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Former FBI agent Clint Watts explains why trolls are the bleak future of politics

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Internet trolls helped get President Donald Trump elected in 2016 — and a former FBI counterterrorism expert explained why social media manipulation will become a key strategy for all politicians.

The Kremlin pioneered political trolling by seamlessly fusing hacking and influence, and they used stolen data to mount propaganda campaigns around the clock in countries all over the world — including the U.S. — and that successful campaign will be copied, wrote cybersecurity expert Clint Watts for The Daily Beast.

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“Trolling-as-a-service, one stop shops for analyzing, engaging, and mobilizing online audiences, will be a method all political campaigns seek to exploit in the future,” Watts wrote.

Watts said campaigns would exploit social media data to target voters with ads preying on their emotional vulnerabilities, and then mobilize engaged audiences to destroy political foes while hiding the source of the attacks.

“The world shouldn’t be surprised Cambridge Analytica moved to offer the precursor to trolling-as-a-service,” Watts wrote. “We should instead be surprised that it’s the only one we know about to date.”

He warned that the selection of Brad Parscale, who ran Trump’s digital campaign in 2016, as the president’s re-election campaign manager was an ominous sign.

“If left unchecked, politicians and their political parties, Super PAC’s, lobbyists, and corporate public relations firms will seek out ‘trolling-as-a-service’ to dominate the information space toward their advantage but to the detriment of society,” Watts wrote.

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A template has already been established for using hackers to compromise political foes and then using trolls to stage events, generate a false sense of support and push provocative themes.

“Great reward will come to the entrepreneur with enough startup capital to harvest and correlate large amounts of personal data on distinguishable voting blocs and then mine those details rapidly and incisively by employing machine learning,” Watts wrote. “From there, rented troll farms will deploy sophisticated computational propaganda to alter the information environment and employ humans to act as for-hire propagandists advancing their client’s message and tackling their client’s adversaries.”

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Republican Kevin McCarthy gets taken down by former top GOP colleague

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was attacked by a former Republican colleague who alleged McCarthy and his fellow members of Congress have allowed the House GOP to become the official shill for the White House.

In a profile for the New York Times, former Oversight Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) shamed the GOP House for the way that a once-respectable institution has fallen.

“Congress no longer operates as an independent branch of government, but as an appendage of the executive branch,” said Davis. “He is made for that role.”

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Former senator reveals to Maddow how one brave Democrat can reveal key document in impeachment trial

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Near the end of Wednesday's impeachment trial, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that an agreement had been made to allow senators to read supplemental testimony from Vice President Mike Pence aide Jennifer Williams.

The document will remain classified, despite claims that there is no classified material in the document, only evidence that is damning to the president.

"In terms of this document potentially being improperly classified, which is something that has been raised in writing by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and raised on the floor of the Senate tonight by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)," MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow noted. "Obviously, it was the vice president's office that said it was classified, they are getting publicly criticized for that. If it has been improperly classified and it should be something that the public can see, who adjudicates that?"

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Florida Republican Matt Gaetz admits Trump’s legal defense was ‘like an 8th grade book report’ — only worse

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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) admitted that President Donald Trump's team of lawyers weren't quite the legal eagles that he thinks they might be, said Politico reporter Andrew Desiderio.

Questioned about his take on the way the case is unfolding in the Senate, Gaetz said that the House presented it like it was going to be on "cable news." For many that may be an insult, but it appears to Gaetz that was a compliment.

Desiderio said that Gaetz then lamented that the White House presented their case more like “an 8th-grade book report.”

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