Archive for the ‘Teh Interwebs’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at 8 July 2018

Category: Donald Trump, Humanity, Teh Interwebs, Tolerance

Some readers may be here because they have been asked to read and share this important information and help drive it to the top search results for the name ‘Elin Krantz’. Hello and welcome, do use this link to help people find us | http://bit.ly/elinkrantz | and please excuse me while I attend to our other guests.

Hello, new guest. I am hoping that you are here because you have been exposed to information that has shocked you to the core, because if so, you are the most important person in my world right now.

You have probably seen the images. The horrible, haunting images of Elin’s corpse under a pile of heavy stones. I’ve been on the internet since way back in the day and I’ve seen my share of genuine crime scene photos both on and offline, but I can tell you that I was horrified in a way that I have never been before, and that’s why I’m here for you today, when you need me the most.

You’ve likely never seen anything like it, so you have probably arrived here in an elevated state of anger, confusion, and revulsion.

I am here to warn you that someone is deliberately seeking to trigger all of this in your mind so that they can direct your anger according to their needs. To be clear, they are exploiting the murder of an innocent woman and using it as propaganda in order to (a) fool you into sharing their lies, as you (b) unleash your anger in a direction that serves their political purposes, before you go on to (c) develop hate and prejudice against countries, people, populations, or even political policies that are nothing to do with any of this terrible crime of violent assault and murder.

These people even seek to make you angry at Elin – the very murder victim you seek to defend – on the grounds that she was a slut who went asking for it, but before we get to the lies we first need to cover the facts, as established by a successful prosecution in a court of law:

The following is a summary courtesy of Wikipedia and you can read the full entry here, but I have trimmed it below to include the primary facts that are relevant to this conversation:

Elin Krantz was a Swedish woman from Falköping who was murdered in the Länsmansgården district of Gothenburg in Sweden in September 2010. After an evening enjoying the nightlife of Gothenburg on 26th September 2010, she fell asleep on the tram. Security cameras showed that she was followed by 23-year old Ephrem Yohannes, who attempted to rape her and then beat her to death. On arrest, Krantz’ DNA was found on his clothing and Yohannes’ DNA was found on her body. Yohannes is an Ethiopian citizen with a residence permit. He was convicted for murder and attempted rape, and sentenced to 18 years in prison and subsequent deportation.

These are the facts. I draw your attention to the CCTV footage showing Krantz being unaware of Yohannes, and of the ultimate prosecution on a charge of attempted rape.

To be clear, even if Yohannes had succeeded in his attempt to rape Elin Krantz, that would not make her a bad person, but the facts lay out a very clear sequence of events: Krantz did not invite sex from Yohannes – or anyone else, for that matter – and evidently resisted his advances at the expense of her life.

So on that note, let’s get the first necessary unpleasantness out of the way:

1. Elin Krantz was not a slut

The propaganda version of this story describes Elin Krantz as a ‘pro multiculturalist’ who got what was coming to her because she wanted to have sex with black men. One of the most outlandish claims associated with this lie is the entirely false assertion that she appeared in a state-sponsored music video designed to encouraged inter-racial breeding in Sweden.

The video they describe is in fact an unrelated comedy video that isn’t a state-sponsored anything, and does not include Elin Krantz.

The model/actress in the video is not Elin Krantz, but Michaela Eklund, and they are evidently different people.

Elin Krantz is not Michaela Eklund

Here we take our first close look at the shape of the lie, because it is important, and what they invent tells you a lot about the inventors and what they want from you:

– The authors want you to think that a state-run conspiracy exists in Sweden and/or the EU where white women are encouraged to inter-breed with men of a different colour.

– The authors further want you to think that these men of a different colour are coming to your country specifically for ‘our women’, and they conflate this with false and misleading accounts of immigration and asylum in the EU and elsewhere.

– The authors would also have you believe that getting raped and murdered is what you deserve (and pretty much what you should expect) if you are a woman and you sleep with or even flirt with any black men at any point in your life. This narrative relies on a ‘jungle fever’ curse where killer rapists will unfailingly seek out the owners of vaginas that have known the pleasure of a black man’s penis. That seems a little far-fetched to me.

2. Sweden is not the rape capital of anywhere

Claims about ‘no go zones’ are nearly always energised by talk of ‘floods’ of brown and black people ‘invading’ a country and raping ‘our women’ (and sometimes children, a popular theme in the UK, where other genuine rapes have been exploited in a similar fashion to this one, but with child rape victims as the exploited parties). The people who spread these falsehoods also conflate their lies with talk of Sharia Law taking hold in urban ghettos where police fear to enter, under a version of Islam they imagine that allows rape and murder of ‘infidel’ women and children.

But no claim of any specified ‘no go zone’ has ever stood up to scrutiny, and the reason for the statistical anomaly on Sweden’s rape statistics is obvious if you know what you are talking about. It is at this point that we turn to Johanna Olseryd, project leader of the research department at Sweden’s National Council on Crime Prevention:

“In Sweden we count as many crimes as [the victim] can specify. So we’ve had cases with women who had a diary so they can say, ‘I’ve been raped within this marriage 400 times.’ That will result in 400 reported crimes. That also contributes to the difficulties in our statistics with comparing from month to month, or comparing one area to another, because a single case of that sort will turn the statistics upside down. That’s been a problem when some journalists from other countries go into our database. It could be one case with 50 reported crimes.”

Snopes.com – Is Sweden the ‘Rape Capital’ of Europe?

So now we know that the authors of this propaganda want to use the attempted rape and murder of one woman to make you more willing to accept false claims and misleading figures about rape generally… claims that are always tied to a political agenda that is somehow against immigration.

The authors also want you to know that rape and murder of ‘our women’ is the ultimate consequence of giving asylum to refugees. Some variations of this propaganda would go so far as to say that the rape and murder of ‘our women’ is the ultimate consequence of liberal or humane policies generally, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

3. Women are people

They are not ‘our women’, or ‘our’ anything; they are people and you should treat them with the same rights you would afford yourself.

The authors of these lies clearly regard women to be property of theirs somehow (often while simultaneously railing against their cartoonish view of ‘Sharia Law’), but it is my duty to inform you that the colour of your skin doesn’t give you a right to sexual congress with any woman; it doesn’t even get you ‘first dibs’. Sure, there are entire cultures struggling to evolve on this point even today, but that’s no excuse for your sorry behind.

Seriously, you’ll want to get this idea right out of your mind. It serves only to recruit you to a tribe that you do not want to belong to. Women are people and people have rights and no-one should have ‘dibs’ on you or have power over what you do with your body. That’s why Ephrem Yohannes is in prison.

I don’t need to cite any evidence here. Either you only have to think about it, or you don’t agree women are people, demonstrating that you have not thought about it hard enough.

Women are, of course, only one of a series of minorities being targeted here, but I doubt you even suspect how long that list is, so let’s crack on…

4. Someone is trying to use you as a weapon of hate

I’ve been showing you the shape of these lies for a reason: you need to understand the motives of the people who just tried to use you as a weapon in their cause… a weapon against innocent people who had nothing to do with the horrible crime against Elin Krantz.

They want you to go charging in like a white knight so you can unwittingly do their dirty work for them.

These are random screen captures of common variations of this same horror story. Look who’s to blame in this fiction they’ve created: there’s a long list of named and nameless minorities and even Hillary Clinton is to blame somehow.

Screen Captures

It’s important to remember that the people(s) selected here are portrayed as a threat so you might more readily accept them as targets or maybe even target them yourself.

It’s also worth noting that the people who are pushing this lie are so far ‘only’ after the Muslims, the Jews, the gays, the sexually promiscuous, the black, the brown, the left, their alleged enablers, the disabled, and anyone else not up to scratch in their eyes. So, nothing for you to worry about, I’m sure.

You need to learn how this works because the lies will not always be this obvious. The people seeking to use you in their culture war are not done with you by a long shot, and you weren’t merely misdirected in this instance; these bastards tried to herd you. You were being rushed into an action with your best instincts being used against you right up until the moment when you started to ask questions. I am so glad that you did.

It. Is. Very. Important. That. You. Continue. To. Ask. Questions.

