back to article Reddit 'fesses up to just a little Russian reaming

Searchers for Russian influence on the United States 2016 presidential election have of late swung their searchlights towards Reddit, which has tried to explain its role in the affair. Co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman, aka "Spez", took to the site on Monday March 5th with a his thoughts on the matter. Titled "In response to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Exceptionalists always have issues with reality and nonsense

    "I believe the biggest risk we face as Americans is our own ability to discern reality from nonsense, and this is a burden we all bear."

    Americans you always have it as long as American mentality stays as it is now. The issue is American exceptionalism - something which is drilled into them from the cradle to the grave. Exceptionalism ALWAYS leads to gullibility because it requires and implies lack of critical thinking about your country, yourself and national identity. As long as Americans even have foundations promoting American exceptionalism the ability to rig American public opinion will not go away.

    This is not the way this story ends though.

    In order to drag Russia out of the Eltsin mud Putin seeded and promoted similar exceptionalism there too(*). A couple of years back on New Years Eve we were sitting in a restaurant on the Canaries on a table next to a Russian family. We ended up having to move. I could not bare listening the exceptionalist "Because you are Russian" brainwashing the kid was being subjected to and my daughter (who understands Russian and was same age) started asking very pointed questions. So while the current Russian generation still has some cynicism and critical thinking left over from days past, the incoming one will be as gullible and easy to game as the Americans.

    That does not bode well for the world as a whole. One set of gullible infantiles with nuclear weapons is more than enough. We do not need two.

    (*)While American always had an exceptionalist streak, the current level of America Uber Alles is a product of a national program courtesy of Ronnie Raygun. It got them out of the identity crisis their nation suffered after the Vietnam war. They are starting to pay off the gullibility debt on it now and will be paying it off for decades to come.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Exceptionalists always have issues with reality and nonsense

      ....'Exceptionalism ALWAYS leads to gullibility because it requires and implies lack of critical thinking about your country, yourself and national identity'.....

      All true! Americans just don't have any real Self-Awareness. Perhaps because, its seen as a weakness. Take the military for example... If you have to deliberate, then maybe you're indecisive. Whereas, taking a step back and accessing things properly or deeply, that's not the 'America Fuck Yeah' way!

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Exceptionalists always have issues with reality and nonsense

      I believe the biggest risk we face as Americans is our own ability to discern reality from nonsense

      Also having gutted the education system doesn't help (and the US are not alone in this) - instead of trying to teach kids to think for themselves, all that is now required is to slavishly follow textbooks approved (and often written) by whichever political party is in power in thet area.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Exceptionalists always have issues with reality and nonsense

        I don't - but I'm from Yorkshire and so I'm obviously better than everyone else.

    3. Mitoo Bobsworth

      Re: Exceptionalists always have issues with reality and nonsense

      To be fair, there are Americans who have withstood the standard diet of bullshit & snake oil well - it's just a shame that we seldom get to see or hear them through the constant noise & haze of media sensationalism.

      Television - the drug of the Nation - breeding ignorance - & feeding radiation.

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    ""I believe the biggest risk we face.. is our own ability to discern reality from nonsense""

    What a surprising degree of self knowledge that demonstrates.

    I understand Russian schoolchildren have to write an essay entitled "Why Russia is the best country in the world."

    Just the same American school children have to write an essay entitled "Why America is the best country in the world."

    The honest answer is of course (like every other country) "xxxx has some good points and some bad points."

    The real purpose is to allow the self deluded to preen and the rest to learn how to bu***hit and lie.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As someone from a significantly smaller country

    I can see some of the same things happening on my national news sites, especially their Facebook pages.

    I can't all be Russian propaganda, but propaganda is surely the most effective when you're only doing a bit of light nudging (something we've all learned to live with, rather than fight against, during our trips to the shops for instance) and can provide the most outspoken (though not most reflective) with semi-convincing talking points.

    Of course it doesn't help, that numerous countries are in the midst of cutting on the social efforts made to help and lift those in need. It doesn't help that society is putting more and more pressure on all of us to grow the economy (ostensibly to continue having a good social system), while doing cuts on social services, so people are pressured to work harder for no readily perceivable benefit, while seeing billionaires pulling money out of the system for their own little greedy desires.

    Russian propaganda is very real and is a threat. We should, however, also recognize that a poor social system, where people are easily lost in the system, caught in Kafkaesque nightmare or simply don't see any fairness because apparently there are different sets of rules for different people, provide a great soil for that propaganda to grow.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: As someone from a significantly smaller country

      Russian Propoganda is real, as is American, but that doesn't mean it's a threat unless we allow it to be.

      The best defense against this kind of behaviour is education and an ability to think critically (and be allowed to express those thoughts). However, since these attributes are the exact opposite of what the ruling class wants then yes, it is a threat (but only because we have hamstrung our own defenses).

      It's a bit like bad weather can be a threat, but only if you go out in it without being properly prepared. These days most people don't know how to cope with weather :)

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: As someone from a significantly smaller country

        The best defense against this kind of behaviour is education

        Ding ding! Give that gentlebeing a cigar.

