Twitter: Information Warfare, Propaganda and the ‘Troll’

This abstract came across an interesting blog post today, which is recommended reading for anyone using the Twitter platform:

The author provides some examples of accounts and strategies which are claimed to source from Russian Intelligence.

The cases and arguments made are broadly correct, however, there are some important details and concepts missing which targets – that is anyone who is not sourcing this way – should be aware of.

i) Accounts which send gibberish, hostile links and/or offensive / inappropriate media.

These are attempted direct attacks through the Twitter platform targetting individuals, with the aim of compromising the remote machine, or producing a negative reaction.

With certain media content this may be sent with a view to discredit or bring unwarranted criminal action against the target. To the latter point, the following could constitute a credible example:

ii) China et al.

This abstract has directly observed accounts purporting to source from China attempting to engage in exactly the same activities as the Russian accounts: In some instances, in tandem. 

Consider carefully:

This should not distract from Russian activity, but in focusing on Russian ‘Trolls’ it would leave a target more susceptible to an attack from another source. On this point, this abstract raises an eye-brow towards the remote blog author.

iii) The ‘Troll’ Label

This humble abstract would like to point out that labelling information warfare operatives as ‘Trolls’ simplifies matters a bit. As ‘Troll’ has become a label distorted to apply to folk on Twitter who express a differing opinion – most notably abused by those on the political Left and/or Liberals – one needs to be again cautious.

Trolls are easy to spot and filter. Information warfare agents are not so easy.

Stifling discussion on the Twitter platform through abuse of the ‘Troll’ label constitutes a direct attack on the individual of the nature of which the article is warning about.

iv) Dezinformatsiya: The art of disinformation.

Disinformation is very simple: It is false information.

The principal aim of projecting false information is to spread false knowledge among the target population with a view to discrediting individuals, corporations or governments, or seeding dissent.

In the UK, ‘Bedroom Tax’ is a good example of a dezinformatziya campaign: The tax in question was no such thing, but a reform to the benefits system where a spare room subsidy for people in state provided accommodation  was withdrawn.

False projections of the intentions of the EU, or outright hostile ‘rumour’ also qualify as good examples, as do false or ‘erroneous’ stories about politicians which are released in ‘smear’ campaigns aimed at discrediting.

More information on the advanced methods which were developed in the Soviet Union here:

The reader should be aware that individuals are generally biased towards accepting negative propaganda with a higher probability than positive, a phenomena well understood:

v) Maskirovka: The art of deception

Accounts which purport to be what they are not fall into this category directly.

Hostile ‘Parody’ accounts which are not clearly identifiable as such are somewhat blatant.

Those accounts which appear to be regular people, as identified in the above article, fall into this category also. The strategy of information warfare is not all immediate. In order for accounts to build credibility, hence making them more effective ‘weapons’ for dissemination of propaganda takes time.

The aim is to provide a mechanism which carries ‘authority’ or is otherwise trusted in the eyes of the target from which dezinformatsiya and propaganda can be injected.

More information here:

vi) Provokatsiya: The art of provocation

This is perhaps the most dangerous and insidious of the techniques as it essentially relies on manipulating your targets to do your work for you.

Whilst this includes techniques such as false flagging and ‘agent-provocateur’, there is a more subtle aspect which is less obvious.

This article from the BBC explains how provokatsiya is applied in the media:

This blog post provides further details:

In summary: The technique aims to discredit either individuals or institutions, usually targeting political ideas of specific policies, through subversion of the perception and belief systems of the target. That is: Changing the targets opinions and beliefs in a specific way in order to satisfy the objectives of the attacker.

vii) A coherent strategy: Active Measures

In the information space which Twitter and the internet inhabit, provokatsiya works best when combined carefully with maskirovka and dezinformatsiya. This is not exclusively an immediate attack strategy or a single one. Some strategies will have been running for a while.

For more information on this overarching strategy:

The following is also recommended:

It should be understood that many ‘Conspiracy Theories’ are Active Measure campaigns, and these are run against targets by both sides. The rational is the same though: To subvert the belief system and rational judgement of the targets for a predetermined end.

The following blog post raises an interesting question also:


The best line of defence in information warfare is: Awareness.

Being aware of the strategies which are being used against you, and understanding how to detect them and if necessary, help counter and reduce their probability of success.