This is only one example of many attempts to herd you into becoming part of an angry , ill-informed mob. It is no big secret that there are forces including entire nations that seek to fracture Western democracies by dividing our society and making us turn on each other, while weakening our shared values and institutions along the way. Further, there are parasites living inside our society who do this in pursuit of politics, and others who do it for profit. You need to be wary of all of these people, the new extremes they will go to, the new lows they will stoop to, and the worrying implications of all of this, because the same wave that brought the Nazis to power is back again, and the onus is on all of us to resist and protect our fellow humans from the dark impulses that destroy us.

And now, finally, on to the most important part: where friends don’t let friends slut-shame murder victims.

5. How you can fight Nazis and evil Russians and religious extremists all at the same time!

Step One: Don’t be a Nazi stooge (tick box)

Step Two: Warn your friends: “Don’t be a Nazi stooge!”

At present, one of the top search results for the name ‘Elin Krantz’ is a video on LiveLeak that incorporates all of the lies we discussed AND goes on further into a whole rant about ‘retards’.

All of this is designed to appeal to the same human weaknesses that the Nazis did, which is why I use the word as shorthand for who these people are. ‘Alt’-this or ‘neo’-that is just branding: at the end of the day, they are a bunch of fucking Nazis. They intend to bring you a world where you will have your rights taken away if you are the wrong religion, the wrong colour, the wrong orientation, the wrong inclination, or even if you just happen to be an ‘all-right person’ in the wrong place at the wrong time. They will come after you if you get in the way of what they want, which is everything.

Their lies are designed to make you fear specified minorities so you might turn against them, when they are no threat to you.

In truth, the people who are a threat to you are the ones who are lying to you in order to turn you against other human beings.

That is the epitome of evil.

I’m going to suggest – bold idea here, I know – that you NOT be evil today, and NOT help evil people do evil things.

I am going to further request that you be extra mindful not to be tricked into doing bad things in future, because this wasn’t a one-off, and you will be targeted with lies again. Don’t be an unwitting agent of evil by rushing around in an emotional state doing ‘good things based on facts’ that are in fact bad things based on lies.

And the one last thing I am going to ask of you is to revisit the urgency you felt to warn people of the terrible crime against Elin Krantz, because we’re still going to do that.

Together, we are going to warn everyone about the liars that exploit murder victims to get us to hate on each other, just so they can get what they want. The Nazi fuckers.

If you want to help fight the lies used by rape-shaming Nazi scum, all you have to do is tell your friends about this article using this link | http://bit.ly/elinkrantz | or any of the usual sharing features below.

Try to do so with the same effort you had in mind when you thought poor Elin was a slut who went asking to be murdered: surely, it’s the very least you can do.

Be well, keep asking questions, and try not to feel too bad about having your better nature used against you, because it can and does happen to all of us at the best of times.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 15 March 2018

Category: Search Engine Optimisation, Teh Interwebs

I’m blogging about SEO for the first time in a long time, and yes, seeing as you ask, I do happen to be wearing my old arse-kicking boots today, thank you for noticing.

There were so many screen captures involved in this article that I had no choice but to run it as a video, available below. A full transcript of the audio follows, but you’ll want to watch the video for the full experience. Any follow-ups or updates will be posted here.

BAD SEO: eSales Hub and the art of faking local relevance

TRANSCRIPT

SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ which is all about the appearance of relevance in search engines. ‘White Hat’ SEO deals with actual relevance, ‘Black Hat’ SEO focuses mainly on appearances, and by that I mean faking relevance.

And when I say ‘BAD SEO’, I mean not only is this example ‘Black Hat’ SEO, but it has also been done very, very badly.

We’re about to take a close look at the Gasway site, but please keep in mind that while they are likely to have gone into this venture with open eyes, the actual development work you will see is that of an agency called ‘eSalesHub’, and we’ll get to them soon enough.

But first, the site where I first found out all of this because eSalesHub were so unbelievably lazy about their cheating methods that they also exposed clients and partners to a pronounced risk of discovery.

Gasway are a plumbed heating installation, service and repair company who have a single office based in Norwich. Understandably, they would like to be relevant for queries related to boiler replacement not only in Norwich, but in other towns nearby.

It’s a common problem and I’ve advised on it many times. There are many ways of approaching the issue of making a local presence apparent, but I can guarantee you that this is the wrong way:

On their site, Gasway appear to indicate a physical address in nearby Cambridge, with some guy called Oliver in charge. Ditto Peterborough. But there’s no Gasway office or outlet or depot or anything in either location, and the Peterborough location is a residential address.

Gasway also appear to have a phantom office or location or outlet or whatever in Fakenham with an ‘Andrew’ in charge. Fakenham is a real place, but there’s no Gasway office there. There’s also an ‘Andrew’ in charge of local Gasway outlets that do not exist in 25 other locations.

All of these locations, by the way, carry the indication of a five-star review for Gasway on TrustPilot, yet when you check with the TrustPilot site, gasway.co.uk lies unclaimed with only four reviews, all of which are single-star. A neat trick.

Back to these localised gateway pages, starting with Norwich where Gasway DO have an office, here’s a ‘Mrs Jenny Edwards’ with a gushing testimonial and Gasway telling us how their local status means they treat customers like family. One of their own.

60 miles away, and here’s the same Jenny Edwards claiming to be a Legal Secretary based in Cambridge, where Gasway are based (apparently) and therefore treat local customers like family. One of their own.

And here’s the same Jenny Edwards claiming to be a Legal Secretary based in Peterborough, a further 40 miles away from Cambridge, where Gasway are based (apparently) and therefore treat local customers like family. One of their own.

And so on and so forth again and again and again; town after town, village after village across the Gasway site.

If you are thinking that it would be difficult for one woman to live or work in all of those locations, you would be right, and it is especially hard for this woman to give a credible testimonial for a gas boiler installation or repair anywhere in the UK, because she’s an American named Jessica Fertitta, who died in fire 7 years ago.

I mentioned laziness being a further issue here beyond the dishonesty, and this is but one example: a quick Reverse Image Search betrays appearances of this same picture on the websites of Go Restore & Repair as an Accountant, on Go Plumber as a ‘Stay at Home Mum from Hull’ and on Go Carpet Cleaner as a police officer from Kent.

And she’s some poor woman who died tragically young in a fire. Now Jessica Fertitta’s face is currency in an unseemly scheme to fake popular support for local business outlets that don’t even exist. This is both unpleasant, and far too reminiscent of what is going wrong with politics these days.

Looking at the eSalesHub website, we see a lot of talk about their focus on local search, where they explain how they ‘sell on’ leads from a series of self-made ‘Go’-branded sites, and how they ‘solve the local search problem’ for clients like ‘Mr Electric’ using their “patent-pending local search technology”.

A quick visit to the Mr Electric site shows exactly the same thing going on as at the Gasway site, and ooh look, here’s that same photo of Jessica Fertitta, this time as a ‘Michelle Lewis’ describing an event including great service and a free product from Mr Electric that almost definitely happened for realsies. Believe me.

This is bad SEO in that it is dishonest, but it is also so poorly executed as to be laughable. You shouldn’t do this, or anything like it, and you should show someone the door the moment they suggest this or anything like it as a viable option.

If you want to succeed in search engines in the long term you need to radiate relevance from the inside of your organisation out, not have it attached to your website after the fact, and certainly not as a full-blown facade to the extent that your first contact with customers is an outright lie at the expense of genuine local businesses in their community.

eSalesHub were invited to comment on the matter of phantom premises and bogus testimonials and the legitimacy of ‘chasing leads’ this way at the expense of genuine local businesses. I didn’t hear back from them, so here we are looking at the material they published and seeing what you think about it all.

Me, I think every marketing relationship begins with an act of trust, and you betray that at your peril.

Thanks for watching. Please subscribe and all that.

If you feel bad about what happened to Jessica Fertitta, there’s an endowment fund in her name at the University of Texas, and you can donate by visiting this URL [http://endowments.giving.utexas.edu/page/fertitta-jessica-exc-fnd-stud-advoc-civ/5996/], or the bitly link which will take you to the same location: [bit.ly/fertitta]

Cheers all.

