Maybe ‘Russian influence’ ads were just clickbait

A blogger called Moon of Alabama argued, plausibly, that the so-called “Russian influence” campaign was just individual Russians posting clickbait on the Internet to generate ad revenue.

His argument is consistent with the facts, as outlined in the indictment.   The only way to settle it would be if one of the 13 Russians charged by Special Prosecutor Robert S. Mueller would volunteer to come to the United States and stand trial, which is highly unlikely.

A lot of false news originates this way.  Somebody makes up something striking and posts it hoping to get a lot of views.

When I first read about Mueller’s charges, I thought that I had some more-or-less solid facts.   But, no.  I still can’t say I know what basis there is for the Russiagate charges, or if there is any basis at all.  It’s still the same wilderness of mirrors.   I feel I’m back where I started.


Later [2/20/2018]  Re-reading the indictment, I am reminded that, if the allegations are true, this was a highly organized effort, much more than the typical individual Internet troll’s attempt to generate clickbait.   Most Russians in 2016 feared Hillary Clinton and were sympathetic to Donald Trump, so the effort could have had a dual purpose—to make money and undermine Clinton.

If I had it to do over, I would have pondered the indictment a little more and Internet commentary a little less, and written one post and not four.

Later [2/21/2018]  Well, maybe not so highly organized.  The more analysis I read, the less certain I feel of the basis for the Mueller indictments or anyting else.


Text of the Grand Jury indictments.

Mueller Indictment – The “Russian Influence” Is a Commercial Marketing Scheme by Moon of Alabama.

Robert Mueller’s America—A Farce Wrapped in Hypocrisy by Publius Tacitus for Sic Semper Tyrannis.  [Added 2/21/2018]

A Lesson in Political Sociology for Robert Mueller, a Lesson in Warfare for Dimitry Peskov by John Helmer for Dances With Bears. [Added 2/21/2018]

The Fundamental Uncertainty of Mueller’s Russia Indictments by Masha Gessen for The New Yorker.  [Added 2/21/2018]

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5 Responses to “Maybe ‘Russian influence’ ads were just clickbait”

  1. whungerford Says:

    I see that a surprising number people(?) liked this article. Why are so many unwilling to accept the simple fact of Russian cybercrime? Are they embarrassed that they were influenced by it?


    • philebersole Says:

      whungerford, I think the question mark in “people(?)” is fully justified. I am sorry to be impolite to people who like my post, but I strongly suspect, based on the identities of the originators of the likes, that the likes were generated by a computer algorithm.

      The vast majority of favorable comments on my posts indicate that the commenter couldn’t possibly have read the post. The favorable comments are clickbait. Their purpose is to persuade me to click on the originating site. All these comments are deleted by my spam filter or by me.

      I have more than 1,000 followers who are automatically notified each time I post something. The number of unique viewers on any given day is almost always less than half that number. My suspicion is that these followerships are generated by robots, in order to persuade me to follow the originating site in return.

      And I suspect the same is true in this case. The majority of the sites seem to be clickbait themselves, and a computer algorithm may have picked up on my language about making money from Internet advertising.

      To those who posted likes, I say that if you sincerely liked this post, I’m pleased, and I wasn’t talking about you.


      • whungerford Says:

        Thanks for the explanation. I have noted a rash of puzzling likes on another WordPress account; I didn’t realize their purpose.


  2. williambearcat Says:

    Maybe the “blogger” is Russian.

    Liked by 1 person

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