Monday, April 24, 2017

Redrum "News" - A Quick Way to Kill Your Credibility




     There is a disturbing trend occurring among liberals these days.  In many online communities, there are more fake news stories than you can shake a stick at.  Here, we’ll take a look at one specific piece of garbage news and the website that posted it.  Then we’ll finish in the next post with some food for thought about filling up on junk – whether it’s junk news or junk food.

     Recently, there was a story that made the rounds in social media about Trump’s imminent impeachment 1i that was so worthless that it should be labeled fake news 2.  There are many problems with this story, which we’ll reprint for you here.

"BOMBSHELL REPORT: PRESIDENT TRUMP JUST RECEIVED TERRIFYING NEWS, IMPEACHMENT JUST AROUND THE CORNER! [DETAILS]


A new report by The Guardian just broke the entire Trump-Russia scandal wide open! The U.S. has in their possession “specific concrete and corroborative evidence” proving there was collusion between Trump’s campaign team and Russian officials.

According to The Guardian, the U.K.’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) began watching Trump’s team in 2015 after they noticed unusual “interactions” between members of Trump’s campaign team and Russian officials.

Read an excerpt from the report below:
The problem is U.S. Intelligence agencies never did anything with the information, apparently they “were asleep.”
[The European agencies] were saying: ‘There are contacts going on between people close to Mr. Trump and people we believe are Russian intelligence agents. You should be wary of this. The message was: ‘Watch out. There’s something not right here.’”
“It is understood that GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the US.”"


     For this article, we will use the large, general mainstream media (MSM) outlets as a proxy for a baseline accuracy standard that reporting websites should aim for.  Not every mainstream source will be accurate in every story, and not every mainstream media source will be as good at informing its viewers, as the Farleigh-Dickinson polls (discussed and cited below) showed.  Mainstream sources do, however, adhere to journalistic standards; employ fact checkers; and issue corrections, retractions, and apologies.  That is a huge difference between the MSM and sites like this.  The inflammatory garbage that sites like this serve up as “journalism” is so far below what even Fox does that using MSM as a general standard works just fine 3.


Related Content from the Diogenetic Light

Articles in the Fake News Series:


     First, the story offers no support for the headline’s conclusion that “Impeachment is Just Around the Corner.”  Headlines are an integral part of a story and can be used just as much for propaganda as the main body of a story itself, as we also point out here.  In fact, the story itself does not even have the word “impeach” in it!  The severely partisan headline alone should because to suspect this story is not credible, especially since no major news outlet has reported anything of the sort recently.  Let’s ask ourselves, if there were credible evidence that there was an upcoming impeachment, would any network not report it?  Even Fox would cover it, if for no other reason than to put their hyper-conservative spin on it.


There is absolutely nothing in the story that indicates impeachment is coming at all. There are 3 good reasons for that too:
(1) Republican President,
(2) Republican House of Representatives, and
(3) Republican Senate.
Why claim that impeachment is coming when you don’t mention impeachment at all in the story? Can you say “click-bait”?

     A second problem with the story is the sourcing 4.  The source of the Redrum story is from a Guardian article ii.  Redrum mentions that it came originally from the Guardian, but fails to give proper credit with a citation or reference.  Citing one’s sources allows readers to double check the accuracy of the facts you give based on those sources.  A lack of citations and references should properly be seen as damaging a site's credibility.

      Redrum even goes as far as using an extended excerpt of the news story but calls it a report, which then creates an issue of ambiguous and poor writing.  The Redrum story is itself a report of a Guardian news report.  Also, there have been many news reports and intelligence reports that discussed Trump’s Russian ties.  Is this excerpt from the news story, or a report within the news story from a spy agency?  Since there is no proper link to the original story, it becomes difficult for people to assess the accuracy of the Redrum story, or, for that matter, what actually happened.

     Another problem is the nature of these so-called news sites.  The proper category for this kind reporting is a “digest.”  A digest is supposed to contain a condensed version of other literary works.  A digest is supposed to offer value to a reader by removing excess material that still gives the reader an accurate understanding of the digested piece.  A digest can be extremely useful for research.  Redrum’s headline, however, puts an idea in a reader’s head that is simply unsupported by the article, so it’s not properly digesting the news story.  Redrum’s shoddy reporting actually makes it necessary to fact-check their report and to go to the original source because they do such a poor job.  Thankfully, there is Google search to make it possible to look up the original source, but even that is extra time wasted because of their poor reporting.  Instead of adding value by saving the reader time, they actually increase the time required to have an accurate understanding of what was originally written.

