Russia’s Information War on the West

A Twitter thread by Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) from 27 February, 2022. A critical analysis of what is still going on, and why it matters. See the original here.

Ok. Deep breath.

I think we may look back on this as the first Great Information War. Except we’re already 8 years in.

The first Great Information War began in 2014. The invasion of Ukraine is the latest front. And the idea it doesn’t already involve us is fiction, a lie.

It was Putin’s fury at the removal of President Yankovych in Feb 2014 that kicked everything off. Information operations were first crucial step in invasion of Crimea & Donbass. A deliberate attempt to warp reality to confuse both Ukrainians & the world.

This was not new. The Soviets had practiced “dezinformatsiya” for years. But what was new in 2014 was technology. Social media. It was a transformative moment. “Hybrid warfare” on steroids: a golden Willy Wonka ticket to manipulate hearts & minds. Almost completely invisibly.

But it wasn’t just Ukraine. We now know Russia began another offensive in Feb 2014. Against the West. Specifically, but not exclusively, America. How do we know this? Because the FBI conducted a forensic, multi-year investigation. That almost no-one paid any attention to.

The Mueller Report. You’ve heard of it. But probably as a headline about how it didn’t “prove” collusion between the Kremlin & Trump campaign. We can come back to that. What it did prove – BEYOND ANY DOUBT – was that Russia attacked 2016 US election through multiple routes.

And just one of the ways Russia attacked 2016 US election was via the tech platforms. Especially: Facebook. This was a military technique, it pioneered in Ukraine in 2014. By 2016, it refined, iterated & supersized these. Most brilliantly of all, they were entirely invisible

And it wasn’t just Russia. Companies such as Cambridge Analytica. Political operatives such as Manafort. Amoral opportunists such as Cummings. They learned how to exploit a platform that was totally open – anyone could do so. And totally closed – no-one could see how.

But also it was Russia. That’s what the Mueller Report proves. And, again, Ukraine is at centre of it all.(Read @profshaw’s thread here. Note walk-on role for Arron Banks’s business partner & his friend the Russian spy)

In 2016, we knew none of this. Russia & other bad actors acted with impunity &, in some cases alignment. But now, through the sheer bloody hard work of academics, journalists & FBI, we do know.

But it was complex, messy, difficult. So… We brushed it all under the carpet

We failed to acknowledge Russia had staged a military attack on the West. We called it “meddling”. We used words like “interference”. It wasn’t. It was warfare. We’ve been under military attack for eight years now.

This failure is at the heart of what is happening now in Ukraine. Because the first offensive in the Great Information War was from 2014-2022. And Putin won.

And he won by convincing us it wasn’t even a war.

We fell for it. We said it was “just ads” that “don’t work anyhow”. And “a bot didn’t tell me to vote”. Facebook is still an open threat surface. Exploited by authoritarians from Philippines to India to Brazil to Hungary. It’s maybe not a world war. But the world is at war.

Meanwhile, in Britain, we’re a captured state. In America, the institutions of govt worked. Even in spite of Trump. The authorities investigated. Individuals were indicted, charged, jailed. The hostile actions of a foreign state examined & unpicked.

(Not that it mattered.) The US media & therefore public failed to understand the real lessons of Mueller Report. And in the UK? We didn’t even bother trying. We allowed Johnson’s govt to sweep 2016 under the carpet. Nigel Farage. Arron Banks. Facebook. Russia. The lot.

But it wasn’t ‘just ads’. It was war. And it’s absolutely crucial that we now understand that Putin’s attack on Ukraine & the West was a JOINT attack on both.  

That began at the exact same time.

Across the exact same platforms.

And this new front, the invasion of Ukraine, is not just about Ukraine. We are part of the plan. We have always been part of the plan. And Ukraine is not just fighting for Ukraine but for the rest of us too.

And maybe that could be why we’ve failed to understand Putin’s strategy in Ukraine? Because it’s not just a strategy in Ukraine. It’s directed at us too. And that’s what makes this such a uniquely perilous moment. Not least, because we still don’t understand we’re at war.

