The Russian hackers are at it again. George Takei is blaming the widespread reporting of his alleged sexual assault on “Russian bots”, in a now-deleted tweet:
What started with John Podesta accidentally clicking on a spam email, has now led to every man, woman and dog blaming Russian hackers and bots for any perceived wrongdoings. George Takei is just the latest in a string of many accusing Vladimir Putin and the entire country of Russia for leaking private data and even swaying the United States Election. While Takei is not the only one doing the accusing, he has certainly shown the absurd lengths many have gone to in order to avoid being held publicly accountable.
On March 19 of …Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta received an alarming email that appeared to come from Google.
This is the dramatic opening to Motherboard’s dramatic article How Hackers Broke Into John Podesta and Colin Powell’s Gmail Accounts. It explains how Podesta accidentally clicked on what he assumed was a legitimate email from Google, only for his data to be hacked and his personal emails and other information to be published on a site called DC Leaks. Thanks to the malicious link Podesta clicked on, it was revealed the spam email came from someone called Fancy Bear. Thanks to a few mistakes of Fancy Bear’s, analysts were able to discover many of their methods, and were able to stop phishing scams sent to Clinton staffer William Rinehart, and Colin Powell.
This was only the beginning. Despite only speculation of this being the work of Russia (and somehow the Kremlin, because… reasons?), Hillary Clinton took this to an entirely new level after her surprise election loss, blaming Russians for her defeat. However, Clinton didn’t just believe it was Russian hackers, like with Podesta and the others. What would usually sound like a conspiracy theory sounded completely rational to many, who believed Russians manipulated social media to engineer the election in Donald Trump’s favor.
Now we have everybody willy-nilly blaming Russians for any perceived wrongdoing, making it feel like we’re reliving the Cold War all over again. George Takei just shows the utter absurdity of it all, blaming Russians for making his sexual abuse allegations news. Seriously? A man accuses you of abusing him back in 1981, and you have the gall to hand us the Russia Excuse. This is Kevin Spacey’s “living my life as a gay man” taken to conspiracyist levels of ludicrous. Takei is receiving about as much attention as the others ousted in the Great Hollywood Sex Scandal of 2017. However, by blaming The Russians, he’s just giving himself more unwanted attention, the same as Spacey after his ridiculous response to abuse allegations.
Motherboard’s article provides at least some semblance of a reason for John Podesta believing Russians hacked his information with a malevolent intent, but Takei shows how absurd this Russians are Manipulating Everything insanity has become.
There’s no doubt that Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, has done his fair share of dubious and outright shady things over his twenty year presidency. Also, there are Russian spammers (or at least spammers with Russian servers) who have plagued email inboxes for years. However, to assume these spammers want to control the United States via their election seems incredibly conspiracy theory, when there are many rational explanations.
Russian spammers (or those with Russian-based servers) send out emails to thousands, if not millions, of people. Some people bite back and click on these spam links. Russian “hackers” take the data and, in the case of Podesta, likely discovered the importance of the information and sell it off to the Kremlin or whoever the highest bidder is. This is generally how internet spammers and scammers work. Just watch any video by people like I.T Advocate who call up Indian scammers, and they use similar methods.
Here’s an example of junk mail I received around the same time as Podesta was deceived by “Google”. Much like Podesta, it also claims to be from Google, and links to a Russian-based email that will infect your computer with a cryptolocker if clicked on (Hint: Do not click on these links). These emails coincidentally coincided with searching specific things on Facebook and Google, so perhaps it is correct, in a way, that social media sites are responsible for the alleged Russian hacking of the election.
This one is from August of 2016, and is obviously more professional in appearance. It’s easy to see why even professionals like John Podesta and other Hillary Clinton staffers would fall for such emails. In emails such as these, the only warning signs are in the name of the email addressee. That is their point. They want you to click on their shoddy link, they want your details. Regardless of who you are, spammers want your personal information, so they can sell it to the highest bidder. Unfortunately, in Podesta’s case, it appears “the highest bidder” appeared to have cruel intentions.
From where it stands, the case for Russian hackers meddling with democracy in the United States appeared to start innocently. A man accidentally clicks on a link, his data is sold, and eventually becomes public knowledge. Regardless of whether these Russian hackers are actually threatening democracy in the United States cannot be answered. However, what we do know is people—like George Takei—are using this uncertainty to venture into conspiracy theory territory and blame Russians for things that seem completely preposterous.
Instead of using the Russian boogeyman, why don’t you hold yourself accountable, Takei? George Takei may be completely innocent—we have no tangible evidence of what actually occurred with Takei and his accuser back in 1981—but the more one uses ridiculous excuses instead of holding themselves accountable, how likely are we to believe them in the end?
Russian bots and spammers may be a real threat or an imagined boogeyman, but people like Takei obsessed with the Russian hysteria are only making it harder to believe those who potentially may be telling the truth.