On Thursday, March 30th the US Senate Intel Committee held an open hearing on Russian Intelligence activities. The full 4 hours of video of the morning and afternoon sessions and written transcript are available at the C-Span website. The focus of the meeting was to understand just what exactly Russia may have done using hacking, propaganda, social, and media manipulations and how these may have effected the elections. The information discussed in this hearing is not exclusive to the election, or to Russia. Although the committee’s focus is specific, the information, terms, and tactics discussed are general and far reaching.

On Friday, March 31st I was banned and blocked from the Facebook group “Beautiful Native Americans” for what the administrator perceived as harassing other members of the group.  I had requested to join the group weeks earlier specifically because I noticed that the group was under heavy pressure from foreign imposter accounts.

(Nellie- A suspiciously alluring girl with a wide variety of interests who makes posts in different groups without writing a word.  Bonus Round: Timestamps on consecutive days reveal clues of automation)

The administrator appeared to be a genuinely caring person and I wanted to help her understand what was going on.  I informed her publicly that I’d like to communicate by private message which she agreed to, but she never replied to my messages.  On Friday the group feed was having a particularly bad day.  Fed up with waiting, I began to post screenshot evidence of the fact that these accounts were automated.

I collected an assortment of duplicate sexy selfie posts that had been planted in a variety of Native and truck driving groups by this brand new account. Confident this would cause the administrator to see through the “friendly greeting” of the bot and ban the account, I was shocked that the administrator thought I had invaded the privacy of this young woman and attempted to publicly humiliate her.  The administrator banned me instead. (Facebook deleted 2 of the 3 fake profiles I had reported)

(This group pf pictures shows a commentbaiting post planted by a very unlikely character.  Image search reveals that the Stefan’s stylish photos were stolen from Hernan Fratto’s Instagram account. We also see that Stephan’s groups and likes are an improbably assortment of culture grabs at American interests.)

Most research on the activities of bots focuses on Twitter. There is a reason for this. The Twitter platform allows certain information to be extracted and charted. It is possible for a researcher to produce very compelling graphics which show the activity and connections of bots and other twitter users. The charts make the tangle of data over thousands of accounts and through space and time- suddenly read as clearly as a traffic signal.

If another researcher were to quantify press coverage of bot activity on various social media platforms, the picture would be extremely off balance. Very little expansive information about bot activity exists for Facebook. If Facebook is mentioned, it is only about the inacessable data.  This is not because bots do not exist. It is because Facebook makes it very difficult for researchers to examine what is going on. This has caused it to appear as if the problem is Twitter specific. Facebook does not want  its bot problem known and that is because advertisers are losing a lot of money advertising to Facebook accounts which are automated shells. Facebook does not see bots as a problem. Facebook’s problem is how to hide its plain sight bot problem from the public and its advertisers. Once the public becomes aware of what is going on, when they begin to understand how every corner of their online social community is being exploited by dishonest marketers, profiteers and propagandists, the curtain will be pulled aside and the magic will vanish.
 (This photo group shows a Support Police Page that has a sock puppet administrator- the fake profile: “Scott Davis” is a stolen photo of the real Officer Young and his K9 partner Bruno.)
The Native American Community on Facebook has been completely overrun with cyber impostors. Native American people have been long dogged by what are called “Pretendians” or “The Wannabe Tribe” these are people who have little to no Native ancestry who want to surround themselves with the mystical legends, lore, and belonging that their fantasy assumed tribal identity includes. I believe that the longstanding antagonistic relationship between people who are enrolled in Federally Recognized Tribes and the Wannabes caused many to fail to recognize that a new brand of impostor had arrived on the scene.
The new Native Impostors are not motivated by buckskin dreaming, or some full moon shaman scams. These are shrewd, tech savvy, profit motivated entrepreneurs. They have developed a method to drive traffic and attract a fan base. This method can be applied to almost any social interest, cause or hobby. Any dedicated fan base can be cultivated and driven for profit. The structure of the Facebook platform allows precise targeting and collecting of interested people. Patriotism, motorcycles, autism, pets. animal rights, sports fans, police support… the US election… all are common and ongoing points of exploitation. Americans, and American themes in particular, are heavily targeted because their traffic is worth more to advertisers than almost anyone else in the world. In the case of the Native American community; the culture, history, artwork, animals- and in recent months, the goldmine of Standing Rock Support provided ample material for these culture vultures to work with.
The impostors’ formula has three basic points:
1. A website, typically with a Native themed domain name, created to receive traffic and generate advertising revenue. Virtually all of the content of these sites is stolen from other sources in some cases old news stories are republished with the date omitted, frequently standard clickbait content about zit popping or heath remedies fill out the awkwardly empty pages of the quick and dirty publishing. Some websites are actually TeeShirt stores in disguise which have a rotating window dressing of Native focused news. Most of the clickbait websites are registered in Eastern Europe; Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania and Serbia. Most of the clothing marketing sites are registered in Vietnam.
2. A Facebook presence with a Native themed page. This page’s content can be stolen photos, popular memes and freebooted videos. The posts are loaded with comment and share baiting and “Like our page for more” Posts from these pages are essential to building the page popularity and driving traffic to the clickbait website. In the case of the teeshirt marketers, the baited leads usually contain links to the sales page- a way to insert advertising directly into groups while masquerading as a Standing Rock support meme. It’s common to see images of scantily clad hipster girls in headdresses and for no effort to be made differentiating between tribes. (see Footnote 1)
3. A profile to seed the page posts into groups. Originally these profiles were all fake. Many fakes used photos stolen from people who match the social group, even United States District Judge Diane Humetewa’s image was stolen to put a face on at least five different imposter profiles. Because so many of these fake profiles have been deleted by Facebook, it is now common to see young men use their real profile, clearly showing their Eastern European origin. They seed baited posts in the group and leave. (see footnote 2) They do not participate in group conversations, respond to comments on their posts and frequently disregard the group rules. They typically post without adding any text, if text is added it is usually the text of the page post copied over. (see footnote 3) Because the posts are baited for commenting and sharing, their visibility rises in the Facebook algorithm and also unfairly cycles posts at the top of the group’s roll- dominating the conversation and suppressing the authentic conversations which were not crafted by an algorithm savvy marketer. Many regular group members then take the endearing stolen content of the impostor page and share it to their personal timeline and other groups.
There is a fourth element which is not an essential piece of the traffic pushing profit system. Some Native impostors also have their own groups which they administrate. (see footnote 4) This is not an essential part of the system because many existing groups allow the impostors to have full access to their members and do not moderate their postings. (see footnote 5)
As a white person I’m not in a position to speak on behalf of the Native American People. I will say the unique individual tribes of the Americas have endured centuries of colonialist harm, wars, loss, prejudice and stereotyping. It makes me seethe to see a new generation of foreign exploiters, actually using likebaited memes about historic exploitation– in order to drive traffic to their disgraceful clickbait websites, the debasing content hosted on a domain bearing the name of a dignified tribe.