If it helps, the penny dropped for me with Skripal. Planned by the GRU – Russia’s military intelligence. As was the weaponised hack-&-leak of Hillary’s emails. Military doctrine carried out by military officials in  military operations. Just like the one now in Ukraine.

TL;DR – She’s tired.

The story of Arron Banks is intertwined with every single element of the above. That’s for another time. What matters now is Ukraine. And the key to helping it is to understand that Putin isn’t just coming for us next. He already has.

Russia is not our friend. Russia has never been our friend, despite fighting the Nazis together in World War II. I lived through the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis and Civil Defense and Duck and Cover drills, and it’s all Russia.

“We will bury you!” ¹

Putin is still a KGB agent. Never forget this.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ Some have suggested this is a mistranslation of what Nikita Khrushchev said, which was “Мы вас похороним!” While I am not a Russian linguist, based on the feeling that was coming from the Soviet Union at the time, I dispute this. He meant exactly what he said.

My Facebook Manifesto


Two suggestions I’d make to Facebook would be the ability to make a post “sticky” (so that it always appears at the top of my timeline) and the ability to disable comments for any post. That would pretty much solve a lot of issues I find with this online corner of my world.

Until that happens, however, I craft this little “manifesto” in an effort to uncomplicated my life a bit.

There are only so many minutes in a day, and only so much energy – physical and emotional – that I have available for use in moving my life forward and making a difference in the world before my earthly sojourn is over. I enjoy sharing bits of my life and my thoughts and things that I think are important or just ways to brighten someone’s day on Facebook, but endless political/social debates are draining and serve no purpose.

My online presence is essentially an extension of my home. I wouldn’t let someone come into my house and decorate it, in the words of Huck Finn, with “the ignorantest kind of words and pictures made with charcoal.” And while I have nothing against honest and meaningful exchange of ideas, the Internet has changed the way people interact – and I don’t have time to read or deal with the conflicting opinions of thousands of people. It’s just too draining.

So it comes to this: My wall is not a place for debate, political or otherwise. I will post things I believe, things that are important to me, and things I want to see happen in the world. Or sometimes just something to make others smile. If I see a comment appear on one of my posts or a link on my wall that I don’t happen to agree with, I’ll simply delete it – without fanfare and without response. This doesn’t mean I don’t value you as a friend or as a person – it just means that I’m doing some virtual housecleaning. If you have differing opinions, you have your own page: feel free to use it as a place to express those things that are important to you. If I’m interested, I’ll come over and see what the opposition is thinking. That said, sometimes (rarely) I get caught out posting something that’s patently false because it seemed plausible and I didn’t do my research. I’m always grateful for vigilant friends pointing out my folly.

It works both ways. Your wall is like your home, and I’ll do my best to keep my mouth shut if I see things you post that are not in harmony with my beliefs. My one exception to this is if I see someone posting things that are hateful, hurtful, bigoted, or abusive – in such cases I would have no compunctions about speaking out.

To me, this approach makes more sense than blocking or unfriending people whose friendship I value, and from whom I doubtless have much to learn in many areas – and it will help me to preserve my sanity in these most “interesting” times.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Facebook clickbait – it must work.

On my mobile device, since FB Purity doesn’t work on handhelds, I have to scroll through a lot of real garbage – often every other post is “sponsored.”

Here’s a sample of things I’ve seen just in the last few days.


Obviously clickbait works, or companies wouldn’t do it – but it’s so annoying to see all these hackneyed “you won’t belive” and “this will shock you” attention-grabbers. The other part, of course, is that most of these articles are relatively valueless anyway, either [bad] opinion pieces or poorly-compiled lists.

It makes browsing Facebook on a mobile a less-than-fulfilling experience. I wish FB Purity were available for my Android, it really cleans things up on the desktop version.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Let’s Clean Up Facebook in 2015: Hoaxes to Avoid

I keep seeing them crop up on my wall. The Facebook Privacy notice. The “so-and-so is giving away a Maserati to a random user.” OMG you won’t believe this shocking video. and on and on.

These hoaxes are designed for one purpose only: No good.

