To Elon Musk: Why Not Buy Bots?

Photo by Alex Knight Pexels.com

The Elon Musk and Twitter saga keeps me entertained these days. From the initial outrage that a billionaire would dare buy a media company (not that this is unusual)…to the threats of lawsuits…to Twitter’s board’s insistence that Musk must indeed buy Twitter now…do you get the sense that somebody knows how to play this game?

Musk has put his purchase of Twitter on hold until he gets accurate information on bots on Twitter. For anyone who doesn’t know what bots are, well, they are “robots” essentially. In other words, not real people. The way I see it, someone might create 20 “fake” accounts, bots in other words, and then spam Twitter. What is the impact and why would anyone do this? The result is that it looks like some people have way more followers than they actually do, and that some ideas are much more popular or disliked than is the actual case. Why would anyone want to do this? You might be able to come up with a few reasons.

I’ve noted that certain more right wing figures, like for instance Tim Pool and Stephen Crowder, reported on their YouTube channel that within days of Elon Musk requesting information from Twitter about bots, they suddenly had a significant increase in Twitter followers, to the tune of tens of thousands. I’m pretty sure Twitter didn’t create more bots to follow them, because that is not what you do when you are trying to sell a business. Investors don’t want to learn there are more bots, maybe not even that there are bots. Is it possible that Twitter suddenly reinstated accounts it had closed? I don’t know. This would offset bot numbers, I would think, making it look like there was a lower percentage of bots. I’m just following a trail of information breadcrumbs as I try to understand this.

Twitter bosses and employees had a literal melt-down when Elon Musk began to pursue the purchase of Twitter and it’s not difficult to figure out why. Twitter has a lot of power. After all, it de-platformed a sitting president of the USA. To be forced to hand over this power to a billionaire, whose political views might not agree with theirs, well…you can imagine. You can also imagine that the decision to boot Trump off Twitter was not made in a Twitter vacuum. A lot of pressure was put on Twitter and other social media to influence the election in favor of Democrats. As this opinion piece says, “Controlling this public square of political debate has been of immense benefit to Democrats, the media, globalists, and the government bureaucracy.”

Here is a sample of what is going on, taken from a May 16 article by the New York Post, entitled, Elon Musk says Twitter claims ‘bot check’ broke NDA

Elon Musk on Saturday tweeted that Twitter’s legal team accused him of violating a nondisclosure agreement by revealing that the sample size for the social media platform’s checks on automated users was just 100 accounts.

“Twitter legal just called to complain that I violated their NDA by revealing the bot check sample size is 100!” the Tesla CEO tweeted. “This actually happened.”

Shares of Twitter were down by nearly 10% in pre-market trading on Monday.

Musk Musk on Friday tweeted that his $44-billion cash deal to take the company private was “temporarily on hold” while he awaited data on the proportion of its fake accounts.

He said his team would test “a random sample of 100 followers” on Twitter to identify the bots.

When a user asked Musk to “elaborate on process of filtering bot accounts,” he replied: “I picked 100 as the sample size number, because that is what Twitter uses to calculate <5% fake/spam/duplicate.”

I chuckled.

With power potentially shifting it is becoming necessary to shore up media control. CNN found a quote by Tom Wheeler who wrote on Tech Tank at the Brookings Institution where he is a visiting fellow, “The idea that a handful of platforms can continue to make their own behavioral rules even when those decisions harm the public interest is no longer sustainable.”

Until now, the Trump ousters at Twitter have been fairly successful in making decision they consider to be in the “public interest.” But with power slipping out of their hands they are doubling down on efforts to control “misinformation.”

Even Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now obsessed with controlling information, in the style of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Here is another link. Did you know that Ukraine is the first country, according to Wikipedia, to have a Jewish head of state and head of government? I find this interesting because the countries supporting Ukraine against Russia have shown some ambivalence towards Israel, particularly when the American embassy was moved to Jerusalem as recently as 2018, under Trump’s presidency. I know this has nothing to do with bots, but it does have a lot to do with who is influencing who. This one remains a mystery as it doesn’t quite fit the mold, particularly since Ukraine has typically been a Nazi safe haven.

A Yahoo News report states that in addition to shutting down his opposition in parliament, Zelenskyy is “combining all national TV channels, the program content of which consists mainly of information and/or information-analytical programs, [into] a single information platform of strategic communication” to be called “United News.” This is in order to combat Russian misinformation and “tell the truth about the war.”

It amazes me that when the Freedom Convoy of truckers arrived in Ottawa to protest newly implemented vaccine mandates targeting truckers, Prime Minister Trudeau immediately falsely presumed and reported that the Convoy was funded by Russians. He tried to convince Canadians we had an insurrection on our hands, funded by foreigners, and froze the bank accounts of those who donated to truckers who lost their livelihoods as a result of the mandate.

Maybe Trudeau didn’t get the memo that there was no truth to the Russia collusion campaign Hillary Clinton instigated against President Trump. It does make you wonder what will happen if these people muscle their way into information control.

The most recent report on Twitter bots is that bots now represent in the neighbourhood of 20% of Twitter accounts. Oh, dear.

The Real Misinformation Machine

In Canada Prime Minister Trudeau and his New Democratic/Liberal Coalition are proposing a bill to give the government greater access and ability to censor Canadians on the internet. Prime Minister Trudeau claims the need to combat “misinformation.”

China and Russia are great models of speech censorship. However unlike Canada, the UK and the US, they are not democratic countries. In recent days all three countries have moved towards increasing online censorship. We know, of course, that Liberals/Democrats putting pressure on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube is nothing new. But now it appears to be necessary to go after smaller publications as well.

