Wednesday 30 September 2015

Trolling on the Guardian

A troll story in 4 screenshots

29 September, 201

Four days ago, on September 24, we published an item about the use of multiple identities on The Guardian‘s CIF pages by people presenting avidly pro-Western, and aggressively anti-Russian and anti-Syrian views. The irony of the situation, as we pointed out, is that the use of such multiple identities is being tolerated by a newspaper which, only 3 years ago, broke the news about the troll army the US had by then unleashed in cyberspace, and which has since then instituted a draconian policy of censorship of reader comments critical of the US and EU foreign policy in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine.

One of our readers has now provided us with fresh evidence that The Guardian does more than merely tolerate a practice characteristic of Western government agents on the Internet.

The screenshots below are taken from the article Putin says he can work with Obama despite trading barbs on Syria and ISIS. They show the moderators actively censor readers’ posts which point to the practice and to the fact that it’s already been documented. Here’s what happened today, when the mysterious commenter “Omniscience” surfaced again — and another commenter called him/her out.

The incident began when the reader who goes under the monikergawain9 posted a comment insinuating that the rise of IS has benefited the Syrian government. The imputation of collusion on the part of the Assad government was immediately met with rebuttals by three other Guardian readers.


It was at that point that “Omniscience” stepped in with a non-sequitor intended to deflect attention from the argument. Another commenter (Karoline Louise), one of the three people who’d responded to gawain9’s original imputation, then called Omniscience on it, asking him whether he/she also posts as ‘GreatMountainEagle’.


The reader who passed these screenshots on to us then rounded off the discussion by responding to Karoline Louise and confirming her suspicion.

The last screenshot in this series shows how the Guardian’s moderators chose to react to the fact that someone posting anti-Syrian-government comments on CIF is using multiple identities. Instead of going after the obvious troll, the newspaper removed our reader’s comment, with its link to the article in which we first outted its tolerance of multiple identities of pro-Western commentators, thus removing from the public’s view evidence of the Guardian’s complicity in a practice it once critiqued as part of an underhanded propaganda war waged by the US.

Evidence of such propaganda practices by the West is now being deliberately axed, while Guardian’s CIF pages remain open to pro-western trolls, some of whom are no doubt part of that cyber-army the paper told us about in 2012.

Our thanks to seamuspadraig for alerting us to this incident and providing the screenshot evidence presented here.

From 2011, when the Guardian was more honest than they are now

Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media

Military's 'sock puppet' software creates fake online identities to spread pro-American propaganda 

Instead, these days their Sahun Walker specialises in this

Salutin' Putin: inside a Russian troll house

This is today's effort (with excerpts)

A chilling handshake between Obama and Putin, while Syria disintegrates

The devil has all the most convincing solutions in Syria. But will you shake hands with him?...

Obama looks the most graceful and civil, but in shaking hands with Putin he briefly connected with an odious logic

Putin is indeed a scary guy to shake hands with. He is cheerfully post-democratic, and at the UN argued that only by straightforwardly supporting Syria’s “legitimate” government – barrel bombs? What barrel bombs? – can a grand coalition end this particularly barbarous war and the humanitarian crisis that is so perturbing the world. Monstrous. And it comes from a man who has himself acted in disturbing, sinister, ruthless ways. But what is Putin? Does he resemble 20th century dictators, or is he more like the 19th century Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck, who sometimes used military might but mostly won through harsh diplomatic intelligence?....

Putin is a dangerous Machiavellian manipulator, but shaking hands with him is the very least of what rebuilding Syria would actually mean. But probably the handshakes will stay brittle, the body language cold, and fine words and a few bombs will be all the finely moral leaders of the of the west ever offer, while hell is built before their eyes.

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