Disinformationists & Disrupters


“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” Thomas Pynchon

I don’t know about you, but I find it incredibly frustrating when I come up hard against a commenter on the internet whom I consider a ‘Disinformationist’ or a ‘Disrupter’ .

We all know them, if not immediately at first contact, then ultimately by their behaviour.

Or, at least I hope we all might be able to better spot them by the end of this helpful ‘How to’ recognise them heads-up.

It may save you the time you may otherwise have expended engaging with them in order to try and change their minds.  Because you won’t.

They do not exist to be persuadable.

Let’s just start by understanding what Disinformation is(from Wikipedia):

Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. For this reason, it is synonymous with and sometimes called black propaganda. It is an act of deception and false statements to convince someone of untruth. Disinformation should not be confused with misinformation, information that is unintentionally false.

Unlike traditional propaganda techniques designed to engage emotional support, disinformation is designed to manipulate the audience at the rational level by either discrediting conflicting information or supporting false conclusions. A common disinformation tactic is to mix some truth and observation with false conclusions and lies, or to reveal part of the truth while presenting it as the whole (a limited hangout).

Another technique of concealing facts, or censorship, is also used if the group can affect such control. When channels of information cannot be completely closed, they can be rendered useless by filling them with disinformation, effectively lowering their signal-to-noise ratio and discrediting the opposition by association with many easily disproved false claims.


Such are the sorts of verbal attacks that we see every day, from Left and Right, from one or another group, political party or individual commenter, against one or another party. Of course, globally, but specifically in our own neck of the internet woods.  Mainly on other blogs because this one is moderated by active not passive moderators.

Passive Mods on other blogs appear to be hog-tied to Jay Rosen’s ‘Voice From Nowhere’ paradigm, assuming an objective perspective that sits back to let all flowers have the chance to bloom equally on their blog, even if some of them are the equivalent of internet weeds. In contrast with Active Mods, such as we are here, who are constantly on the look-out for the blog trolls that simply seek to disinform and disrupt. Who then get weeded out, so as to keep the garden blooming, unchoked with deliberate distractions from the disrupters.  Who seem to be just like any other commenter, until you start to see some constant similarities to the way they, and others of a like mind, go about their posting.

So, as a service to us all I just thought I might outline some of the ways they do this so you can tell them apart from people who genuinely have a different point of view to you. Basically so that you don’t waste your precious time and energy on trying to change their minds, with facts and rational argument. Such people will never change their mind because that is not the reason they are where they are, interacting forcefully with you.  They are trying to spread manure in the garden to burn the flowers and allow the weeds to grow and take over.

Eight Signs of a Disinformationist

1) Avoidance. They never actually discuss issues head-on or provide constructive input, unless engaged in faux ‘constructive input’ such as a Gish Gallop, generally avoiding the citing of references. Rather, they merely imply this, that, and the other. Virtually everything about their presentation implies THEIR authority and expert knowledge in the matter without any further justification for credibility.

2) Selectivity. They tend to pick and choose opponents carefully, either applying the hit-and-run approach against mere commentators supportive of opponents, or focusing heavier attacks on key opponents who are known to directly address issues well.

3) Coincidental. They tend to surface suddenly and somewhat coincidentally with a new controversial topic under discussion. They likewise tend to vanish once the topic is no longer of general concern. They were likely directed to be there for a reason, and vanish with the reason.

4) Teamwork. They tend to operate in self-congratulatory and complementary packs or teams. Of course, this can happen naturally in any public forum. Sometimes one of the players will infiltrate the opponent camp to become a source for straw man or other tactics designed to dilute opponent presentation strength.

5) Aggressively Mainstream/Anti-Conspiratorial. They almost always have disdain for non-mainstream or ‘conspiracy theories’ and almost always are defending the official narrative of your political opponents.

6) Artificial Emotions. An odd kind of ‘artificial’ emotionalism and an unusually thick skin — an ability to persevere and persist even in the face of overwhelming criticism and nonacceptance, no matter how condemning the evidence, they simply deny everything you present as evidence, and never become emotionally involved or reactive. The net result for a disinfo artist is that emotions can seem counterproductive.

