The Protection Racket

Trump has a pattern: take something that is working well – DACA, S-CHIP, JCPOA (the Iran nuclear agreement) – break it just a little, then “negotiate.”

So much of the current crisis atmosphere is due to his love of chaos and his mistaking a protection racket for negotiating.

He broke DACA and set up a six-month timetable for Congress to do something about it. The Republicans in Congress refused to reauthorize S-CHIP.

One of the concessions to the Republicans in Congress in the JCPOA was that the president would have to certify that Iran was in compliance every three months. Trump has used that to call into question the United States participation in the deal. Meanwhile, opponents of the deal are explicitly using Trump’s position as a protection racket to get the Europeans to take steps that would damage the deal.

They are particularly active today on Twitter, perhaps because a helpful article by Philip Gordon and Robert Malley was just published. It’s stuff like this:

It’s others, not them, of course, who want to “blow up the deal.” What Dubowitz and others advocate is a “fix” to the “fatal flaws” of the deal enacted by Congress, with no consultation with Iran or the other parties to the JCPOA. That’s not how it works. What Dubowitz and his allies want Congress to do is to enact a bunch of things that will put the US in violation of the deal. They believe, and are tweeting, that this will give Donald Trump leverage to destroy the deal unless the other parties accede to their demands.

Nice store you got there. Would be a shame if it got trashed, the windows broken.

They also are peddling a bunch of lies.

You can find lies on Dubowitz’s timeline too. The US harbors a bunch of people, evil or stupid, who back the deal because they want to “give” (they often use that word) Iran a “massive nuke capability”. Well, no.

They object to a number of things about the JCPOA. That it was not negotiated for all eternity, as no other agreement ever has been. That it does not take every vestige of nuclear technology from Iran. That it does not punish Iran for whatever it is they feel a punishment is warranted.

Those conditions would have made the JCPOA impossible to negotiate. Iran was a party to the negotiations, and no nation will give up everything.

What is it these opponents of the deal want? Ultimately, it looks to me like they want Iran gutted and laid out to die. In the more immediate future, they are moving toward a war with Iran, although they strenuously deny that.

The IAEA inspectors find no breaches by Iran of the agreement. The other parties to the agreement – Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, and the EU – are satisfied with that. Additional agreements can be negotiated on missiles (explicitly not a part of the JCPOA, because there never would have been an agreement), further nuclear issues, and other issues of concern. But the opponents focus on “fixing” the JCPOA by destroying it.

Looks to me like some bad faith there.

The article by Gordon and Malley is worth reading for more specifics on the JCPOA and its opponents. I recommend it.


Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner.

65 replies
  1. 1
    SFAW says:

    I keep hoping that I am wrong, and that there really exists a Just God, because s/he would smite those motherfuckers. Every single one of them. In a way that would “set an example” for all the potential asshole motherfucker RWNJs that would remain.

  2. 2
    debbie says:

    It’s tougher to see his failings and inadequacies when chaos is swirling around the room. It’s how he’s made every deal in his life.

    Also, hasn’t Trump stated that the most recent certification would be his last?

  3. 3
    JPL says:

    The president has already shown that his word means nothing, and our foreign allies are left with working with each other. The one thing Trump will accomplish is America alone.

  4. 4
    Calouste says:

    The shitgibbon desperately wants to nuke North Korea or Iran. I mean, for the protection racket to really work, you need to smash up a shop first. And to quote, what’s the point in nuclear weapons if you don’t use them?

  5. 5
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    It’s like our own internal politics is some kind of virus that’s spreading to consume the rest of the world, too.

  6. 6
    Marcopolo says:

    Hey fellow jackals. Sitting in a coffee house getting ready to start in on this weeks GOTV postcards for Ethan Perkinson (MO State House 39). The special election in on Feb. 6th. Last week the group did 1200 in 2.5 hours for a different candidate.

