Monday, November 6, 2017

Leonid Bershidsky — Facebook Ads Reveal the Real Russian Game

Leonid Bershidsky calls BS.
The Facebook ads placed by a Russian troll farm and released on Wednesday by the U.S. Congress Intelligence Committee show that the Russian propaganda campaign of 2016 didn't favor either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Instead, it mocked and goaded America, holding up a distorted but, in the final analysis, remarkably accurate mirror.

This directly contradicts previous U.S. intelligence community assessments. "We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election," the intelligence community assessment released in January stated. "Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump."

If the social network ads placed by the St. Petersburg Internet Research Agency -- a troll collective linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Kremlin-connected restaurateur -- reflect the strategy of the influence campaign, the intelligence community was wrong....
A conceivable defense of the intelligence conclusion is that you can't interfere in the election after the voters have chosen, so only the anti-Clinton bias of the Russian campaign really made a difference. That argument is lame, however. Neither the trolls with their tiny budgets -- at best, hundreds of thousands of dollars compared with the hundreds of millions spent by the candidates and their U.S. backers -- nor Russian state media with their laughable reach compared with U.S. cable TV could have hoped to shape the election outcome. That would assume they knew more about U.S.-based influence tools than the entire U.S. political industry, which had been using these tools from the moment they were created, with their creators' full cooperation....
The trolls were, well, trolling.

Bloomberg View
Facebook Ads Reveal the Real Russian Game
Leonid Bershidsky, Russian ex-pat and Bloomberg View columnist, was founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founder of

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