Russian Infiltration Of Word Press Blogs

In spite of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell warning Russia to “quit messing around in our elections,” Russians have not stopped.  They continue their influence and propaganda.  With social media such as Facebook and Twitter taking note and making changes, Russian propagandists have turned to Word Press blogs.

Earlier this year, I received notifications from Word Press for email followers.  I didn’t pay much attention to the first one because there are people who follow this blog via email who do not have Word Press accounts to comment.   When I received two more notifications on the same day, and they too had Outlook email addresses, I knew that was not usual.  I checked a Word Press forum and found that others were experiencing the same and were concerned about it.

A thread in one Word Press forum began in January 2018.   Also in January, a blogger named Ray wrote what he was experiencing with these strange email followers.

Another thread began in March, and still another was started in April.   A staff person posted in April;

“My guess is it’s an attempt to overload our (WordPress.com’s) mail servers by making us send out more subscription emails than our system can handle. The other option is that they’re hoping bloggers will email them at that address to thank them for following, which will give them access to active email addresses which they can then attempt to spam or hack directly.”

“The follows in themselves are not an actual threat, though – our system can handle many times more emails than these additional subscriptions are making us send, and there’s no way receiving these follows can compromise your site or account, so really all they’re achieving is to annoy people.”

I only access Word Press through computer, and I use the old way of assessing the Admin side of the blog.  What I learned earlier this year is that if I go to the Word Press ribbon that appears at the top of the blog when I’m signed in and click “My Sites,” that I can scroll down to where it says “People”.  Clicking that takes me to a screen with three tabs, one of which is labeled “Email Followers”.  By clicking there, I can not only see who is following my blog via email, but I can also remove them. 

Bloggers began speculating for the reason for the influx.  Not all of the bloggers experiencing the influx blogged about the same interests or issues.   There was no pattern that identified a possible reason for why we were being followed by weird email addresses through Outlook.

Word Press came to the rescue.  Of the several Outlook email followers that I missed and had not removed, Word Press cleaned them up.

It wasn’t long thereafter when we began receiving comments with one word — “What?”  It was the response to every comment on a post.  Because I use the option that participants must be signed in via a Word Press account, (Twitter and Facebook are also acceptable), those “What?” responses went directly into the spam queue.

Some other bloggers weren’t so lucky.

In June, myself and other Word Press bloggers discovered that likes were being clicked to comments on our blogs, and the Gravatar accounts for those doing it ranged from strange to filthy.   Whomever it was clicking like to comments were stalking bloggers to other blogs where they commented and clicking like there.  It happened to me.   I disengaged the like option for comments on my blog until Word Press resolved the issue.

Someone on a Word Press forum stated that the Gravatar profiles contained links to websites for Russian escort services. It was also suggested that the real purpose was not to sell Russian escort services, but an effort to get people to click the link to the non-Word Press website with possibility of infecting the computers of visitors with malware or some other nefarious virus.

Most recently, I received 4 notifications of new followers whose blogs are sites for dating Peruvian and Ukrainian women.  The blogs consist of some photos of women and an “About” page with a link.  I removed them from followers.

With the indictments filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller the other week, I began putting the pieces together.  The dates, the timing, the methods, and the issue that Russian propaganda operatives infiltrated Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, so why not Word Press?  The following is not inclusive.

According to Mother Jones, Russian operatives on the internet sow discord by targeting certain communities and linking them up with certain issues.

As email followers, they wanted to become familiar with what bloggers write about.   They looked for specific subjects.  Based on information about how the Russian operatives acted, Black Lives Matter was a targeted issue.  Russian operatives aimed to stir discord and hatred between races, assuming that support to equality means hatred against the government, police forces, and Whites.

Another subject is being kind and loving.  While that is an appeal to many, it also puts targets on our backs by people who misconstrue it to mean that we are submissive, weak, easily influenced.  I also noticed that some bloggers reporting the email followers had blogs that write about Christianity.

When people suspected of being Russian operatives are confronted because of their non-facts, I’ve seen them attempt to use being kind and loving in a passive-aggressive way to patronize, hoping that their cover isn’t blown.

I found a blog that posted about Russian spam on wordpress. The comments range from 8 years to 8 months ago.  That means that their efforts go back to around 2010.  Indeed, after becoming suspicious of a person, I found that she opened her blog in 2010.  Through the years, her posts have morphed from seeking peace and kindness, to attacking Democratic political candidates, and instructions on how parents can teach their children to mock the children of liberals.

