More collusion with the Russians? No, of course not. She promoted the event not knowing that it was Russian-organized. The idea originated with a Russian troll front on Facebook called “Being Patriotic.” Which means the news here is what? That she’s guilty of the same thing Michael Moore is? That she’s in denial that Russian trolls exist?
That’s a mighty weak news hook. But what makes it worse is that CNN chose to name her in its report. (Her name’s not featured in the clip below.) And now, per Jerry Dunleavy, she’s being harassed by lefty trolls because of it.
Either I’ve lost the plot or the media’s lost the plot because I thought Russia’s chief misdeed during the 2016 campaign was the hackings of the DNC and John Podesta. Collusion with Trump’s campaign would be a bigger deal but that remains unproved; the hackings, however, are universally attributed to them by U.S. intelligence. And the hackings may have moved the electoral needle a little by angering some Bernie supporters who might have reluctantly voted for Hillary in the general election but chose to stay home when the DNC’s hostility to him was exposed. There’s no serious argument I’m aware of, though, that Russian social-media trolling moved the needle. They pushed a bunch of meme-style garbage and rally invites aimed at people who were already highly predisposed to vote for Trump to begin with. Jacob Sullum puts it in context:
The indictment says the [Internet Research Agency, Russia’s troll farm] spent “thousands of U.S. dollars every month” on social media ads. That’s roughly one-millionth of the ad revenue that Facebook alone receives each month.
According to Facebook, ads bought by the IRA, most of which weighed in on contentious social issues rather than endorsing or opposing candidates, represented “four-thousandths of one percent (0.004%) of content in News Feed.” Twitter Acting General Counsel Sean Edgett testified in October that “the 1.4 million election-related Tweets that we identified through our retrospective review as generated by Russian-linked, automated accounts constituted less than three-quarters of a percent (0.74%) of the overall election-related Tweets on Twitter at the time.”
Richard Salgado, Google’s senior counsel on law enforcement and information security, testified that the company found 18 YouTube channels offering about 1,100 videos with political content that were “uploaded by individuals who we suspect are associated with this [Russian] effort.” The videos, which totaled 43 hours on a platform where 400 hours of content are uploaded every minute and more than 1 billion hours are watched every day, “mostly had low view counts,” with less than 3 percent attracting more than 5,000 views.
Watch the clip below and ask yourself: If not for the efforts of “Being Patriotic,” would this woman have stayed home on Election Day? She ran a “Team Trump” Facebook page, for cripes sake.
The Russian social-media effort was so minuscule, such a small fleeting fart in the partisan winds gusting between the two parties, that you’re left wondering why they bothered spending money on it. My guess is that they were less interested in using Facebook et al. to influence votes than using the campaign as a way to establish a social-media presence among right-wingers that could be exploited to advance Russian interests later. That is, they may not have been using social media to influence the election so much as using the election to influence social media. By trumpeting dopey Hillary-as-the-devil photoshops or whatever, they may have been able to attract pro-Trump Americans to follow their accounts. The fact that that photoshop wouldn’t move any votes was irrelevant; simply by building followers, those accounts might be used in the future to try to influence right-wing opinion, like, for instance, if Trump was mulling further intervention in Syria at some point down the road. Having amassed some fans and right-wing credibility for its campaign exploits, “Being Patriotic” might then start farting out “U.S. out of Syria!” propaganda. That makes more sense to me from a Russian perspective than meme-ing the election for its own sake.
But regardless, what is CNN doing knocking on this woman’s door? Did they think she was going to say, “Yeah, I knew ‘Being Patriotic’ was a Russian front all along?”
A Florida woman who ran a Trump supporters page that unwittingly promoted a Russian-coordinated event on Facebook says she doesn’t believe that she was influenced by Kremlin-linked trolls https://t.co/DmgDRFRwyn pic.twitter.com/OAz5julCyA
— CNN (@CNN) February 21, 2018