Related Content: 

Fake Or Real? How To Self-Check The News And Get The Facts, by NPR




*********************************

     UPDATE:

     On July 27, 2017, Redrum posted an article titled “Kellyanne Conway Seen Leaving Scaramucci Office With Disheveled Hair to Conduct Fox News Interview.”  As one should expect, there are significant issues with this story as well.


This is the photo from the story.
Is this fair?
Are we such cavemen that we cannot see women as human beings?
How deplorable does a propaganda site have to be before we reject it?

     The title and screen shot are definitely trying to imply that Conway was engaged in some sort of sexual shenanigans with Scaramucci.  However, the story is about the leaking of Scaramucci's financial disclosures.  The article does not say a single thing about any kind of sexual impropriety at all.  This is out of line for a number of reasons.

     First, Conway could be Quasimodo and it would have absolutely no bearing on whether the policies she proposes are good or bad.  Isn't she allowed to have a bad hair day?  To look-shame anyone is to treat them as a mere object or a piece of property.  This dehumanizing goes against everything that liberals stand for and is shameful.  It should not be accepted in civil conversation by anyone - liberal or conservative.

     Second, people are believing the innuendo of the headline and not bothering to read the story.  There are comments that engage in look-shaming and slut-shaming Conway, and those are the majority of comments seen when this article is posted.  (We declined to screenshot comments for this update because so many were vulgar.)  What is the point of having an article if people don’t bother to read it?  Why bother learning how to read if one chooses not to read?  Why do we liberals accept such rampant stupidity amongst ourselves?

     Beyond that, there are many other reasons in the other articles from this series on fake news that we've written that we will not repeat them here.  In the end, this site does more than post propaganda.  It enrages people based on partisan lies.  It misleads our fellow liberals and locks them in a bubble that is just as partisan and fake as the conservative bubble that we've been dealing with for decades.  In short, this is toxic and we should call this out whenever we see it.

Now, back to the original article and its problems.

*********************************

     There are more issues than just improper reporting here, however.  Media sources like the Guardian are dependent on advertising and subscriptions for revenue to continue investigating and informing the world.  Redrum “news”, is short-circuiting that by inserting itself between the real source and the reader.  Redrum has advertising on it, and so it is trying to make money as well.  Instead of doing something to offer extra value to the reader, however, they are stealing and repackaging the work done by other people while actually decreasing the value of the information presented.  Liberals are supposed to be the political faction of fact-based reality and basic morality.  We should not tolerate this kind of intellectual theft.  Also, for us liberals, we need good reporting to have an accurate picture of the world.  Without a shared reality and understanding of real facts, our nation’s lingering wounds from this election will never heal but instead will fester until it destroys us.




     Beyond the intellectual property theft, which is enough reason to avoid this source altogether, there is also the issue of accuracy.  Redrum proudly proclaims that they do not purvey fake news and that all their articles are fact checked.  Let’s take a look at their history and one story they reported to see if this claim is true.

How does Redrum purport to fact check the material they report?
Do they have reporters on the ground, are they verifying with other news agencies or reports?
Or are they just lying?

     Our investigation of Redrum was not difficult.  It is a WordPress blog site and its history is all there for anyone to see.  Being a blog does not automatically damage the site’s credibility.  We here at the Diogenetic Light operate as a blog, and the Daily Kos, one of the most widely read liberal web sites, is also a blog iii.  What damages one’s credibility is dishonesty and shoddy reporting.  One of the first things we noticed that was unusual was Redrum’s website address: http://www.findthemissingonline.com.

     The unusual website address is due to the way this blog began and can be inferred from the site's history.  One thing about a blog is that it can’t change its web address.  So, we started looking through the history of this blog.  It started out as a blog that was collecting stories of missing and kidnapped people.  Its inaugural post was on May 15, 2016 iv.  For a while, they reported pretty exclusively on missing people but began to branch out with other stories about serial killers.  It seems that missing people, kidnappings, and serial killers were not drawing enough of an audience to generate their desired ad revenue, so they began to branch out further 5.  On September 14, 2016, for example, they posted this wonderful story about 22 corpses befouling the Flint River 6.