Based on the recent indictments, Russian operatives targeted sources that reside in or focused on swing states. Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia were targeted as swing states in the 2016 presidential election.  This means that bloggers on Word Press who identified themselves as residing in one of those states, would stand a high chance of seeing someone come along to spread Russian propaganda on their blog, but only after participating to become well-known and liked.

Of course, in order to infiltrate a blog without appearing like a troll or being totally disagreeable, they would need to establish a relationship with the blog administrator and become familiar with other blog participants.  That familiarity becomes their buffering point if and when their comments are challenged or disagreed with. Russian operatives just seem to know, out of nowhere, that if the person disagreeing with them has blogged about taking road trips on motorcycles, that they can interject that subject in their patronizing response.

Time magazine describes what the Russia trolls hope to accomplish;

“Today the job is even easier thanks to the Internet, and Russia continues to plant seeds of doubt and mistrust in the American government to add to a general feeling of chaos and unrest in the U.S.”

In working towards this, Russian trolls accuse politicians and political parties of causing division and mistrust.  The current person they blame for it is former President Barack Obama.  Their accusations turn on themselves because they cannot explain how the first Black president of the United States was elected unless people of all races came together.

The Time article says that propaganda efforts have become more sophisticated.  In my opinion, the sophistication is because Russian operatives use emotional manipulation and patronizing.  They tell people (YOU) what you feel; what you think.  They tell people what political parties think ABOUT THEM and that always pertains to something personal that cannot be changed, such as skin color, retirement, incurable disease.

On another blog, on the subject of politics, a suspected Russian operative commented that Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were murdered by the government.  It was combined with certain verbiage that in a nutshell inferred that Blacks should not vote because they cannot trust the government.  The overall consensus is that this time, it is Russia’s intent to discourage voting.

Russian operatives do not discern that just because an American voter disagrees with politicians, that it doesn’t mean being anti-government.  The overall comment conveys that Democrats and Republicans are the same, so why vote?

Most recently with Donald Trump playing footsies with Putin, I read a comment in defense that Trump seeks peace. When I challenged the person on this issue, their response was that they are open minded and they believe in peace and love.

HUH!  United States Intelligence Agencies have all investigated and found that Putin is a thief, hacking into emails and our infrastructure.  Because I believe in peace, I don’t visit the homes of thieves and I certainly would not invite one into my own house.

On her blog, Gronda has written about Russian trolls.  She included very good videos that explain how they operate, with at least one being interviews of whistleblowers. You can read it at this link.

We bloggers need to stay frosty.

 

Posted on 07/27/2018, in politics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 95 Comments.

  1. Two sides to a story

    I’ll be so glad when this cyberwar is over! Sadly, this crap could go on for some time until 45 is gone.

    I got clobbered during the 2016 campaign while promoting an anti-Trump writing contest for publisher promoting an anthology publication.

    I had some visits to my website and blog from Russia, and though they didn’t harm those (I didn’t promote the project on my personal pages), they did try to create some havoc with my gmail accounts that didn’t work out for them (thank you, Google).

    What finally happened was worse than messing with my blog and website – my computer was hacked, I believe – I don’t think I received an infected e-mail or clicked on anything weird on a webpage. A minute or two before the computer went down, I received a weird anonymous meme message that scrolled by on Messenger while I was using Messenger to talk to someone else on my phone. Startling, to say the least!

    Was able to clear the virus and restore my computer, but lost a lucrative editing contract with a different company because I hadn’t backed up for a few days and lost some of the work on a manuscript near deadline. I was fired, basically, and not allowed to work on a second manuscript in the pipeline with a different deadline. I didn’t lose any of my own data because I’d backed up a few days prior and hadn’t done new work except for the publisher’s manuscript.

    My bad, and I should have realized that due to the PR on FB and Twitter that I’d put myself at risk. I mean, I knew I could get some attention, but didn’t consider a personal computer hack.

    The publisher of the proposed anti-T anthology had created a separate website for the project to deflect attention from his main press website and the anthology project pages announcing the contest and to which writers were sending contest writing submissions were hacked or attacked in some way. This publisher was spooked and dropped the project.

    Haven’t checked the link yet, but definitely will – fascinating topic and I want to learn more about how Russia is conducting these operations.

