Facebook/ Meta, X, etc.
Dear TAT readers
Today is a full, well-deserved broadside at LinkedIn, that has been in the works for over 8 years, and this discussion matters deeply to every single social media user, US or otherwise. Today is the story of LinkedIn’s abuse of thousands of their subscribers, in support of Russia, Putin and the global far-right who supports them. Don’t get fooled though, X, META/ Facebook are just as dangerous and, in some ways, more so. Don’t even get started on Truth Social, GETR, Rumble and the rest of the extreme, right-wing sites. When they are not supporting all manner of conspiracy theories, they are allowing users to disseminate violent extremist rhetoric.
In the months leading up to retirement from the US Army, the first of September 2015, I began to consider what I would do next. At 59, I was far from being ready, to be put out to pasture. I had a wealth of experience in national security and especially in the realm of CT/ counterterrorism and influence, from the perspective of national security. My experience was unique because I had long given up on US Army and Joint doctrine due to it being useless or so lengthy in process, that it was irrelevant on the battlefield or otherwise. Like most people transitioning to another job, profession or opportunity, I joined LinkedIn.
As that I have written on the topic of nearly non-existent proficiency in the field of influence, by the US national security community, I won’t torture anyone with rehashing this. I will simply offer below, some of the more important works, especially the 20 + page white paper on the overwhelming vulnerability of our national security community to protect America and our allies, under assault from extremists, adversarial countries like Russia, China, N. Korea, Iran etc. What I experienced within a couple of weeks on LinkedIn, shocked me, because of the severity of the threat.
Combat ineffective, the rusted, broken hulk of US Influence Operations (truthaboutthreats.com)
On the battlefield of influence, the US is unarmed (truthaboutthreats.com)
The US National Security Community has left us a critical vulnerability in US national security. (truthaboutthreats.com)
The US always fights the "last war," instead of the one we're in. (truthaboutthreats.com)
The US National Security community is incapable of managing mis/ disinformation threats (truthaboutthreats.com)
A Five Point Strategy to Oppose Russian Narrative Warfare (truthaboutthreats.com)
We can't protect ourselves from mis/ disinformation, until we understand influence (truthaboutthreats.com)
More tragically, the threat is even worse today. I spend a fair amount of time on their platform trying to accurately inform others about security threats but here’s the risky problem; LinkedIn either heavily censors mine, and thousands of other similar professionals, via a wide array of tactics, strategies or allows others to do it without recourse, no matter how many times it is reported. The problem was so acute by 2017 that, then of Newsweek and the absolute “GOAT” of national security and intelligence reporting, wrote a long, investigative report titled, “How Russia Is Using LinkedIn as a Tool of War Against Its U.S. Enemies.”
Although I am mentioned in this article, my input was largely off-the-record but background for Jeff’s work and support of my colleagues. At the time, I still maintained my high-level security clearance and had to exercise a great deal of caution. So that I could warn others with truth, I intentionally let my clearance expire a couple of years ago. At my age, my best contributions to our national security, can be accomplished far better, without the burden of adhering to the critically important rules regarding public commentary. The American people and other global citizens must hear the truth about our threats, in as plain of language possible, hence this publication, Truth about Threats.
In the years since 2015, I stayed with LinkedIn because it used to be a way to reach my thousands of followers, until technology evolved, as did LinkedIn’s intransigence. It is also important to note that LinkedIn is a subsidiary of Microsoft, the same folks whose operating systems are used primarily, worldwide. In this interim, not only did LinkedIn evolve their tactics for censorship but they maintained their previously most effective tactics.
In the past year or so and with the evolution of CYBER Warfare, a supporting element to influence campaigning, our adversaries and far less than ethical corporate, influence warriors, can now “moderate” individual accounts by manipulating algorithms. This is now, my most prevalent issue with using their platform. In my opinion and that of CYBER colleagues, it is nearly impossible for LinkedIn and Microsoft to not know. If the world’s largest and most extensive tech giant cannot protect subscribers, why do we use their operating systems and software on our laptops, phones and countless other devices? What the hell Microsoft????
