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posted by martyb on Thursday May 11 2017, @09:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the duplicitous-comments dept.

A bot is thought to be behind the posting of thousands of messages to the FCC's website, in an apparent attempt to influence the results of a public solicitation for feedback on net neutrality.

Late last month, FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced his agency's plans to roll back an Obama-era framework for net neutrality, which rule that internet providers must treat all internet content equally.

Since then, the FCC's public comments system has been flooded with a barrage of comments -- well over half-a-million responses at the time of writing -- in part thanks to comedian John Oliver raising the issue on his weekly show on Sunday.

[...] But a sizable portion of those comments are fake, and are repeating the same manufactured response again and again:

[...] "The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation, damaging the American economy and obstructing job creation," the comment says. "I urge the Federal Communications Commission to end the bureaucratic regulatory overreach of the internet known as Title II and restore the bipartisan light-touch regulatory consensus that enabled the internet to flourish for more than 20 years."

NotSanguine called it! https://soylentnews.org/comments.pl?sid=19421&cid=506966

http://www.zdnet.com/article/a-bot-is-flooding-the-fccs-website-with-fake-anti-net-neutrality-comments/


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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by NotSanguine on Thursday May 11 2017, @10:10AM (4 children)

    Thanks for the shout out, DeathMonkey. I did notice the inordinately large number of identical messages, which strongly implied some sort of automation (whether that be mass emails to supportive folks, a botnet, or some automated commenting process via the API).

    But Thexalon was the first to suggest it was a bot/botnet [soylentnews.org], so kudos should really go to (I was going to say him, but it could be her, or xe or many other pronouns. Need to be careful about that stuff. [uwm.edu]) that individual.

    Presumably the FCC could identify the IP address(es) used to post these bogus comments and see if even some of them originate from the locales listed in the comments. However, I'd be surprised if they bothered.

    If a few of the folks whose identities have been appropriated are sufficiently annoyed, I guess someone like the EFF could try to file a class-action suit to force the FCC to remove the fake comments.

    But I suspect what will happen is that the FCC will include those comments and blather on about how much support there is for stealing from the consumers. Drain the swamp, indeed. It's business as usual.

    --
    No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
    • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Thursday May 11 2017, @10:22AM (2 children)

      by kaszz (4211) on Thursday May 11 2017, @10:22AM (#508019) Journal

      Let loose a counter bot then?

      • (Score: 2) by coolgopher on Thursday May 11 2017, @12:45PM

        by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 11 2017, @12:45PM (#508053)

        Skynet approves of this idea.

      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday May 11 2017, @04:18PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Thursday May 11 2017, @04:18PM (#508156)

        Nope. They'll just point at the bots' messages, and their own reduced funding, and declare that they cannot process any comment, therefore the decision to kill NN stands.

    • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:34PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:34PM (#508201)

      For the record, I'm a male-type human, so use of "he/his/him" is perfectly correct. And I appreciate the shout-out.

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by FakeBeldin on Thursday May 11 2017, @11:54AM (1 child)

    by FakeBeldin (3360) on Thursday May 11 2017, @11:54AM (#508037) Journal

    But a sizable portion of those comments are fake

    The fine article does not make any statements on how many of those identical comments are fake. But ZDNet reached out to 24 commenters. Only three of those reacted... but none of them had left a comment.
    That coupled with the alphabetic order in which the comments were (apparently) submitted, led ZDNet to suspect a bot.

    For me, that's enough due diligence to indeed warrant a suspicion of bot use.
    (of course, suspicions aren't facts - but without further investigation, I'm disinclined to accept these comments as originating from more than one person.)

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:25PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:25PM (#508197)

      The fine article does not make any statements on how many of those identical comments are fake.

      Presumably all of them.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by bzipitidoo on Thursday May 11 2017, @03:06PM

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Thursday May 11 2017, @03:06PM (#508108) Journal

    One danger is that the FCC leadership will deliberately overlook the sources and use this to say public support for net neutrality is weak, because their corporate backers want net neutrality killed. That would be a classic Trump administration move.

    Seems it's only a question of when Trump finally goes too far, if he hasn't already with the timing and manner of Comey's firing. He's too much of an idiot to keep a majority of public opinion on his side. He may well be a puppet president already, doing as his masters in the corporate world and Russia direct so that he'll be allowed to remain POTUS a little longer, until they no longer can get any further use out of him. One thought is that the Republican Congress will throw him under the bus in a heartbeat as the 2018 midterms approach, if he looks like a political liability, which he very well may. If Congressional Republicans turn on him, he's toast. Wouldn't surprise me if a group of them has already had some articles of impeachment written up, and has them tucked away until they're wanted.

  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday May 11 2017, @03:40PM (1 child)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 11 2017, @03:40PM (#508131) Journal

    Just because people want high prices and no competition doesn't mean it is bots.

    Just because all of the postings are the same identical comment doesn't mean it is bots.

    Just because all those people posted their comments in the exact alphabetical order of their names, does not mean it is bots.

    Even if some of these people are dead, does not mean it is bots and that dead people don't have opinions even if they differ from yours.

    (this message brought to you by the Telecom, ISP and Cable industries. I am Randall L. Stephenson and I approved this message)

    --
    I get constant rejection even though the compiler is supposed to accept constants.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12 2017, @08:47AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12 2017, @08:47AM (#508549)

      The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation, damaging the American economy and obstructing job creation. I urge the Federal Communications Commission to end the bureaucratic regulatory overreach of the internet known as Title II and restore the bipartisan light-touch regulatory consensus that enabled the internet to flourish for more than 20 years.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:00PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:00PM (#508187)

    I mean just look at the stupid obnoxious message and low brow spam tactics.

    But don't investigate Russia as the source, supremo Trump might fire you...

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Thexalon on Thursday May 11 2017, @10:08PM (1 child)

      by Thexalon (636) on Thursday May 11 2017, @10:08PM (#508359)

      This gang didn't care whether Trump or Clinton won. Once it was down to those two, they knew that no matter who won they'd have a corporate-owned president with no real principles who would gladly do what they wanted for a quick buck.

      According to opensecrets [opensecrets.org], Comcast gave $1.8 million to Republicans, and $1.4 million to Democrats. AT&T dropped about $1.3 million on Democrats, and $2 million on Republicans. Including substantial direct support for Hillary Clinton in both cases, and she of course knows who's keeping her bread buttered.

      These guys don't have a political party. They just have politicians that they buy up. Had Hillary Clinton won, I'm quite certain she would have moved to gut the net neutrality rules as quickly as possible, because there's bipartisan consensus for it (i.e. the telecoms have bought up politicians on both sides of the aisle) and she would have wanted to maximize the time between negative headlines about it and her re-election campaign.

      Trump probably doesn't even have to be bought, of course: He would like to gut net neutrality rules so that he and his staff could have websites with inconvenient information on them slowed to the point of being inaccessible to ordinary citizens. Clinton was probably going to be more subtle about it, working with search engines and Facebook and the like to treat inconvenient information as "fake news" and thus not something the public should be able to easily find.

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 13 2017, @01:36AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 13 2017, @01:36AM (#508939)

        Telecoms gave more to the democrats than the republicans in 2008/12. Obama still put a strong FCC chair in place.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:09PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:09PM (#508191)

    Evil Trumpkins using technology to hold sway over the populace! But we must mindlessly follow along with whatever brainfart huffs out of John Oliver's faceanus!

    "You see comrade, unlike the capitalists, our astroturf is the real thing!"

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