts for two reasons.
The chatroom's admins have instructed users to make fake Facebook accounts that are "ideally young, cute girl, gay, Jew, basically anyone who isn't supposed to be pro-[FN]." Users are then instructed to lock down these dummy accounts so no one can tell they're fake. Once they have their fake Facebook profiles, they're told to infiltrate the comment sections of large French Facebook pages and post pro-FN memes and jokes about François Fillon, France's current frontrunner for the presidency.
And they're doing something similar on Twitter, creating dozens of French-appearing sock puppet accounts. They then collect all of them on lists and organize campaigns to make things trend in French. ...
"Meme shells" are essentially just blank templates that anyone can load up with text. Members of the Discord group have centralized all of their memes in an easy-to-download database hosted on a site called Dropmark.
Recently, in a sub-room called #Materials, a user started posting transparent cut-outs of Fillon, a former prime minister who is the leading mainstream candidate to take on Marine Le Pen.
Discord is a chat- and voice-based application that has been growing in popularity among gamers and anime fans.
Discord's CEO Jason Citron recently told BuzzFeed News that he's somewhat ambivalent about the growing alt-right presence on the chat application.
A second user, going by the user name @Das Krout, who identified himself as a 16-year-old from Minnesota, said he had seen no proof that the Discord group was communicating with Russian trolls.
"I've been here since it's inception, we've had no Russians what so ever
A bunch of Americans," he said. "There are no Russian trolls. We are the trolls. We are just regular people who are fed up."
@Das Krout said he doesn't consider himself a white supremacist or neo-Nazi, but instead believes that people "have the right to preserve their genetic, racial, and cultural identity."
There's more in the article, obviously.
Anyone have any information / thoughts on:
- how pervasive these private mobilization communities are
- how effective are the tactics and tools described in this article
- how much if any impact might they have on the imminent French presidential election