    I agree with your premises about trolling – the trolling is intended to divide the US even further politically and to discourage voting – after all, Dems outnumber Republicans by a large margin and Republicans either have to promote high-quality candidates with middle-of-the-road positions that appeal to both sides, or cheat in various ways for rightwing extremists to win elections. And who better to exploit and recruit as enablers than Trump’s beloved ‘poorly educated ‘ who allow themselves to be bombarded with FOX news and other questionable propaganda?

    I despair. If and when Russia is removed from the equation, we still the massive problem of lies and propaganda promoted by unethical media outlets.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Two side,
      MY GOODNESS! You’ve been through so much. It’s horrible that they do things that affect your income.

      I’ve received emails from what looks like people who email me, but the domain/ISP name is not the same. The one thing the people who email me all have in common is that they use Yahoo mail. The emails are friendly, “Hi Xena” and then consist of nothing other than a link. I don’t click the links and report the email as spam. Those email accounts might have been hacked for their address books because they are not directly spoofed.

      Re:

      “I agree with your premises about trolling – the trolling is intended to divide the US even further politically and to discourage voting – after all, Dems outnumber Republicans by a large margin and Republicans either have to promote high-quality candidates with middle-of-the-road positions that appeal to both sides, or cheat in various ways for rightwing extremists to win elections. “

      Your comment caused me to think about something. No wonder they are hell-bent on discouraging people to vote. For the mid-terms, the electoral college is not involved. It will truly be the majority vote that determines the elections. Thanks for turning on the light bulb.

      Liked by 3 people

    • I’ll be so glad when this cyberwar is over! Sadly, this crap could go on for some time until 45 is gone.

      I hate to tell you this, but it’s actually going to go on until Putin is gone. Unless the next administration seriously smacks him down for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent information, Xena … the stuff nightmares are made of, though. I haven’t noticed any strange email followers, but a couple of times have been inundated with the single word “what?” comment on comments. The first time, I went through and marked each one as spam, so the next several times they automatically went to the spam folder, and I haven’t seen any for a month or so. This is truly frightening … do I have permission to re-blog this post? Thank you for all the hard work you put into this.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jill,
      So the “What?” troll hit your blog too?!? It’s been about a month since they hit this blog too. I think Word Press came to the rescue on that issue also.

      I am highly honored that you want to reblog the post. Of course you can. The reblog button is activated. (((((Hugs)))))

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist and commented:
    This is a MUST READ, and it will blow your mind!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A few months ago I was getting anywhere from 3 to 5 Outlook follows a day. It went on for weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi John! Thanks for your comment. Have you experienced receiving comments from purported theists that includes verbiage about politics? I ask because I saw on some of the support forums that some blogs getting Outlook followers write religious posts. I’ve seen some Russian memes with Hillary Clinton and Satan making bets. It might be that Russian operatives want to ruffle feathers on both sides.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No comments made, just a swarm of Outlook followers.

        Liked by 1 person

        • John, same here. On one of the support forums, a Word Press staff member thought it was probably with the hope that blog admins would email thanking for the follow, and they would then have our email addresses that they could use to spam or hack directly. Based on what happened after the email following event, I think there were other agendas attached.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Blogger-friend Xena has written a post that is so important I had to share it with you. You may remember the one I re-blogged earlier today from Gronda regarding Russian trolls and bots. This post details some of the ways in which Russia has infiltrated WordPress blogs, and it is truly eye-opening, so please take a few minutes to read. Thank you so much, Xena for all the work you have put into this excellent post, and for your permission to re-blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jill,
      Thanks for the reblog. You never need to ask for my permission to do so. (((((Hugs)))))

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you! I am going to start visiting your blog on a more regular basis … I have such limited time that there are only 4 blogs I visit regularly, but now there will be 5! Have a happy weekend! Hugs!!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jill,
          Thank you. I am honored. I know what you mean about limited time. Currently, I think I’m following close to 300 blogs. A good thing is that not all of them publish daily. LOL!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I follow a few hundred, too, but many I only pop in on once in a blue moon, for there just isn’t time. I wonder … seems like 24 hours used to last a lot longer than it does now. I think somebody has stolen a few hours each day! 😉

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jill,
              LOL! Yes, those hours go by really fast. I mostly use the Reader but there are some bloggers who publish more than one post within minutes of each other, and the Reader does not allow for clicking to comment or to like. I still try to visit at least one of the posts that have a title of interest.