        And the right type of education - the sort that teaches kids to think for themselves and not just pointlessly able to regurgitate whatever 'facts' have been drummed into them.

  4. jimdandy

    Whatever mind-control is being implemented, the true choice is based on home life, local culture, and social norms. If you watch Russian approved TV and it's websites, you get one single view of the world.

    If you have access to CNBC and other sites, you get another viewpoint. If you get FNBC, you get another viewpoint of the world.

    The trick is, do you buy everything that is being sold, or do you dig deeper and find another level of ideas and "wisdom" that fits your world? None of these sources are trying to teach you, expose you to new ideas, or make you think about what is possible.

    They exist to make you think along the lines of what they are selling. And anyone who is trying to tell you what you "should" think is a lying sack of shit.

    Once you know that, you are free to find out what you need to know, and then what you should think.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      I do try to ingest multiple views of the same event n order to see where all the spin is, but I'm really struggling to find information sources that are even remotely unbiased.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        You don't need to find unbiased sources (there's not many because everything is subjective), you need to find sources with opposing bias. The parts where they agree are probably correct.

        If you can't find both, picking a source that's ideologically different to you will help, because you'll probably notice most of their biases yourself.

        1. Steve the Cynic

          @phuzz: Spot on. When I worked for ... let's just say ... a large American supplier of financial data and news, it was possible to see news feeds from all around the world, in the language(s) of your choice.

          So I turned on a range of English-language feeds and dipped into them.

          Oh my, that was an eye-opener. Comparing AFP (Agence France Presse), UP (United Press), PTI (Press Trust of India), an Australian one that I don't remember the name of, and the official English-language Iranian one was ... enlightening.

          Events in, say, South America would be reported more or less uniformly across the five. Events in Europe would be a bit variable. Events in the Middle East? Well, let's just say that the Iranian one often looked like it was describing a totally different event, although paying attention usually showed that it was in fact the same event behind the differences in propaganda.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon


            I do look for opposing bias to dig under a story, but I was really referring to the stories that are often omitted by MSM, regardless of their spin.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: omitted

              Omission, aka gap-propaganda or The Memory hole, didnt some BBC chap called Eric write about this(*)

              I do watch Turkish TV news in English, compare with RT HD & Perviy Kanal, Saudi TV and the powerful UK govement state controlled broadcaster, except for when smug people start dancing. I might watch England lose to Germany on penalties, or might it not be shown on BBC?

              (*) Eric Arthur went on further - "Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper," and "We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men," so the obvious story that I would like to restate is that throughout history spooks have 'cleverly' waved the wrong flag as they commit an atrocity, whether through naïve vietnamese girls in an airport, or a distant controller tired with the decent human Немцо́в patsy.

              The script now gives us more falseness, and continuing with the quotes "Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac," - "Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting." so 'false' BorisJobsworth, is this all *really* about footy?

  5. Rich 11

    "Trade wars are good, and easy to win"

    "I believe the biggest risk we face as Americans is our own ability to discern reality from nonsense, and this is a burden we all bear."

    See title.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: "Trade wars are good, and easy to win"

      Well trade wars are easy to "win". For a given value of win. Push tariffs up high enough and your companies survive and employ lots of people. Course they might not export very much, and their products might be shit and over-priced - but that doesn't stop you calling it a win...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: "Trade wars are good, and easy to win"

        Until you discover that there is something they need that you don't produce - and which your suppliers now won't sell you.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Critical thinking needs to be taught in school

    It won't be however since government want easily manipulated fools, and then use fear to get them to behave, and the rich exploit them to work for peanuts whilst the billionaire 1% take out the value of all their efforts.

  7. jimdandy

    And so it Goes

    we are all subject to remarkable redunction; and the aforementioned hacking of the Universe..We cannot live under the wish that survives us. We can only hope that our lives and our beliefs continue to sustain our being. And, that we, such as we are, can continue to create a World that lives in our hearts and and minds.

  8. Terry 6 Silver badge


    The backlash by the "Traditional Education" lobby against what they saw as dangerously progressive and undisciplined, in the USA and the UK, has lead to a return of a curriculum and teaching methods that are mechanical and behaviourist. Something that even as far back as Charles Dickens was well understood to be the enemy of education. Though a reading of 1066 and All That would make the same point. or see Wikip. for a summary.

    We have returned to teaching kids by rote, not by working things out for them selves.

    Reading has become "Phonics" and little kids have to be tested on the times tables to 12x12 ( the number gives away that dirty little secret, if it was 10x10 you could believe it was rooted in some kind of thought, but requiring the 12s tells us immediately that it's no more than a harking back to the 1950s when we needed the 12s to do our feet and shillings. Even 13s would be more useful, being a prime number).