    If you’d like to kick in a campaign donation of any amount here is his ACTBlue page

    Hope everyone is having a great day. Looks to hit 65 or 70 here. And I haven’t been keeping up with threads—any word on OzarkH’s son?

  7. 7
    lowtechcyclist says:

    Simple question to ask anyone who advocates fucking with the Iran agreement:

    “Why do you want Iran to have nukes?”

  8. 8
    patrick II says:

    Do not be surprised if the Russians have an Airbase in Iran in the not-too-distant future

  9. 9
  10. 10
    lowtechcyclist says:

    In the more immediate future, they are moving toward a war with Iran, although they strenuously deny that.

    Because our last war in that part of the world worked out so well.

    But if we scotched the Iran deal, war would be the only way to keep them from having nukes. But there’d be no guarantee that even that would work. And how many of Iran’s 80 million people would be ‘collateral damage’?

    Horrible every which way.

  11. 11
    lowtechcyclist says:

    Another thing that really worked out well: Shrub ditching the Agreed Framework with North Korea.

    Any reason to believe ditching the Iran deal would work out any better for us?

  12. 12
    efgoldman says:

    I’ve been maintaining for more than a year that Tangerine Tumor can’t find Iran on a map. I’ve seen nothing to change my mind.
    He doesn’t know or care what’s in the document, what it allows, what it forbids. The inspections regime means nothing to him. In his stupidity, ignorance and mendacity, all he knows is that Obama negotiated the deal, with support from HRC, so it is bad and must be dumped.


  13. 13
    smedley the uncertain says:

    @Calouste: It also sets him up as a wartime president so he has to be re-elected for continuity’s sake. Don’t change horses in mid war…

  14. 14
    Victory says:

    Forget where I saw this, but read the opinion that Trump etc all. Can’t negotiate well because all he/they knows how to do is win/lose deals. I win, you lose. This can work in ,say, real estate. But, for international treaties and deals, these are all a win/win deal, where there is something for both parties to walk away with. I find this very on point.

  15. 15
    Zinsky says:

    @lowtechcyclist: Great question – the old Neocon saying in the Bush Administration was something to the effect that, “it’s OK to go into Baghdad but real men go into Tehran”. It’s all dick wagging for these phony, right-wing cowards like Dubya, Cheney and Trump, all of whom got deferments from Vietnam. Everyone of them would blubber like a baby if they got so much as a punch in the nose. I’ve known spoiled, rich privileged turds like Bush and Trump in my life and every one is a cowardly sissy when it comes right down to it!

  16. 16


    Also, hasn’t Trump stated that the most recent certification would be his last?

    To be honest, I don’t keep track of his exact words. He changes and redefines his terms so often, that it’s hard to know what he is likely to do. I think he said something like that, which is the lever people like Dubowitz are using: “The Europeans better get behind Trump, or he’ll tear up the deal. And it will be all their fault.”


    Simple question to ask anyone who advocates fucking with the Iran agreement:

    “Why do you want Iran to have nukes?”

    The opponents’ response to this is that the JCPOA itself leads directly to Iran’s having nukes, and they are trying to save us from that fate. They’ve never fully worked out that reasoning, as far as I’ve seen.

  17. 17
    efgoldman says:


    Trump etc all. Can’t negotiate well because all he/they knows how to do is win/lose deals.

    He can’t negotiate because he’s dumb as granite and twice as dense.
    The fact that he couldn’t touch good faith with a ten foot Lithuanian doesn’t help.

  18. 18
    Davebo says:


    Because Iran having nukes, or a credible possibility they will have them soon, is the perfect justification for pre-emptive war with Iran.

    And what they want is war with Iran.

  19. 19
    Bex says:

    Thread-appropriate name for Trump: Cheeto Corleone.

  20. 20
    JMG says:

    War with Iraq: We lost
    War in Afghanistan: Now 17 years in. Not winning
    War with Iran? It would combine the worst features of the above two wars and then some.