They even claimed that Jimmy Hoffa was believed to be among the recovered corpses.


     There are so many problems with this story that it nearly requires a roll of a dice to decide where to begin.  For starters, let’s go back to their plagiarism problem, for starters.  This story was not written by Redrum originally; it was written by News4KTLA, a known fake news website v, except here there was absolutely no attribution to the original writers.  Beyond the intellectual property theft, let’s take a quick look at the factual accuracy of Redrum’s report.

     In the first paragraph, Redrum says there were 22 bodies “in the lake,” and that the “corner’s office” was investigating the identity of the victims.  The title of their story says the bodies were in the Flint river, not a lake.  Also, CEO’s, in their corner offices, don’t usually conduct investigations.  Coroners, however, do.  It also tries to tie the alleged dead bodies to the Flint water crisis.  The Flint water crisis had nothing to do with dead bodies in the water.  The water became toxic due to switching the city from water out of Lake Huron to the Flint River without using proper corrosion control methods.  If they had any questions about the facts of this article, Snopes did a nice job of fact-checking it back when this story was first making its rounds.  This is not just dishonest reporting, it also obscures the reasons for the absolutely preventable suffering of thousands of people in Flint, MI.  It adds to the bias that the people of the Detroit Metropolitan area are incompetent and corrupt.  This false stereotype goes back decades to when Detroit was a predominant center of black culture with Motown.  Don't be fooled, if we search the history just a little, then we will find racism at the core of this venally vitriolic vilification.  As liberals, not only should this disgust us for the dishonesty but also because it needlessly contributes to the unnecessary suffering of others.

     In the last paragraph, Redrum says that at least 4 of the bodies had been there 40 years or more.  This is just stupid, even for a hoax.  A corpse will not last that long.  As Scientific American relates here, bodies don’t last that long, even in the water.  It took us all of 10 seconds to Google search the question and about 4 minutes to read Scientific American’s explanation.  So much for fact-checking, and so much for anyone using this site having any credibility.

     Apparently, serial killer stories still weren’t enough to grab a decent readership, but, as luck would have it, they posted a story about a delusional man who shot a UPS driver but thought he was shooting president-elect Trump.  That story must have attracted many viewers because a couple weeks later, on January 15, 2017, they ran (plagiarized? stole?) a story on a boycott of Trump brands.  A couple days later they ran another story with an anti-Trump slant, and, within a few days after that, the transition to an anti-Trump click-bait site was complete.

     In the end, Redrum “News” is just a click-bait garbage website that willingly steals content and posts known fake news and propaganda.  People who read from this web site risk having their minds misled by lies.  People who post from it risk losing their credibility.  For everyone, garbage websites like this waste everyone’s time.  The next time someone posts an article from a click-bait site like this, please consider better ways to spend your time other than reading such garbage: reading a news story from a reputable source; reading a book; calling or sending a message to a friend or loved one; catching up on a TV series that you like; calling your local Senator or Representative; volunteering with a social activism cause; volunteering with a political party (don’t like the Dems, then check out the Greens!); trimming your toenails; and, last but not least, cleaning lint from your belly button.  All of those would be a better use of your time, though some would undoubtedly be better than others.

Thank you for reading.  Please feel free to leave comments below.  You can also share with the buttons below, or, if you want to get the latest posts right away, you can click on the "Follow" button at the top right of this page.

If you need a break from all the nastiness and chaos, and you need a laugh, you can check out this piece here:
North Carolina Bans Bigfoot from Public Restrooms

If you're interested in learning how liberals can get better at messaging to win the war of ideas, check out the 4 part series starting with:
Don't Call It TrumpCare


Written by Jeramee Sikorski
Terry McDevitt Bakke also contributed to this story. 


1I strongly hope that people do not go to the website. I spent more time there than I would prefer, and would hate to see them get any more web traffic than they already have.