Below I list some of the most common hoaxes and scams that are prevalent on Facebook. If we could just get people to stop sharing these, we’d be cutting out a lot of clutter and saving some folks a lot of hassle.

1) The Facebook Privacy hoax.

By this statement I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute or take any other action against me based on this profile is private and confidential information.

The sentence above is the core of this hoax, although there may be more verbiage associated with it.

If you have posted this, delete it at once. Don’t share it. If you have friends that have posted it, refer them to this article which explains the hoax in detail, and have them delete it.

2) The Free Giveaway Hoax

“Disneyland is giving away two annual passes to a random Facebook user who likes and shares and comments on this post.” Or maybe it’s 50 Cent. Or Walmart. Or Bill Gates. Or Lamborghini.


This is a prime example of “like farming.” You need to be aware of what this is and how it works. A great video by Hoax Slayers explains the like-farming business clearly and concisely. Don’t contribute to the financial well-being of criminals. Do not share these posts, and do what you can to have them deleted.

3) The “Talking Angela” scare.


This is a totally bogus warning. It was written by someone ignorant and gullible, and sadly has spread around Facebook like wildfire. There is no truth to it.

4) The “OMG You’ve gotta see this shocking video gross yuck!” scam.

It may say something like “OMG you won’t believe how you look in this vid!” or things like that. Key words to watch out for are:

  • shocking
  • gross
  • disgusting
  • unbelievable
  • amazing

These are not always just space-occupying like-farming hoaxes – they ofthe get you to install bad software or simply spread themselves to other Facebook users. There’s one safe way to protect yourself:

☛ – Don’t follow the links, don’t press any buttons that say “allow”. Just don’t.

5) “See who has unfriended you,” “see your top three friends,” “change your Facebook background to pink,” “see who has viewed your profile,” etc.

None of these apps or ones like them do what they say they will do. They are there for the purpose of gathering your information, your friends’ information, and passing the gathered information on to third-party marketers.

Facebook works best without any apps at all. If you don’t use them, you don’t have to worry about their invading or sharing your information.

If we could rid facebook of these five categories of hoaxes, our feeds would be a lot cleaner and the criminals who originate them would have to find other ways to generate thier ill-gotten cash.

Be Careful Out There.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

L.S./M.F.T (Like Strike Means a Facebook Touch-up)

In the last couple of days, two individuals have written about experiments that they conducted at Facebook.

Mat Honan, at Wired, wrote about what happened to his Facebook feed when he “liked” absolutely everything he saw for two days.


At the same time, Elan Morgan was conducting a similar experiment… by not liking anything at all, and when she saw Honan’s post, was inspired to write about her experience.


Before you go on, I recommend you read both articles in their entirety. There are some good thoughts in each, addressing more than the facebook issue. I will quote this, from Schmutzie’s blog post:

The first thing I noticed was how difficult it was to not like things on Facebook. As I scrolled through updates, my finger instinctively gravitated towards the Like button on hundreds of posts and comments. It has become a gut-level, Pavlovian response. I saw updates I liked or wanted others to know I liked, and I found myself almost unconsciously clicking my approval.

The Like is the wordless nod of support in a loud room. It’s the easiest of yesses, I-agrees, and me-toos. I actually felt pangs of guilt over not liking some updates, as though the absence of my particular Like would translate as a disapproval or a withholding of affection. I felt as though my ability to communicate had been somehow hobbled. The Like function has saved me so much comment-typing over the years that I likely could have written a very quippy, War-and-Peace-length novel by now.

I have experienced much the same thing myself. Clicking that “like” button has become addictive, similar to the upvote/downvote arrows over at reddit. Both these articles made me think over the nature of my participation at Facebook.

A side note: my feed is full of other things, of course – lots of promotion from people running businesses, lots of politics, and – it goes without saying – lots of kittens and Pinterest shares. But, it is worth mentioning, no advertisements – I use FB Purity, which cleans up my Facebook feed in a way that makes it tolerable to use and much less noisy and chaotic. Social Fixer accomplishes the same thing. If you’re not using one of these, I highly recommend checking them out.

