My wife is descended from Davy Crockett so naturally all our kids have wanted to watch the old Disney shows about him and both Alamo movies. We let our kids know that most of what they see is complete BS. One bit of Disney BS is the scene in the wilderness where Crockett and Bowie drive off a much larger enemy force with a little trick the two of them have gotten adept at. They can fire and reload their guns much more quickly than normal men and can do so on the run. They run from hiding spot to hiding spot, firing rapidly and giving the impression to the enemy that they are up against a much larger fighting force than they really are. This forces the enemy to retreat when, if they knew they were only facing two men, they’d charge in and rapidly defeat them.
I don’t know if there is a word for this tactic, but it is being used extensively against the left on the internet today. If someone can point out the name for this, great, but for now I’m going to call it Multiplied Duplicity, or Multiplicity for short. It is the tactic of making it seem that there is a large group of people who are on one side of an issue when in fact, it is only a small handful of people using multiple identities and who are usually being paid to work full time giving the impression they are part of a large movement which in reality doesn’t exist.
I first heard about Multiplicity about 8-10 years ago from Joe Lyles of Conceptual Guerrilla. It seems that when Lyles was in college earning his law degree he belonged to the Young Republicans. It was there that he learned a standard tactic of theirs was to assault bulletin boards on the fledgling internet with multiple user ids and “work the web” to give the illusion that the vast majority of internet users were conservatives. This is why the internet seemed, in the early years, to be dominated by conservatives and their talking points. The truth, it seems, was that all those conservatives were actually just small groups of Young Republicans across the nation coordinating on a local level.
Lyles termed these guys the first Net Warriors. This was the beginning of Net Warfare. From day one Multiplicity was their standard tactic.
What drew me into Joe Lyles circle was the idea of becoming a Net Warrior myself. Joe had abandoned the right when his eyes had opened to the truth of their phoney conservative philosophy. He realized that conservatives only believed in one thing: Cheap labor. Everything else was BS. He exposed the truth behind every conservative meme in his excellent article “Defeat the Right in 3 Minutes.”. It was this article that first brought him to my attention. It was on an older website of his that I, along with a host of other progressives, first learned all the tricks of becoming Net Warriors for the left. We would go onto websites back in the day when people were afraid to admit they were liberals – remember those days? They weren’t that long ago – and take over the forums by challenging the conservatives and working together as a team. We employed multiple user ids and gave the impression that a great many progressives were there who – gasp! – actually disagreed with the “conventional wisdom” of the right.
This was rather unheard of at that time on the internet. A wonderful thing began to happen thanks to our efforts. People began to stop lurking on these websites and began to actually speak up. Our presence had emboldened them. Until we came along, most people were so brutally put down, name called, mocked and derided that no one had the courage to ever post there. The conservatives had full reign to spew their lying spin on everything. Once we challenged – and defeated – their hollow talking points, people began to feel they weren’t alone. They were no longer afraid to agree that they thought the conservatives were full of shit.
By the time we left a forum, it no longer needed us anymore. There were plenty of progressives there who’d found their voices and were no longer intimidated into silence.
Which brings us to Daily Kos. The tactics being used at Daily Kos are the same tactics that the conservatives have always used. Ad hominem attacks, mocking the poster, derisive put downs, straw man arguments. Anything but actually addressing the issues. The purpose of which is to drive away progressives and silence those who stay so that only their spin dominates the website.
The thing is, just like when the Young Republicans created the first Net Warriors, these Konservassacks (conservative Kossacks) aren’t really as numerous as they would lead you to believe. They are practicing Multiplicity. How do I know this? I’ve been watching them do it for many, many years and over that time they’ve made more than enough mistakes to give themselves away. Consider the following:
A: The Double Diary Incident. I was probably the only non-Konservassack who witnessed the Double Diary Incident. It was about two or three years ago, before Obama was elected. For a very brief time, maybe ten minutes, two diaries with the exact same titles hit the rec list just minutes after each had been posted. Both had to do with a single payer healthcare rally. Both came out one right after the other. Who could have foreseen such a coincidence? Certainly not the Konservassacks. They evidently knew that one diary about the rally was coming out with that name. Unfortunately, the other dairy about the rally with the exact same name came out just a minute or two before theirs did. The first diary was definately pro-single payer. The second diary was the exact opposite. It was full of spin that single payer wasn’t ever going to happen and supported us going for the public option instead. In short, it was a hit piece against the single payer rally.
