When are Russian bots not bots – when they are people like a retired IT professional called Ian who is an avid twitter user? The UK government identified Ian’s Twitter account name: Ian56 as one of several Russian bots.
Interviewed on both the BBC and Sky News there were some heated exchanges. These arose particularly within the Sky interview when one of the presenters suggested that Ian was anti-Britain. It was also inferred that he could be a Russian agent.
You can watch how the interview panned out here:
Interview cut short
Ian refers to the former Commander of British armed forces in Iraq, “Jonathan” Swan. We believe he meant General Jonathan Shaw but Ian’s assertion that he was cut off during a Sky News interview is absolutely true. Immediately General Shaw questioned the motive of the Syrian government for carrying out a chemical weapon attack, his microphone was cut. He suggested that President Assad would have no reason to use chemical weapons when he had almost won the war against terrorists. The interview lasted just over 60 seconds as can be seen below:
The interview Ian had with the BBC was less heated but the interviewer attempted to back him into a corner. He asked questions designed to make Ian look like a conspiracy theorist. Ian pointed out that he has a blog in which he provides thoroughly researched evidence to back up his claims. The interviewer asked Ian to send him the link to his blog. Ian alleges that the British government lies all of the time about many things. You can watch the full BBC interview here:
Russian bots identified by DFRLab
It has become common practice for governments around the world to allege that social media users who do not agree with their policies are Russian bots. However, much of the information politicians receive comes from an American think tank – Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFR Lab). From blogs posted on its website there appears to be political bias. Most posts are anti-Russia and the Atlantic Council’s Blog appears to be subtly anti the Trump administration.
A Guardian article written by Thomas Frank earlier this year puts a different perspective on what he refers to as “hysteria” about Russian bots. A total of $9.8 billion was spent on advertising in the 2016 US election. Yet it is alleged that only $100,000 was spent on ads placed by Russian trolls on Facebook. This being the case, with journalists describing these ads as a threat to democracy and asserting that Trump won the election because of them, why spend $9.8 billion? If it takes so little to sway voters perhaps budgets should be cut to the bare minimum for election campaigns.
Voluntary lie detector tests
At Lie Detector Test Ireland we have seen trust in politicians hit an all-time low over the past decade. Would regular, voluntary polygraph tests, conducted on those who present narratives lacking logic, help to restore the general public’s trust in them?