ENDS

A sample of eSales Hub testimonials

Updates to follow.

15 March – Rolling updates in this twitter thread this morning. A summary so far: eSalesHub have not replied to my email, but have chosen to block me on Twitter. Jessica Fertitta’s image is still being used without permission on the Gasway site, but eSalesHub have been very busy removing ALL testimonial photos from the servers of the Mr Electric and ‘Go’ sites. Not the testimonials, you understand… just the photos that demonstrate that the testimonials are likely faked.

16 March – This from Mr Electric’s HQ in the US of A:

17 March – The original thread is still going, and this latest update is worth embedding:








Posted by Tim Ireland at 28 June 2017

Category: Geekage, Teh Interwebs, Tories! Tories! Tories!, UK General Election 2017

(EARLIER: Word Clouds for Labour/Conservative party Twitter accounts during #GE2017)

I write about politics and corruption and what have you, but when I’m not wearing my cape, I also do data analysis on keyword search data for SEO purposes and have done so for years and years and years and years (and years and years and years and y). My job is to recognise significant patterns, particularly those that represent potential real-world opportunities; behind every keyword query is a real person who wants something, and seeing/appreciating this data appropriately, you learn to gauge the intent and mindset of entire crowds, what their desires are, and how they go about getting their hands on what they think they want.

What we are going to do today is look at the text output from the Twitter accounts of the two biggest parties during the 2017 General Election and try to gain a similar understanding of the tribes behind them; basically, how they each pitched their message to a nation of 65 million people, and how some of the 16 million Twitter users in this country responded.

Now, I know some of you have a pretty good idea of what just happened, but trust me: the devil is in the detail.

(Declaration of Interest: I was one of hundreds engaging in the sport of replying to the @Conservatives’ account during one of the worst-run campaigns in living memory, but as busy as I was, my input is a blip on the radar and nowhere near the numbers I would need to skew Replies data in any meaningful way.)

All figures relate to Tweets and Retweets by @UKLabour and @Conservatives throughout the formal/traditional campaign period for the 2017 General Election. The relevant tweets start at 18 April 2017 and end at midnight on 7 June 2017, when all tweets/figures were captured. There was a final burst of activity from both accounts on election day itself because loopholes in social media are a thing, but there was nothing out of the ordinary beyond the predictable focus on mobilising voters on a national and local level, so I saved a copy of these cheeky extras and put them in a drawer somewhere to forget about later.

TOAP (‘Text On a Picture’) is not included in the figures for word counts or any analysis, and I make no apologies for that. It’s so labour-intensive that I’d need an obsessive intern on performance-enhancing drugs just to extract the data, and I can’t afford the amphetamines, even if I go off-brand or generic.

The captured text was edited ONLY to distinguish between the person May and other uses of the verb ‘may’ or the month ‘May’ for reasons that should be obvious.

I am also blocked on Twitter by @CCHQPress (for complaining about bullying) and by @grantshapps (ditto), so any RTs of tweets from these accounts will be missing from my data set, if they occurred at all.

Material retweeted from accounts with many followers (e.g. those of the respective leaders) and accounts with few followers (e.g. first-time candidates) can arguably boost/drag totals and skew averages, but while we will be taking a quick peek at the likely extent of any distortion in this analysis, I don’t think there’s much in it, and in any case I would argue that the robustness of these leader or ‘soldier’ accounts is just as relevant to the final picture.

Finally, before we go into the data, if you are new to Twitter you need to know about something called ‘The Ratio’:

The Ratio refers to an unofficial Twitter law which states that if the amount of replies to a tweet greatly outnumbers the amount of retweets and likes, then the tweet is bad. – source | relevant article

In this context, retweets are being artificially inflated through legitimate but atypically overt promotion through party/membership networks and (sometimes) media interest, but there’s no hiding The Ratio, and you’re going to see it again and again.

Obviously, there are exceptions to The Ratio that include unusual outpourings of sympathy and/or solidarity, but you’re going to see that, too.

And so, without further fuss or ado, let’s get onto that beautiful data and the Magic Eye pictures lurking behind it…

BIG NUMBERS

Follower/Following totals for each account at 7 June 2017:
|__ @Conservatives: 265K Followers (while Following 1.6K)
|_____ @UKLabour: 447K Followers (while Following 14.1K)

Total number of tweets and retweets published during election:
|__ @Conservatives: 1,507 – (903 Tweets, 604 Retweets)
|_____ @UKLabour: 1,007 – (757 Tweets, 250 Retweets)

Feedback Totals (All Tweets) : Replies | Retweets | Likes
|__ @Conservatives: 252,848 | 260,347 | 385,534
|_____ @UKLabour: 54,775 | 643,378 | 865,129

First appearance of The Ratio, and comparison shows Tories getting 5 times as many ‘Replies’ as Labour over time, but with less than half the number of ‘Retweets’ and even fewer ‘Likes’.

Feedback Average (Per tweet/RT) : Replies | Retweets | Likes
|__ @Conservatives: 167.8 | 172.8 | 255.8
|_____ @UKLabour: 54.4 | 638.9 | 859.1

Labour were getting maybe 50 replies on the average tweet/RT, but over 600 retweets and near to 900 likes. Conservatives, by comparison, were getting over 150 replies with near the same number of retweets, and just over 250 likes.

The numbers clearly show the Conservatives enjoying far less support than Labour on Twitter and more of what one might kindly refer to as feedback, but you’ll get your chance to make your own mind up about that soon.

A closer look at the data shows just over 100 tweets/RTs through @UKLabour exceeding 1,000 retweets, but only 28 through @Conservatives. There was one tweet from @Theresa_May that we’ll get to in a moment that got far more RTs than anything else from them (over 17,000). If I take the figures out for that tweet and re-calculate averages without it, you’ll see a dip of 5 points in Replies and 10 in Retweets (see revised set below):
|__ @Conservatives: 162.7 | 163.4 | 241.3

This is by far the largest potential skew in the set, and there’s no meaningful dent in what the numbers are telling us. It might be different if one party or the other were repeatedly retweeting from more popular tweets/accounts for the sheer hell of it in order to distort their figures somehow, but nothing like that was going on.

While we’re on this subject, let’s swing to the other end of the scale briefly to visit some of the less ‘popular’ tweets that are letting the rest of the class down, before moving on to a closer look at the top performers:

SMALL NUMBERS

The lowest performing tweet/RT by @UKLabour (with 4 replies, 22 retweets and 61 Likes) was this RT from a Labour candidate who later retained her seat in Westminster North.

The lowest performing tweet/RT by @Conservatives (with 5 replies, 9 retweets 19 likes) was this RT from Eric Pickles, during one of the occasional short barrages that happened when the @Conservatives were busy shouting at the telly.

(Eric, if you’re reading this, we need to have words about Tory fundraising executives who make false allegations of child rape, and why you think that’s something to joke about, and not something to be alarmed about.)

MOST REPLIES

The tweet/RT by @Conservatives with the most replies was an RT of this tweet by Boris Johnson, and you’re welcome to browse through the replies that I have dared to tag as ‘mostly negative’:

The tweet above had 7,828 replies by midnight 7 June. The tweet below was in a distant third with 6,121 replies at the time, but it has gained many more replies since the election for some reason (again, mostly negative in my view, but you’re welcome to look):

The tweet/RT by @UKLabour with the most replies was an RT of this tweet by Jeremy Corbyn (1,753 replies by midnight 7 June), and you’re welcome to browse through the replies that I have dared to tag as ‘mixed’:

Sure, some people under that tweet are alleging or implying that Corbyn is soft on terrorism (as per the Tory/tabloid campaign against him), but this is the most-replied-to example from @UKLabour by far for the entire campaign, and even if you were to wrongly determine that all of the replies were negative, you would have to accept that vocal anger against Corbyn (legit or not) was totally overshadowed by vocal anger against the Tories, even when the former was at its most intense.

This is also the most-retweeted and most-liked of all tweets that appeared via the @UKLabour account.

