September 15, 2017 9:33 am -

The formula was reasonably simple: flood social media with so much fake news that the credulous rubes would believe it. And they had help from – you guessed it – Donald Trump.

Trump’s “attacks on the so-called mainstream media played right into the Russians’ hands,” according to CNN reporter Drew Griffin.

During a report on Jake Tapper’s “The Lead,” Griffin explained the alarming way in which Russia used a network of social media trolls were able to spread false information about Hillary Clinton across multiple platforms.

“It’s called the Internet Research Agency,” Griffin reported. “A company U.S. intelligence officials called ‘Russia’s Troll Army,’ a state funded organization that blogs and tweets on behalf of the Kremlin. Facebook is one of the top sites Russians target to spread their fake messages and that is why congressional investigators are demanding Facebook open up its own records, help track the fake Russian news, find out who was behind it.”

Hillary Clinton is, quite rightly, demanding that Facebook show accountability for their culpability.

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton pushed on Thursday for Facebook to “own up” to its role in allowing fake news to spread after the platform revealed it had published thousands of political ads over the past two years that were linked to fake Russia-based accounts.

“We may have our disagreements among Americans, we’re not going to let the Russians come in and divide us. And so we’re going to make Facebook own up to everything. They’ve just begun to own up. They have a long way to go before they get to where they need to be, in my opinion,” Clinton told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

“Other tech companies, we’re going to go after these provocateurs, these Russians posing as Americans, these content farms in Macedonia, these thousand trolls, these tens of thousands of bots, because you know what, we have every right to have a rigorous debate in America, but we don’t want it being interfered with and suborned by Putin and his allies,” she continued.

Clinton’s comments come after Facebook announced last week it discovered that 470 inauthentic accounts spent about $100,000 to buy roughly 3,000 ads during the presidential campaign

Naturally, Facebook has cracked down and instituted more rigorous standards on advertisers… wait, what?

Facebook sold advertisements targeted to antisemitic users drawn to phrases like “Jew haters”, according to a report in ProPublica.

The social media giant’s ad-buying platform allows purchasers to tailor their ads to certain categories of users, seeking to guide advertisements into the newsfeeds of more receptive audiences. Among the available subgroups were users who expressed interest in topics like “Jew haters” and “How to burn Jews”, ProPublica found.

The categories had relatively few users – a little over 2,000 for the “Jew haters” label and a handful scattered across other anti-Semitic labels – and in response to the story Facebook removed the categories, which it said were generated by users who wrote phrases that then became visible to advertisers entering search terms.

“We don’t allow hate speech on Facebook“, product management director Rob Leathern said in a statement. “Our community standards strictly prohibit attacking people based on their protected characteristics, including religion, and we prohibit advertisers from discriminating against people based on religion and other attributes.

“However, there are times where content is surfaced on our platform that violates our standards. In this case, we’ve removed the associated targeting fields in question. We know we have more work to do, so we’re also building new guardrails in our product and review processes to prevent other issues like this from happening in the future.”

If there is one thing Putin understands, it is the power of social media to trigger people who need someone to blame. It is no coincidence that Robert Mueller appears to have caught on a while ago – and that the Russiagate threads are finally weaving themselves into a very ugly tapestry.

The year’s most consequential storylines have collided — and are now one mega-story worthy of your undivided attention — with the revelation by Bloomberg’s Chris Strohm that “Russia’s effort to influence U.S. voters through Facebook and other social media is a ‘red-hot’ focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.”

Why it matters: Mueller’s investigation, based on people he’s interviewing and questions he’s asking, could very well expose in vivid detail not only Russia’s influence in the election, and sketchy if not illegal behavior by Trump associates, but also how Facebook, Twitter and social media helped facilitate a lot of it. … The Russia angle will vastly amplify congressional and media scrutiny of the tech giants, increasingly on the defensive for what they know about us and how they have used their power.

Let’s not forget reports that the FBI is rigorously probing Russian government media organizations that have been spreading propaganda in the USA.

None of these developments should surprise anyone in the reality-based world. One need not be a member of the intelligence community or federal investigator to understand that Putin is a master of punking America’s rube deplorables and inciting them into acting against their own interests.

Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg!

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.