So it's finally true. The Russians really DO infiltrate the US and brainwash us

Russian ads, now publicly released, show sophistication of influence campaign

The Russians managed to exploit American extremist thinking through Facebook ads and campaigns, designed to trigger paranoia and provoke the crazy. It’s no wonder. Facebook managed to convince Americans to drop any pretense of privacy shielding and categorize their interests into key words that could be capitalized on by advertising agencies. The Russians figured out they could use similar methods to exploit right-wing paranoids and steer them Trump’s way, and why not? It’s a game to them. Facebook provided the easy-to-use tools, and gullible Americans who think mainstream news sources are fake are such easy targets to news sources that actually are fake.

It’s like rain on your wedding day, when news skeptics turn out to be the most gullible, isn’t it ironic!

This type of manipulation was so easy to do and didn’t require much in the way of studying American psyches. “Likes” were counted for key words like “Conservative,” “Republican,” “Second Amendment,” and channeled directly into easy-to-use FB templates, filled with faux news reports designed to exploit right-wing fears of liberal boogeymen. Hilary runs a secret child sex ring in a Washington DC pizza parlor. Somebody believed it! Nothing is too outlandish!

The Share button makes it so easy for such garbage to be spread like cracks in a windshield. The Flow of Stupid cannot be stopped! Market greed and consumer paranoia see to that. In addition, Twitter makes it so easy for idiots to influence the thinking of bigger idiots, because the 140-character limit is NOT a control valve. It eliminates context and promotes superficiality. Wow, everybody else seems to think this way, so it must be true! Look how many up-votes it got!

The Russians didn’t do this through secret labs and mind-reading satellites. They were just internet trolls who liked to fuck shit up, and the more sheep they hooked, the funner it got. Just turn on your laptopski and make America eat its own fecal matter.

Snopes and Straight Dope tried, but could do nothing to counter the spread of willing ignorance. The Russians won the Cold War 50 years later. Congrats Vlad, we are your bitches.

It’s a bit too convenient to blame the election results on the Russians. In fact, blaming foreigners for internal problems is something I expect the Russians to do, not us. We need to make sure we don’t turn into Nixon or Johnson blaming the Soviets for the anti-war movement in the 60s.

And therefore we can logically conclude that Russia didn’t influence the election results?

It was easy. They just dropped in and changed one character at a time. “Fighting ignorance since…,” became “Fighting! Ignorance! since…”

The difference being, of course, that this time there’s actual evidence, and more of it coming to light every day.

I get what you’re saying. We have to avoid just blaming them and ignoring our own problems. That this worked means they were exploiting our flaws. And we can’t quantify how much influence they actually had.

But “too convenient” isn’t really a thing outside of thinking there’s some some sort of frame job. What matters is the data. And, given how close the election was and how nearly one-sided the attacks were, it is quite reasonable to think that the election would have gone differently if not for their influence.

And ads are about using our own psychology to manipulate us. They really are. I know that political ads are necessary, since people won’t look up stuff on their own, but they do push a point of view. Very few ads just present information without some sort of psychological hook. We can’t see the ads and think they aren’t foreign influence and manipulation.

Sure, ads can only work with what is already there. But we all have a darker nature that can be exploited. We need to guard against this, while preserving the ideals behind our freedom of speech. I could definitely see this thrown in with campaign reform. Political ads should have to declare their biases, including foreign influence, and not doing so should have punitive results when discovered.

I agree with this. I have been saying that the more horrifying aspect of all this has been the gullibility of the American voter: the denial of knowledge, and the desire to remain willfully ignorant when presented with uncomfortable facts.

They did not have to convince all Americans, but evidently convinced enough to move the needle a few percentage points in specific states toward the outcome they wanted.

True, but Russia tried to influence the left too.

They also set up ads for black lives matter, Stein supporters and Sanders supporters too. They weren’t just targeting the right. They were targeting emotionally charged people on both the right and the left.

Their goal is to tear the nation apart and increase dysfunction and partisan hatred here.

They won too. Which is why the West needs to strike back. Sanctions, Magnitsky acts, funding Putin’s opposition, destroying Putins reputation (as a bold, brave macho man) in Russia, etc.

If you’d like to conclude that you are welcome to do so. But that would be what is called a straw man argument.

We don’t have evidence that the result was affected, even if some votes might have been affected. I think proving an effect on the result might be impossible one way or the other.

This is the new normal guys. Welcome to the internet age. We do it, they do it, everyone does it. That doesn’t mean we have to like it, but we’re going to need to learn how to deal with and live with it. It ain’t going away.

From what I’ve been reading you are on point. In the hysteria to find a smoking gun in DT’s hand this is being lost.

Actually, it would be called showing that your “bit too convenient” garbage was nonsensical smoke-blowing. The “convenience” level of a situation has no bearing whatsoever, and equating those who pursue facts and dislike hostile foreign interference in our news and election process to Nixon is straight-up bullshit.

And seriously, “straw man” has a meaning. Don’t abuse the poor term.


Even if Russia did collude with Trump overtly and directly, Russia interfered with the election on behalf of Russia, not Trump nor any other candidate.

Now this is a good Pit post. You hit the nail on the head BigT. Successful communication exploits psychological traits. Might be one reason why the founding fathers weren’t so keen on a pure democracy.

If our brains were washed, it’s because we took them out, placed them in baskets and skipped to a Russian laundromat, whistling all the way.

Actually it wasn’t russia. It was the transition from being a column in alternative newspapers, to being a web forum for opinion streaming.

The motto stayed the same but nothing else did.

I truly don’t get the hysteria around the social media content that came from Russia. Do we suppose that there isn’t already plenty of this stuff (and on both sides) coming from our own citizens? Is domestic douchery so much less damaging or dangerous than the imported variety?

So my conclusion is different from yours. Instead of retaliating against Putin and Russia, it would be far better for us to focus on healing our own problems. What Russia sent fell on very fertile soil. It wasn’t the original messages that were effective so much as it was the millions of times they were liked, shared, and re-tweeted.

I agree with this much of your post, with emphasis on the second sentence. It’s too easy to blame someone from outside when the real enemy is us. Of course, blaming the other is easy, working on one’s own issues is the hardest work of all.

Or, Facebook made the rope, Russian trolls made them into nooses, and the alt-right gleefully fitted them around their necks, jumped off the platform, and blamed phantom liberal malice for the pain they were experiencing.

There’s such a volume of crazy on social media and the Internet in general, that I’m unconvinced that Russian interference amounted to more than a drop in the bucket when it came to influencing loons and dumbasses.

Putin et al will really have won if enough people conclude that politics as usual doesn’t have to be fixed, since the election of Trump and like-minded hacks can mostly be blamed on the Russian Menace.