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Conservative digital activists were smeared as behaving like “Russian trolls” by a recent article in the Washington Post. The writer also made sure to reach out to both Twitter and Facebook to get the teenage activists banned.

The article goes to great lengths — even interviewing PhDs — to compare the teenagers to “bots,” even though the article presents no evidence that any accounts were not operated by humans, and to “Russian trolls,” even though the article acknowledges that the people in charge of the accounts were Americans.

The article also casts normal behavior of political activists, like reading from a shared list of talking points, as somehow unusual. The Washington Post labels the act of paying people to repeat political messages — a standard feature of virtually all major political campaigns — as “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

Twitter and Facebook appeared to agree, suspending the accounts after the Washington Post reached out to them.

The students worked for Rally Forge, a company that mobilizes activists on social media on behalf of conservative causes and organizations.

“Comparing American conservative teenagers to Russian bots is, in and of itself, the height of misinformation by the mainstream media,” said a spokesman for Students for Trump, which contracted the company. “They should be ashamed. It’s beyond ridiculous at this point.”

One of the activists, Paige Noonan, said the Washington Post completely misrepresented their behavior, and misrepresented comments made to the newspaper by her father.

“I don’t know why they put that article there. They totally misrepresented my dad,” said Noonan.

“There was another point where they talked about not being paid minimum wage. That is not true — we are being paid minimum wage. I don’t know why that was in there.”

“I love this job. It’s a great environment and I actually have fun with it — I am grateful I have a job during corona[virus].”

“It’s sick that the Washington Post and Twitter are working together to take away my right to free speech” added Noonan.

“It’s stupid and dumb,” said Brent Hamilton, another activist whose account was banned. “They call us ‘Russian bots,’ which we’re obviously not. We’re American and Arizonan, writing about what we believe in.”

“It’s censoring free speech. What we’re saying isn’t bad. We’re not spamming… we’re saying what we believe in — actual, fact-based information.”

“They made it out to be a widespread misinformation project,” said Seth Bailey, another activist paid by Rally Forge. “We’re just pushing values we believe in.”

“It’s pretty ridiculous. You have all kinds of people on the left pushing their ideas. It’s a platform for sharing ideas. So why can’t we share our ideas?”

A brief search of Democrat party job listings reveals that the party engages, or plans to engage in virtually identical behavior to Students for Trump.

The Texas Democrat Party is currently advertising for a “deputy digital organizing director” who will “Recruit and manage an in-state volunteer digital captains program to develop, curate, and distribute grassroots-generated content in support of Democrats up and down the ticket.”

The South Carolina Democrat party is currently recruiting a “digital organizing manager,” who will “develop volunteer communities via Facebook, Slack, and/or other online platforms.”

Like the group attacked by the Washington Post, the South Carolina Democrats provide their online volunteers with shared campaigning material. The digital organizing manager will “equip volunteer leaders with literature, merch, and other necessary equipment” and “produce text message and call scripts to be used for peer to peer texting and phone banks.”

The Kansas Democrat Party? It wants someone who will take care of “personally executing voter contact through making phone calls, texting, and engaging digitally,” and “host neighborhood specific (virtual) events to identify new volunteers.”

Perhaps the most egregious example is Defeat Disinfo, a shadowy anti-Trump organization whose advisers include retired general Stanley McChrystal. The organization reportedly pays social media users with “large followings” to repeat anti-Trump narratives, without any requirement to disclose their connection to the group. The organization then boosts the narratives through a “network of 3.4 million influencers around the country.”

That organization was reported on by the Washington Post too — by the same writer who authored the hitpiece that got the activists named in this article banned.

And yet, despite the organization’s vast network of paid influencers and operatives, nowhere in the article did the reporter suggest it is an example of “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. His upcoming book, #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election, which contains exclusive interviews with sources inside Google, Facebook, and other tech companies,  will be released on September 22 and is currently available for preorder.

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Ask Amy: My wife made a plan I didnt like, so I took the car and left. Was I wrong?

Dear Amy: Recently my daughter-in-law asked my wife to drive her and her two little kids to the airport (100 miles away) using our car.

Columnist Amy Dickinson (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune) 

Mind you, the daughter-in-law has a brand-new $50,000 SUV, but wanted my wife to drive our car to the airport.

This would leave me without a car to drive in case I needed it.

The daughter-in-law didn’t offer to let me use her car while my wife was doing this favor for her.

So I took off in our car the morning of the trip to go shopping and do some errands. I told my wife to drive the daughter-in-law’s car, as it is newer, safer, and with all the newest gadgets for safety for the kids, etc.

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Now the daughter-in-law and my wife are mad at me because she had to use her car to get to the airport.

I feel she is selfish and taking advantage of my wife and our car!

She says she didn’t want to drive her new SUV in city traffic. Should I have to pay for wear and tear on my car so the daughter-in-law can keep her new expensive SUV without using it?

Nobody is listening to me, so I am looking for a third party to weigh in.

Rightful Owner

Dear Owner: Well, you might want to keep looking for another opinion, because, in my opinion, what you did was really obnoxious.

When was the last time you took two young children by yourself on a plane? (I’m guessing never.) The morning of a trip like this is extremely stressful. Your passive-aggressive behavior really threw a spanner into the proceedings.

Your daughter-in-law and your wife had made an arrangement that you didn’t like, and so, rather than talk to them both about it and staking your (rightful) claim to your own family’s car, you simply took it, leaving them to scramble on the morning of the trip.

It seems disingenuous for you to pretend not to understand why they are mad at you now.

I am assuming that your daughter-in-law might have been nervous about your wife driving her new, powerful, unfamiliar vehicle alone on the way back from the airport. It’s not just that designer SUVs are expensive, but a BMW and a Buick are distinctly different vehicles to operate.

Regardless of your DIL’s reasoning, I do agree with you in a basic sense about the use of the cars.

I completely agree with them, however, about your behavior. Badly done.

Dear Amy: I have a friend who vastly overstates her life and professional qualifications. She isn’t applying for a job, so no harm done, but she talks all the time about this and that thing, which I know never happened (because I was there).

I feel co-opted if I keep silent. However, I do not know how to respond without getting into futile arguments. She seems absolutely resolved to maintain these fictions.

Can you help me figure out what to do?

It’s a Friendship, not a Résumé

Dear Friendship: If your friend’s constant dissembling makes you feel like a stooge, then tell her. You should absolutely correct the record if her story involves you, directly.

Understand, however, that some people exaggerate to the extent that they actually hold onto a different truth. They create a story in order to be more entertaining, memorable, and to feed a needy ego.

True friends are both tolerant and truthful regarding behavior that has a direct impact on them. During a reflective moment, you could tell her, “We often remember the same event very differently. I’d like to remind you that I think you are enough, just as you are.”

Dear Amy: I have a reassuring comment for the person signing her letter “Never Write Anything You Wouldn’t Want Published.” She had written some steamy love letters to her ex, and now wanted them back.

I am handling my deceased ex-partner’s estate, and anyone who does this has no time to read old love letters. These letters will be given a glance, but unless you are a famous person, they won’t be read, but simply shredded. (I have just shredded 24 boxes of papers.)

She should also consider that since her lover was never married, maybe she was the love of his life. Maybe at the end of his life, he is re-reading these letters, dreaming of her.


Dear Exhausted: This is a huge job to assume, on behalf of an ex. Good for you.

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You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

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