Interference in elections requires greater scrutiny
Newspaper and media outlets broke the story that a foreign adversary has been utilizing mass communication to incite divisiveness and interfere with democratic elections in the West.
What sounds like a plot point straight out of a Cold War novel, is in fact the harsh reality of the United States in 2017.
Facebook has recently revealed that thousands of advertisements were purchased by fake accounts linked to account farms in Russia, with the goal of provoking chaos and debate surrounding controversial issues prevalent to the mainstream United State.
Specifically, the advertisements targeted the battleground states of Michigan and Wisconsin—states that proved decisive in Hillary Clinton’s loss in the election. The complexity and depth of the Russian operation is astounding. Beyond just Facebook advertisements, Russian intelligence has also been linked to Twitter bots that automatically created tweets containing anti-Clinton messages.
However, it is not just the fact that it happened that is unbelievable, it is the methods and logic behind Russia’s work which is worrisome.
The advertisements also targeted specific groups and areas across the country, with content surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement, targeting cities such as Baltimore where the controversy still rages.
Advertisements were also deployed based on race, interests and ideologies. Such a complex disinformation operation within the United States sounds like the stuff of fictional nightmare, but it is the reality that U.S. citizens must face and accept.
President Donald Trump’s digital campaign chief even went as far as saying that Facebook advertisements were the reason that the president won the election. For a campaign official to openly admit that these advertisements were the reason that Trump won, just a week after news broke about Russian meddling, is absolutely mind-boggling.
Not only does it illustrate the insensitivity of Trump’s staffers to the gravity of the situation, but it also suggests that the campaign accepts the Russian assistance through its silent concession.
Sanctions passed against Russia for previous interference in the 2016 election still have yet to take full effect.
The disinformation debacle is not only detrimental for domestic affairs, but also for the United States’ place in international affairs.
The U.S. reputation in the international theater has already been weakened by a leader who seems to adamantly refuse to hold his tongue and acts in a manner so unfathomably toxic and childish, that the damage already done in his first year in power can already be written off as irreparable for generations to come.
The United States cannot be taken seriously as a nation in the global geopolitical macroscope, when it's very leader only ascended to his position by means of assistance from not just a foreign power, but a nation that has been an adversary of the United States for decades.