    It's not that we don't need to use phonics or tables, or historical facts; it's that they've become the centre of education. Memorisation instead of being able to think and work things out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Education

      To play devils advocate, 12 is useful as it is a multiple of 2, 3, 4 and 6 so gives a mental route to higher multiples. Older cultures split things up by 12, 60 and 360 because they have lots of factors so made understanding easier before we used decimals.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Education

        The thing about 12s is actually the opposite. It's the primes that we need most. Knowing 12s can be replicated by knowing 6s and how to double. Or 3s. Which also ensures that the kids ( and adults) understand what they are doing with these tables. Ironically rote learning of the tables makes understanding, manipulating and applying them less likely. Better that the kids realise that if they do want to multiply by 12 they can multiply by 3 then 4.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Education

        To play even more devils advocate, when I were a lad I learned how to multiply large numbers using factorization.

        Otherwise known as 'Russian multiplication'.

  9. MrAnonCoward43

    An old friend in an old enemy

    The American public has been exposed to propaganda since the 19th century, it's an industry making billions per year, since the early days of periodicals and newspapers to the far more elaborate present with TV, radio and websites thrown in for good measure - they are undoubtedly the kings. Combine that with a political system that offers only two nearly identical options and then throw in some corporate lobbying and you have a political control over a population that is incredible. To argue that Russian trolls can bring that all down is pretty absurd.

    Trump is a disaster but wasn't the spend on 'Russian' Facebook ads determined to be in the tens of thousands? How much do the two political parties spend on their direct propaganda? Hundreds of million dollars isn't it? Personally I saw far more pro Hillary and anti-Trump 'propaganda' in the main outlets, how is that type of propaganda acceptable? The average American is being screwed over by the country's Neo-Liberal policies, the Trump victory in my eyes was entirely down to that - some desperate and also some angry Americans saw Trump as a break from what they've been subjected to for decades. The sad fact for me is that the angry Americans were also often very racist, where does this racism stem from? Russian propaganda? Or more likely the American mainstream news outlet 'propaganda' and American society and politcal system itself - the prison statistics should make every American sick.

    It's not just the US, let's look at Brexit, it's also farcical to blame it on 'Russian influence' as I've repeatedly heard in the last half year - even more so when I've heard Sputnik and RT being blamed. I'd love to know the numbers who voted for Brexit and the number of those who had even heard of RT or Sputnik at the time of the referrendum. The Anti-EU agenda has been pushed by the newspapers in this country since the days I did a paper round (back in the later 90s). I remember so many front page articles about how "The EU want to ban our pints", "They want to ban our Pork Pies" etc etc, then in the last decade the increasing push about the migrant invasion "Christmas decorations will be banned in schools" etc etc. I can believe some fears about migration issues, it's understandable, in poorer parts of the country the effect of migration can be very damaging and means lower pay, less housing available, less jobs, for richer areas it means cheaper cleaners and workers and none of them can afford to live nearby so there's no tensions, very simplistic but it's very true to a point. But migration to the UK is also understandable, it's a rich country with many great things going for it, it's no suprise, especially from countries that we've helped cause their destruction via our proxy wars. However, the exaggeration in the press is beyond extreme (Online, TV + Newspapers), The Sun, The People, The Mail, The Express etc, and the broadsheets aren't exempt; The Telegraph, The Times, all of them really and not to mention the BBC (how much air time did UKIP get in the last 15 years???) - there's the reasons and 'propaganda' for the Brexit vote.

    The "let's blame a few 'Russian ads' and 'trolls'", gives us a good new hate and demon figure, an old friend in that regard. Al Qaeda are gone, ISIS has found to have so many links to the CIA, hmmm, what now, I know "THE RUSKIES ARE COMING FOR YOUR CHILDREN!!!"

    On a slightly lighter note, the irony of the US blaming another state of helping to influence an election or the democratic process is very entertaining, the James Woolsey / Laura Ingraham interview being the perfect encapsualtion of it. One of the easiest propaganda techniques is to blame others for what you do yourself - top job!

  10. imanidiot Silver badge

    Seems like the Ruskies are the new/old scapegoat for any opinions in the general public that differ from the wishes of the ruling political class. Instead of the fuckups they keep making time and time again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Seems like the Ruskies are the new/old scapegoat for any opinions in the general public that differ from the wishes of the ruling political class.

      Even the political class themselves are busy these days accusing each other of being Russian sockpuppets.

  11. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    Is anybody on Reddit old enough to vote?

    Wait until the investigation shows the Russians tried to infiltrate 4chan and motifakes

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Magical thinking

    The underlying assumption of this Russiagate narrative is that those people who who did not vote for the establishment in either the US Presidental election or the Brexit referendum are mindless dupes who are easily swayed.

    The posts and tweets attributed to the Russians are almost homeopathic – so unless you believe in that superstitious nonsense the energy going into alleged Russian propaganda is wasted.

    Tip to our gringo friends: attack the President and his cronies for what they are actually doing today, instead of grasping at fog.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what's the problem with Russian propaganda?

    I like it. It's imaginative, entertaining and occasionally thought provoking. American and European propaganda haven't got a thing on them.

    Plus I never liked monopolies¹. I demand fair competition between all propagandas!

    ¹ Or cartels.

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