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State Sponsored Trolls


Walter Pincus, via Defense Tech:

The State Department, departing from traditional public diplomacy techniques, has what it calls a three-person, “digital outreach team” posting entries in Arabic on “influential” Arabic blogs to challenge misrepresentations of the United States and promote moderate views among Islamic youths in the hopes of steering them from terrorism.

The department’s bloggers “speak the language and idiom of the region, know the culture reference points and are often able to converse informally and frankly, rather than adopt the usually more formal persona of a U.S. government spokesperson,” Duncan MacInnes, of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs, told the House Armed Services subcommittee on terrorism and unconventional threats on Thursday.

Huh. I wonder if Al Qaeda deploys teams of trolls onto “influential” American blogs; could we tell the difference between an Al Qaeda troll and a more typical wingnutty troll? On issues of gay rights or abortion, probably not. But then, these ruminations serve only to emphasize how important it is not to allow a “troll gap”; I would hate to think that the future of the Republic is threatened by a troll shortage.

Cross-posted to Tapped.

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  • Are they all named Al?
    Or, er, Ali?

  • Wouldn’t an al-Qaeda troll lurk at conservative blogs? I mean, you know, since we progressives support the terrorists and all, wouldn’t they want to strike out at the right wing?

  • I cannot imagine ever having a shortage of trolls, barring the simultaneous flooding of everyone’s parents’ basements or a terrorist strike on the Cheetos factory (“they hate us for our fluorescent-orange-dusted freedom”).

  • aimai

    I’m wondering whether Al Quaeda trolls would be lurking here to encourage us to undermine conservatives by arguing against the well known facts of the flood or the percentage of men working at gas stations?

  • witless chum

    So, that’s who writes Conservapedia?

  • Dave, thank you.
    I never understood the right-wing bloggers’ and trolls’ implacable hostility to unions until now. I realize that’s not what you were talking about, but bear with me here.
    They aren’t concerned about a terrorist attack on the Chee-to factory. They’re terrified about the prospect of the workers striking at said factory. And, since solidarity anywhere is a threat to Chee-tos everywhere, it is the right-winger’s foremost duty to oppose worker unionization. It makes so much sense now!
    Chee-to workers on strike. The horror. The horror.

  • micheyd

    I just hope they have better spelling than our English-speaking trolls.
    (Though in written Arabic, you don’t write the vowels in. They’ve already got an advantage!)

  • NBarnes

    I’d just like to say that I’m a radical progressive in good standing and I like Cheetos.
    Or, I liked Cheetos. I swear to Goddess they’ve added more salt to them, enough to turn even me off (and I love salt). Trader Joe’s has a really good Cheetos clone, though.

  • NBarnes

    I also support the unionization of labor. Even Trader Joe’s knock-off Cheetos manufacturing labor.

  • I totally agree. A union is the only hope for getting good medical insurance, which is a must when battling Chee-to Lung.

  • You have all fallen into my Cheeto Vortex! Ha ha ha ha ha!

  • EpicureanQuaker

    Not to disrupt from the non-topic at hand, but isn’t this the sort of interaction one would hope to see with our purported enemies, i.e. discussion not taking place over a gun barrel? No big fan of our current crew, but I’ve got to give kudos for this one…especially if the opinions are presented in a manner that engenders discussion, rather than confrontation.

  • EpicureanQuaker

    …especially when one considers that the majority of potential terrorists come from middle- to upper-class families, who would have greater access to blogs in terms of technology and disposabale time.

  • brave captain of industry

    EpicureanQuaker is right- its not a bad tactic although I would not expect much. This crew will figure a way to f this up

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