2Some organizations that specialize in evaluating news bias and fake news are more charitable and thorough. For example, some have a category that specifically looks at article titles that misrepresent the content of a story through the story’s title. After reviewing Redrum “News,” we believe that is far more charity than this pathetic click-bait site deserves.

3Before any liberal partisans accuse me of trying to make Fox look respectable, no, it’s not. I’ve developed a pretty decent spin (and bullshit, in the technical sense) detector. Nearly every time I read a Fox news article that someone posts as support for some proposition, I find multiple issues with the article ranging from extreme spin to outright falsehoods. It’s gotten so bad that I no longer remember reading a Fox News article that I didn’t have to fact check and then find wrong on either fact, analysis, or extreme bias. Fox is not a credible source of news.

4We here at the Diogenetic Light make a concerted effort to both fact check and cite our sources. While we don’t adhere to APA style or Bluebook, we ensure that readers may see our sources if they choose. If we ever miss a cite, let us know in the comments or email us, and we’ll fix it.

5Full disclosure: we don’t know for an unequivocal, absolute fact that the only motivation for the change in reporting, or even the existence of this blog, is just to generate ad revenue. However, given the shoddy and fallacious reporting coupled with what we know as bloggers, the inference to the best evidence strongly suggests nothing less than a pecuniary motivation.

6Nope, not going to bother linking this story. This website is garbage and does not need more traffic. You can also find it at the original 4-ktla website that originally peddled this fake story.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Malware, Mole, or Mercenary? Pt 1


     In earlier articles, we wrote about a massive hacking campaign by pro-Trump trolls against anti-Trump, liberal, and progressive groups on Facebook, and then about how one person, Melissa, grew her group exponentially from several dozen to over 33,000 before her personal Facebook account got hacked and had her group hijacked.  In the first article, we touched upon the possible methods that were used to actually take the groups over. In the second one, we mentioned that it was one of 3 methods: malicious code, a mole, or a mercenary. Here, we will begin to take a look at those 3 possibilities.

     The first scenario, and as far as we can tell the most likely, was a hack through malicious code.  As Melissa recounts, a person named Tina Larson, who was not part of the group,sent me a private message a while back saying...he's our president now get used to it etc, etc, etc.  It sat in my message list for months.  Last week I decided to respond to it.  I sent a total of 3 or 4 responses back to her within seconds of each other.  As I was sending the 4th response the words ‘session expired’ popped up on my screen and logged me out of Facebook.  I never was able to recover my personal page.  My personal Facebook page was completely shut down.  I could not access it.  No passwords would work.  It basically did not exist anymore.  I had been hacked.”

     Danny Lewis, an IT expert we consulted for this story, says that it was most likely some sort of phishing attack.  The term “phishing” originated with email based attacks, where a hacker would send an email that appeared to be from a legitimate source as a bait in order to lure the victim into giving the hacker sensitive personal information like social security or credit card numbers. The practice has evolved now. Now, the bait is often an attachment on a message instead of being in the message itself.  Clicking on the link would bring up a fraudulent web page designed to look authentic.

     In Melissa’s case, she was targeted by a much higher skilled hacker.  Melissa saw no link in the message sent to her. Instead, the message had malicious code embedded in it that opened a pop up that said her Facebook session was expired.  In reality, she was still logged into her Facebook account but didn’t realize it because the pop-up was designed to look exactly like Facebook.  When she tried to log back into her account, she was unknowingly giving the hackers her personal login information.  Once they had that, they logged into her Facebook account, changed her password and that kicked her out of her own account.

     Phishing attacks can be very sophisticated. “The hackers will create an exact fake copy of the site they are trying to trick you into using,” says Danny Lewis. “Everything about the fake site will be identical except for the address, which people often don’t look at.  They can’t use ‘Facebook.com’ for example, but they might make the address say ‘Facebook1.com’ or some other minor change that will be missed if you don’t look carefully.  One very important thing to look at is the very front part of the address.  Facebook is a certified secure site, and that is shown by the ‘https’ at the very beginning of the web address.  Fraudulent phishing sites use ‘http’ instead.  The ‘s’ indicates a secure site,” Lewis explained.

