I remember back when the DDR fell, the Stasi were revealed to have recruited practically everybody as informers. The way to get out of any arrest-type situation was to agree to be an informer.
So maybe the performance metric applied by Stasi management was: number of informers recruited this week. That would be an easy number to report, and an easy number to approve, especially with the weekend coming up. The words "but none of them have told us anything" were probably never spoken out loud by anybody at any level.
Imagine the head office of a "hostile state actor", I think that's the phrase, come election time in the USA.
So many fake Facebook accounts created; so many fake tweets tweeted. These are impressive numbers! Well done!
Quora sends me so many questions to answer about Brexit (no, I don't bother) that they must have latched on there as well. Most of the questions I get are asked anonymously, although I get quite a few from Oleg [surname redacted]. A question from Oleg that managed to combine Cambridge Analytica, Birthday Honours, Coronavirus and the class system got me thinking about this.
Somewhere out there beyond the Urals, or perhaps in a nondescript building tucked away in the forests around Moscow, a young hacker is being congratulated on how many questions he's managed to feed to me on Quora. Up there in a converted shelter in the mountains around Tehran (good wifi), another youngster is receiving a merit award for Most Facebook Accounts Created In One Week.
Never mind that all those accounts have been closed; never mind that I never answer. Those numbers look great!
Never mind either that social media doesn't win elections. Back in 2019, the UK election, social media spent a lot of its time telling me that Jeremy Corbyn would save the nation. Now, it's on about the all-encompassing badness of [candidate's name redacted; this isn't about that].
But ... the electorate goes its own way. Yes, there's a lot of fuss about clandestine attempts to influence elections. Yes, I'm sure every enemy agent has a go. But we're so focused on the technology that we miss the essential point: everybody does it but it doesn't work.
Yes, I know that [insert surprise result here]. But are you telling me that demographic voted en masse for that candidate on the basis of what social media told it?
Yes, okay, one day it is going to come out that Covid-19 was developed for Chinese Intelligence by the Trilateral Commission working out of a top-secret laboratory north of London funded by the British Aristocracy, and okay, the truth is sometimes What The Government Doesn't Want You To Know (to take a line from the playbook). But - come on. Sinister foreigners? Really?