Mueller Report: Russian Trolls Stoked Divisions on Energy, Climate, Coal

April 19, 2019

In advocating for your preferred energy future, bear in mind that we are all being targeted by a sophisticated campaign aimed at enflaming divisions among all sectors of Americans.
That is all.


The U.S. is divided over coal: Coal plants and mines have been shuttering, with miners held up as the casualties of environmental regulation, despite the fact that it’s cheap natural gas and automation that’s been siphoning most coal jobs. Still, it’s an issue that captures the growing chasm between Americans, with one side holding up the economic loss in coal towns and the other desperate to ditch the fossil fuel in the face of dangerous climate change.
Trump used this friction as a campaigning technique, but according to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, so did the Russians.
About a third of Mueller’s long-awaited report, released on Thursday, has been redacted. But enough is left to determine that Russia tried to exploit America’s mixed feelings about coal in order to tip the election in Trump’s favor.
In the lead up to the 2016 presidential election, a Saint Petersburg-based group called the Internet Research Agency employed hundreds of people to post divisive messages and pro-Kremlin propaganda using American aliases on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Coal was one of many issues used by the Russian trolls to drive a wedge between American voters, the report says. The group was indicted by Mueller in 2018 for conspiring to influence the election. And a report by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee found that the trolls also posted about pipelines, fossil fuels, fracking, and climate change between 2015 and 2017.
But the Russians didn’t stick to social media alone. The Internet Research Agency also organized a number of 2016 pro-Trump events in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the report says. One of the rallies featured a “miners for Trump” poster: “How many PA workers lost their jobs due to Obama’s disruptive policies? Help Mr. Trump fix it.”

The Hill:

Russian social media accounts focused on U.S. division over coal jobs as part of an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election, according to the newly released report from special counsel Robert Mueller.
The report cites a series of pro-Trump rallies organized by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian organization charged with interfering in the U.S. election, included one in Pennsylvania with a poster featuring a coal miner reading “bring back our jobs.”

“How many PA workers lost their jobs due to Obama’s disruptive policies?” the poster read. “Help Mr. Trump fix it.”
The rallies were hosted in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in October 2016.
Several portions of Mueller’s report that reference the rallies are redacted, citing “harm to ongoing matter” if the information were publicly released.
Coal was not the only energy topic targeted in an attempt to sway voters toward President Trump.
A report in March 2018 by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee concluded that about 4 percent of IRA tweets and posts were about energy and environment issues in an attempt to disrupt U.S. energy markets.
Those posts focused on pipelines, fossil fuels, fracking and climate change.
Looking at information provided to them by U.S. social media companies, the committee determined that between 2015 and 2017 there were about 9,097 Russian posts or tweets about U.S. energy policy and events on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Important point- Russian trolls played both sides of the issue – inflaming partisans on both left and right to create divisions.
Lesson: Take a breath before being triggered. A new election is coming.

Washington Post:

Russian trolls used Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to inflame U.S. political debate over energy policy and climate change, a finding that underscores how the Russian campaign of social media manipulation went beyond the 2016 presidential election, congressional investigators reported Thursday.
The new report from the House Science, Space and Technology Committee includes previously unreleased social media posts that Russians created on such contentious political issues as the Dakota Access pipeline, government efforts to curb global warming and hydraulic fracturing, a gas mining technique often called “fracking.”
One Facebook post created by a Russian-controlled group called “Native Americans United” shows what appears to be a young girl in a braid peering out over an unspoiled prairie. “Love Water Not Oil, Protect Our Mother, Stand With Standing Rock,” a reference to an Indian tribe that opposed the Dakota Access pipeline. The post also said, “No Pipelines. No Fracking. No Tar Sands.”

The report underscores how Russians worked on both sides of contentious American political issues. The Facebook posts — which typically were accompanied by identical posts shared by affiliated Instagram accounts — appeared designed to specifically appeal to either liberal or conservative audiences. There were posts, for example, expressing concern about climate change and others mocking it.
This tracks previous reports about how the Russian disinformation campaign worked to inflame other sensitive political issues — and worked both sides — on racial and religious matters, immigration policy and same-sex marriage.
One post from the Facebook account “Blacktivist” — an Internet Research Agency-tied account that had sought to stoke racial tensions online — included an apparent image of law enforcement battling protesters at the Dakota Access pipeline. “We’re about to celebrate thanksgiving and tell schoolchildren we made peace w Native Americans while DAPL protesters are being tear gassed,” the post read. It was shared 497 times on Facebook, according to the committee.

15 Responses to “Mueller Report: Russian Trolls Stoked Divisions on Energy, Climate, Coal”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    It’s no surprise that Russian Trolls have been stoking the fires of division as they attempt to destroy America. Anyone who has been paying attention has seen the evidence that Russian Trolls play both sides of the table in the game, and that climate, energy, and coal were one area they “played” in—-IMO, we have had Russian Trolls here on Crock, supposedly supporting RE, but at the same time fostering negativity and division.

    And the biggest Russian Troll of all, DJT, is still at it—-if he wins in 2020, I expect to see Putin on the 2024 ballot.