If you want to know why people are so disgusted with these trolls, here's an example.
One of the members of a hijacked group stood up to the trolls.  So they went to her profile, copied several pictures of her daughters, and made memes like this.
The Diogenetic Light blurred faces and redacted names of the innocent.


********************
Related: for more information on secure websites, you can check the links below.
Danny Lewis recommends this page to learn more.

Snopes has a nice, quick intro to HTTPS here:

Wisegeek has a more in-depth intro.


How to tell if you've been hacked, and some security tips from Cnet:
https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-tell-if-your-facebook-has-been-hacked/ 
********************
     Once the hackers had her personal account, they also had access to her group.  They waited for a week and removed her and all other admin from the group, brought in others from the Catena Mafia, and then began trolling it.

They also post memes like this.
Disgusted yet?

     The main problem with the malicious code theory the is the one week gap between hacking Melissa’s page and hijacking the group.  The likely reason is that the trolls wanted to coordinate hijacking the Road to Hell and at least two other groups that took place on April 1st..  It seems that the trolls wanted to use April Fool’s day to help sow confusion into their operation.

This is the kind of behavior that Facebook apparently feels is acceptable.
The members of the Catena Mafia have been reported hundreds of times, and yet they continue with things like this.


     The second possible way the group was hijacked could have been through a mole. The internet allows us to make friends that we never would have met in real life. It is, however, more difficult to get to know virtual friends than friends in the real world. This typically isn’t an issue as most people are generally honest. Indeed, one criticism of the internet is that it allows people to be “too honest,” such as flamers who become extreme partisans online. But, since most people operate on the default honesty setting, you can get to know most people as they really are. That’s how most of us meet and make friends in this environment, and that’s how Melissa met the people who helped to administer the Road.


Notice that the group member here stands up to these trolls.
So much for liberal snowflakes!


     Melissa had 7 people helping her to moderate the group when it got hijacked.  Of those people, she has been able to reconnect with 6.  The one that she hasn’t been able to reconnect with, Jane1, was also the last admin that she added to her group.  Their friendship began with Jane talking to her through messenger.  They had very similar views and created a fast friendship.  Because Melissa required that every profile be vetted before coming into the group, she asked Jane to become an admin to help with the 700-plus new member requests they were getting every day.

Readers may recall this picture from our first article in this series.
The hijacking trolls claimed this man was a mole.
We investigated and determined that was just a lie they made up to confuse people.


     When Melissa’s personal Facebook account got hacked, she made a new account, found Jane, and explained what happened.  Melissa says that Jane was “nice and supportive.”  Melissa began to put her digital life back together.  Then the Road to Hell was hijacked, and nobody from the group has seen Jane since, adding that "she's the only admin I haven't been able to find through all of this."
This is why Mr. Davenport grows out his beard.
What is the point of smearing the name of a person like him?

     At the time she was hacked had no idea what even happened to her account.  As she recalls, during the week between getting hacked and the group being hijacked, “nothing unusual was happening.  That week I was trying to figure out why my account was suddenly shut down.  I didn't know during that week I was hacked.  I couldn't figure out why I couldn't recover my original account.  I had that same account for, like, 8 years.  It was mind boggling.  When they hacked my group, I started to connect the dots.  It all started to make sense why my account was shut down, that in fact it wasn't shut down.  It was hacked.  It took my group getting stolen for me to understand why I was hacked a week prior – they were after my group.” Melissa went to her original page and saw that It’s up but it's completely wiped out. People sent me screen shots of it and it was blank. Like they erased everything.”  This brings us to a critique of the mole theory.

     It doesn’t make sense for Jane to be a mole in the group and wait that week between Melissa’s page being hijacked.  She spoke with Melissa on a daily basis, and she could have sent a malware message at any time to hack and take over Melissa’s group.  A premature hack only adds to the risk of the plan being discovered and thwarted.

     Also, a page administrator cannot remove a page creator.  We tested this on two other groups, and Facebook’s programming will not allow it i,2.  So, if the plan was for a mole to infiltrate the group and take over, then anyone that Jane might have added would show that she added the person.  The most that a mole could do is cause a temporary problem until the page creator came back, blocked and booted the mole, and then booted each troll added by the troll admin.