This process of detection can also be described as: Counter Intelligence.

Critical reading and filtering of information is the primary defence.

a) Be aware of the basic principals of propaganda:

In particular, the following principal is worth keeping in mind at all times:

‘Credibility alone must determine whether propaganda output should be true or false’

In order for propaganda to work it needs to be accepted and internalized by the target. A target is unlikely to accept propaganda if it is incredible.

It is also important to be aware that comments or opinions which match personal prejudice or beliefs will more likely be agreed with by a target, and will resonate in the target.

b) Before forming an opinion or belief, try to check the source.

If the source is from an authoritative one which is trusted it should be safer. Note that the Russian RT network has proven itself to be a hostile source, despite it’s appearance.

Sources are important: Before entrusting they should be checked.

Anonymous sources – like this one – should be judged carefully.

Transparency on sourcing for information / opinion given is paramount. (ie. If you have read this far, check the links and decide if this source is hostile or not)

Hostile intent should also be weighed carefully.

c) As a final check, ask: Cui Bono ?

‘Who benefits from me adopting this belief, or acting – or indeed reacting – to this information in a certain way ?’

There are no hard and fast rules as the nature of the game is ultimately one of manipulation and coercion, and both sides are playing by the same rules, and sometimes with similar objectives.

Being unaware of what is happening does leave a target completely unprotected.


Posted in Twitter, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A dialog between libertarian left and right: Some positive consensus…

Your humble abstract recently found itself engaged in a series of Twitter exchanges with an account that described itself as being a European ‘radical anti-capitalist anarchist’. There was evidence of a Green agenda also. The discourse initiated from a discussion about the subject of European Federalization, but digressed onto more fundamental topics fairly swiftly.

Note: That is not an attack on that account (or the actual person controlling it), and neither is this article. Those words the remote account uses describe itself may evoke a negative reaction in the mind of the reader irrespective of if the reader is sympathetic to the concepts or not: Such reaction is best suspended for now, and questioned later.

After some initial rocky interaction it became very clear that the account was not as prejudice would suggest. After reading through blog posts published by the account that intuition was confirmed.

Contact had been made with a justifiably irritated but intelligent and rational member of the libertarian left.

Disclosure: This abstract considers itself to be of the rational libertarian right.

The dialog agenda was broadly driven by the remote account as this abstract was interested in hearing the arguments and views of the other. Rather than being overtly political, most of the issues raised – including those relating to environmental concerns – were economic, and, political-economic.

This abstract asked some questions of the remote account:

Q. Do you perceive the markets as being immoral? If so, does that bother you ?
A. Market outcomes are a disaster for the society, so yes and yes.

Q. Ok – Irrespective of outcomes – do you consider markets immoral or amoral ?
A. The outcomes make them moral or immoral.

Q. The way the ‘market’ works now – do you see that as bad or absent morality ?
A. As it works now, well it’s basically criminal.

Q. So absent any morality in the way it [the market] operates ?
A. Markets structurally lead to great economic disparity if wage labour and/or loans are allowed.

Q. Do you see people as unique individuals or a collective common unit ?
A. You cannot separate ppl being individuals and parts of their communities. We are both. The word “individual” is broken in some sense, because it implies separation from the community and environment. eparation from the community (banishment) used to mean death to the individual for a long long time.

NB: This initial response highlighted a subtle problem in semantics: The remote account is fluent in English but not a native speaker. This initial response is important as it reflects a deep cultural belief independent of politics that frames an important part of the remote accounts belief structures. This abstract reframed the original question to find a common ground:

Q. When you think of a person do you see that person or their community first ?
A. I strive to see the individual, but I make a few select exceptions there when it comes to the 1% and those who support them.

[ On companies and organization of labor and ownership of means of production ]

Q. [ Means of production ] Owned by the individuals through a collective, share in a private enterprise, or indirectly through the state ?
A. I think that the ownership of the means of production must go to the workers for as long as they work in a given company.

Q. Is it perceived harm against people or nature that motivates you more ?
A. Both. And ppl cannot live if nature is destroyed.

The generalized conclusion that market outcomes always lead to disaster is understandable at present. Across Europe the austerity policies imposed on Eurozone member States have had direct impact on many people. Most will perceive the economic hardship as being the result of the markets, and due to severity will perceive disaster.

