Exploiting the Fracture Points in US Politics for Fun and Profit

You specifically may be a target

Alan Tabor
Published in
10 min readSep 15, 2022


Illustration from How Russia Created the Most Popular Texas Secession Page on Facebook, 9/17/2017

The big picture

  • Next time some social interaction on the internet pisses you off consider that your reaction might be manufactured.
  • A variety of bad actors exploit our fears, love of outrage, and any strong emotion — typically to create fractures in the body politic.
  • The tools to accomplish this, including targeting any specific individual, can be automated and are deployable at scale.
  • If you have any influence, you may be a target of an automated push aimed at shutting you up or pushing you away from dialog and into diatribe.

If you’re curious and unconvinced but only have a few minutes, jump down to where you see the network graphs. For a more complete look, read on.

The shock of Trump's victory in 2015 started me on a journey of exploration

The heart of the shock was the vote in upper Midwest blue states, the region I grew up in during the 50s-70s. The question for me wasn’t so much how Don the Con won but how on earth the Democrats lost Wisconsin and nearly lost Minnesota.

For the last seven years, I’ve been trying to systematically research and unpack the situation in terms of politics, emotion, and identity. What I discovered is honest intense emotion — emotional truth — barraged on all sides by political lies. People are pissed because the situation is genuinely a pisser.

We’re outraged at an outrageous situation but our outrage is being systematically exploited — emotional truths, political lies.

This is a look at some of the most insidious mechanisms of that exploitation.

I am advancing the claim that automated network analysis coupled with automated language and sentiment analysis and the ability of a single actor or system to appear as a crowd makes it easy to attack folks that can’t imagine they’re not dealing with individual human actors.

It might seem hard to imagine that something like lowly Medium writers might be systematically



Alan Tabor

Berkeley Backpacking Biz Lifer, System Builder, Coder, Community Organizer, Music and Evolutionary Biology Geek. Sign up and my projects at http://altabor.org/

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