The second-most-replied-to Tweet was also an RT from Corbyn, from the very beginning of the campaign. Replies are tagged ‘mixed’ again, but for different reasons, and you’re welcome to check them out for yourself:

MOST RETWEETS/LIKES

The tweet/RT by @Conservatives with the most retweets was an RT of this tweet by Theresa May, which one might describe as ‘newsy’ and perhaps a bit controversial to boot. It had 14,230 retweets by midnight on 7 June, it was only just in 2nd place for ‘Most Replies’ (7,759) and it smashed any competition for ‘Most Likes’ (22,155).

‘Likes’ aren’t always good, by the way. The same could be said of retweets, especially in this context:

The 2nd-most-retweeted tweet through @UKLabour – with 15,753 retweets at close of play – is another RT from Corbyn, this one involving voter registration (an issue which will come up again in this analysis):

The 2nd-most-liked tweet through @UKLabour was this one with 50,728 likes during the campaign.

Here I choose to also include the 3rd-most-retweeted tweet shared through @UKLabour, not least because they had FIVE top tweets with RTs in 5 figures compared to only ONE from the Tories, and May had to wind up the whole country about human rights to get that.

TWEETS ONLY

So far, it’s been all RTs, so let me also note this…

The most-retweeted tweet from the core @UKLabour account starred AJ Tracey…

… and it was the 6th-most-retweeted tweet overall, with 8,758 retweets.

The most-retweeted tweet from the core @Conservatives account starred Jeremy Corbyn…

… and it was 2nd-most retweeted tweet of the @Conservatives campaign.

Further, the second-most-retweeted tweet of the @Conservatives campaign had a mere 5,461 retweets, and the highest they went was with a controversial pledge to change human rights laws, earning them 14,230. Quite a drop-off.

This 2nd-most retweeted tweet is more representative of @Conservatives’ peak performance overall, and it just so happens to feature the kind of material their campaign was famous for.

THE ISSUES

@UKLabour mentioned tax 61 times, mainly when guaranteeing ‘no rise in Income Tax for 95% of taxpayers, and no rise in VAT or National Insurance for anyone’.
@Conservatives mentioned tax 114 times, in part by predicting ‘huge inheritance tax bills’ (aka a ‘death tax’) under Corbyn, but mainly with arguments centering on corporation tax and how Corbyn increasing it puts families at risk somehow. More on families shortly.

@UKLabour mentioned the economy 18 times.
@Conservatives mentioned the economy 89 times, mainly to lay claim to a strong economy and/or to warn people that Corbyn would wreck it. More on this shortly, too.

@UKLabour mentioned defence 4 times.
@Conservatives mentioned defence 18 times, mainly to lay claim to a strong defence capability and/or to warn people that Corbyn would dismantle it (or sit around singing Kumbaya… no, seriously).

@UKLabour mentioned Trident and/or our nuclear deterrent 0 times.
@Conservatives mentioned Trident and/or our nuclear deterrent nearly 50 times, and each and every time, it was to call upon Corbyn to talk about it, or remark upon the fact that he hadn’t talked about it enough.

@UKLabour mentioned terror/terrorism and extremism 7 times, with a clear pattern of Corbyn personally denouncing violence and calling for unity and a revised approach to extremism.
@Conservatives mentioned terror/terrorism and extremism 36 times. The vast majority of these tweets allege that Corbyn is soft/weak on terrorism or even associated with terrorists, but one or two do take the time to brag about May’s record/approach (example: “Theresa May as Home Secretary excluded more extremist preachers than any other Home Secretary before her”) and a few even promise a stepped-up version of this same approach, but the less said about that ‘human rights’ tweet, the better. There’s so much more to be upset about…

@UKLabour mentioned homes, houses and housing 91 times.
@Conservatives mentioned homes, houses and housing 21 times.

@UKLabour mentioned jobs 42 times.
@Conservatives mentioned jobs 34 times.

@UKLabour mentioned wages 49 times.
@Conservatives mentioned wages 5 times.

@UKLabour mentioned railways/transport 26 times.
@Conservatives mentioned railways/transport 0 times.

@UKLabour mentioned the NHS 196 times.
@Conservatives mentioned the NHS 25 times.

@UKLabour mentioned education 64 times.
@Conservatives mentioned education 7 times.

@UKLabour mentioned young people 75 times.
@Conservatives mentioned young people 6 times.

@UKLabour mentioned family or families 19 times.
@Conservatives mentioned family or families 95 times.

Well done, families, but before you get ahead of yourselves: you were used to defend corporation tax and as a pawn in further attacks on Jeremy Corbyn predicting “#chaos for families across the UK”. Further, of the 95 tweets that mention family or families, 55 used the word to stoke fear of economic chaos or hardship under Corbyn (example), a further dozen merely implied danger (including an increased danger of terror attack under Corbyn), and the rest was May begging for votes to ‘strengthen her hand’ (example). I believe I mentioned a certain Mr Devil would be found in that detail, and here’s a prime example of something that looks a bit good for the Tories until you take a closer look at it and see that their use of the word ‘family’ is as much of a sham as anything else. Back to the list…

@UKLabour mentioned pensions or pensioners 79 times.
@Conservatives mentioned pensions or pensioners 8 times.

@UKLabour mentioned immigrants or immigration 0 times
@Conservatives mentioned immigrants or immigration 33 times

@UKLabour mentioned Brexit 38 times.
@Conservatives mentioned Brexit 454 times.

@UKLabour promoted voter registration 149 times.
@Conservatives promoted voter registration 0 times.

Raise your hand if you arrived at this boring-looking list expecting it to be a long way from interesting and certainly not utterly fucking devastating.

Well, we’re not done yet…

THE LEADERS/THE OPPOSITION

@UKLabour mentioned Theresa May by name, surname or username 39 times out of 1007 tweets and RTs.

The vast majority of these messages referred to her fox-hunting position or called on May to provide answers to questions about social/pensioner care arising from her manifesto.

@Conservatives mentioned Jeremy Corbyn by name, surname or username 536 times out of 1,507 tweets and RTs; more than a third of the time.

The vast majority of these messages condemned Corbyn or called on him to condemn things himself, so it’s pretty clear what the Tories were doing instead of talking about the issues, and in any case the word clouds I published at the height of the campaign tell this exact same story.

There were 83 Retweets from @jeremycorbyn published by @UKLabour.
There were 62 Retweets from @theresa_may published by @Conservatives.

@Conservatives mentioned their own leader Theresa May by name another 300 times besides this, compared to @UKLabour heralding their leader only 10 times.

Ten. Times.

For the rest of the campaign they allowed him to speak for himself, almost as if he were a real leader, leading people. Quite a novel approach in this election, as it turns out.

Figures also indicate that there is some balance in reference to the opposition, just not so focused on the leader where Labour is concerned:

@UKLabour mentioned the word ‘Tory’ 111 times, ‘Tories’ 189 times and ‘Conservatives’ 10 times, totalling 310 mentions of the Conservative party (compared to 39 mentions of May by name).

That’s an 8:1 ratio in favour of party over personality from @UKLabour

Now, consider the number of times @Conservatives mentioned ‘Labour’ by name: 90 times (compared to 536 mentions of Corbyn by name).

That’s a 6:1 ratio in favour of personality over party from @Conservatives

This alone shows how fundamentally different the two campaigns were, and it really bears mentioning that it was Labour and not the Conservatives who had a leader with a personality worth focusing on.

CONCLUSIONS

The Twitter facet of the Tory campaign failed so completely and so thoroughly on its own merits that the only thing that really bears mentioning about @UKLabour in any short conclusion is its comparative normality and evident popularity.

@Conservatives failed to focus on issues and instead focused on personalities, to their evident detriment. The Twitter public was clearly upset by their campaign and expressing specific concerns about it, but no-one was listening, presumably because Mummy knew best. The Tories were deaf to public anger to such an extent that they recycled widely derided and even previously-discredited material throughout the campaign. They also released a notoriously callous and over-confident manifesto into the wider storm of upset and thought nothing of it.

Even if Tories were so paranoid as to ignore the specifics of negative feedback, the numbers alone (that were blindingly obvious very early in the campaign) would have screamed ‘Change direction!’ to any social media manager worth their salt. I can only speculate why no-one changed direction, but my best guess is the kind of raw hubris that comes with never having to face up to responsibility even once in your life.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 7 December 2016

Category: Teh Interwebs, Tories! Tories! Tories!

