Facebook and Russian Propaganda
Facebook's initial assessment of users reached by Russian ads increased to 70 million.
So who was it colluding with the Russians? Facebook recently notified Congress that it had unearthed advertisements on its site that originated from Russian groups trying to influence the election. Facebook initially reported that those ads had reached an estimated 10 million Americans. But analysts looking into the data now say that estimate is closer to 70 million. Spending little more than $100,000 (in a $10 billion election), Russian trolls were able to pointedly target millions of Facebook users with their propaganda ads.
These ads were geared toward hot-button issues such as homosexual rights or immigration, and they were shared millions of times. Dennis Yu, founder of BlitzMetrics, an advertising agency, noted, “If you can get a hot post, you can get an extra 20 to 40 times multiplier because of these people commenting and sharing it.”
As Kip Cassino, executive vice president of research at Borrell Associates, an organization which tracks advertising industry data, described it, “That’s the beauty of Facebook. … [It] is the antithesis of mass media because you are not getting your message out to as many people as possible, but rather those you think will react to it.”
It seems clear that Russia’s aim was not favoring Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton or visa versa, but disruption — to sow as much political discord, division and chaos as possible. This is also evidenced by the fact that, according to Facebook, 56% of the ads were displayed after the election. Essentially, Russia was pushing the Trump/Russia collusion conspiracy to further divide the American public and foster a more politically chaotic environment in Washington. It would appear that it has worked quite effectively.
Yet don’t forget two critical points: First, Facebook itself has manipulated what users see and teamed up with leftist fact checkers to do it. The social media giant is doing far more to influence users’ thoughts than Russia ever could. Second, the real danger of collusion is between the Democrat Party and its Leftmedia propaganda outlets.