              During the week, I do try to comment on at least two to three other blogs and I always try to pay it forward to those who comment on my blog. This year has been one where I needed to slow down because of vision problems. My eye doctor instructed me to cut back on the amount of time I spend on computer screens.

              Liked by 1 person

            • I made a list within reader of my ‘top ten’ and those are the ones I try to check out daily. The others … catch as catch can, though like you, I always try to visit those who take time to visit mine.

              I can relate to the vision problems! I was down to about 20% of my vision and was writing this blog holding a magnifying glass most nights. A series of surgeries in February and March have restored my vision to about 85% and I can even see colours I never knew existed! I hope your vision problems can be fixed, but do take it easy on the eyes!

              Liked by 2 people

            • Jill,
              Making a list in Reader is an excellent idea! Thanks. I might give that a go.

              The major eye problem I’m having are floaters and webs. The doctor gave me eye exercises and they seem to be helping. Plus, only being online in increments not longer than 30 minutes at a time seems to help. My next set of tests is in October, so I’m hoping for good news.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Great news that the exercises are helping!!! I’ve heard of floaters, and have a couple of small ones myself, but never heard of webs. I will keep my fingers crossed for continued improvement! Hugs!!!

              Liked by 1 person

            • Jill,
              The eye doctor seems to believe that the webs started as a result of the floaters breaking apart, and he thinks it’s the light from the computer screen. Other directions were to never watch television without a light on in the room, (I never did anyway). Thanks for keeping your fingers crossed. (((((Hugs)))))

              Liked by 1 person

  6. crustyolemothman

    Dear Xena,

    Excellent article! This is not a new problem, it has been around for a lot longer than I think most of us realized, but not to the extent that it did in the last election cycle! The old advice still remains important, if you do not know the sender or even question the validity of a link, do not click on it. Many of us that travel into the deep end of the net, have set up special folders to hold links in until we can determine if they are safe or not, even then it seems that a malware item can still make it onto the hard drive. Virus, and Malware programs need to be run frequently, and please keep your virus and malware programs up to date.. If you use a Windows computer, be sure to keep the updates current on that part of your programming as well.

    Please take a moment and ask yourself if you have anything on your computer that you do not want to lose, if the answer is yes then you need to start backing your files up. I will suggest you invest a little bit of money and either buy a large thumb drive or a stand alone USB hard drive to back your files up. It does you no good to have your files backed up on your hard drive in your computer if that hard drive fails, so think about backing them up to an external source.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mothman,
      Thanks for the excellent advice. I have an external hard drive, and my virus protection runs in the background and also alerts me of untrusted websites. A good thing about Word Press is that you can request to export your site, and they prepare a zip file for you. It can then be saved on a thumb or external drive.

      Call me an old hat, but I don’t do much on the internet. Of course, that means that I don’t know what’s going on in certain places. I’m not on Facebook or any of those other social media places such as Instagram. Even before I came to the internet in 2012, I heard horrible things about Facebook. If you watch reality court programs, they make Facebook sound like a social media soap opera. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Xena,

    Thank you for this great information. And just as a thought, I never use Yahoo anymore and I don’t click on links from Yahoo stories that come across my Twitter page. Just to be safe.

    I do see that bots are still active on Twitter and often receive “Follows” with varied numbers after their name, which means absolutely nothing to me, but to them, some form of identifier I suppose. Today I received one, nice looking man, as I laugh at myself, and it read like a dating profile…long walks on the beach, quiet, but fun. Right. I base my decision on their interactions with others and political position. This one had none and only selfies shot through the windshield of his car. I had to laugh. Who runs up to your car and says ‘gotcha?’ I block all followers with numbers.

    Right now Twitter is the only one I’m concerned with and I keep a close eye on my Gmail, which so far has been perfect. I’ve been with them since their Beta beginnings. I do hope you don’t have any more issues with the problem – just one more thing we have to be vigilant with in the world of Trump. Ugh. Hurry midterms.

    (((Hugs)))

    Liked by 2 people

    • Pilcherje,
      I’ve noticed the Twitter accounts with numbers in their name. I’ve also gotten follows from the sex bots. I block them. I do try to take time to go over the timelines of those who follow before I follow back. Also, I don’t follow back those who write only in foreign languages. They generally unfollow me after a week or so. Fortunately, the Russian intruders and Trump supporters have not engaged me on Twitter. If they do, I will probably block them because I’ve never seen Twitter as a venue for debate.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      Like

    • By the way Pilcherje, what is your Twitter handle? I’d like to follow you if you don’t mind.