[24 April 2017 – Someone’s still at it. See full update at end of post.]

You may recall David Davies being in the news a few weeks back. Then again, you may not, and given the reason why he was in the news at the time, he’d probably prefer it that way:

Independent (19 October) – Dentists condemn MP’s call for child refugees from Calais to have teeth checked

I know that someone didn’t like this highlighted text being in his Wikipedia profile. It was removed on 21 October.

'When, in October 2016, the UK admitted 15 children from the camp with a legal right to travel to the UK, he asserted without foundation that all were actually adults lying about their ages.'

This highlighted text was also removed at the same time, by the same editor.

'He defended himself against accusations of homophobia by saying that he could not be homophobic as he had once punched a gay man.'

The person who made these edits made them anoymously, and offered no reason/justification for the removal of the highlighted text; presumably, they just didn’t like what they were reading in Wikipedia, so they removed it.

The only clue left behind by the anonymous editor was an IP address, which doesn’t always reveal much on its own… but by sheer chance I had emailed David Davies at around this same time, and the exact same IP address turned up among the recipients.

So I emailed David Davies about this edit, and made it very clear that it could be demonstrated that either he or a member of his staff had edited Wikipedia anonymously in his favour.

David Davies’ response? Well, he didn’t have one.

I made it very clear that if he had no knowledge of the edit and/or wanted to investigate the matter, then he should have the opportunity to look into it and any subsequent article should reflect that.

Instead, David Davies chose to say/do nothing and just wait for it all to blow over for reasons we can only guess at.

I leave you with that mystery and the questions that David Davies chose not to answer:

How often do you and your staff edit Wikipedia anonymously?
:
How often have you personally edited this page anonymously?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Davies_(Welsh_politician)
:
How often do you personally edit other pages anonymously?
:
Assuming you are willing to admit to anonymous edits, how do you defend this action, given that (a) Wikipedia is meant to be a neutral reference site, not a PR site containing only things that you approve of, and (b) MPs are meant to hold to high standards of transparency and accountability?

Of course, I will be sure to update this article if David Davies suddenly thinks of a response to all of this six weeks after the event, but personally I don’t expect much from anonymous cowards and/or MPs who use them to protect their reputations, and neither should you.

[NOTE – I emailed David Davies about the issue of party-political bullying. He declined to comment very clearly on the grounds that it was not a constituency issue.]

UPDATE (24 April 2017) – Since I wrote this article, there have been further multiple anonymous attempts to remove all mention of controversy from the Wikipedia profile of David Davies (link).

Wikipedia discussion about edits of page of David Davies

You can read what Wikipedia editors wrote about their concerns (and how that conversation develops) here, but to be clear on this point for any new readers:

I do not edit Wikipedia under any name, and I do not advise that you go rushing in there in response to any of this, either. It is far preferable that an experienced editor with no dog in the race handle the problem.

That said, you may want to look at the ‘Talk’ and ‘View History’ links on the profile page of your local MP/candidate today and see if this snap election hasn’t prompted a few nervous edits. There are many MPs who struggle to understand the difference between an election pamphlet and something that is supposed to be reference material, and any MP who conspires to secretly censor their own Wikipedia entry clearly struggles with wider issues such as honesty, integrity, accountability, and democracy.

By now it can be demonstrated that David Davies is one such MP: even if he avoided making the edits himself, he was advised of anonymous edits in his favour involving an IP address used by his office/staff months ago, and chose to ignore the issue.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 26 July 2016

Category: Anne Milton, Teh Interwebs, Tories! Tories! Tories!, UK General Election 2015

“You know what some people call us: the nasty party.”
– Theresa May, speech to the Conservative Conference, 2002

For more than a decade I’ve been publishing warnings about the dark places social media will take us when politicians do not take threatening behaviour seriously, deliberately turn a blind eye to it from their own supporters when it suits them, and/or even engage in it themselves. On that last point, I’m aware of several incidents where a serving MP has sought to answer, damage or even intimidate critics through use of anonymous comments/accounts. In doing so, they seek to avoid accountability and undermine a key component of our democracy.

This is something we should be taking very seriously. It has also grown much worse in recent years because (a) the village has been getting bigger and there are more idiots to go around, (b) social media gives these idiots opportunities that did not exist 10 years ago without at least the tacit approval of a publisher with an audience but without a conscience, and (c) people watch and take note when others get away with it, resulting in everything from immediate mob formation to later mimicry.

Worse, the problem peaks during emotional highs such as elections, referendums and leadership campaigns, which is when we need our democracy the most.

Currently, Jeremy Corbyn is being called upon to answer for the poor behaviour of just about everybody who ever leaned to the left. Similarly, Theresa May’s supporters recently felt the need to call upon fellow Conservatives to sign a “clean campaign pledge” during the Tory leadership contest, but May’s own Chief Whip continues to protect one of her former executive fundraisers (a man who continues to target me and others), purely because she fears the political cost of admitting to a mistake involving a very dirty campaign where an innocent man was branded as a paedophile.

This is only one example of that party’s neglect over decades of abuse and harassment from its members. I say this not to engage in political whataboutery but to highlight the fact that this is not a party or political problem, but a widespread, long-standing and worsening problem that will only get better when people in authority finally grasp the nettle and take responsibility rather than see bullying as something to be played down when it happens in your own ranks, and capitalised on when it appears to originate from the opposition.

This bias/opportunism and the bullying itself are very human responses. We’re not divine beings; we’re selfish animals with social concerns. We are wired to behave this way when we think we can get away with it. Therefore, the only credible and effective response is a measure that not only acknowledges the bullying from all sides, but addresses the human element including the problem of inherent bias.

If I may beg your patience for a few moments, I’d like to focus on this single example from direct experience just long enough to give you a sense of perspective and purpose…. then I would like to get on with the important business of proposing what I think is a workable solution. (It’s in bold below if you have a short attention span and no care for detail.)

You may find the following hard going if you are a Conservative, but I will try to remain objective if you can promise to do the same, and (as usual) I will stick to what I can demonstrate with evidence if Anne Milton or David Cameron anyone else wishes to challenge it:

In 2006, two fundraising executives in Guildford were working under campaign head Jonathan Lord (now MP for Woking) for the recently-elected MP for Guildford: Anne Milton.

These two fundraising executives, Mike Chambers and Dennis Paul, also put themselves forward as Conservative candidates in a local council election. They both deny authorship of an anonymous website that accused their opponent and a critic of Anne Milton of paedophilia, but it can be demonstrated that an email address administered by Mike Chambers was used in an attempt to anonymously publicise the site, and that Dennis Paul linked to it from his own site early in the campaign and referenced the allegations on the eve of the relevant election. For now, let’s afford them the benefit of the doubt to the extent that we allow for the potential involvement of an unidentified third party who created an anonymous website making false allegations of child rape in order to damage a candidate in an election (which is a crime, by the way). At one stage, the anonymous site author revealed some shocking prejudice that most reasonable people would describe as a hate incident if not a hate crime: the candidate outed themselves as gay, and the site author quite clearly asserted this as confirmation that they were a paedophile as alleged.

At the time of my original complaint about this behaviour, Cameron’s office responded by saying that he was ‘confident that the issue was being investigated a local level’, but on that same day he formally endorsed both Mike Chambers and Dennis Paul as Conservative candidates and had his picture taken with them as part of that process.

Chambers and Paul were not suspended pending an investigation because there was no investigation. Later, Cameron had no response to Jonathan Lord’s own admission that he had decided against an investigation purely because an election was in progress and he didn’t want the candidates or the party to be damaged by what he described as a threat that the facts would somehow be ‘distorted’ and used against them unfairly (more/detail).

Police were involved at the time, but declined to investigate some key authorship issues based on the false assertion by an unnamed Tory party member that a key witness did not exist and had been invented as part of a plot to fabricate evidence against Mike Chambers. Dennis Paul also made quite specific allegations about my hacking his computer and illicitly making changes to his website(s). This apparent conspiracy to pervert the course of justice alone is a matter that warrants investigation.

