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The Walk to Freedom

This is how governments are using fake online accounts to manipulate you

Negative comments on your social-media posts might just be the work of standard Internet trolls. But it could actually be a bit more sinister.

An article recently published by The Guardian details the Russian troll house, a government agency that hires people to post pro-Russian and anti-Western blogs and comments. Though it may be surprising that this is happening in Russia, it certainly isn’t new.

In 2011 the U.S. security company HBGary Federal was hacked by Anonymous and over 70,000 emails were leaked to the public. Among these emails were communications describing the government acquisition of fake online accounts for what they called “Online Persona Management.”

This practice is called “sock puppeting” and can have serious detrimental effects on politics, privacy, and journalism.

We need to consider that the foundation of a democracy is not just a well-informed public, but the ability to communicate without fear of government intrusion. If our communications and ideas are being manipulated, how can we be sure we are making well-informed decisions?

This is how governments are using fake online accounts to manipulate you

Negative comments on your social-media posts might just be the work of standard Internet trolls. But it could actually be a bit more sinister.

An article recently published by The Guardian details the Russian troll house, a government agency that hires people to post pro-Russian and anti-Western blogs and comments. Though it may be surprising that this is happening in Russia, it certainly isn’t new.

In 2011 the U.S. security company HBGary Federal was hacked by Anonymous and over 70,000 emails were leaked to the public. Among these emails were communications describing the government acquisition of fake online accounts for what they called “Online Persona Management.”

This practice is called “sock puppeting” and can have serious detrimental effects on politics, privacy, and journalism.

We need to consider that the foundation of a democracy is not just a well-informed public, but the ability to communicate without fear of government intrusion. If our communications and ideas are being manipulated, how can we be sure we are making well-informed decisions?

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