  21. 21
    jl says:


    ” And what they want is war with Iran. ‘

    They want to risk regional catastrophe for the profits of endless war. It is criminal, maybe not in the narrow legalistic sense of the word, but criminal.

    And speaking of criminal, I think it is time we start using that term for Trumpsters, GOP and GOP SCOTUS. I think that is what it is coming to.
    Take DACA for example. A kid is brought here by his or her parents when he or she was 2 or 3, and the US deports them to a country where they have no means at all of surviving. I think that is a human rights crime. Anyone who supports that kind of policy is committing a human rights crime, including the the apparently sacrosanct, but IMHO very incompetent and corrupt GOP SCOTUS thugs. Anyone in executive, legislative or judicial branch who supports such a policy is a criminal. Need to say that very clearly.

  22. 22
    James E. Powell says:

    @patrick II:

    I’m not expecting Iran and Russia to become that close. I’m sure they may buddy up on an ad hoc basis when the moment is opportune for both. But I don’t see Iran hosting anybody’s airbases.

  23. 23
    Ruckus says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    They’ve never fully worked out that reasoning, as far as I’ve seen.

    What reasoning do they ever fully work out? They do the first two of a hundred possible steps and jump to conclusions. If they did the first 50 of those hundred they would jump to different conclusions but still be wrong. It takes too much work to reason out all the steps and the real conclusions never fit their preconceived notions so they aren’t going to even try.

  24. 24
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    I agree, but since when have the modern GOP cared about human rights violations? To them, “human rights” and “war crimes” are globalist plots. They don’t give a damn what the U.N. says but are more than willing to use it as a cudgel when it suits them. My money says they would brazen sanctions on human rights violations out until they couldn’t, then transform the United States into a fascist, militaristic nation bent on global revenge.

  25. 25
    Ruckus says:

    That was a nice chuckle! I see you are feeling better?

  26. 26
    jl says:

    @Ruckus: When these people babble away about how an air bombing campaign for a couple of days would Solve All Problems, they just cannot be that stupid and that ignorant. They want to get an endless war started so their buddies can make money, and they can use it for political advantage to gain more power. So, what is left? Criminality.

    The c-word (as in ‘criminal’) needs to be used more for these people, and for quite a few of their proposed policies.

  27. 27
    Davebo says:


    That’s the term I’ve been using for a long time.

  28. 28
    Gvg says:

    @jl: i don’t actually see sandy evidence that most of them are smart enough to own stock or in some way profit off war. They just want war. Someone else will be our soldiers in harms way of course but after “they” beat up hated smaller country they think they will feel great”….or something like that. Sometimes I want to blame video games but actually I think that’s backwards. Video games exist because people really do have strong fantasies about stories like that. Most of us know not to believe stories but enough don’t.

  29. 29
    Eric S. says:


    ten foot Lithuanian

    Typo or what is the reference?

  30. 30

    I wish it were as simple as war profits. Some of these folks are allied with the hard Israeli rightwing that wants Iran removed from the face of the earth. I do think that the macho stance that Gvg describes is part of it, maybe a big part. I keep wondering, too, if some really believe what they’re saying. There is at least one person involved whom I respected until he started the drumbeat against Iran.

  31. 31
    jl says:

    @Gvg: They don’t have to be smart enough to make money in a half honest way. They know that defense contractors and neocon billionaire money bags will pour money into their campaigns, and when they leave office, whatever wingnut welfare hack jobs they take.

    So, criminals, and very corrupt criminals. They way things are going, and if they get their way, I think there will be a much better case for extradition to The Hague for trial for international human rights crimes than the fairly solid case against Dick Cheney.

  32. 32
    B.B.A. says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I think the reasoning is that Obama is a secret Muslim and wants Iran to have nukes, thus any deal he made must make it easier for them to get them. Instead, we ought to keep tripling and quadrupling down on sanctions until they agree to reinstate the Pahlavi dynasty. (I’m probably exaggerating their position here, but I don’t know if I am.)