     This leaves two possible ways to actually hijack a group.  The first is to hack the group creator’s personal page as must have happened with Melissa.  The second is to get the group creator’s personal page shut down while you already have a mole in place as a group admin.  Once the creator is unable to access the group, the mole can boot other administrators and take over the page. (We are currently trying to contact another group creator whose group was hijacked. This may have happened to this other person and his group.)  However, it fails the test of probability.

     The mole theory smacks of improbability.  Why would a person want to infiltrate a partisan group for months, engaging in bashing the party that they actually agree with, just to cause some temporary chaos and headache to a political opponent’s supporter?  The person would also have to become an administrator for the group and then spend significant time weeding out moles and condemning partisan trolls that they secretly agree with in order to accomplish this.  Each idea is improbable, and the combined improbability, especially when combined with the limited payoff of trashing a group on Facebook, is very near laughable.
Since we can be quite sure that Jane wasn’t a mole, then there seem to be two options as to why she cannot be found.  Either she was disgusted by the Facebook after the hijack and left, or that her page was also hacked.  The latter seems extremely more likely.  Either way, Melissa thinks that “She was a casualty of war . . . lost in the rubble.”  We all hope that she reconnects with the new Road to Hell group. 


A few things to note here:
(1) Despite multiple complaints, these trolls are still at it.
(2) The liberals fight back and won't take this.
(3) Even though they fight back, it's a waste of time, and Facebook continues to allow this.


     The last possibility for the hijacking method is by a foreign expert hacker, who we call a mercenary here.  This would have occurred in conjunction with the malware-phishing attack that we believe took over Melissa’s personal page and allowed them to hijack her group.  We will cover that possibility in-depth in the next installment. 

Thank you for reading.  Please feel free to leave comments below.  You can also share with the buttons below, or, if you want to get the latest posts right away, you can click on the "Follow" button at the top right of this page.

If you need a break from all the nastiness and chaos, and you need a laugh, you can check out this piece here:
North Carolina Bans Bigfoot from Public Restrooms

If you're interested in learning how liberals can get better at messaging to win the war of ideas, check out the 4 part series starting with:
Don't Call It TrumpCare

1Jane isn’t her real name. There is no good evidence that she was responsible for the hijacking, so we refuse to smear her name.
2Update: while preparing to publish this, we tested the theory and can now say definitively that it Jane was not a mole. We hope that she will make contact with us again. We chose to keep this in the article because there are rumors of moles having helped with the hijackings in all the hijacked groups.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Potholes and Trolls in the Road to Hell

April 7, 2017


     We reported earlier on how some Trump Trolls Manufactured a Massive Hack & Hijack Attack Against Facebook groups.  These groups have all been Anti-Trump, Progressive, or Liberal (APL) groups.  In this article series, we will take a closer look at how The Road to Hell is Paved with Republicans (Road to Hell) was hacked.  In this post, we’ll look at how Melissa, the group creator, and her admin team grew the Road to Hell into one of the largest APL groups on Facebook.  In the next posts, we will take a closer look at how the hijackings occurred.  Hopefully, these stories will help others to protect themselves from trolls.

     Melissa has lived in sunny Georgia since she was born. It’s a nice place to be unless you’re a progressive during election season.  As this election and its historic Republican extremism heated up, Melissa found herself surrounded by vociferous Trump and Cruz supporters.  As the rhetoric became more extreme, which happened at the very beginning of the election season, Melissa decided to create the Road to Hell is Paved with Republicans in order to be around like-minded people and learn more about the electoral process.

     For about 11 months, she only had about 70 people in the group.  Melissa was concerned about creating an environment that supported open discussion, so every member of the group’s profile was vetted to keep trolls out.  Then, suddenly, during the week of the election, something sparked in the group and it began growing like wildfire.  The Road to Hell became a superhighway and went from 70 members to over 33,000 by the end of November.  It became one of the largest APL groups on Facebook.  “I went from 3 requests a day to over 800 a day overnight,” she says, “It was crazy.”





     To accommodate the exploding membership, she added 6 more administrators to her group.  She became friends with all of her group's admin on Facebook (real friends, not just Facebook friends), and most of them she met through her group.  Even though the site vetting was just looking through Facebook profiles to make sure that trolls didn’t get into the group, it was quite time-consuming with around 800 new member requests every day.

