Amanda Shea is still missing.
The fake journalist who writes bad fiction for Freedomdaily.com, Madworldnews and other alt-right fake news outlets has been off the grid since I called her out last week for stealing copyrighted Times-Tribune property and using it to bolster an utterly false “account” of Hillary Clinton getting falling down drunk at the Society of Irish Women Dinner in Scranton.
It didn’t happen. In daring to point this out, I was defending not Hillary, but objective fact. I offered Amanda Shea an opportunity to stand by her story. She declined, but by the next day, I was bombarded by a small army of “bots” and trolls determined to punish me for the sin of calling a liar a liar.
The flood of fake news this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.
Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers.
The trolls did not like one of their own being outed and deluged my Chris Kelly, The Times-Tribune Facebook page with the typical hateful, childish, profane rot that oozes from stunted souls. My colleagues and I decided “penis knuckle” was the most creative and amusing epithet hurled my way.
Also, the P-word. No, not that one. I noted Vladimir Putin‘s documented use of online propaganda to undermine our democracy, which sent the trolls into full froth. Here’s one of the few publishable examples, from a poster using the name Peter Tholl:
“Chris Kelly. I as a cartoonist think you would make an excellent. Fake news. Example. For A Valdismear Putin connection. Acussing anyone is your idea of fun.
Overall, grammar and spelling were challenges for most of the trolls. I assume many of them were using English as a second language. I got at least one taunt typed in Cyrillic script. I don’t speak Russian. Maybe Ronnie Martin, can translate. If he exists.
Ronnie’s Facebook page suggests he lives in Las Vegas and joined Facebook in January 2016. His page has just four posts and reflects no friends. On Sept. 10, 2016, “Ronnie” posted that he had just started classes at Las Vegas High School. This seems odd, considering two other posts claim he studied Communications and Mass Media at UNLV from 1993 through 1999. I’m bad at math, but that just doesn’t add up for me.
My guess is that “Ronnie” doesn’t exist, but he apparently convinced the brain trust at Facebook that he is not only real but was the victim of copyright infringement perpetrated by yours truly. In the email report I received from the Facebook Help Team, “Ronnie” described the copyrighted work as: “Artwork I (he) created.”
The “artwork” he described is a copyrighted photograph of me that he stole and defaced. Facebook removed the image from my page and warned me that continued unauthorized use of copyrighted material could get me kicked off Facebook. After the searing irony faded, I noted this sentence: If you believe that this content should not have been removed from Facebook, you can contact the complaining party directly to resolve your issue.
It was followed by “Ronnie Martin”‘s email address, which I wouldn’t share if it was a private account and it wasn’t so interesting.
This ain’t over.