      Like

  8. Whoa! That is crazy. I’ve been lucky to avoid all of that so far…however, in my research on political topics I’ve come across WordPress blogs which very clearly seem to be bot-generated. They always have lots of contributors rather than just one blogger, and all they do is repost pro-Trump articles tinged with conspiracy theories, often over and over again under different names. I have to think the Russian have a hand in this….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Eurobrat,
      You could be right about the Russians having a hand in it. Did you see if those blogs have comments posted and if so, does the writer respond?

      Like

      • There is no way to post comments on them. I’ve tried and was unable to. That, in fact, was part of what made them so suspicious to me.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Eurobrat,
          That is suspicious.

          Liked by 1 person

          • crustyolemothman

            Xena/Eurobrat,

            Having a blog without allowing comments is sort of like standing in a closet and talking to yourself! 😉 I hope that shouting at your computer monitor is not similar, as it seems that sometime I am guilty of that…

            Liked by 1 person

            • Mothman,
              LOL! That is so true.

              Word Press does give options for how long comments are allowed. It wasn’t long ago that I had to change the option to 2 years because people were going back to posts published in 2013 and RESPONDING to comments. Some of the people they responded to are no longer on the internet. I do realize that it’s the ignorance of the person who was responding for not paying attention to the dates.

              Like

  9. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    Something important to be aware of.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    BE AWARE!!
    ‘In spite of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell warning Russia to “quit messing around in our elections,” Russians have not stopped. They continue their influence and propaganda. With social media such as Facebook and Twitter taking note and making changes, Russian propagandists have turned to Word Press blogs.’ … like Putin will abide by the weak words in McConnell’s ‘warning’!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Excellent post. I was swamped with this type of spam a few months ago. I knew it was spam, but it was very aggressive.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for sharing this Xena. I was wondering what was going on with those “What?” comments. I had them showing up on my post for a couple of weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Reblogged this on By Hook Or By Book and commented:
    I don’t usually reblog twice in a row, but this article by Xena is too important not to share!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Scary, Xena ! ( and Unbelievable that the person doing the attack will be that man’s guest soon…. it’s outrageous! How come he’s still at the White House ? ) Good thing voters can now question the loyalty of Republicans….I say, Treason ! )

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Getting russian comments in my spam folder on a regular basis. They link to separate images which I have to remove. Annoying.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Dear Xena,

    This post has done a real service by educating folks. I can’t thank you enough for taking this on before the Nov. elections.

    I’m of the school of thought that the more Americans (minus the “Trumpers”) know about this subject, the more it loses its power to influence.

    We’re on the same page. The Russians will be working overtime to suppress the vote.

    There are reports that they have been trying to access the states’ voter rolls data, and so I’m advising everyone to check that their voting data is accurate. When peoples have had their data messed with, they will have a harder time voting. This is another way to suppress the vote.

    The other concern that I have, is that there are 13 states which still use voting machines that do not leave a paper trail. These are in republican led states. There are 5 states that only use voting machines with no paper trail.

    Thanks for taking this task and for all you do to help me out.

    I noticed that you are aware that I did reblog this post.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gronda,
      Thank you, because you were the inspiration. After I saw what was happening on your blog, I felt the time was right for me to put this together. As you can see, Russian operatives have been working a long time to infiltrate. Oh — and a word about baiting. When they introduce another topic in their comments, it’s usually to bait hoping that people will respond giving them useful information. For example, I don’t remember reading anything in your post about email clients, but that subject was introduced in a comment by the suspected person. The more they can learn about what people have, how they manage their email, where they live, what their life experiences are, the more information they have to advance their propaganda and hacking.

      There should definitely be a paper trail for electronic voting machines.

      Liked by 1 person

      • crustyolemothman

        Dear Xena

        “” When they introduce another topic in their comments, it’s usually to bait hoping that people will respond giving them useful information.”” Whoops, I am guilty of posting breaking news into current articles, however it is only to let people know that something has happened that could be important to all of us. Hope that is not a problem? I do however when posting something like that, state up front that it is off topic…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mothman,
          You are fine. There’s nothing wrong with posting breaking news into current articles. What I’m referring to are comments and outright questions, that are on a personal level, and off-topic subjects that if responded to, might require the giving of personal information, such as what email is used, or if an email client is used, if it’s on a workplace network, etc.