As for myself, I use Facebook to share things that are important to me; ideas, feelings, issues that I feel deserve attention, and to keep in touch with those people in my life who help me move forward. The “like” button has been a quick way of exchanging “strokes,” a concept introduced by transactional analysis and defined as “a unit of recognition.” As people, we need these strokes. Those who don’t get them on a regular basis end up feeling alone and isolated; even those who are introverted by nature and prefer solitude to social interaction need this kind of recognition and contrive to get it in other ways that serve them best, including self-stroking.¹

Mr. Honan noticed that by liking everything, he disovered that

“My News Feed took on an entirely new character in a surprisingly short amount of time. After checking in and liking a bunch of stuff over the course of an hour, there were no human beings in my feed anymore. It became about brands and messaging, rather than humans with messages.”

Contrariwise, Schmutzie (Elan Morgan’s alternate pseudonym) discovered that refusing to like anything and posting meaningful comments instead resulted in the exact opposite:

“Now that I am commenting more on Facebook and not clicking Like on anything at all, my feed has relaxed and become more conversational. It’s like all the shouty attention-getters were ushered out of the room as soon as I stopped incidentally asking for those kinds of updates by using the Like function. I have not seen a single repugnant image of animal torture, been exposed to much political wingnuttery, or continued to drown under the influx of über-cuteness that liking kitten posters can bring on. (I can’t quit the kittens.)”

Yeah, I enjoy the kittens, too. But what a contrast! By not using the “Like” button, one effectively short-circuits Facebooks ad-targeting algorithm and allows a more human environment to prevail.

I can’t tell you how much I like this concept… but I’m not going to click the button.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

¹That’s not what I meant and you know it. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Block that App

The Goodwoman of the House just posted this on her Facebook page:


If only it were just Candy Crush Saga. I think the mad rush for these online stupidities started around the time that Farmville became popular. Every time someone posted “A poor little lamb just wandered onto your farm,” I’d reply with something about dragging out the mint sauce. Old_Wolf_EvilGrin

I immediately block any request for an app or game so that I never see them again; just hover your mouse over a request in your notifications, and you’ll see a “turn off” option:




Facebook gives you the option to see which apps you’ve blocked, and this made me curious. You can see your own as well. Below, my blacklist, sorted alphabetically:

★ Your Daily Photo
❤ SpeedDate App
21 questions
Angry Birds
Answers™ About Me
Are you my best friend ???
Atlantis Fantasy
Backgammon Live
Backyard Monsters
Battle Pirates
Best Friends Forever
Bingo Bash
Birthday Calendar by Davia
Bubble Island
Bumper Sticker (New)
Caesars Casino
Café World
Calendarul Meu
Candy Crush Saga
Castle Age
City of Wonder
Crossword Buddies
Date New People
Empires & Allies
Family Farm
Family Tree
FBCredits Giveaway
Food Fling!
Free Gifts
Friend Hug
Friends Albums
Friends Forever – You and Me
Fun Cards – New Year & More!
Gardens of Time
Get Revealed
Halloween Treats Old
Hidden Chronicles
Hidden Haunts
Hollywood Spins
Holy Town
Hotel City
Il Mio Calendario
Indiana Jones Adventure World
Invite Your Friends Button
Jackpot Bingo
Legends: Rise of a Hero
Lost Bubble
LoVe to YoU ❤~
Lucky Slots
Mafia Wars
Mahjong Trails
Maine Stuff!!
Marvel: Avengers Alliance
Mastering the Joy of Chocolate
Middle Kingdom
Movie Blitz
My Calendar
My Calendar
My Friend Secrets
My Holiday Cards ★
My Tetris Friends
Ninja Saga
Organizing for Action
Photo Contest
Pink Ribbon
Pioneer Trail
Pool Master 2
PurePlay Casino
Question Party
Quien visita tu perfil?
Ravenskye City
Rich Schefren Endorses FBWebinars
SimCity Social
Smarter Than A 5th Grader?
Sorority Life
Stik for Small Business
Suggest This
SuperPoke! Pets
The Guardian
The Only Government Approved Money System
The Sims Social
Threads of Mystery
To my Online Friend
Treasure Isle
Truth Game
Truths About You
TSO Atlantic City Flyaway!
Would you rather
Zoo World

Every single one of these apps wants permission to access all my information, my friends list, my wall, and often requests permission to post on my behalf, including spamming itself to all my friends. To Pluto with that.

