How evil those Russian twitterbots are

There has been, as we know, much fuss over how Russian Twitter ‘bots backed both Brexit and Donald Trump. This is an interference with our democracy which just cannot be lived with, something must be done. You know, regulate Twitter so that nothing so appalling as anyone ever using it to support non-progressive causes can ever happen again. That not being quite how free speech nor freedom of the press is supposed to work of course.

Expect some of this to die down a little now that we know that those same Twitter ‘bots – from Russia, you know – backed Jeremy Corbyn at the last General Election. Or at least expect there to be less noise about this from that left decrying the Brexit vote:

The first evidence of Russian attempts to influence the result of the general election by promoting the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has emerged in a ground-breaking investigation into social media by this newspaper.

Our research, in conjunction with Swansea University, discovered that 6,500 Russian Twitter accounts rallied behind Labour in the weeks before last year’s election, helping supportive messages to reach millions of voters and denigrating its Conservative rivals.

That does make it rather difficult for those who insist upon it being only the right that has benefited, doesn’t it?

Labour dismissed the report saying that it was not aware of receiving any support from automated bots during the campaign.

A spokesman said the party “categorically” did not pay for any automated bots and was not aware of any of its supporters doing so.

That’s a denial of a claim not being made, isn’t it? For it isn’t that some UK person paid the ‘bots to support Brexit, it’s that Russia, the Russian state itself, saw an opportunity to jam a spanner in the works. To the detriment of all us good and honest Brits who really want to remain within the EU’s warm embrace. Or something.

Equally, we could see at least the possibility of the Russian state seeing the election of Corbyn as something that would jam a spanner into the mechanism. You know, by bankrupting the Kingdom? So, why wouldn’t a foreign state do what that foreign state thought was in its own self-interest?

McDonnell told Sky News: “This is ludicrous. This is the thing they accused [former Labour leader] Neil Kinnock of during the general election.

“If I remember rightly, the Russian embassy was putting out supportive noises towards the Tory party. If there’s an issue here about anything on Russian influence within our society, it’s about Russian oligarchs funding the Tory party. Let’s have an inquiry into that.”

Excellent whatabouttery there and of course the Russians wouldn’t have tried to support McDonnell because he’s a Maoist.

The truth here is really very simple. There are new political tools available, those digital ones. When they’re used by progressives – say Obama’s use of Facebook – they’re just fine, admirable even. When they’re used to do non-progressive things, like Trump or Brexit, then they’re not and must be regulated so they can not be. And that’s really it, all we need to know.

Now they’ve been shown to support Corbyn they’ll be alright again.