At the tail end of my article I have included a further letter that I sent to David Cameron in 2015. The blasé response to this letter – that I should refer my concerns to police – completely ignored the statute of limitations on relevant offences and implied that the Conservatives would tolerate any behaviour from their members and candidates that was technically legal… but my main issue was the leaking of this private and sensitive correspondence.

I have found this to be a common problem with a series of Chairpersons during David Cameron’s time as Conservative Leader. It is part of a Gentleman’s Club mindset where formal investigation is rejected in favour of a quiet word off the record. Too often the full body of the complaint is shared illicitly as part of this process, putting the alleged victim at the mercy of their alleged bully. I am aware of multiple victims of this pattern of behaviour within the Conservative Party, and you will no doubt be aware of Elliott Johnson, who took his own life in the wake of similar behaviour, but even now the Conservatives refuse to acknowledge or investigate this widespread and long-standing issue.

Immediately after my initial complaint in 2006 I was the target of relentless attacks on anonymous websites and through the use of anonymous comments on the then up-and-coming websites of a range of Conservatives, some of whom sought to take advantage of the situation. It wasn’t until 2009 that I discovered that a further fundraising executive working for Anne Milton was also involved to the extent of smearing me as a paedophile. And an extremist. And a cyber terrorist. And a stalker.

In 2012 I complained to the President/Chairman of the relevant fundraising committee. Within 24 hours of that email being read, I was again anonymously smeared as a paedophile.

That now-former* fundraising executive’s name is Dominic Wightman, and his behaviour has grown well out of control over years of bullying because nobody in the party took the matter seriously. In fact, the behaviour has continued unabated for close to if not more than a decade by now. There has been no admission of fault or error by Anne Milton, Jonathan Lord or David Cameron, and it is in this climate of neglect that behaviour like this escalates. In fact, Wightman is so confident that he can say what he likes and do what he pleases that he goes around telling people all sorts of rubbish. The following is an extract from a recent email from Glen Jenvey, a man that Dominic Wightman (aka ‘Dominic Whiteman’) has repeatedly convinced to publish false allegations on his behalf:

“To be quite truthful whiteman is linked directly to Cameron that’s why the police never act against him.” – Glen Jenvey

Obviously this is bullshit, but in the absence of any real threat of contradiction or accountability, it is very effective bullshit. Wightman fed Jenvey and other people similar fictions about links to Lord Ashcroft, and it took that peer nearly four years to merely contradict Wightman’s claims about knowing him.

The absence of any real threat of contradiction or accountability also led to escalation of other aberrant behaviour, up to and including Wightman’s years-old obsession with ‘downing’ me on behalf of Milton and other members of the party. I have spoken to witnesses who describe Wightman not merely voicing the allegation of paedophilia as a passing comment, but relating long and detailed fantasies about my imagined crimes. Take a moment to consider this. It is not something said in the heat of the moment; it is cold and calculated behaviour that involves the creation of complex, perverse fictions. It is far from healthy, and we are at this insane stage mainly if not only because a range of Conservatives repeatedly put party-political concerns ahead of principle.

It is on this note that I arrive at my proposed solution, and I challenge Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and any other party leaders to respond to it:

1. A wholly independent investigation into the handling of bullying complaints by all parties going back at least 10 years. A public consultation with victims of alleged bullying/harassment should be central to this process, as there will be cases where no internal record of their complaint exists/survives.

2. A report detailing what measures might be taken to improve current protocols for all parties and how they are followed.

3. A specific option that should be considered is the creation of an independent body to cover all parties and handle all initial complaints of harassment, bullying, abuse and similar behaviour. Obviously their powers, protocols and funding are issues to be informed by the initial independent investigation and debated in Parliament, but in my view, the body should at the very least have an investigative arm and the capacity to make fast and credible recommendations about what actions relevant parties or authorities should take in response to any given complaint.

What I am working towards is something that allows aberrant behaviour to be initially assessed/addressed by people who do not feel an overwhelming need to protect any particular person or party from political damage. I cannot take credit for the core idea, as it was something proposed by Ray Johnson following his son’s death.

I close in reference to my 2015 letter to David Cameron that was leaked to some of the parties involved while my concerns were ignored (below).

In the subsequent election, I was not only targeted by a series of anonymous Twitter and WordPress accounts making false allegations of criminal behaviour, but the neglect at a party level was so bad that one MP (Nadine Dorries) saw fit to endorse and publicise these anonymous accounts, and another MP (Grant Shapps) saw fit to repeat some of these allegations in his official capacity as co-Chairman of the party. In other words, the man who handled my complaint to the party’s leader went on to engage in the same bullying campaign I was complaining about and involve the party directly in the process.

(Psst! If you wish to take a good guess at his motive, take a look at this site I published shortly before his outburst.)

Throughout this affair, people have been targeted with fabricated evidence causing them needless concerns for their safety. One of these people is Nadine Dorries, and I take this behaviour against her as seriously as anything else, but it is too late for police to act on it, and I fear that only belated intervention by her party is likely to alleviate the ongoing problem for her, myself and others.

This is a rare, near-to-perfect** and long-overdue opportunity for Theresa May to detoxify her party and politics generally. If she doesn’t take it, and if she sees fit to pretend there is no issue to address, then she cannot say or do anything about the current level of bullying in politics with any credibility. Further, she will have to admit that the Conservatives’ reputation as the ‘nasty party’ is well earned due to widespread behaviour at every level that she has personally refused to address.

(*One hopes.)

(**Cameron has exited humming a carefree little tune, but Jonathan Lord must answer for his failure to investigate two candidates/fundraisers and Anne Milton must answer for her failure to address serious concerns about another of her fundraising executives.)

16 February 2015

Dear Prime Minister,

Please excuse the impertinence of my writing directly to someone as important as your good self. In my defence, the last time I wrote to a standing Prime Minister, it was to warn Gordon Brown about some chap named Derek Draper, and I do not think my concerns were misplaced.

Back in 2006, I wrote to you as leader of the Conservative Party with concerns about two executives on a fundraising committee and campaign team for the Conservative Member for Guildford Anne Milton. I presented initial evidence and offered further supporting evidence to support my allegation that they had involved themselves in an months-long campaign to smear a critic of that MP as a paedophile and child rapist. While both parties sought to use false identities to avoid accountability for their behaviour, one party knowingly published and retained links to the offending site on their personal/political blog, and another sought to publicise the same site on a local student forum after originally signing up for that site using an email address containing a domain registered in their name, and at their home address. These individuals then involved themselves in a series of false allegations against me when I dared to confront them about their conduct.

At the time, I presented you with the evidence linking them to this behaviour and offered further supporting evidence. You declined to act yourself and instead referred the matter back to Jonathan Lord, who was then Anne Milton’s campaign manager (he later became Conservative MP for Woking). You were so satisfied by his response that two days later you posed for photos with these two individuals and personally endorsed their candidacy for local council.

However, Jonathan Lord’s only answer to the allegations in 2006 was (a) that the victim of the smears had not complained to him about it, and (b) that I had not put my own complaint in writing (i.e. I had ‘only’ emailed him about it). Lord reiterated this response in 2009.

In 2011, I recorded Jonathan Lord admitting that no formal investigation took place because the parties involved had already been selected as candidates for a campaign in progress. His exact words:

“I said (to the parties involved): ‘It’s lucky you guys have already been selected, otherwise, you know, we’re in the middle of a campaign now’…”

“This is all off the record, OK? In the middle of an election, you know, you don’t obviously want to give succour to your opponents…”

“If we hadn’t already been in the middle of an election campaign… then it might have been a slightly different story.”

Crucially, whatever Lord said to these individuals back in 2006 was said informally and privately, and there was no public-facing acknowledgement that anything untoward had happened. The entirely predictable result was that a further fundraising executive for Anne Milton repeated the exact same stunt (in 2009), this time with me as the target. I have since secured emails where the individual concerned sought to justify their actions to a then-associate by saying quite specifically that Milton and her supporters wanted me ‘downed’.

I originally suspected the person involved in this second event was a donor and confronted Milton about their behaviour with questions about their donor status; she denied that they were a donor and refused to take any further action… while knowing that they were an executive member on one of her fundraising committees.