In part the observations will be fact, as experienced by declining living standards and high youth unemployment for example, but the view will have also been shaped by the very negative media reporting which reinforces this negative perception.

Market outcomes determining morality is an obvious transitive fallacy but is reasoning that will be common among people generally. Moral market decisions can result in harm being inflicted on individuals / society, which underlines arguments libertarians have for minimal government intervention in the market place. Whilst those on the right would place moral faith in individuals control and ownership of productive capital, the left have a different position which, as emerged below, carries more weight at present.

The perception that the current neo-liberal status quo is criminal is a strong one. It is not well understood that capitalism has undergone a cosmetic surgery procedure that would stun even Shelly’s infamous Doctor. The criminal perception implies that the current status quo is seen not only as amoral but also immoral. This abstract agrees with the remote account 100% on this perception.

From a libertarian point of view this is a raised flag.

The question of morality was asked after it became clear that the remote account had a deep concern that the markets could be responsible for ecological destruction. The following captures this aspect of the concern from earlier discourse:

I believe what I see, i.e., concentration of wealth leading to concentration of power and ecocide.

This is a very powerful perception. This abstract believes it has been slightly distorted from reality.

All people have an instinct for preservation of their habitat: That is evolved into us and is partly responsible for the survival of mankind. The Biophilia hypothesis attempts to classify this:

Psychologists have studied this also, and its realization in political motivations is also understood well. The paper of Fox 1985 ( ) which looks at the link between ideology and Utopian values as a reaction to ‘the tragedy of the commons’ ( ) is a good example. The conflicts that political reaction can lead to in this context has been studied well in California ( )

The following article, ‘The Moral Imperative of the Market’, published on the von Mises site codifies the concern about destructive market behaviour in a libertarian economic frame:

The absence of, or corruption of, morality within the market place causes fundamental damage to the way the markets operate, and as the above dialog suggests, is in fact causing people to be alienated from the market.

This is not a reaction against capitalism per se, but a reaction against the market itself: For most people that distinction is not apparent, and understandably so as it is not generally noticed in day to day life.

The remote account indicates very clearly that harm against both people and nature are motivation for its reaction, and states accurately that people cannot survive without a healthy habitat. Whilst generally focused on the individual, there is a valid case here for applying the no harm principal to nature but only when that principal reduces harm more for people.

Within the doctrines advocated by the Green movement that balance is shifted too far towards nature and away from man which leads to policy ideas which harm man in order to reduce harm of nature:

Rigorous analysis of the implications of seeking CO2 emission reductions as policy is a classic example.

Some of the Green eco-policies that have done measurable damage to industrialized economies fall into that category. They have also paradoxically caused harm to nature also.

The way arguments are presented by the Green lobby do resonate on many several levels, but conceal fundamental flaws which libertarians can expose by a straight forward application of the ‘no harm principal’, and in some cases, observation of policy outcomes.

This abstract made the following statement which was ‘favorited’ by the remote account. That is interpreted as consensus agreement:

I ask clarity about immoral vs. amoral as I think you link market action to apparent social injustice.

Actual social injustice is very clear across Europe at present and people have associated most of it with the economic austerity policies, and it would appear that way the markets operate.

A central political question here is ownership of means of production. Troika imposed policies on Eurozone countries have had the effect of widening and deepening socio-economic gaps, and in disenfranchising many people from the economy itself.

The remote account, as above, explicitly stated that it was in favour of the co-operative model for capital formation.

The Spanish Mondragon model was offered as example by the remote account:

Consensus on concept was found on the following two examples additionally:

John Lewis Partnership:
UK Co-Op Group (minus the broken bank):

The following exchange between this abstract (LA) and the remote account (RA) revealed an important point:

LA: The trust which used to exist between worker and private owner has been damaged.
RA: “damaged” is the understatement of the century
RA: The little trust there ever was has been obliterated.

This point of view is politically neutral, but significant from a libertarian perspective.

The issue of trust is intertwined with perceived moral actions and personal judgement made by the individual. Once lost it is generally very hard to regain. As austerity policies were advanced and implemented by governmental organizations, not by private enterprise, it is clear that targets of the policies have been the owners of private enterprise.