          Liked by 1 person

  17. I had to delete one of my WordPress sites. The other two barely work. WordPress has killed my photography blog Roaming Urban Gypsy. I guess the other blogs will also be dead soon.
    Eventually if I can’t fix it by September I’m quitting WordPress just like I dumped Facebook. My Facebook account has been hacked so many times that I finally gave up all hope. Soon it will be Goodbye for this Digital Diva. Not worth the hassle to keep going. Letting my blogs die Thanks to WordPress. Time to quit.

    Like

    • Deborah,
      I am so sorry to hear about the problems you’re having with your blogs. I read you saying that you are accessing your blogs with devices other than computer, and there are other bloggers who are using cell phones who are also running into problems. I hate to see you leave. Maybe Word Press support can help you resolve the issues you’re having.

      Like

      • Thank you. I appreciate your assistance.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I sent one of their so called customer service representatives aka Happiness Engineers a request to fix the problem. So far only WordPress is happy. Since I don’t have time for foolishness and nonsense I guess my last 2 blogs will just be archives. I have more important things to do than fight with WordPress.

        Like

      • I just thought about what you said and you gave me more information than the stupid WordPress Happiness Engineers.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Deborah,
          🙂 It’s only because through the years of Word Press announcing an “improved” way of doing things, I notice that those using the improved way have issues.

          There are also changes that some bloggers might not know about. For example, I’ve seen a handful of blogs where the content is only a title. Word Press cancelled “Press This” awhile ago. We can still do a “Press This” of sorts by going through the Reader, but the app that was placed on our browser ribbon no longer works.

          Since I started blogging the old school way with Word Press, I stick to it. Wish I could be of more help.

          Like

          • Your words were eye opening and better than the dumb WordPress customer service. At least now I have a better understanding.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Deborah,
              I wish that I could be of more help. A person who opened a blog asked for my help setting up the widgets. But, what he was saying he saw was not what I was seeing. He was accessing the blog on his cell phone. I’ve only used computers to access the internet, so don’t have a clue what others see when using other devices. I asked if he saw the “WP Admin” on what he was looking at, and he did. He clicked there and accessed the admin side. That made things much easier because it put us in the same area that I’m familiar with.

              I did find a post about managing blogs via cell phone. Here’s the link.

              I also found a video tutorial. The only confusion that I see is that the person talks about self-hosted blogs. Since your blog is hosted by Word Press, you don’t need to try to retain or follow the information he first presents for the .org blogs.

              Like

  18. They target everyone but especially people who are opposed to trump. Most of the Russia’s crap goes to spam. I never answer anyone who has an outlook address. My guess is they want DNS numbers and and to use our blogs as free forums for spreading the Kremlin’s lies. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes Robert, and it appears that they target people who have made it known that they live in swing states.

      I’ve never emailed the email only subscribers — was never comfortable emailing anonymous people who have no blog for me to see what their interests are. In 2013, I used to visit all bloggers who followed and thank them for the follow. I generally posted the thank you on their About page. Maybe 1 out of 5 responded, so I stopped doing that because it gets very time consuming. From time to time, I’ll publish a post to thank followers.

      I agree that their agenda is to use our blogs for spreading Kremlin lies. They invite debate and controversy because they don’t have to develop their own opinions in their own words. As a video on Gronda’s blog shows, their comments are already prepared for them. All they have to do is copy and paste.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly. I see a few of Russia’s military propagandists on the political logs I follow. They’re good at ‘sounding’ ‘western’ but the message is always the same: everyone is corrupt and all systems are the same. It’s the politics of nihilism. It is true that there are no perfect political systems democratic systems allow people to use the law to improve their lives. Putin has nothing but cynical lies to offer an alternative to the rule of law.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Robert,
          The truth is that I’m somewhat jaded with politicians, especially those on the local level. However, in a democratic republic where people are elected to represent us, it’s still important to vote. At least then, regardless if the person I voted for wins or not, my conscience is free when I write to them because I did participate in the election process. I’ve even had several who I did not vote for change their position on issues.

          Not only does Putin have nothing but cynical lies, but he must not understand that one thing American’s highly resent is having our intelligence insulted.