  2. jimbills Says:

    Anti-vax as a topic is often a mentioned here. It’s another target of Russian trolls:

  3. dumboldguy Says:

    And then there’s artificial intelligence lurking out there—-actually, it’s going to solve all our problems as the greedy morons who don’t know or care what what they’re really doing go for the brass ring. They WILL F*** it up, of that you can be sure. Here’s an article that demonstrates how naive the “experts” are:

    From the article—-“It is clear that AI has resulted in machines that are, in many ways, more capable than human minds. However, it will be a long time before they are able to surpass human intelligence in every regard. And should this day come, the brightest minds in the field are well aware of the risks of superintelligent computers and should be able to thwart any HAL 9000’s before it’s too late!”

    JFC! and Lord love a duck! Even my Apple II from the early 80’s was smart enough not to “think” something that stupid.

    We will progress from the simple AI that surrounds us to AGI and finally Super AGI, at which point the Terminator scenario kicks in—-the machines that are smarter than humans eliminate whatever portion of the human race is necessary to restore balance to the planet—-VIOLA! No more uncontrolled AGW

    Read what Hawking had to say about it, and even Boring Mars Moron Musk spoke out strongly on the topic (Musk wants to bore a tunnel from DC to Baltimore, and is actually getting officials to pay him attention).

  4. Gingerbaker Says:

    “Read what Hawking had to say about it, and even Boring Mars Moron Musk spoke out strongly on the topic ”

    Imnsho, they are both hideously and completely wrong about that. It’s a fun topic, but I can not believe that anyone who understands evolution and anthropology would believe for a nanosecond that a calculating machine would be motivated by anything but the parameters programmed into it.

    We need a new term for memes that have an unconscious derivation from science fiction movies which drive them.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      Remember the scene from one of the Matrix movies where the corrupted guy is speaking in a restaurant as he chews a delicious piece of steak, and says something about the fact that while he knows there is no piece of steak, it tastes so effing good that he will sell himself out?

      Computers, happily, do not have taste buds. They don’t have megalomania, fever dreams of world domination, desires for riches, or the sexual favors of libido-engorged female chimpanzees, sorry, gorgeous women. They have absolutely no appreciation for geometric or philosophical symmetry, art, perfection, or a thousand other decidedly human predilections. Star Trek episodes are not instructive here.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        You’re speaking from ignorance again and talking about “knowledge” you think you’ve gained from watching some freaking MOVIES?

        Get educated enough and you MAY understand that all those things that “computers” (childish term used by those who don’t understand AI) don’t have are things that a Super AI WILL have (or at least understand) at a level far far far beyond what any human brain is capable of.

        Ignorant bullshit is what is not instructive here.

        BTW, a fiction book gives perhaps the most “human” picture of how a Super AI “evolves”. “Crucible”, a 2019 Sigma Team thriller by James Robbins—–read ‘the first 100 pages if you want to get some shivers (unless you/re not smart enough to understand).

        Also BTW, your hero Musk “gets it” re” AI. It’s one thing he has my full backing on.

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          LOL. You sling mud at my reference *against* AI opinions coming from movies, and then quote a fiction novel *for* the same thing.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Yep, exactly—-and until you read the novel, you have no hope of understanding why they’re NOT the “same” thing.

            Have you read the articles I linked? What’s your reaction to Musk?

    • dumboldguy Says:

      GB, now that you have (finally) gotten up to speed on the history of the Middle East, you need to make a serious effort to get caught up on the topic of Artificial Intelligence—-you have NO understanding of the topic—-you haven’t even got enough knowledge to dare to have an “opinion”, and your statement that “…anyone who understands evolution and anthropology would believe for a nanosecond that a calculating machine would be motivated by anything but the parameters programmed into it” is ludicrous—WTF do evolution and anthropology have to do with “calculating machines”?

      Here’s another good piece that may help you overcome your ignorance.

      Some excerpts.

      “Speaking at a conference in Lisbon, Portugal shortly before his death, Stephen Hawking told attendees that the development of artificial intelligence might become the “worst event in the history of our civilization,” and he had every reason for concern. Known as an artificial superintelligence (ASI) by AI researchers, ethicists, and others, it has the potential to become more powerful than anything this planet has ever seen and it poses what will likely be the final existential challenge humanity will ever face as a species.

      “Suppose we program a system that could rewrite its own programming to make itself more intelligent in any subject, skill, or ability that humans are capable of. In the beginning, it wouldn’t be very intelligent at all, but each successive refinement would, in turn, improve its ability to improve itself. Every tiny, incremental step will build on the last, growing exponentially.

      “There will come a point in this process where the system will cease to be an AFI. Like a solid sublimating into its gaseous state, this AFI would appear to pass AGI entirely as its growth in intelligence becomes explosive, a moment that renown AI authority Nick Bostrom calls the ASI Lift-off. It is literally beyond our capacity to imagine what this sort of intelligence is truly like.”

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        “WTF do evolution and anthropology have to do with “calculating machines”?”

        Because those who fear AI attribute to its fruition that it will exhibit anthropomorphism.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Again, you need to get educated on AI—“evolution” is misapplied to the process whereby AI’s (not calculating machines) grow and change. And “anthropomorphism” most certainly is to be feared in the context of Super AI, which will turn the study of anthropology in its head when it arrives.

  5. gmrmt Says:

    It’s obvious what a super AI would do. Make a killing on the stock market, buy a rocket company and get off this rock and the hell away from us.

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