Given that major the heads of large European Businesses actually demanded more austerity in 2013, this is a paradoxical statement:

To resolve the paradox it is worth noting that the austerity policies had a profoundly negative effect on small to medium sized enterprises acrosss the Eurozone, as well as on individual workers through downward pressure on wages and entitlement expectations. This has affected both private and public enterprises as well as the individual:

Giving the option to lobby the European Commission directly to big business, it was logical that big business would lobby for austerity. This is provides an indirect mechanism for targeting competition, and also applies indirect pressure on their own work forces.

This is course is not a moral mode of operating within the market, and big business has undermined its imputed responsibilities. It is however Government at both the national and European level that has failed in its duty of care to ensure that dominant players do not disrupt the market. The transnational aspect of this lobby and complicity of Government has led to disproportionate impacts in some member States, as evidenced graphically in Greece.

Politically, a reaction whereby people seek to take back control of means of production through the co-operative model is not anti-capitalist, and in context is wholly justifiable. A functioning economy composed of firms which organize labor differently would present less structural risk, and for workers provides a more approachable market place in which to sell their labor. Moreover it would help the market to restore it moral imperative through free competition, and subsequently recover properly and restore trust: That assumes co-operatives would behave in a more moral fashion and the regulators of the market enforce the rules fairly and promptly.

Relaxing legislation designed to block such entities from forming perhaps could be a viable policy move, however, moves to provide advantage through taxation would not be.

The remote account revealed that in the past it had worked in a large corporation for 2 years. In the accounts words: ‘I still get angry when I remember.. it was like the Soviet Union.’

Anyone who has worked in a large enterprise will be aware that somewhat heavy political indoctrination is handed down now upon joining, and continually pushed and enforced while employed. The UK is currently seeing an interesting and long overdue reaction against this in the public sector:

It should be understood that firms are compelled to impose this indoctrination on employees under various EU laws (passed onto member State statutes), and indirectly through changes to employee and employer liabilities again through statutory law and insurance terms. Vicarious liability has been used quite efficiently to force business to implement this in the UK for example:

The additional costs to enterprise are not insignificant, and the ostensible reasoning, perhaps to help ensure that the rights enshrined in the ECHR ( ) are upheld reflects good intention.

From a libertarian point of view there are very obvious objections to this otherwise unproductive additional burden being placed on capital, and the de-facto coercion of employees to conform to a specific political value system also. As the remote account states, the strategy is very similar to the party membership requirement for employment in the defunct Soviet system. The consequences for not following this more modern line are similar also. This approach likely breeds resentment rather than belief towards the values enshrined in the ECHR also: an unintended consequence of profound importance.

The discourse ended on a positive note with reference being made to the positive case for anarchism.

As mentioned in the opening, certain terms have been tarnished with a broad and negative brush over the years. The positive case for anarchism is best understood in terms of Tolkien and the way he portrayed The Shire, particularly in his book ‘The Hobbit’.

The following article captures some of a letter sent from Tolkien to his son:

I quote some of Tolkien’s words here:

‘My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) – or to ‘unconstitutional’ monarchy . . . Anyway, the proper study of man is anything but man; and the most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men.’

It is well known that The Shire was inspired by Tolkien’s direct experiences of English Villages:

Another fine example of the positive concept was offered by the remote account: ‘The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopiam by Ursula K.Le Guin’

The negative associations which have been ingrained, and the negative actions of the extreme left and right which are portrayed in the media have muddied this perspective. The shift towards libertarian parties globally is reflecting that there is a broad paradigm shift ongoing at a grass roots level. Authoritarian resistance to that would result in conflict. The tension can be dissipated without conflict once elites realize that they are not the targets of dissent.

The reactionary and hostile approach of the left generally in social media, particularly on Twitter, is well known and recognized. This abstract extends gratitude to the remote account for not following that tradition, and disproving a stereotype.

As the above dialog reveals, the libertarian right and left should be talking right now: That is where consensus is most likely to be found, and the only way it can be found.

This abstract believes that the libertarian left are being subverted by their more active non-libertarian brethren on the left, and those non-libertarian agents are deliberately attempting to subvert dialog with the right, ostensibly to monopolize debate.

The positive power of Twitter is clearly revealed in this case.

Two way rational dialog is needed in order to tackle the fundamental questions relating to European Federalization, and in particular the designing and enshrining of a European Constitution.


Posted in Dialogs, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

European Union: What did Monnet say about Europe’s nations and the superstate ?

There is a popular belief at present that the entire European Union project is occult.