The harm to Native American people through Mark Zuckerberg’s hypocrisy is unquantifiable and intangible.  While financial losses might be estimated, how do you measure the harm of reinforced stereotypes, sexualization, blurring of history,  apropriation, and stoking the fires of the Pretendians?  The Facebook platform shields the dishonest and provides no means of protest or accountability. Mark Zuckerberg is allowing profit motivated impostors with their tactics, to overwhelm the public presence of a living modern population of people.

The Vietnamese teeshirt marketers paid him well to sponsor ads for fraudulent shirts, printed with copyrighted stolen graphics, along with the suggestion that the purchase would contribute to Supporting Water Protectors. Facebook’s datamining provided a pre-selected target audience for these fraudulent ads. Even after Craig Silverman exposed this specific scam in a Buzzfeed article, Facebook did nothing to stop the marketing which continues to this day. Money that would have gone to Native owned clothing brands and contribute to Standing Rock fundraising was funneled instead to Vietnam and Facebook ad fees.

April 2, 2017- The day after April Fools- is “International Fact Checking Day”  If Americans can take anything away from the sobering information in the Senate Intel Committee hearing, it is that they are pawns in a very serious game.  Maybe these guys from Kosovo aren’t out for world domination, maybe (maybe) they just want to buy a car or pay for college, but if you can’t see their game- your blindness is a liability.   You need to be proactive about educating yourself and others about what is going on and what tools are available to verify, not just the news story- but the profile who shared it and the group it was posted in.  Let’s do less compulsive sharing more purposeful verifying.

I want that when an American right-clicks on a picture, and chooses “search google for this image” from the drop down menu- that they feel as if they are pulling a weed from their victory garden.

Footnotes

1. Darkposting now also allows pages which are fundamentally merchandisers, to hide that entirely from their page fan base until the targeted ads show up in their newsfeed.

2.  Since much of this posting is automated, it’s not as if human eyeballs actually enter the group and engages with it in the way that people do. They don’t see what everyone else has posted. The postings are executed from a spreadsheet combining the list of bot profiles and their passwords, the list of groups they are enrolled in, the page posts they should push, and a schedule for when to send them out. Automated programs also have the ability to pull posts FROM groups and post them onto the fake profile’s timeline, presenting the image of an engaged member of the social circle. They can also autopost comments. I believe a major function of “one word baiting” is to give automated profiles a prompt and a safe place to leave a comment that does not need to be composed by a thinking human.
img_9372

3. Copying and pasting a portion of this baited text, especially if it contains a gramatical error, into facebook’s search bar- will reveal the scope of these mass postings and may also reveal networks of pages who are using the same content. If you would like to try this yourself, a good phrase to try is “track how far the vide” (leave the O off the word video) for an even more perplexing search, and I promise this is not porn, try, “track how far the screw”. What is most sobering with this search, is the number of people you will see who read and responded to the bait- to post where you are from so they can track how far the screw… and not a single person asks what tracking a screw is.
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4. Here is a list of a few of the Facebook Groups which have Eastern European and sockpuppet profiles administrators. There are so many groups with duplicate names, it may be hard to know which groups I mean, but they have made it easy by adding verification checkmarks next to the names of their groups. If it is not immediately apparent, Facebook does not issue verification checkmarks to GROUPS. Those are reserved for pages and famous people. Like everything else from this network, these checkmarks are counterfeit, the work of a crafty programmer.
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I have included the membership numbers of these groups as of 4/1/17
Native Americans News 51,412
Native Americans 3484 and 30,806
We Love Native Americans 12,977
Native American Only 23,690
Exploring Native Americans 10,477
All About native Americans 25,120
Native American Warriors 9896
Native American Indigenous 16,065
5. There are many derelict Native Themed groups who are overrun with postings from the Imposter Network. Some of these administrators are complicit, others are innocently unaware of what is going on, some have been informed and refuse to believe it.
P O E M S by NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN 3941 (note: spaces between each letter of poems)
Love American Indians 102,044

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