The Old Wolf approves the above sentiment.

Facebook Scams

I’ve mentioned Facebook “like-farming” before, but I just noticed a new scam pop up today, trying to take advantage of both Christmas and Disneyland.

Disneyland Scam


This picture is spreading like wildfire on Facebook, because people don’t notice that “Dιѕneyland” is spelled with a Turkish “dotless i”, and leads to a newly-created page, not the page run by the Disney company.

Be careful out there. Almost all things of this nature on Facebook are scams – there are a few real promotions by authentic companies, but they are few and far between. Don’t just “like” everything and anything that promises free goodies – do your research first, and don’t give the scammers a chance to make money from your gullibility.

Karma will repay these scum-sucking bottom-feeders.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Instagram Users: READ THIS!

Yes, I’m SHOUTING! Because it’s important.

How would you feel about a beautiful picture of your significant other being used as part of an ad campaign for Trojan condoms? For free, and without your permission? Which Facebook would have collected money for? is reporting today (along with and other sources, that as of January 16th, they will now have the right to sell your photos without payment or notification. Oh, and there’s no way to opt out.

My first response was,


After thinking about it for 0.62 seconds, I was more like this:


From the CNET article:

“Instagram said today that it has the perpetual right to sell users’ photographs without payment or notification, a dramatic policy shift that quickly sparked a public outcry. The new intellectual property policy, which takes effect on January 16, comes three months after Facebook completed its acquisition of the popular photo-sharing site. Unless Instagram users delete their accounts before the January deadline, they cannot opt out.”

Fortunately, Wired gives instructions on how you can download your photos and delete your account. That massive sucking sound you hear? No, it’s not NAFTA – it’s the mad rush of users to clear out their pictures before every shot they ever took becomes free fodder for the largest stock photo database in the world.

Seriously. What ragskull in the corporate chain thought this up, what morons approved it, and who in their right mind thinks they can get away with it? I have never seen anything so egregiously arrogant in my life.

Edit: Here’s a photo of one of the potential ragskulls:


Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s CEO

Dear Kevin:


I have never used Instagram, but I wonder how long it will be before the people at Facebook decide to change their photo policies over on the main FB site? If they do, all my photos are coming down faster than a fly settles on a rotting mango.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Warning: Facebook’s Mobile Photo Sharing

With little or no fanfare (as usual), a recent change to Facebook’s iPhone and Android mobile apps will forever change the way people share photos and the way Facebook finds out where you are and what you are doing.

Here’s a screen grab from my Android phone, just a few minutes ago.


With an innocent-looking “Start Now” button and the very misleading[1] insinuation that your friends are doing this, Facebook is trying to corral you into sharing every photo you take with your mobile device onto its cloud-based, minable storage. Just two taps, and the last 20 photos you have taken with your phone or tablet, and every image thereafter, will be automatically uploaded to Facebook’s cloud storage. Including photos that you never, ever ever ever ever ever want anyone to see. What kinds of photos those might be I will leave up to your individual imaginations.

Be aware of these things:

  1. Your photos will only be visible to others if you explicitly share them
  2. Whether shared or not, Facebook will be able to mine your geolocation data (if you have not purposely disabled that feature), meaning they will have a good idea of where you are at any given time, what stores you are close to, and what ads they wish you to see.
  3. Given the ability of Google to identify photos (think of Google’s image search or Google Goggles), along with facial-recognition software, Facebook would very feasibly have the ability to automatically identify and tag your friends in photos that get sent to its database. You may have to authorize those tags to be visible, but doing that for you without your permission seems to me a gross violation of privacy.

You can read more about this over at TechCrunch. I’m not going to insist you “like and share” this, because I think that’s obnoxious – but I felt that folks should know about this new “feature.”

The Old Wolf has spoken.

[1] Yes, these three friends do share photos on Facebook. They are probably not, however, using this “insta-share” feature.