Most would immediately associate occult with supernatural influences or even the Satanic outright, but occult should be read in its literal dictionary meaning: ‘hidden’, ‘concealed’.

The current belief is derived from a popular quote attributed to Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of the European Union, in which Monnet is claimed to have written the following in a letter to a friend on 30th April, 1952:

“Europe’s nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation.”

Using Google, the above quote and attribution seems to have the following as the most reliable source:

For those not familiar, Rense is a famous ‘conspiracy theory’ site run by Jeff Rense: More a clearing house than source. This is not case closed on discrediting as conspiracy theories do sometimes turn out to be conspiracy fact.

The Rense article itself was written by Philip Jones, 12th September 2009 and published here:

The article was written around the time of the Irish Referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon: Infamously run twice following initial defeat on 12th June 2008, yet finding acceptance on 2nd October 2009:

Checking through the sources quoted in the article it has not been possible to track down a copy of the letter which is referred.

This image purporting to be from a book which is otherwise unidentified has been circulating also:


Absent being able to determine its source it is not clear if it is genuine or not.

Other sources, such as this …

… have noted that a shorter quote attributed to Monnet was referenced by Vaclav Klaus in the book ‘Europe: The Shattering of Illusions’:

“Europe’s nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening.”

It is true that Vaclav Klaus quotes Monnet in the book, but Klaus attributes the quote not to a letter to a friend, but in a speech Monnet delivered to the UN on the 30th April 1952.

The following is the original text of a speech which Monnet issued to the National Press Club in Washington DC on 30th April 1952 as captured in the Archive Of European Integration (AEI) at Pittsburgh University:

The US National Press Club is not the UN: Which appears to contradict Klaus’s sourcing. It should be noted that in Klaus’s text there does not appear to be any footnote indicating source for his quote, only the claim of the author.

Monnet’s address in Washington was speaking of the Plevan plan: That was a plan proposed in October 1950 by French Premier René Plevan to create a supranational European Army as part of a European Defence community.

The plan’s main architect was Jean Monnet.

Counter to the claims, some quotes from the speech:

‘Ce traité, grâce au large soutien de l’opinion publique, a déjá été ratifié par les Parlements de la France, de l’Allemagne, des Pays-Bas, par le Sénat belge et le Sénat italien.’

‘This treaty, thanks to broad support from the public, has already been ratified by the Parliaments of France, Germany, the Netherlands and the Senate’s of Belgium and Italy.’

Monnet has stated that the people of Europe broadly supported the plan, and the key European powers at the time ratified the plan.

‘L’établissement de la Communauté européenne du charbon et de l’acier jettera les bases d’une communauté de structure fédérale, gouvernée par des institutions communes, appliquant des règles communes, assurant á tous les mémes droits et imposant à tous les mêmes obligations.’

‘The establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community lay the foundation for a community of federal structure, governed by common institutions, applying common rules, ensuring all the same rights and impose the same obligations at all.’

This is basic political science. Montesquieu originally derived the reasoning for federal structures back in the 18th Century. More can be read on the reasoning for Federation, and an EU equivalent of the US Federalist papers here:

‘Finalement les Européens restent divisés entre eux. Dans de cadre, la coopération s’arrête quand les intérêts nationaux divergent et la guerre demeure leur ultime recours.’

‘Finally Europeans remain divided among themselves. In context, cooperation stops when the divergent national interests and war remains their ultimate use.’

This is recognizing the fundamental problem with European cooperation and integration towards a federal structure, following a summary of the history of how European sovereignty has evolved along nationalist lines over the past 1000 years.

‘Le Plan SCHUMAN et le Plan PLEVEN marquerent le début d’une révolution dans la vie politique, militaire, économique et institutionnelle de l’Europe’

‘The Schuman and Pleven plans mark the start of a revolution in the political, military and economic and institutional life of Europe.’

‘Une Europe fédérée est indispensable à la sécurité et à la paix du monde libre.’

‘A federated Europe is essential to the security and peace of the free world.’

This is just statement of common sense in the aftermath of WWII, which is still true to this day.

No where in the address does Monnet say what is attributed to him by Vaclav Klaus or Philip Jones.