  33. 33
    TriassicSands says:

    “I keep hoping that I am wrong, and that there really exists a Just God…”

    I know how you feel, but you are right. Given all the available evidence, the likelihood that there is a “Just God” is effectively zero. And if there is a “Just God,” he/she/it is so weak that it doesn’t make any difference if he/she/it is “just.”

    The old cliche — If God is omnipotent, then he/she/it can’t be all good; and if he/she/it is all good, he/she/it can’t be omnipotent — has to be true if your hoped for God exists, which he/she/it doesn’t.

    I understand the impulse to want to believe in a Just God, but there simply isn’t any evidence one exists. However, a case could be made for an Unjust God. Exhibit A = Donald J. Trump. Exhibit B = the GOP. Exhibit C = Trump supporters and Republican voters.

  34. 34

    @B.B.A.: You are exaggerating what they say, but I suspect that may be part of it.

  35. 35


    They just want war.

    I think even that is going too far. A few of them see profit. A few of them specifically want war, mainly neocons and media people. Most of them can only understand foreign affairs in terms of bullying. War works for them, but Iran cowering and declaring that America has scared them into complete submission probably would, along with some kind of harsh penalty like a hundred billion dollar indemnity. Just so long as America hurts everyone who doesn’t suck up to us, and is rewarded for it. Hell, for a lot of them, some macho posturing and calling the other guy evil, and they’re happy.

  36. 36

    That they believe Obama is a Muslim and hates America and any deal he negotiated must necessarily have been designed to help terrorists is absolutely a big part of the conservative attitude towards this deal. That was the whole core of Benghazi, that it was obvious to most Republicans that Obama helped terrorists kill our diplomats, and we only needed to investigate to figure out the details.

  37. 37
    Tenar Arha says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: IMHO there’s just too many end-of-the-worlders in our government who would prefer to egg Israel into an untenable situation to bring on the second coming.

  38. 38

    @Tenar Arha: I’ve wondered about that. But many JCPOA opponents, certainly most of the ones I see, are not of that persuasion.

  39. 39
    jl says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Perhaps. I think what you say is probably true for some of them. I forget which GOP presidential primary conperson claimed that they would start bombing Iran the first day in office. Would they do that? Doubtful, but they thought that they could win an election with murderous BS like that.

    On the other hand, the GW Bush administration did invade Iraq. I opposed the invasion, went to protests, wrote letters and called my reps and Senator. I hoped against hope it was a clever ruse up until the day of the invasion. Some of these people will commit crimes for money and power. I believe that to be the truth. The Iraq invasion, and ensuing disaster, did happen. Some of these people have enough brain cells to understand that military action against Iran would be an order of magnitude worse, but they would do it anyway.

  40. 40
    debbie says:


    Nothing to do with profits. It’s been said that Trump has been musing about the benefit of a terrorist attack to his approval rating and his reelection campaign.

  41. 41
    jl says:

    @debbie: If solid evidence of that, add another item to that criminal’s bill of impeachment.

  42. 42
    Marcopolo says:

    @Marcopolo: in case the thread is still live here’s Ethan Perkinson’s campaign page. Actblue link on it. Not sure what happened with my earlier post.

  43. 43
    , says:

    Oh, absolutely. The neocons specifically want war, believing that American hegemony is within easy grasp. Cheney himself signed a paper saying that if America could find an excuse to invade Iraq, topple its government, and install a puppet democracy, the rest of the Middle East would suddenly realize America is the bestest ever, adore us, and willingly sign on to become puppets too. And the neocons are concentrated in high positions in government. I don’t see much sign of them in Trump’s administration, but they can hide in plain sight.

  44. 44

    […] Cross-posted to Balloon Juice. […]

  45. 45
    H.E.Wolf says:

    @Eric S.:
    It’s a play on words. Old idiom: “wouldn’t touch something with a ten-foot pole”… morphed into “Pole”, the nationality… morphed into “Lithuanian”, another Eastern European nationality.

  46. 46
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    There is at least one person involved whom I respected until he started the drumbeat against Iran.

