How Russia uses social media for propaganda (We do too!)

“Russia’s campaign to shape international opinion around its invasion of Ukraine has extended to recruiting and training a new cadre of online trolls that have been deployed to spread the Kremlin’s message on the comments section of top American websites.”

Source: Documents Show How Russia’s Troll Army Hit America – BuzzFeed News

The United States government also does this. Remember back in the fall of 2013 when many of us had our health insurance policies canceled? These were the policies that Obama had said we could keep.

The White House orchestrated a crowd sourced propaganda campaign to assert people should be happy to lose their “junk policies” as these would now be replaced by quality, affordable health insurance. Remember that? Legions of party supporters were asked to respond to comments in newspapers and social media about policy cancellations by asserting that people were merely losing “junk policies”. That assertion was an outright lie as very few policies were “junk”.  In reality, most of those whose insurance was canceled had traditional, “major medical” insurance identical to that provided by employers for decades. Very, very few had limited coverage policies from which the name “junk insurance” had originated.

In a sense, the above news story about Russia’s propaganda operation is itself propaganda – selling the message that evil empire governments use propaganda, with a subtle hint that we do not. That message is bunk. We do it just as much as anyone else.

This relates directly back to social media – defined as participatory interactive media such as Facebook and even online forums and newspaper comments – are infiltrated by professional propagandists. This blog has mentioned some social media professional propaganda operations, such as Occupy Democrats. There are many more. Some are obvious but most are likely secretive as they use the tools of modern social media to influence our thinking.

Because so much of what comes across social media has denigrated in to garbage and propaganda, I have drastically cut back my use of social media in the past month. I am not alone. In the past 12 months, many social media platforms have lost 25% or more of their “minutes of use” as people stop using these platforms or cut back their use of these platforms.

More on this in a future post.