With respect to being thick-skinned, no amount of criticism will deter them from doing their job, and they will generally continue their old disinfo patterns without any adjustments to criticisms of how obvious it is that they play that game — where a more rational individual who truly cares what others think might seek to improve their communications style, substance, and so forth, or simply give up.

7) Inconsistent. There is also a tendency to make mistakes sometimes which betray their true self/motives. This may stem from not really knowing their topic and simply being interested in an intent to disrupt the flow of an argument which is trending towards their opposition
8) Time Constant. Recently discovered, with respect to News/Social Media Groups, is the response time factor. There are three ways this can be seen to work, especially when envoys of an empowered player are involved in a cover up or disinformation operation:

  • ANY Blog/Social Media posting by a targeted ‘truth teller’ can result in an IMMEDIATE response. The envoys of the empowered players can afford to have people sit there and watch for an opportunity to do some damage.  Since disinfo in a Blog/Social Media setting only works if the reader sees it-fast response is called for, or the visitor may be swayed towards the truth.
  • Or, when dealing with a rebuttal to a truth in the public arena, such as in the form of a chain disinformation email, a delay in the response usually occurs. This allows a sit-down team discussion on response strategy for best effect, and even enough time to ‘get permission’ or instruction from a formal chain of command.
  • In any News Media/Social Media forum, it will often ALSO be seen that bigger guns are drawn and fired after the same, usually 48-72 hours delay – the team approach in play. This is especially true when the targeted ‘truth teller’, or their comments, are considered more important with respect to their potential to reveal truth. Thus, a serious truth sayer will be attacked more than once for the same sin.

Well, there you have it. A rough outline of what I believe we are up against, as web warriors for the Progressive cause, as we go into battle on a daily basis for what we believe in and wish to defend.

I’m not saying that the above is true of every encounter with the ‘enemy’ that we have, just to be aware that probably not all of them are ‘weekend warriors’, just engaging in the verbal battle for altruistic reasons simply. I’m pretty sure that eloquent exponents in our corner, the Progressive corner, are well known to the o(O)pposition, and are targeted accordingly so they don’t become too influential in the day to day ideological debate that has started to go on since the internet and other forms of Social Media flung open the Doors of Perception.

859 thoughts on “Disinformationists & Disrupters

  1. Catalyst,

    It was due to Mr Holt(Labor member and Rudd Supporter) saying in a parliamentary committee that a 2% efficiency put on securities services was endangering our security.That was what Abbott was trying to hit the PM with in QT and was smashed down by PM with facts.

  2. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    Barney Zwartz gives an excoriating summary of the abuse inquiry. It is written with much feeling given his personal investment over the years.
    Zwartz with an update on settlements by the Christian Brothers.
    Two of our favorites, Reith and Joyce are at odds over the constitutional recognition of local government.
    Ross Gittins with a call to arms to his fellow journalists to thoroughly examine and question the policies of both side. If only!!

  3. Good morning all.

    Thanks for the links BK.

    thanks also to Puffy for putting up the PM’s misogny speech video and I agree this ought not to be allowed to be forgotten by the people who may, or may not, be thinking of casting their vote for the abbott.
    Every time I listen to this speech, the more emphatic it comes across, and the eye of the camera speaks just as well when trained on the abbott and his front bench.

  4. Good Morning Pub Goilies and Bois!
    Well, well, well, what a surprise, NOT!
    Gina Hardhart is Barnaby’s Sugar Mummy and is funding his New England campaign to the tune of 100s of Thousands of $.

    Does she really think she can buy people and government, and if the Coalition win the election, the ABC &/or SBS, like that?

    I guess she thinks she does.

    Her and her plummy accent, which is nothing more than lipstick on a very fat sow.

    If people get suckered by this lot of Mining company shills, that go under the name of the federal Coalition, they will deserve everything they get from them.

  5. Just been over to Greg Jericho’s Guardian blog. The comments have been much more intelligent and balanced than at the ABC’s Unleashed, where liberal concern trolls seem to have hogged the comments pieces.

    Greg made in interesting point on Swan: that he had the most difficult “sell” of the lot. He had to convince people that we’d done all right but the cisis was real and had hurt a few. Greg thinks that Swan wasn’t suited to that task, albeit hi administration has been fine.