However, Monnet does say this, which is somewhat interesting:

‘Mais les récentes proposition soviétiques vont à l’encontre des enseignements de l’Histoire. Au moment même où les Européens de l’Ouest se rassemblent et fusionnent leurs souverainetés afin de répondre aux problèmes d’aujourd’hui, l’Union Soviétique se révèle comme le champion en Europe du maintien des souverainetés nationales qui entraînerait le maintien des divisions entre les Européens.

La reconstitution d’un Etat allemand souverain et d’une armée nationale allemande, proposée par l’Union soviétique, tendrait à réveiller le vieil esprit nationaliste chez les Allemands et ranimerait les sentiment nationalistes des Français et des autres Européens contre les Allemands. Les vieilles blessures seraient rouvertes et les vieux ressentiments s’exerceraient á nouveau.’

‘But recent Soviet proposal goes against the teachings of history. At the same time that Western Europeans come together and merge their sovereignty to meet the challenges of today, the Soviet Union reveals himself as the champion of Europe in maintaining national sovereignty resulting maintaining divisions between Europeans.

Reconstitution of a sovereign German state and a German national army, proposed by the Soviet Union, would tend to awaken the old nationalist spirit among Germans and revive nationalist sentiment French and other Europeans against the Germans. Old wounds are reopened and old resentments exert again.’

This abstract leaves the reader to interpret these words from 1952 as they wish.

To understand why there appears to be a conspiracy against Monnet, and this particular speech, one should understand carefully how the art of provokatsiya works, particularly when applied to for the aim of undermining political authority and subversion.

The technique relies on remaining occult in order to work.


Posted in Federal Europe, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Twitter Gulag: Released ! And the curious case of @PortsmouthUKIP

Today, the abstracts Twitter account was released from ‘Twitter Gulag’ following a four day suspension:


Following this, and having dealt with the sundry details neglected during the incarceration, a very strange sequence of events took place.

i) @PortsmouthUKIP followed back : Always welcomed by the abstract : Free speech and debate is important.

ii) A short exchange of DM’s took place:


The nature of the DM’s, having built up a reasonable following of several hundred tweeps so far, is unique. They are also the only ones received from a UKIP advertised account, and reflect a slightly different approach by the location.

The @PortsmouthUKIP account appeared to become suspended after the second message was sent: A reply to the final DM, congratulating the recent election result, was not deliverable. The abstract, assuming it had been unfollowed, checked and found the dreaded screen for @PortsmouthUKIP:


This abstract was concerned by the timing: Coincidences do not usually happen and something here is not right.

The abstract can see no reason why @PortsmouthUKIP should have vanished, and looks forward to conversing with them when they are back on line.

This abstract is very aware that Portsmouth in general has some significant ‘issues’ ongoing at present.



@PortsmouthUKIP was back online by about 16:20:


Twitter informs users for reason for account suspension – they distinguish very clearly the Aggressive Following reason from Spam Reporting in the mail sent when suspension is lifted.

The ‘aggressive following’ is a relatively new feature which does limit accounts to following a maximum of between 150 to 250 accounts per day: The feature has caused headaches for both users and developers, and the exact logic is not well documented.

Good to see @PortsmouthUKIP back online.

This abstract recommends giving them a follow.

Posted in Twitter, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Twitter Muting: A positive case of silencing of political opinion by a journalist ?

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right, and journalists play a very important role in protecting and upholding this right.

The dividing lines between journalism and propaganda are drawn along balance, bias, impartiality and attention to reporting facts. In media projection this is important as journalists are generally recognized to be credible authoritative sources.

As discussed in a previous blog post, the Twitter muting function provides a subtle mechanism for introducing bias to the platform which can transform it from one reflecting all opinion equally to one of propaganda through the introduction of bias.

In the spirit of free debate, this abstract – which is a keen follower of certain members of the press – saw the following tweet and felt compelled to respond:


Note: The redacted portion was a private UKIP member : No ‘Trolling’ attack took place or was involved.

So far as the abstract can tell, this is fair comment, in line with current public statements made by Mr. Farage and UKIP, and is an accurate reflection of the political situation of UKIP. That contradicts the claims of abandonment of libertarianism for populism made by the journalist.

This was also the only communication this abstract had with @DPJHodges at that point, and the only received communication also.

The abstract later observed the following tweet:


And replied:


The abstract discovered that the mute had been applied since the last and only successful reply.