     They were also busy making sure that people remained civil in the group.  This usually meant removing offensive folks, and, for the really obnoxious and obscene ones, blocking them so that they could not ask for re-entry.  “Everyday I removed people from the group; every day I blocked people,” Melissa recalls, “and that was just me. I had several other admins doing the same thing.”  “Even through all that people were still coming by the hundreds daily.  It was crazy -- and exciting.  I couldn't believe that many people were interested in my little anti-trump Hillary group.”

     Looking back, there was one weakness in vetting people that could have been a problem.  Some people requesting to join the group had their profiles set to private, and nothing could be seen from those people. “It was a judgment call to let them in,” Melissa said, acknowledging the weakness. “When you have a group with 33k you will understand what I mean by the amount of work it takes to vet these people.  We are not always going to get it right. Clearly.”  

     Looking back, though, she still believes that they ran the group well.  “You have to ask yourself, ‘what kind of group do you want?’ And for me, I wanted a fun group but we still get the message out.  The message of what is happening in congress, etc.”




Melissa, creator of The Road to Hell is Paved with Republicans

     She expected that people who should not have been let into the group would be removed by the administrators, so there was a backup to the vetting system.  What they all expected was that they would be screening out Trump supporters who would be obnoxious in the group.  Nobody expected that they would have to screen out malicious hackers.  Further, it’s one thing to try to screen out merely obnoxious people from a group, but how does one screen out hackers who roam freely on the internet and Facebook?  (Note: We will explain in the next post how vetting the group members was not the route that the trolls took to hijack the group.)

     Melissa and her admin friends had created a vibrant online community and grew it as organically as a cyber group can grow.  “I never promoted it. Not once,” Melissa says, “Some admins from other groups would ask me if it was ok if they could promote their group in my group.  I always said yes, but not once did I promote mine in other groups.”  Melissa knew that the way they moderated the group was important.  “It became 33k because people were genuinely interested and they liked the vibe of my group,” she adds.

     The hacking came as a complete surprise.  After extensive discussion with Melissa and research, we have determined that there are 3 possible scenarios to her being hacked and the group hijacked: either malicious code, a mole, or a mercenary. We will explore each in turn in the next two articles.


     Melissa has great memories from creating the group. “It's something I’ll never forget.  That was my baby. I grew it from nothing – and now it’s gone. The damage is done.  It’s over.”  However, that won’t stop her.  “So here we are, back at it,” she says, “I'm OK if we never even break 400 in the new group.  My entire point through all of this is to send the message that we will not stop.   They can try and silence us all they want, but I won't stop.  I won't stop standing up for what I believe is right.   Even if we only had 10 members, I would be just as happy because I know that ultimately I kept it moving forward.   As one of my icons, John Lewis, the congressman and civil right leader has said many times, ‘We will not stop.’  That is my biggest message to the public.  We will not stop.” 

This is why we report on the actions of these trolls.


     As we reported in our first article on the hacks, Trump Trolls Manufacture Massive Hack & Hijack Against Facebook, these attacks are not merely just "messing with people."  They are an assault on political speech, which deserves the most respect and protection under our Constitutional values.  It is also an assault on the freedom of assembly.  The two go hand in hand.  People often need the freedom afforded within a group of like-minded individuals to discuss and debate ideas with before they discuss them with people holding contrary opinions.  This is no different from sports teams practicing before they go out to compete.

     These trolls have no respect for our cherished American values, and they apparently have no ideas that can withstand a competition of ideas.  So, instead of learning and thinking of new ideas, they instead choose to attack the people and attack the forum.  They seem to be inspired by the brutish, fear-based message of Trump.  These attacks are nothing more than acts of stupidity, malice, and cowardice.  Louis Brandeis, scholar and Supreme Court justice said it well:

Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change.  They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty.  To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion.  If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”
Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927).i


Thank you for reading.  Please feel free to leave comments below.  You can also share with the buttons below, or, if you want to get the latest posts right away, you can click on the "Follow" button at the top right of this page.

The next post in this series, Malware, Mole, or Mercenary will begin to explore the mechanics of how the trolls hijacked Melissa's group.