    There may be something in this. I’ve noticed that the PM’s Office has been very effective since Andrew Leigh’s addition. You can hardly dump someone who’s overseen the worst crisis better than any other treasurer. But the government may have recognized this already with that shift, and in giving Penny Wong more central focus.

  6. Morning all

    This from william over the road

    [• AAP reports Emma McBride, Wyong Hospital executive and daughter of former local state MP Grant McBride, has withdrawn from the Labor preselection to choose a successor to Craig Thomson in Dobell. The report says contenders “could” include Wyong Shire councillor Lisa Matthews and David Mehan, a local union official who challenged Thomson for preselection at the 2010 election.]

  7. “Are the Ruddites agitating again?”

    Probably, because they can’t help themselves, but more likely Mordor’s minions are shitstirring again/still.

    Anyone who believes “Labor sources” quoted in any of the OM, particularly Mordor’s is deluding themselves.

  8. Can anyone help me here.
    I’m trying to track down an article from not so long ago that talks about Murdoch, NBN and IPTV. I don’t think it’s the recent one from IA on Murdoch and his “cancer”. Rather it laid out in some detail how the NBN will break Fox because of streaming of sport and movies etc.
    Thanks in advance

  9. rmn1953

    I dont recall the article. I do however remember that there was some reportage of US lawmakers grappling with the streaming of live sports on the net and how that would affect the revenue of fox and other networks

  10. Hi victoria,

    My initial feel about the DT article is that it is a attempt to create something that is not there,

    Reading through it there is nothing that stands out.

    It is all a real big stretch as far as I can see between what happened in the real world and what Benson is trying to say it all means.

    No mention in the article btw of the strong support for the changes put forward by the PM on life odds advertising.

    The OM was sure there was going to be trouble for the PM on that issue in caucus. Wrong again so they need something.

    Anyway, time will tell but I think at this point News Ltd is just trying to stir as the sitting days left get fewer and fewer.

    Remember Abbott has a few problems in his party room as well.

  11. It will be interesting to see how far the OM push the new donation/ funding issue seeing Abbott and the libs are on side.

    Perhaps just let it die a slow death ?

  12. doyleym

    Of course, the Terror’s stock in trade is to embellish any disharmony on the Labor side. Having said that, i still feel the Ruddites are agitating, and that is giving me the pips.

  13. Nat. Senator @barnaby_joyce says Gina Rinehart is a great businesswoman but she hasn’t donated to his campaign for New England @rnbreakfast— Michael Rowland (@mjrowland68) May 28, 2013

    Well if Barnaby said it,(Gina Rinehart is a great businesswoman) it must be true. Right?

  14. muskiemp

    Good job by Windsor to smoke out Barnaby. Any lavish spending on Barnaby!/ campaign will now be looked at very closely!

  15. Twitter is rapidly becoming the most important & dominant digital news platform …whether we like it or not …more from The Guardian’s Michael Wolff

    “Twitter, which began as a tool for sharing abbreviated blog posts, has now evolved into a major part of the news media. It may be the most significant advance in news since, if not linotype and the telegraph, then, at least, cable. As with cable, every new news event of consequence advances Twitter’s presence and clout. It is first responder news; it is a real time news index; and, for more and more news consumers, it is background or passive news, like local radio once was, but on an international scale.”


    …and Margot Kingston is partnering with Macquarie Uni to use social media to cover the election campaign:

    “Kingston was the first Australian journalist to use online media to bring the voice of citizen journalists into the mainstream media with her Sydney Morning Herald- based website Webdiary. Her new project will build on this legacy and explore the role Twitter now plays in public debate and journalism.”


  16. http://andrewelder.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/recent-pieces.html

    28 May 2013
    Recent pieces

    When Margo Kingston from Australians for Honest Politics (and now Macquarie University) asked me to write something on George Brandis, I thought I’d draw on his extensive background as a champion of free speech. After ending up several dry gullies I came out with this.