          Liked by 1 person

  19. Thank you! I experienced the Outlook and ‘What?’ invasion too but had no idea who or what was behind it. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory,
      Thanks for your comment. I don’t think that any of us bloggers had an idea of who or what was behind it until we started getting likes to our comments. Those were not just on our blogs, but we were stalked to other blogs where we commented. A Word Press account is required to click “like” to posts and comments and since they setup Gravatar accounts, we got a clue as to who was doing it. Thankfully, Word Press put an end to that, but then comments were submitted to blogs, the nature and method of which indicates intent to discourage voting.

      Like

      • In hindsight I suspect a lot of the traffic must have been from bots coz I’m Australian. Then again, a lot of my online friends are from the US…Hate the thought that my friends were targetted through me. Strange days.

        Liked by 1 person

        • acflory,
          I don’t think the Outlook subscribers know locations because Word Press hosts from California. By the time they progressed to clicking likes on comments is when they more than likely began identifying certain interests with intent of harming the computers of anyone who clicked links to outside websites on their profiles.

          Like

          • Aaaah. Thanks for that, Xena. That does make sense. Let’s hope WP foils the next attack as well coz I fear this is going to continue for quite some time.

            Liked by 1 person

            • acflory,
              Word Press has been good in taking action after they have been informed. It’s not always easy to find their forum, but I’ve found that they act more quickly in some matters than emailing them. Yes, I agree — I too think that the Russian operatives will continue.

              Like

            • Who would have thought, even five years ago, that social media could be such a double edged sword?

              Liked by 1 person

            • acflory,
              Trolling and distractions began around 1998 when computers began being sold retail, and AOL mailed disks to every household. Their unlimited time and use of handles opened a deep hole in the internet that only got deeper. It probably didn’t take much for Russia to presume that social media could be used for their propaganda, but they probably didn’t think they would run into obstacles with Word Press bloggers. Word Press is set-up so their bloggers can communicate publicly on forums. I don’t know of another social media source that has that system where any of their account holders can post issues in one place.

              Like

            • Yeah, I’ve used the WP forums as well, and you’re right, the response is much faster than say a private email. lol Perhaps because complaints are so public. Still, makes you wonder what direction the cyber wars will take now.

              Liked by 1 person

            • acflory,
              Who knows? It appears that the Russian operatives are using layers of methods. I’m not too concerned with things that Word Press can fix. As far as comments, it’s up to the discretion of blog administrators. Stay safe.

              Like

  20. I have also been targeted by Outlook bots. Around the same time, my Facebook Message account got hacked. I was getting 1-2 Outlook followers a day beginning last fall. I haven’t received any in the past month or so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment. It’s really amazing to see how many bloggers came under that attack. I think that Word Press has gotten a handle on the Outlook followers. I might get 2 notifications for Outlook followers a month, and by the time I get to the place to remove them, Word Press has already done so. Here’s hoping the best for you and your blogging experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you for the heads up! I’ll scrutinize my likes & comments a bit more closely. This shit is scary because I blog about feminism and race issues. I’m also blogging in Sweden (which is coming up on their own elections in September). Jeez. . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Charish. Nice meeting you. Don’t worry about your likes and comments. It’s suspicious likes and comments to your blog — not by you. It appears that Word press has handled the “likes” from the Russian accounts, and the “What?” comments have stopped. Other comments are up to the discretion of each blog’s administrator.

      Like

  22. You are way more tech savvy than me. You draw attention to the frightening power of the internet in malicious hands. I am not sure I follow that the culprits are necessarily Russian (my fault not yours) but this looks like some kind of criminal agenda. Global crime is having a bonanza on the internet and people haven’t fully realised the extent of the personal damage they can suffer. A frightening blog. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Xena, now that you mention it. I bought several domain names through Bluehost. In 2016, I started receiving a flood of emails from Russian followers despite the sites being blank. I spoke with a friend who suggested not clicking on any of the links. This continued for months then stopped. I didn’t think much of it because I wasn’t using the sites.

    Like

    • Angela,
      We usually don’t think much about things like that or a reason behind it other than trolling. I’m glad your friend suggested not clicking on the links. They seem to come in droves, which is a good indicator that they are playing the percentage game. If they can get 5 people out of a hundred to click a link and possibly infect their computers, then it’s worth it to them.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Reblogged this on silverapplequeen and commented:
    You will want to read this. Be aware.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Russian Infiltration Of Word Press Blogs – Food In Books

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