Some background is required to understand the cat reference, from where the ‘No Dogs’ part of the quote perhaps sourced.

The journalist here is a very well respected, and indeed this abstract continues to enjoy and respect his work. Some background here.

The back story to how this journalist lost his eye whilst standing up to to racists in 1992 demonstrates he is of solid and honourable character of which is in no doubt.

However, looking at how @DPJHodges describes itself at this time of writing:


This invites the question as to who really made the decision to mute: Was it a personal or a corporate decision ? The views expressed by @DPJHodges are not stated as being his own, so there is doubt as to whether this @DPJHodges is a really a corporate Telegraph account masquerading as the reporters independent account.

This abstract can only conclude from these events and given the content of the successful communication, that there a form of political censorship has been exercised by either the corporate entity the journalist works for, or the journalist himself.

The decision to mute is respected, but the abstract is now aware that Twitter timeline contents are biased. In particular the content carried on @DPJHodges timeline must be viewed through a more carefully focused lens.

This abstract leaves the reader to form their own opinion.


Posted in Twitter, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Twitter ‘muting’ : Diagnosing, is it libertarian, or a tool for fraud ?

Twitter has recently added a new option for managing timelines called muting.

Muting is a half way house between following and blocking.

When you have ‘muted’ a user that user can continue to follow you and interact with your tweets, but tweets from that user will not appear in your timeline or indeed be visible to you.

This is a great feature to prevent timelines becoming clogged with spam re-tweets, or remove content from followers which you would prefer not to carry on your timeline. However, it does introduce an asymmetry which fundamentally changes the nature of the Twitter platform.

The feature is advertised as being invisible to the ‘muted’ party, a claim which is actually false as will now be revealed.

So, you have tweeted a message to a user who in good faith you have followed.

That user may have followed you back – pleasantries exchanged over DM to confirm good relationship, and then you tweet and get no response.

Fine – there is no onus or temporal limit on tweet reply – most go unanswered.

Then you notice something fishy.

When you open a reply from your own timeline, you should see something like this:


Note the visible chained tweet above to which the reply was made.

With a tweet to a user who has muted you, other than the tweet conspicuously not appearing in the target timeline (which unless you are monitoring the remote timeline you likely would not notice) when the reply is opened in your timeline the tweet appears like this:


Apparently disjoint: The reply appears as a direct tweet. It is invisible to the recipient.

There is some good news: Muting does not affect ‘favourites’. Your avatar should still appear associated with the tweet that has been favourited:


Whilst the mute feature is useful for controlling third party content in your timeline it perhaps should be used with care.

It is a very powerful asymmetric tool on the Twitter platform for silencing.

For corporate users Twitter have issued best practice guidelines in order to minimize wasted resources of clients using the platform for advertising: To avoid being filtered out by target users through muting.

In the context of Twitter accounts that are projecting certain views and contents this can obviously bias timelines and have a negative effect on balanced debate.

The use of muting to silence opinion which may run contra to your own further subverts from its intended use to control ‘Troll’ and ‘Spam’ content on timelines. Admission of use also invites attacks discrediting – true or false – your own timeline content.

After having directly observed it being used in this manner by certain accounts on the Left of the political spectrum (who also have significant traditional media presence), and significantly some who describe themselves as ‘Journalists’, the misuse case appears strong and real.

A corollary of this is that Twitter trends and apparent consensus seen forming in threads must be considered biased, leading one to conclude that Twitter is no longer a free or fair barometer of opinion.

From a libertarian perspective, this feature and its use is dubious.

Whilst a timeline owner should have the freedom to control the content which appears on their timeline, not disclosing that presents a case of misrepresentation about what others are actually viewing in their timeline.

This touches on the boundaries of fraud, and in the case of political threads has a distinctive anti-libertarian feel.

Users of the feature are perhaps best advised to consider the ‘no harm’ principal when using it, easily satisfied with a clear disclaimer, perhaps in their profile description.

A community response could include a ‘hashtag’ for identifying problematic or unreasonable users of this feature.

The harm argument is reflexive for those who would follow and then mute a corporate stream: Follow then mute would place an unnecessary burden on the corporate users resources.

The fundamental misrepresentation of sorts by the timeline owner when using this feature is: You are following me but I am not telling you that I am not listening.

I would like to extend h/t’s to: @owenjones84, @missmillicent for their assistance in learning about this feature.

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