What all of this talk about tech on social media platforms come down to, is that they can and do control what we see, how we see it and by manipulation, influence our behavior. If we are not willing to demand protection from the US government and other international authorities which should, but do not have enough effective regulation to protect us all, this will continue and include far more risk. There’s a lot of talk about AI these days, despite it being around for a while now. The more data accumulated by AI, without regulation and built-in digital safeguards, this only gets worse for us.
As I noted at the beginning, malign influence, foreign and domestic is our most critical, national security threat and because, it can alter the behavior of voters, therefore laws and regulation. This is precisely what happened prior to, during and continuously since the 2016 election, via the far-right influencers in conjunction with Russia. If you don’t believe this, you are one of the ones influenced. Below, are links to five full volumes of the SSCI/ Senate Select Committee on Russian influence associated with the 2016 elections. Volume five, the CI/ Counterintelligence report is 966 pages and so damning that it is nearly mind-blowing.
This investigation was led by the GOP and was bipartisan. It took 3 1/2 years. One of the most damning features is that the GOP members, still supported Trump, knowing full well that he was elected with the help of Putin and continued to be supportive of Putin throughout his presidency. Now, eight years later, we are less safe. There are plenty of reasons for this but the three that weigh most heavily on my mind are:
GOP obstructionism in congress, regarding protecting citizens from mis and disinformation.
A national security community that has failed at all versions of influence for nearly forty years. That set of alleged experts, still are the go-to experts for DoD and the IC/ Intelligence Community. In my humble opinion, this is waste, fraud and abuse.
An obsession with technology that cannot solve our problems but captures the majority of the budget in this field.
Don’t get me wrong, technology is critical but influence, is a human endeavor and the tech folks refuse to understand influence first, and then use tech where it fits. Tech will not solve the threat alone and the community at large, refuses to understand this. In fact, my retired position with our Think/ Do Tank, Narrative Strategies is precisely about the way humans make meaning. It is called narrative and when wielded for influence purposes, it is called, Narrative Warfare.
I will be blunt in wrapping this piece up. The national security threat presented by social media, is what is called a “critical vulnerability” in the military world. It has already stolen one Presidential election and handed it to Putin. Yes, this is my professional opinion. Every minute of every hour, 24/7 and 365 days a year, we are less safe because our citizens that vote, are bombarded by malign influence and denied truth, by social media entities more interested in market share, influence and ads, hence their “bottom-line.” Quite frankly, they don’t give a damn about national security. Just look to what has occurred with X, Facebook and LinkedIn for the severity of the threat.
Frankly, part of my effort to call attention to LinkedIn and the other, unconstrained malign influence threats, is selfish. The same malign influencers are stealing my children’s and grandchildren’s future. When it comes to LinkedIn, my most moderated and abused posts revolve around discussions about Putin, the global far-right, corporate greed, especially the oil industry, Modi’s far-right behavior, and the MAGA controlled GOP. These past few months, an estimate of interfere with my account is nearly 80% of my postings. If this happens to me, it also happens to those of you who are activists in support of truth and the cumulative threats our nation faces. This cannot stand.
A powerful example of interfere that impacts our national security has been my criticism of the GOP for refusing to fund Ukraine’s war for survival against a genocidal Putin. This is also a direct threat to NATO and other European allies. A win for Putin is a defeat for the US, NATO and global security. Sometimes, within a couple of minutes of posting, my account is moderated. Then, my current tactic in response, is to “tag” national security agencies responsible for threats to the homeland or other aspects critical national security. Once I have tagged the relevant agencies, especially those who track CYBER threats, the moderation disappears, only to reappear within hours or certainly, by the next day when the offenders, believe surveillance to be over.
Finally, I hope that today’s article is not too depressing or hard to fully comprehend. Influence is an exceptionally complex threat that must be addressed in order for democracy to survive. We can do this, but we must do it together. Reporting accounts, comments or fake profiles and trolls, is essential. I also recommend screenshots of what you are reporting. It is quite common for things to disappear after being reported, unless like in LinkedIn’s history, they simply don’t care or refuse to address the threats. Either way, such behavior becomes an asset to our enemies while concurrently becoming a more severe threat to us. Also, government must start becoming effective in their role. We are all in this together.
My very best for the rest of your week,