It probably seemed inconceivable to a lot of the people pushing propaganda in the lead up to the U.S. election that within two years, Facebook, Twitter, and Google would all be compelled to divulge information about the extent to which the Kremlin utilized social media to undercut the Hillary Clinton campaign.
And you know, there’s something ironic about that. Because a lot of the alt-Right sites that participated in the effort (either wittingly or unwittingly) have for years pushed conspiracy theories warning about the dangers of omnipotent entities like Google. Those type of stories play well with audiences that are predisposed to paranoia – audiences who believe Kellyanne Conway when she tells you your microwave is spying on you.
So you know, “oh the irony” that the propaganda pushers didn’t have the presence of mind to believe enough in their own narratives to guard against the possibility that eventually, the Facebooks, Twitters, and Googles of the world would end up folding under pressure and lifting the veil on how propaganda and fake news is disseminated and more importantly, on whose behalf.
“Facebook is due within days to hand US lawmakers more than 3,000 Russian-bought political advertisements that sought to exacerbate divisions in US society by promoting causes such as gun rights and the Black Lives Matter movement,” FT reported this morning, adding that “three people familiar with Facebook’s contacts with Congress said it had already shown investigators a few ‘inflammatory’ ads seemingly designed to stir-up passions over issues such as the right to bear arms and police brutality against African-Americans.”
That was earlier. Moments ago, we got this headline from Warner:
- FACEBOOK, TWITTER HEARING ANNOUNCEMENT MAY COME TODAY: WARNER
Just a few minutes before that, Politico reported that according to three sources, the Senate Intelligence Committee intends to call Google executives to Capitol Hill as well.
“The panel is seeking Google’s cooperation as it studies how Russia’s government might have exploited American social media and Internet companies during the 2016 campaign,” Politico says, adding that “federal officials have expressed concern that Kremlin-linked entities may have tried to game Google’s algorithm to shape the search results of voters seeking political news and information.”
So yeah, this disinformation campaign and all of those who participated in it is going to be exposed come hell or high water. And that means that America is going to find out who (i.e. which sites) are pushing out lies on a daily basis.
And do you know what the next step will be? Well, let me tell you. The next step will be when legitimate advertisers start asking questions about the extent to which clicks and impressions they’ve paid millions of dollars for were the product of traffic engineered by bot farms.