A viral movement featuring Democrats who have left their party under the hashtag #WalkAway was just relegated to Russian Bot status by CNN, which published op-ed by David A. Love on Tuesday uncritically citing propaganda website "Hamilton 88" as evidence that Russia - not an organic movement - is fueling the hashtag's popularity.
#WalkAway has also now been connected to Kremlin-linked Russian bots, and it is now the seventh most popular Russia-influenced hashtag as of this writing, according to the website Hamilton 68, which tracks Russian influence on Twitter -CNN
The Walk Away campaign was launched by New York hairstylist Brandon Straka in late May, who created a Facebook page and posted a video explaining what the movement is about.
It is my sincere hope that you will join me in this campaign and that we may start a movement in this country- which not only encourages others to walk away from the divisive left, but also takes back the narrative from the liberal media about what it means to be a conservative in America. It is up to all of us to make our voices heard and reclaim the truth.
The Democratic Party has taken for granted that it owns racial, sexual, and religious minorities in America. It has encouraged groupthink, hypocrisy, division, stereotyping, resentment, and the acceptance of victimhood mentality. And all the while, they have discouraged minorities from having independent thought, open dialogue, measured and informed opinion, and a motivation to succeed.
Hamilton 68, meanwhile, is run by The Alliance for Securing Democracy and funded by the US and NATO states. It claims to track Russian bots, however it's impossible to verify their claims, as the group does not disclose their methodology - yet anti-Trump politicians and pundits alike repeat its claims uncritically. On their advisory council are NeverTrumpers Bill Kristol and David Kramer - the guy John McCain sent to London to meet with Christopher Steele and bring back the discredited Trump-Russia dossier.
US media outlets love to accuse other countries of being easily propagandized. They should look at who created "Hamilton68," the full secrecy behind it, and how mindlessly US media treats its decrees as truth. It's an amazing propaganda success https://t.co/iKjKyJc0Xy— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 19, 2018
As we concluded when we initially profiled the platform and the organization behind it, the online tool is lacking in any semblance of scientific data-driven analysis, and its conclusions are thus meaningless. It exists to give gullible audiences the illusion that a data analysis driven tech tool produced via a "bipartisan" think tank has meticulously and objectively proven the "there's a Russia connection lurking behind every corner" conspiracy theory.
Unless I am reading this wrong, it shows Russians bought ads to try and help Democrat causes? 🤔 🤷🏻♂️ pic.twitter.com/6f8TLzKaa7— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) September 27, 2017
The dashboard more often targets hugely popular independent news sites like Robert Parry's Consortium News, The Federalist, Breitbart, and WikiLeaks. As The New York Times noted in September, "Of 80 news stories promoted last week by those accounts, more than 25 percent 'had a primary theme of anti-Americanism'".
Of course, it's impossible to know what, according to the site's designers, "anti-Americanism" means, but it no doubt involves articles which are critical of US foreign policy. This means that if a Washington Post or Reuters article, for example, highlights "staggering" Iraqi civilian deaths under US coalition bombings, that article would likely register as "anti-American" by the platform and its creators. By such methods, the Washington Post, Reuters, and numerous independent sites are brought under suspicion alongside RT News and Sputnik. But "anti-American" could also simply mean any article produced by a site that Hamilton 68's creators don't like. Again, the data is meaningless.
With virtually every recent controversial topic which has made headlines pitting conservatives against leftists, Hamilton 68 will claim - absent any evidence, that "Russia" is pushing the conservative side of the argument.
Earlier this year, Hamilton 68 was behind claims by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) that Russian bots were behind a campaign to release a memo created by the House Intel Committee GOP majority:
On January 23, public interest in the memo from the majority of the intelligence committee had been high, as evidenced by the demand to #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. When the hashtag went viral, Schiff had a theory that it wasn’t the American public that was interested in abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Nope, it was Russians! Secret Russian bots were trying to make it look like Americans were interested in FISA abuse against a Trump campaign affiliate.
When Schiff advanced his theory that it was Russian bots — not Americans — who cared about FISA abuse, he received typical friendly media coverage. But when Twitter and Facebook refuted the claim, media outlets either downplayed it or pretended it didn’t matter.
Hamilton 68’s claim — later refuted by Twitter and Facebook — formed the entire basis of Schiff’s theory that it was Russian bots, not real Americans, who wanted to learn about FISA abuse by the FBI. Asked to respond to Hamilton 68’s claim, Twitter responded, “Because the Hamilton Dashboard’s account list is not available to the public, we are unable to offer any specific context on the accounts it includes.” They added, “We have offered to review the list of accounts contained in the Dashboard and this offer remains open.” -The Federalist
Even BuzzFeed noted the link: "The thing is, nearly every time you see a story blaming Russian bots for something, you can be pretty sure that the story can be traced back to a single source: the Hamilton 68 dashboard
But even some of the people who popularized that metric now acknowledge it’s become totally overblown.
“I’m not convinced on this bot thing,” said Watts, the cofounder of a project that is widely cited as the main, if not only, source of information on Russian bots. He also called the narrative “overdone.”
Sorry disillusioned Democrats, your story is now part of a Russian meddling effort thanks to a highly cited and completely unverifiable propaganda website.
As long as Russia exists the Democrats will never have another political victory https://t.co/Bs6ZBV3QpF— GreekFire23 (@GreekFire23) July 18, 2018