Naturally, I got curious and looked up who had recced each diary and found out that 90% of the people who’d recced the first diary had also recced the second. That seemed fishy to me as anyone who recced the first diary would hate the second one. Sure enough, by the time I’d finished checking out the second diaries rec list and went back to the main page, the first diary had already fallen off the rec list. So I rechecked the first diaries rec list and all those people who had recced both diaries had unrecommended the pro single payer diary.
This all happened within minutes of both diaries being posted. Why is the timing of this so pertinent? Because of the logistics of such a rapid response. If a large group of about 80-100 people had all known to rec, or been asked to rec, a certain anti-single payer diary and then mistakenly recced the wrong one, there would have been enough confusion caused that it would have taken a bit of time to sort out what had happened, get the word out and then rectify the situation. But the response time here was far too rapid for that. It took about one minute for me to call up the second diaries rec list and see it was almost identical to the first and in that short time, all the people who’d erroneously recced the wrong diary and rectified that situation.
That means one of two things: There were 80-100 people all sitting in an office somewhere paid no doubt by someone with a corporate agenda, or – which is more likely – there were 20 or so people, each with 5 alternate identities, sitting in an office somewhere, paid no doubt by someone with a corporate agenda, using good ole Multiplicity tactics to make it look like a large number of people believed that the public option was a better idea than sticking to our guns and demanding single payer.
B: There have been many instances, not just with me, but I’ve read others on this website note the same thing: People they are arguing with on Daily Kos forget that they’ve changed their names and continue the arguement under different personas. It happens often enough to know that sock puppetry is going on there.
A funny thing about sock puppetry on DKos. When my wife finally registered there about a year ago, I immediately got a message that sock puppetry would not be tolerated and I had been banned for it. I had to explain that – though the IP address was mine – the account belonged to my wife. I said they should have asked me before banning me. So Meteor Blades undid my ban and my wife now has an account. Meteor stated that there was so much sock puppetry going on that they couldn’t respond to everyone guilty of it and just auto-banned them instead.
So this means one of four things must be true:
1: There is no Multiplicity going on at DKos because Multiplicity requires sock puppetry. Therefore, in the Double Diary Incident, there would have to be an office full of 80-100 people actually working together to pull off what they did that day. I don’t believe this, however.
2: Multiplicity is going on at DKos and those responsbile have some way to mask their IP addresses. There are tons of IP Masking programs out there. No doubt, DKos can’t guard against all of them.
3: Multiplicity is going on at DKos and those responsible have multiple PC’s at their disposal. I doubt this as simply using masked IPs would be less expensive.
4: Multiplicity is going on at DKos and DKos is in on it. This has to be a seriously considered possibility as Markos has admitted he worked for the CIA when he started up the Daily Kos website. It is possible – and when one looks back on the history of the Daily Kos it certainly seems to be – that the Daily Kos was set up from day one to be an anti-populist website who’s purpose was to undermine the left.
So whichever of the above are true, what this means is that a small group of people are actively working to give the impression that a much larger group has taken hold of the Daily Kos using the tactic of Multiplicity. If the average reader really understood that only a few people are basically holding an entire net community hostage – and by extension an entire political movement- they’d abandon the site en masse or else demand that the moderators do something to stop this deceitful manipulation.
The question is: is DKos in on it?
The only way to answer that question is to first prove that Multiplicity is happening. To do that might take no less than a paid hacker to break in and track down the culprits to their lair. The next time Blackwaterdogs “Obama is God” shoots to the reclist, or a diary against Obama hits the rec list and immediately after, the diary railing against it shoots to the rec list, we’d need someone to investigate all those names on the rec list and see if something fishy is going on.
Naturally, it would be preferable if the moderators did this, as they obviously have the power to do so, but we can’t trust them to be truthful. So unless a hacker traces those IP addresses, we simply have no way to prove it’s happening. And of course, we can’t have hackers breaking into websites. But should we somehow manage to come up with the evidence, then we’d know once and for all if DKos is in on it or if an outside force is simply using an age old (in internet years) tactic against us once again.
Either way, the progressive movement would be better off being aware of such tactics and proceeding accordingly.