Governmental powers have discovered how easy it is to create legislation that gives them even more power. We have an example, this week, of the BC government giving itself power to expropriate not only land for Sky Train development but land for development next to Sky Train development. See New legislation to allow BC government to buy more land around SkyTrain for housing

The recent Canadian Liberal coalition with the New Democratic Party is a desperate attempt by the Liberals to retain power following the Emergencies Act fiasco which was implemented under false pretences by the Prime Minister in collusion with the government-funded media. We have yet to see any corroborated news report of actual violence. No weapons were found by the “national guard.” The City of Ottawa needlessly shut down businesses in the area. An anonymous resident of Ottawa reported, I am a local resident. I can confirm that the media put a very false spin on the entire situation. Bars getting out at 2am in the market is more disruptive than this protest ever was. Period!

Squashing a peaceful truckers’ gathering in Ottawa after a sudden vaccine mandate threatened the livelihood of 10% of truckers is simply inexcusable for a democratic country. We are supposedly free to choose our medical procedures in Canada. However, if we make a choice unapproved by the government then we will be verbally attacked in the media and by our Prime Minister, in a very public way, while in private we lose our incomes, businesses and homes. Does that not appear to be a form of coercion? Medical decisions are not to be made under duress of any kind.

BC is the last province to lift its vaccine mandate, on April 8, but federal government vaccine mandates for federal employees and truckers remain in place. This is without any medical support for the current efficacy of the vaccine to prevent infection. The jab should not be distinguished as a vaccine since it does nothing to prevent contracting the current virus.

This is not about health. It is purely political. And that is what is riling Canadians.

Our government is toying with the people because it can. Nobody can stop this. So it appears. All the opposition can do is talk. Either this or the wheels of change are moving painfully slowly.

Yesterday I had a fatalistic moment as I thought about the future of free speech and other democratic freedoms in Canada. Like Elon Musk, on the subject of potential abuse of Artificial Intelligence, I became less fearful. Musk admitted he had resigned himself to a fatalistic acceptance once he realized the powers that could regulate AI abuses were not listening and not inclined to take action. This is not good news. It is a characteristic of totalitarian regimes. People stop resisting because they think it is pointless. Those in power can then have their way with the people.

My battle is not with AI, although we will all suffer as a consequence of the inevitable abuses to come. My battle is with misinformation–the battle for truth over lies. Trudeau, Russia and China peddle in misinformation. As do CNN, MSNBC (who hired Jen Pasaki this week), The New York Times, The Washington Post and other outlets with a similar bias who are at this moment scheming to form an alliance to ‘collectively bargain with Big Tech platforms’ as to which information you and I are to see.

 You can listen to Russell Brand discuss this topic on his April 5 documentary here. The Journalism and Competition and Preservation Act is a bill proposed in the US Senate, intended to create an alliance between Big Tech and Big Media. This merge is not so dissimilar from Trudeau’s merge of the Liberal Party with the NDP to retain power.

As Brand puts it, “…centralized power will have yet more ability to control the narratives that dominate our lives.” Brand points out that this will be at the expense of smaller outlets and independent content creators and asks, “Why would a democratically elected official do something that prohibits the free flow of information?”

The major media outlets point fingers as they repeat a talking point in unison, “The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common….” Apparently, having a bias, other than theirs, is no longer tolerated.

Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn warns about more censorship from Big Tech.

Trudeau, similarly, is working to censor free speech in Canada with the introduction of Bill C-11. The National Post’s First Reading article,The Liberals’ weird obsession with censoring the internet states, “Despite Liberal assurances that C-11 would avoid the “controversial” excesses of its predecessor (Bill C-10), this new bill was also broad enough that it could similarly impose government controls on the content of everything from podcasts to Facebook posts to YouTube channels. If passed, it would create a new position, the Digital Safety Commissioner of Canada, who would have the power to order 24-hour takedowns of a broad swath of “unauthorized” web content.”

We see the same thing happening in the UK. Today’s headline reads, UK censorship bill tasks Big Tech with deciding when something is “illegal” or “fraudulent It refers to the introduction of the Online Safety Bill. A copy of the bill can be found here.

According to Reclaim The Net news , “The bill…gives these tech giants additional powers that aren’t granted to police and the courts, such as the power to set their own rules around how they’ll deal with harmful content.”

The article goes on to say, “By deputizing Big Tech, the Online Safety Bill also creates a dystopian censorship alliance between these powerful companies and the UK government. The government can dictate its censorship requirements directly to its Big Tech enforcers without the police gathering any evidence of an alleged offense and without prosecutors gaining a conviction in a court of law or even a court order.”

The sudden international escalation of censorship is astounding.

In a small counter-effort, Elon Musk purchased stocks in Twitter that made him a major share holder this week and gave him a seat on the Board. This followed a survey he recently conducted of two million people on Twitter, 70% of which believed Twitter does not adhere to principles of free speech.

In the meantime Big Media conglomerates team up to influence Big Tech. What is happening here?

Twitter

I am reminded of the interesting developments around Gamestop. Check out this ThinkSpot podcaster. I am also reminded of the GoFundMe and GiveSendGo accounts started (and cancelled) for truckers. And then there is the recent targeting of the American Frontline Doctors website by Google with, “Reduced display features, lower rankings, or even removal from Google Search results.” What do all three have in common? Ordinary citizens communicating without gatekeepers.

I think what is happening here is really quite simple. There is information that must be concealed from the public. We have the clear example of the CDC with New York Post article, CDC withholding COVID data over fears of misinterpretation: The CDC has admitted it is withholding large portions of COVID-19 data — including on vaccine boosters — from the public because it fears the information could be misinterpreted.

We might not come to the right conclusions if we have all the information, is that right?