    I have had way too many occasions to say this over the last couple of years, but white supremacy is a hell of a drug. There are a LOT of people who prefer to cling to that rather than admit that, say, Iran might have some good reasons to be pissed off at the US.

  47. 47
    efgoldman says:

    @Eric S.: Aw c’mon. If you have to explain the joke….
    as someone did, above. You’re not an academic, are you?

  48. 48
    Tenar Arha says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: It’s the overall support for the end times stuff outside that circle that is concerning. The ones that are paranoid about Iran, the ones agitating to end the agreement, don’t control or really understand what might happen after the first breaking of agreements.

    It’s one of those situations where it really feels like this group doesn’t understand they’re playing with fire. In fact I think the *current hard-line Israelis really don’t understand our branch of Christian evangelicals at all, or how much courting them has already backfired. It’s really killing the traditional cross party support for Israel.

    ETA added “OT” & *current hard-line

  49. 49
    Tom says:

    @lowtechcyclist: Actually, I pretty much guarantee that unless we used nukes, war with Iran would fail beyond measure. Of course, if we used nukes, the Pakistanis would slip the surviving Iranians nukes to smuggle into the US, so either way we’d be fucked. Most Americans and Iranians wouldn’t deserve it, but Trump, the oligarchs and the Republican Party would.

  50. 50
    Gravenstone says:

    @Eric S.: As opposed to a ten foot Pole


  51. 51
    sharl says:

    Well Cheryl, I hope you don’t receive one of those cease-&-desist letters that Iran hawk Tom Cotton (R-EvangelicalArmageddonCountry) has been sending to some of his unhappy in-state constituents.

  52. 52

    @sharl: I have no reason to communicate with Tom Cotton. I haven’t received one of his STFU letters. Seems like a heck of a way to communicate with his constituents, but what do I know?

    I haven’t gotten a Twitter email that says I followed or liked a Russian bot either. I’ve been pretty consistent in blocking them when I see them.

    Or maybe my email isn’t working.

  53. 53
    Boatboy_srq says:

    @JPL: The thing with isolationism is that it’s the choice of that people or nation that chooses to withdraw. BEING isolated -shunned by the civilised world – is an entirely different condition, and one those who wish to cut off the rest of the planet on their own terms will find most uncomfortable very quickly.

  54. 54
    sharl says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I rarely check the e-mail account I gave Twitter, so I don’t know if I’ve been sent anything; I need to check that.

    The Russian bot business is interesting. I’ve been meaning to see what has been written (if anything) about the algorithm Twitter has been using to make their assessments, but I doubt that it is public.

    I follow a few Russia Truthers (or whatever they should be called) who are highly skeptical of large-scale RU-IRA interference in US affairs, and they’ve mentioned getting the letter. One of them – a (historically) good reporter, but a highly flawed human – reflexively points the finger at the #Resistance crowd. I suppose it’s possible that some of those pro-Hillary folks could coordinate mass reporting to Twitter in the same manner that the alt-right crowd likes to do, but he’s offered no proof. He is fluent in Russian and reported from there for a number of years, so I’m sure his follow/follower list by itself would probably earn him such a notice.

    What a time to be alive!!!

  55. 55
    gene108 says:

    What is it these opponents of the deal want? Ultimately, it looks to me like they want Iran gutted and laid out to die. In the more immediate future, they are moving toward a war with Iran, although they strenuously deny that.

    Like Bush & Co. didn’t do enough damage to this country by invading Iraq. A war with Iran would kill us.

    Conservatives want to destroy this country.

  56. 56

    Trump has a pattern: take something that is working well – DACA, S-CHIP, JCPOA (the Iran nuclear agreement) – break it just a little, then “negotiate.”

    So much of the current crisis atmosphere is due to his love of chaos and his mistaking a protection racket for negotiating.

    I think that’s a bit too limited. Other than not having the Presidency so they could break something through executive action, isn’t that how the Republicans have been working since 2008? Trying to force a crisis one way or another, to squeeze out concessions?

