Video: Yasha Levine speaks about internet surveillance and influence ops at the James Connolly Forum in Troy, NY



I spoke at the James Connolly Forum in Troy on Friday April 20 about the forgotten counterinsurgency history of the the internet and how it relates to today's privacy scandals — Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and more. I was kindly introduced by David Banks, who chaired the forum.

David introduced me as the journalist who helped introduce America to the Koch brothers. That's true. Reporting I did with my colleague Mark Ames about Charles Koch's funding of the Tea Party movement back in 2009 helped introduce America to these shadowy petro-oligarchs and reveal the inordinate amount of influence they wielded over American politics. One thing I realized is that this initial creation of the Tea Party movement, and the role that the Kochs' political network played in it, would today be considered a classic example of an internet-based influence campaign. As I told the audience, "We hear about foreign influence campaigns all the time now. But we don't hear much about domestic influence campaigns conducted all the time by billionaires." But it happens on the internet all the time. Influence is what the internet was designed for.

Here's a video of the event:

—Yasha Levine



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