Once again, I contacted you and key members of your party for action, but once again everyone in a position of authority was diving for cover with cheap excuses. Anne Milton claimed she couldn’t act or even comment because the person involved was a constituent. Jeremy Hunt claimed he couldn’t act or even comment because the person involved *wasn’t* a constituent. Jonathan Lord was still of the view that none of it was anyone’s concern because as far as he was aware, technically, no crime had been committed.

It is at this stage that I will remind you that what Derek Draper and Damien McBride planned wasn’t ‘technically’ illegal… it was ‘merely’ morally reprehensible. Nevertheless, your entire party was up in arms about their plot and demanding accountability. At the same time, I was actively and relentlessly being smeared as a dangerous criminal while you and your members sought to avoid responsibility.

The relevant behaviour continues to this day, almost 10 years after the original event. Further, we have a rather important general election on the way, emotions are bound to run high, and my concerns extend beyond my own experiences.

I have watched this cancer grow within your party, I am concerned about the conduct of your candidates, their campaigners and their fundraisers, and today I ask only three things of you, all desired to send a clear message to your members about such behaviour:

1) A formal acknowledgement from Anne Milton, Jonathan Lord and Jeremy Hunt that they did not deal with this behaviour as stringently or as thoroughly as they should have during either event. (I’d be grateful for any apologies that might accompany this, but appreciate that your influence is limited in this respect.)

2) A formal acknowledgement from you and your party Chairman that there have been some regrettable failures in leadership and oversight throughout this matter.

3) Your personal assurance that any further evidence of such behaviour will be investigated and dealt with quickly, firmly, and in good faith.

I’m sure that even with our vastly differing opinions about social justice, we can agree that using false allegations of criminal behaviour as a political weapon is entirely unacceptable.

I am equally certain that we can agree that false allegations of child rape are especially unhelpful given the recent allegations of paedophile rings inside Westminster.

I look forward to a prompt and considered response to my concerns. Should you require further evidence to support any of the above, I am at your disposal.

Regards,

Tim Ireland

UPDATE (27 July) _ Some added detail and context from Richard Bartholomew: Online Harassment by Conservative Party Activists: A Decade of Mishandled Complaints








Posted by Tim Ireland at 2 February 2016

Category: Donald Trump, Teh Interwebs

About once a month I tweet something of interest to more than a few dozen people, and this month that tweet is about a picture of Donald Trump and his daughter. For context, this is one of a series of pictures taken in 1997, making one of the most offensive things in the picture those ankle socks, worn about a decade after Don Johnson Miamied his last Vice. There are other unsettling components of this picture, but I trust that astute readers will note that I myself only comment facetiously on the alleged sex lives of an uncertain number of concrete parrots. I certainly make no mention of questionable comments that Trump has made repeatedly about his daughter (see examples here and here).

At the time of writing this has been Retweeted about 4,000 times and Liked about 3,500 times, resulting in an estimated 900,000 Impressions… and about 500 replies. The vast majority of said replies are on the subject of what that look and caress implies (mainly involving the words ‘Ew!’ or ‘creepy’, and/or a variety of wishes to unsee that which cannot be unseen) but there are also a few messages from supporters of Donald Trump, and I’d like to share some of those with you now.

To be clear, I am only including replies to me and me alone (i.e. not to anyone else who may have extrapolated something more from this picture than the alleged sex lives of inanimate parrots). Rather than dissect the replies, I think I will simply allow them to speak for themselves.

(Quick note for the record: I had by this time already jovially mentioned the possibility that they were macaws, and in any case… macaws are parrots!)

I will close only by (a) saying how genuinely touched and encouraged I am by the few replies that try to correct me gently on my joke about the parrots, and (b) urging any new readers to avoid replying to the angrier tweets; regulars know by now that there really is no point.

UPDATE – Some late additions:

UPDATE (3 Feb) – Breaking the rule about ‘only including replies to me alone’ here, mainly because this one is too good too miss. That’s not his daughter, it’s his wife! Erm, no. It’s definitely his daughter.

Also, here’s a comment from a well-wisher near Atlanta, Georgia who submitted their thoughts under the wrong article. Rather than waste it, I present it here as a screen capture in all its unedited glory. I will stress yet again that I have only ever commented on the alleged sex lives of concrete parrots. Seeing as the author is dimly aware of the phenomena of psychological projection, I will trust them to take a moment to ponder quietly on the potential significance of a Freudian slip in “you should keep your hands on children” and leave it at that.

Trump comment

Oh, and if the FBI get in touch, I’ll be sure to tell you all about it.

UPDATE (5 Feb) – So my tweet featured on AOL.com the other day. Yes, AOL is still a thing, and there are many, many more Trump supporters among users of the AOL website than there are on Twitter. Make of that what you will.

Out of nearly 3,000 comments (not a typo: at time of writing, there are 2,993), there were hundreds from users saying that they saw nothing inappropriate about the photo, only the healthy love that all daughters have for their fathers, and anybody who read anything more into it must be some kind of pervert. Many others speculated that myself and the Mashable author who wrote the piece were part of a coordinated sleaze/attack campaign connected to “libtards” generally, and Hillary Clinton specifically (cue multiple mentions of Bill Clinton and his cigar). At one stage I was even accused of being directly funded/employed by the Koch brothers. There were multiple comments speculating on the Mashable author’s sexuality (the word “dyke” is used often) and there were many, many people who wanted us all to know with a high degree of certainty that the concrete parrots in the picture are definitely not having sex (because of the way they are facing, the position of the wings, the looks on their faces, etc. etc.) and I must be an ultra-pervert to even think such a thing.

If you’re the type of person who slows down for car crashes, I recommend persevering with the ‘load more comments’ button and browsing for yourself, but do take a cut lunch and a water bottle with you. Here, I will only feature a small collection of my very favourite comments from people who are most upset that myself or anyone else dared to speculate about somebody else’s sex life (and here I will stress once again that – even now – I have still only gone so far as to comment facetiously on the parrots):

Trump/AOL comment 1

Trump/AOL comment 2

Trump/AOL comment 3

Trump/AOL comment 4

Trump/AOL comment 5

Personally, I’m thinking the last one especially takes the perversion projection just a teensy bit far. Or am I being unfair?








Posted by Tim Ireland at 3 November 2015

Category: Humanity, Teh Interwebs, The Political Weblog Movement

I have just learned that Tom Barry of @BorisWatch/BorisWatch.co.uk has died suddenly at the all-too-young age of 41.

I’ve no doubt that his immediate family are in shock and have some serious grieving ahead of them, but if they’re reading this at any stage I hope that it will comfort them to know about Tom’s other family.

This morning I have watched a wave of sentiment on Twitter from friends of Tom and fans of his work on @BorisWatch and associated projects. What Tom did on an entirely voluntary basis was face up to some of the most devious, disingenuous and downright unpleasant people in politics with relentless good humour and the sharpest of wits.

Tom not only sought to stem the tide of bile and bullshit with incredible tenacity, but he did so in a way that gave strength and comfort to people who might otherwise let it wash over them.

This contribution amounts to so much that I draw some strength from knowing all of the good that Tom did with the life that he had, and how much of his spirit is likely to live on in others.

We may have lost Tom to the void, but part of me dares hope that it is inexplicably a brighter place now, despite the odds. I know this world is.

ELSEWHERE:

Tim Fenton: So Farewell Then Tom Barry
Darryl Chamberlain: Some thoughts on the passing of Tom Barry (@BorisWatch)
John B: He Was Watching The Defectives
David Allen Green: Farewell to BorisWatch
Dave Hill: A small tribute to Tom Barry of BorisWatch
Alex Ingram: What I learnt from following BorisWatch

This from Alex is spot on:

(Tom) seemed to live not only to find things out but to share them as widely as possible.

Tom was an insightful and informed data evangelist. He was the kind of rare person that Jesus of Nazareth reportedly described as ‘the salt of the earth’ and the ‘the light of the world’.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 3 September 2015

Category: Consume!, Flash Music Video, Games and Objects, Teh Interwebs

Way back in 2003, on the same weekend that Jemini were bottoming out in the Eurovision Song Contest, I released my very first animation. It was a music video for JPEG Baby, a song written by me and composed, performed and produced by Koit.