    In 2000-2008, of course, they, uh, erected their war machine, to stroke their base, so to speak[1]. They had brokenness handed to them by Al Qaeda, and everything was a protection racket, only they were connected; during the Obama years, they were no longer connected[2], but they still had their status as “law abiding businessmen” and a media willing to treat them as honorable people.

    This isn’t any different from how Republicans have been acting for a long time; Trump learned to ape Republicans well, and since he’s even more intellectually vacuous than most Republican leadership, he had even less difficulty saying “the quiet part loud” and letting his hate flag fly.

    Shrug. Paul Ryan has been playing this game as long as he’s had the majority, pretending that once the House passes bill, the Senate *must* pass the bill, and it’s not his fault if the bill is toxic, because they did pass *a* bill, and won’t consider another. And the Senate was seriously discussing letting the Supreme Court sit at 8 members for four years. Trump isn’t changing anything – he’s just more vulgar in his operations.

    [1] Yes, that was deliberate double entendre; not “innuendo” which I’ve been told doubles as a suppository with an Italian accent
    [2] “connected” as in, “mob connected, considered one of ‘them'”. They had actual power, so they were no longer mere “hooligans” as they were in 2009-2016

  57. 57
    Boatboy_srq says:

    @lowtechcyclist: The only way for the US to “win” a war with Iran is to irradiate the entire nation as permanently lifeless as nuclear bombardment permits. There are too many Iranians, with too much ordnance, too many places to hide and too much national pride to surrender. The only two reasons to attack Iran given that situation are to placate the Saudis (who have little reason to tolerate the US outside the recurring custom of crude purchases) and to sequester Iranian reserves (which after nuking would be unusable for centuries until the contamination decays). This is a move that the Kremlin and AQ would design: it makes the US a global pariah, it shreds Shi’a leadership and influence, and it makes Wahhabism more influential and far richer, all of which will damage Western interests in the region.

  58. 58
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Isn’t their reasoning as simple as “Iran will get nukes unless we invade and overthrow their government, therefore anything that prevents war with Iran is bad”?

  59. 59
    Bill Arnold says:

    Re the “the sun never sets, ever” demand, I’m reminded of the
    Trump staffer confidentiality agreement (alleged) that is eternal, applying “during the term of your service and at all times thereafter”.
    I wonder how many JCPOA critics would be willing to sign that Trump document.

  60. 60

    @Matt McIrvin: I think that’s part of their baseline reasoning, but it also goes further than that. The nukes are an excuse to at least isolate, and maybe invade, Iran, which is the primary goal.

  61. 61
    Bill Arnold says:


    Also, hasn’t Trump stated that the most recent certification would be his last?

    Yes, he did (or rather, at least an administration official did):

    “This is the last such waiver [the President] will issue,” said a senior administration official briefing reporters, threatening that the administration could still pull out of the deal.

    Note the multiple ways that this could be true. (Deeply irritated with POTUS Trump about his profound ignorance about and handling of nuclear arms issues, both international and domestic.)

  62. 62
    Ruckus says:


    they just cannot be that stupid and that ignorant

    They can be and they are. They can also be fucking assholes.
    Yes they may be doing all they can for the money alone. But doing this for money alone makes them fucking ignorant assholes, who have no understanding of the real world. They live in a twisted fantasy world where they are always on top and get everyone else to do what they want which in the end is at huge cost to them and everyone else. And we know this because we have history to show us that their bullshit doesn’t work. That makes them fucking stupid. I don’t care what they might score on an IQ test or how well they can fog up a mirror, doing the same stupid shit over and over again thinking that this time it will work, when it never has in all of history is fucking stupid.

  63. 63
    Ruckus says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    I keep wondering, too, if some really believe what they’re saying.