If you need a break from all the nastiness and chaos, and you need a laugh, you can check out this piece here:
Tense Conservative Propose New Conservative Verb Tense

If you're interested in learning how liberals can get better at messaging to win the war of ideas, check out the 4 part series starting with:
Don't Call It TrumpCare







Thursday, April 6, 2017

RepubliCare Memes

  We here at the Diogenetic Light have seen that Trumpenstein is trying to bring RepubliCare back to life.  Below are, we think, all of the memes that were used in the prior articles about this monster.  We put them here to make a convenient place for you to grab a meme to shield yourself when Trumpanzees inevitably begin hurling poo at you again.

     You may notice that the tone of our memes aren't as snarky as some others.  That is intentional.  We purposely design our memes, hopefully, to appeal to middle of the road voters and Trump voters who now have regrets and serious doubts about their votes.  We look at every interaction as an opportunity to place a grain of sand on their scale of judgement to eventually them toward justice.  If your interested in why we do this, we first began to outline the strategy behind this with the article that explains why Trump's Removal Must Be Political.  We then followed with a couple pieces on how to engage those middle of the road folks.  First, by taking some time to Calm the Storm inside our own hearts, and then by looking at some specific skills that have been used since the time of Socrates.  (Currently, the final article in the series, which talks about dealing with Trumpanzees in their native habitat,  has been gobbled up by a demon that caused a computer crash.  We hope to find it and publish soon!)

     We call it the Republican Wealthcare proposal for some very specific, strategic reasons, as we outlined in Don't Call It TrumpCare.  We then took a look at the basics of the Republican's effective messaging machine in RepubliCare - Working the Word part 1 and part 2.  Finally, we applied those lessons to RepubliCare specifically in RepubliCare - A Word that Works.

     We have a personal appeal as Trumpenstein prepares to set his monster upon
our nation's citizenry once again.  Please, take a few minutes to read the Don't Call It TrumpCare series.  (We make an effort to limit the length of every article so that they don't take too much of your time.)  If you think the ideas in them are worth discussing, then please consider sharing them to get a conversation about effective communication started, which is long overdue in progressive and liberal circles.  If you agree with the ideas in them, then please take a moment to Google your Senators, Representatives, and local party leaders and send them the Don't Call It TrumpCare article link.  Trumpenstein is back in the lab, and it's time for us citizens to grab our verbal pitchforks and strategic torches to put an end to this monstrosity once and for all.

     Finally, we are taking requests for new memes that you'd like to see.   Instructions for that are below the memes.



And now, the memes:




















Please remember, they aren't laughing with us, they are laughing at us.


 You may contact us either by leaving a note in the comments, or by clicking on Jeramee's Google+ profile at the top right of this page and clicking on the pencil icon in the bottom right of the G+ screen to post a message.  For custom memes, please include the following:
1)  The text that you think would work on the meme, or a general idea of it.
      (It doesn't have to be perfect, we will edit to work it into an effective meme.)
2)  The kind of background that you think should be on the meme.
      (Are you thinking just straight text, a picture of a politician laughing at us, etc.  If you have a specific picture that you like, include a link to it.  Note: we can't use copyrighted pics, but you can filter those out on Google images by clicking on Tools > Usage Rights >Labelled for Reuse.)
3)  Any news article links that give more information about the story.  (Reputable links preferred.  See the diagrams below.)
4)  If you'd like us to credit you here on the blog when we post your meme, let us know how you'd like us to spell your name.

Diagrams on News Source Reliability.

This one is pretty good.
Note: we probably won't even bother to read anything from Addicting Info, other sources in that corner are also looked upon with deep skepticism.


This is the Reddit Guide to Fake News.
It's a little biased, but still useful.
The creator's seem not to understand how the Overton Window has shifted so far right.
Scholars and Rogues has a nice critique of this diagram here.
If you haven't heard of the Overton Window, you can check out these pieces:
How Trump Shifted the Overton Window, by The Hill.
The Flaw's of the Overton Window Theory, by The New Republic.


Thanks for coming! 
Feel free to leave comments below.
 If you want to share these memes so that others have a handy reference, there is a share button at the bottom of this post.  If you'd like to be notified as soon as new posts come out, there is a "Follow" button at the top right of this page.