    When people started making allowances for Tony Abbott and implying that he has a liberalism that he simply does not have and has never had, it shat me no end and I wrote this. To write that I put off once again by long-promised article on how the NDIS might show a different and better way of reporting politics, which has now been delivered to the long-suffering crew at King’s Tribune and is being wrestled into shape as we speak.

    The e-book is coming along, slowly.

    See, I can write short blog posts. When they relate to my achievements they’re very short indeed.

    at 10:41 pm




  17. With Rudd supporters, we know they agitate, so its fair enough to suspect them when MPs snark, even though they’ve got no hope. I’m sure they are grumbling and dreaming.

    On other things, sometimes news just comes out, like it always does. Don’t try to see patterns that aren’t there. The AFP guy came forward of his own choice (and not sure this affects either side anyway). The Timor spy thing is an accusation of a Foreign Govt. There is no pattern. It reminds me of people on twitter who see some mildly favourable article appear in News Ltd as has happened before and will again, and say “wow, is Murdoch turning on Abbott?”. No.

  18. LL

    The ASIO story on fourcorners Monday night. The AFP story Tuesday and now this. It could very well be news coming out as it does

  19. Katharine Murphy hasn’t changed. Her running commentary on politics of the day in The Guardian is the usual rubbish.

    Why they bother with her esaapes me at the moment.

    Both Murphy and Lenore Taylor are just doing what they did at The Age: being smartarses, running with the groupthink, framing everything in the light of an inevitable Labor defeat.

    Take a quick look if you want to and then give Murphy’s self-indulgent, unfunny, slanted coverage the flick.


  20. “@Simon_Cullen: The AEC has taken the next step in registering Clive Palmer’s party. It’s completed membership check. Now open for public comment”

  21. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/28/australian-companies-forced-disclose-tax

    Australia’s biggest companies to be forced to disclose tax they pay
    Bill comes as government reacts to US revelations that IT giant Apple is ‘stateless’ for tax purposes
    Lenore Taylor
    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 29 May 2013 07.15 AEST

    A bill to force Australia’s 2000 biggest companies to publicly disclose how much tax they pay will be introduced into federal parliament.

    The proposed law comes as the government reacted furiously to revelations IT giant Apple had a complicated tax structure allowing huge profits from subsidiaries outside the United States to be effectively “stateless” for taxation purposes.

    It also follows a new report, Secrecy Jurisdictions, the ASX and Public Transparency, which showed that as of April 2011, 61 of Australia’s top 100 companies held subsidiaries in ”secrecy jurisdictions” that had been targeted by tax authorities – at least some of them with little evidence of actual commercial activity.

  22. That was the question that threw Bill Gates the furthest off message last night on Q&A, the one about Microsoft Tax Avoidance by offshoring in Tax Havens.

    He came out with the standard capitalist’s defense that Microsoft paid all tax it was legally duty bound to. While admitting that if a legislature created a loophole, who was he to not wriggle through it like everyone else? Loophole not his fault! 😀

  23. c@tmomma

    Gates was also asked about that earlier in the day at the NPC. He gave a similar response.

    Btw what do you think of the names being mentioned re Dobell. Lisa Matthews and David Mehan

  24. victoria,

    Btw what do you think of the names being mentioned re Dobell. Lisa Matthews and David Mehan?

    Not much.

    Someone who couldn’t even beat Craig Thomson in a pre-selection and someone I haven’t heard of before. Hmm. And if I haven’t heard of them, what chance the electorate will know or care come election day?

    They need someone with firepower.

  25. c@tmomma

    To clarify. Your comment re woofle dust related to the candidates being mooted for Dobell?

  26. Someone should ask Tony Abbott if Karen McNamara, Public Servant, and Liberal candidate for Dobell, is going to be one of the 12200 Public Servants that will lose their jobs if he wins the federal election and, by chance, she doesn’t win the seat of Dobell?
    If he says, “No”, then someone should say back to him, “So that means you won’t be touching Liberal Party supporters in the Public Service then?”

  27. victoria,

    To clarify. Your comment re woofle dust related to the candidates being mooted for Dobell?

    Nah, I’ve written another post and I’ve lost the instructions fiona supplied for closing comments on this thread and directing people to the new one. Hence we call it sprinkling some Woofle Dust around. 🙂

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