    Of this there is no doubt in my mind, they do really believe it. Most racists fall into this, they really believe the crap the say. No amount of evidence or history will change that. They only believe what they see with their lying eyes, because that’s what they want to believe. The trick is that the bullshit has been repeated over and over their entire lives, all you have to do is listen to them talk. Or listen to faux news. It’s been hounded into their tiny little minds over and over until everything else has been beat out. Talk to anyone who has been in scientology for a time, they’ve swallowed an entire solar system’s worth of bullshit without any doubt at all.

  64. 64
    Bill Arnold says:


    The Russian bot business is interesting. I’ve been meaning to see what has been written (if anything) about the algorithm Twitter has been using to make their assessments, but I doubt that it is public.

    Interesting question. Looked around briefly, did not find any papers yet by Twitter employees but maybe missed any. I would expect, unless shown otherwise, that they used an ad-hoc combination of network analysis (and etc) supplemented by human judgement.

    People might find this worth reading; lots of refs and some detail.
    Computational Propaganda in Russia : The Origins of Digital Misinformation
    Section “Identifying Russian Bots on Twitter” is light but maybe helpful.

    And this is interesting because it asserts that a lot of Trump-bots were reused during the French presidential campaign.
    Disinformation and social bot operations in the run up to the 2017 French presidential election

    Also digesting this, less immediately practical:
    Letting the Gorilla Emerge From the Mist: Getting Past Post-Trut
    a response to responses to a paper on “innoculation”
    Neutralizing misinformation through inoculation: Exposing misleading argumentation techniques reduces their influence

  65. 65
    sharl says:

    @Bill Arnold: Thanks for the links, which I hope to get to this week.

    I did read something from The Outline this week that praised Twitter’s response on this issue in comparison to Facebook’s. [It’s a shame it wasn’t the other way around, since FB has a much larger market share among social media platforms of this type (FB, Twitter, and Google – mostly via it’s YouTube app).]

    The Outline piece (about 9 paragraphs long, not too long of a piece):

    Twitter and Facebook have very different ideas about “fake news.” One of them is terribly wrong.Hint: It’s Facebook.

    What’s interesting about Twitter’s announcement aren’t the numbers or percentages or tallies, but rather what it says about how the company views itself. Twitter could have easily followed in Facebook’s footsteps and published a scarce amount of data on the role its platform played in the 2016 election. The company could have chosen to hide the most disturbingly concrete details deep in some congressional testimony, or in an obscure corner of some awfully designed website. But it didn’t.

    After months of statements from Facebook so awkwardly-worded they seem like they were written by the world’s laziest neural network, “Update on Twitter’s Review of the 2016 U.S. Election” reads like poetry. It’s human and surprisingly apologetic. Even when delivering sobering statistics (like that the 50,258 identified Russian bots were definitely tweeting election related content), Twitter’s researchers doesn’t fall back on weak qualifiers and legalese-padded excuses. They admit they fucked up, plain and simple.

    Here’s the Twitter post that’s linked in The Outline piece: Update on Twitter’s Review of the 2016 U.S. Election. It’s hard to discern the “They admit they fucked up” thing in that Twitter blog post; it’s certainly not presented as any kind of unadorned, blunt admission. But it’s much, much better than anything Facebook has done on this front.
    ……..(I haven’t followed Google/YouTube quite as much, other than reading a couple of the stories of YouTube accounts which offer creepy/disturbing videos targeting kids; as I recall, Google has been pretty responsive once that stuff was brought to their attention. It’s a shame they didn’t apparently have any task groups working on this sort of thing proactively as a preventative measure.)

    The Twitter post doesn’t provide any methodology, but given that they are well positioned to analyze traffic patterns and originating servers/IPs on their own network, I think that a lot can be surmised from that alone (note that I am only a PC user, not a computer, software, or network person of any kind).

    The final paragraph of the Twitter post acknowledges that this problem will not be solved in the foreseeable future (if ever), kind of like MAD Magazine’s Spy-vs-Spy without end.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Cross-posted to Balloon Juice. […]

Comments are closed.