I am proud to announce that this interwebs classic has a brand new video and is now available to buy on iTunes. The song and the video are both mildly NSFW, but not graphic in nature. Just a wee bit naughty.

I trust that those to you who are new to the song will appreciate its subtle cautionary overtones.

Buy this song now on iTunes!

JPEG Baby cover art








Posted by Tim Ireland at 22 April 2015

Category: Consume!, Teh Interwebs, The Political Weblog Movement, Tories! Tories! Tories!

The recent controversy about a Guardian story apparently linking Grant Shapps to a series of Wikipedia edits led me to review my email correspondence with Mr Shapps back in 2012, when I was seeking a statement or denial over the Wikipedia edits referenced in this article and his wider adventures as ‘Michael Green’ (latest). This began as a private conversation, and agreements were made about data of a personal/sensitive nature but (a) I made it utterly clear to Grant (twice!) at the end of the conversation that if he left it at the point that he did and the matter was not pursued through official channels, then I would be left with no choice but to lobby publicly for an investigation/inquiry, and (b) happily, I can do so without revealing any of the more sensitive data in our correspondence.

That was over two years ago. I apologise to the public for being so preoccupied in the months and years that followed (long story), but I’m here now and ready to lobby for justice.

During this 2012 email conversation Grant Shapps and I spoke about the incident at the 2007 Ealing Southall by-election, when his official YouTube account was involved in an alleged sock-puppeting incident. Grant publicly claimed at the time that his YouTube account was hacked, and he in part blamed his use of “a very easily guessable password”… ‘1234’ (source). Here is what Grant later claimed happened after that event, at the count for that same by-election:

“That 1234 thing was over 5 years ago, at the count a man came up to me and explained about using brute force to unlock the page. Apparently this is software that runs through combinations. He was proud of the fact that the password was quick and easy to crack and mentioned it hadn’t taken long. Although we discussed legal action at the time, after the campaign was over we never pursued it on the basis of time and cost.” – Grant Shapps

I am hesitant to cast doubt on Grant’s story because of the pressing need to call this unknown person to account (should they exist), but the simple fact is that Mr Shapps has “overly firmly denied” once too often, he is the subject of widespread mockery as a result, and if I do not raise these obvious points/questions in an objective manner here, then my own credibility will suffer, and that will harm any attempt to bring this unknown person to justice (should they exist). Police do not take kindly to people who cannot determine the difference between speculation and fact.

1. You can’t just wander into a count for an election. If you are not an official helping to conduct the count, then you need to be either (a) a candidate, (b) their agent, or (c) formally appointed by a candidate or a candidate’s agent as a counting agent. Somewhere, there is paperwork with this man’s name on it, or this unknown person (should they exist) has committed a criminal offence by giving false information.

2. The Returning Officer, the first person you would be expected to report such behaviour to, would have been present at the count, throughout the count. It would have been a very simple matter to bring this matter to the RO’s attention and make the key allegation against this unknown person (should they exist). I am left wondering why this did not happen, and if it did, what Mr Shapps can tell us about the reasons why it was not followed up by the authorities, because…

3. ‘Time and cost’ are factors Mr Shapps might consider in a civil case, but in a matter that involves criminal law, a crime is a crime, and it should be reported, especially if you are not the only victim. This unknown person (should they exist) strikes me as an extremely reckless individual who has sought to betray the wider electorate, and it is on this note that I leave you with the guts of my reply back in 2012 (I ask you to excuse my cynicism, as it was expressed privately at the time):

“re: ‘1234’… This is an unsubstantiated anecdote that is far too close to ‘a big boy did it and ran away’ to be taken seriously. Twinned with this is the fact that you are denying pretending to be more than one person in one instance while defending your pretending to be more than one person in another. There is also the not-insignificant matter of the account you describe involving at least one unmistakably criminal act. This is something that should have been reported regardless of any intentions about civil action. If you are going to sincerely put it to me that this happened as you describe, then I am compelled to lobby for an investigation or inquiry into the unknown man who sought to influence the outcome of an election with criminal act(s) and confront you personally to brag about it. Such a person, if they exist, has so little regard for the law that the matter would be pressing still even if it weren’t for the recent interest in computer hacking (see: Murdoch)” – Tim Ireland

So, there you have it. A mystery to be unravelled. I am uncertain what the statute of limitations is on any relevant offences under the Representation of the People Act (answers on a postcard, please), but the hacking allegation alone deserves a full and proper investigation, and it is long overdue.

Did an unnamed man make edits to a YouTube account under false pretences purely to make Grant Shapps look guilty? That certainly appears to be what he is implying in this recent statement about the ‘Contribsx’ Wikipedia edits. We could be looking at a pattern of behaviour here:








Posted by Tim Ireland at 3 March 2015

Category: Teh Interwebs, The Political Weblog Movement, Tories! Tories! Tories!

[TL:DR – Tories running the Department of Education sought to harangue and taunt their critics anonymously like playground bullies. Here is the evidence they tried to bury.]

For over two years, an anonymous Twitter account endorsed by the Conservatives sought to denigrate, discredit and abuse critics and opponents of the former Education Secretary Michael Gove. Given that the Conservative Party Chairman (and shyster) Grant Shapps is highly tolerant of abusive sock-puppets in the party ranks and isn’t above sock-puppeting his opponents personally, I am of the opinion that people far-too-readily assume that a senior figure like Gove didn’t risk having a direct hand in the account himself.

I recommend this informative timeline and the following articles if you are unaware of the significance of this account and its authorship:

Michael Gove advisers face claims of smear tactics against foes (2 February 2013)
Are dark arts spinning out of control in Michael Gove’s department? (2 February 2013)
Michael Gove’s officials act to clean up abusive @toryeducation Twitter feed (16 February 2013)
MP calls for ‘Toryeducation’ Twitter user to be unmasked (26 March 2013)

The account was downright childish and abusive in tone, and often challenged critics of Gove to ‘get a real/proper job’ rather than waste any time subjecting his department to scrutiny (not a wise narrative to press during a recession, especially when you are spouting party/political propaganda instead of focusing on the job that the taxpayers are paying you to do).

The morally impoverished authors were also known for cringe-worthy use of a #winning hashtag (see: Charlie Sheen), repeated characterisation of opponents as ‘lefties’ and ‘comrades’, even a comparison of some critics/opponents to Hitler and/or Stalin… and throughout, nauseatingly effusive praise of Michael Gove and his bold mission to reshape education in his divine image.

This archive is a near-to-complete* record of everything tweeted and retweeted from its inception (Jan 2012) through to the date of Michael Gove’s humiliating ‘promotion’ to Chief Whip (Jul 2014). Upon the news that the Grand Headmaster had been demoted, there was a short silence, a flurry of tweets announcing the cabinet changes to be a glorious victory for Michael Gove and his loyal staff, then a very long silence followed only by sporadic tweeting until the end of that year, when all prior tweets were carefully and deliberately erased… because it simply wouldn’t do to be answerable for childish and abusive attacks on opponents, now would it?

(*It does not include any tweets that were deleted on/near the day of publication, and this is a common tactic of bullies with or without sock-puppets: they like to hit people and run away.)

Obviously, with the account so thoroughly cleansed of evidence (see also: Jeremy Hunt), it is difficult to determine the full context of some tweets and/or access any wider conversations, but I thought that hard-working taxpayers deserved to keep some kind of record of the Tory propaganda they paid for when Gove and his squadron of flying monkeys were running the Department of Education.

On that note, I will leave you with one of the final tweets from one of the anonymous authors who spent over two years accusing their critics and opponents of rampant dishonesty (and anonymous bullying, naturally):

It’ll take all you Blobbers a lot more than 4 yrs to glue pieces together & by then computers will have fired you! #Won #MissionAccomplished

Archive begins below the fold (click here to read in full). Do with it what you will. Cheers all.

[Note – Just for the record, in formatting these tweets for publication, I noted characteristics of the text that demonstrate that many of them were not tweeted ‘live’, but were first drafted in Microsoft Word. A key example: some of the nastier attacks on Suzanne Moore. Make of that what you will.]

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