How much impact did Russian media ads have?

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I have to admit that the extent of Russian propaganda on U.S. social media was more than I assumed.  Maybe I shouldn’t have been, given that I’d once posted links about the extent of the Russian propaganda effort.

I don’t use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media myself.

I’m curious to know how far these ads reached and how much impact they had.

I’d like to ask American viewers of this blog to comment on the following questions—

  • Have you ever seen any of the ads above or below before?
  • Have you ever received anything from american veterans, Army of Jesus, Being Patriotic, Blacktivist, Born Liberal, LGBT United, Secured Borders or Stop AI (all invaders)?
  • If you did receive anything like this, what did you think of it?  Do you think it would influence people you know?

Of course, from the legal standpoint, it doesn’t matter whether these ads had a big impact or a small impact.   All that matters is whether certain individuals broke American law.

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I don’t want the FBI and CIA to be arbiters of the American voting process.  I didn’t put any credence in the evidence-free anti-Trump leaks from these two organizations.   I do think that the leaders of the FBI and CIA are anti-Trump, both for the good reason of Trump’s ignorance and erratic judgment and for the bad reason that Trump wanted to improve relations with Russia.

But I don’t think Robert S. Mueller’s motives are the issue here.  What matters is his professionalism.

Whether he is out to get Trump, whether he is out to sabotage U.S.-Russia relations or whether he is on a disinterested quest for justice, the best thing he can do is to make a solid legal case based on factual evidence against those who actually have violated statutory law.

His professionalism is indicated by the lack of leaked information from his staff.  It also is indicated by the detailed and specific nature of the indictment.    It’s true that no evidence has been presented in court, nor is it likely, given that the defendants are in Russia, but that isn’t his fault.

It’s also true that the charges say nothing about knowing collusion of members of the Trump administration with individual Russians or the Russian government over the election.  It will be interesting to see whether any such charges are forthcoming as Mueller’s investigation proceeds.  I’m doubtful, but we’ll see.

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Astroturf did not originate in Russia.  The fact that we have a name for it shows that.   This doesn’t make it okay when Russians do it, of course.

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I don’t see why Donald Trump would have needed Russian help in spreading divisiveness in the USA.   He does that very well on his own.

I don’t see why the Trump campaign needed covert Russian help on social media.  He and Steve Bannon did that very well on their own.

Whether the Russian activities had a major impact, a minor impact or virtually no impact at all on the election is outside Mueller’s mandate.  His only concern as a prosecutor is whether the law was broken.

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For those of you who use social media:

Have you seen any of these ads before on social media?  What do you think of them?  Would they influence anybody you know?  And how impressive are the number of likes and shares?  Are they average, below average or more than average?

Added 2/19/2018:  I should explain that the social media ads in this post were not related to the Mueller indictment, but were published as part of congressional investigations of Russian-originated social media ads.  The background is explained in the first two New York Times articles and the New York University article below.

Also, there is a theory that the ads were not part of a scheme to influence the election, but were intended merely as clickbait to generate ad revenue.  That is explained in the Moon of Alabama article below.


Text of the Grand Jury indictments.

Russian Influence Campaign: What’s In the Latest Mueller Indictment by Sarah Grant, Quinta Juracic, Matthew Kahn, Matt Tail and Benjamin Wittes for Lawfare.

This Is What $1.25 Million a Month Bought the Russians by Emily Tamklin for Foreign Policy.

Russia’s Election Meddling: Worse Than a Crime, a Blunder by Robert W. Merry for The American Conservative.  Very true!

One big thing: Flummoxed Facebook helped Mueller by Mike Allen for Axios.  [Added 1/19/2018]

Why Both Trump and Russia Seek to Exacerbate America’s Divisions by Conor Friedersdorf for The Atlantic.  [Added 1/19/2018]

The Russians Are Coming by Paul Waldman for The Week.

House Intelligence Committee Releases Incendiary Russian Social Media Ads by  Nicholas Fandos, Cecilia Kang and Mike Isaac for The New York Times

Facebook’s Russia-Linked Ads Came in Many Disguises by Mike Isaac and Scott Shane for The New York Times.

Online Advertisement Dystopia: How Russia Weaponized Social Media Platforms Against American Democracy by Burak Kocamis for IR Insider, the publication of the International Relations Society of New York University.

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3 Responses to “How much impact did Russian media ads have?”

  1. silverapplequeen Says:

    Just because trump & Bannon sowed division very well on their own doesn’t mean that Russia didn’t jump in to help. We all know people who see a fight starting & jump in to stir things up.


  2. williambearcat Says:

    No I didn’t receive these ads. They probably know enough about me from the sites I visit and the organizations I support through the internet to not send them to me. The Russian attacks were sophisticated and they knew how to target the right demographics.


  3. whungerford Says:

    I believe I saw the “Satan” item and the “Merry Christmas” item too. These two have a common theme–religion. That Donald Trump, with no known religious affiliation, became the favorite of those for whom public affirmation of religion is important is astonishing. Most would not admit being affected by such advertising, but graphic ads may have a subliminal effect.

    The 2016 Presidential campaign debated many frivolous issues. For example, we debated whether President Trump would “put Christ back in Christmas.” If this is an example of what Americans want to debate, God help us; if it was an idea promoted illegally by foreign actors, one might think we need to enact and enforce laws which discourage it.

    The 2016 campaign was marked with craziness, no doubt. To what extent this was promoted by foreigners is hard to determine. It is clear that divisive ideas were echoed over and over by persons unaware of the source of the material.


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