The latest efforts to disrupt the US midterm through the Facebook manipulation seem to be the following a persuasion playbook, refined by the legitimate companies and organizations – but with a twist.
The aim of these possibly Russia-linked perpetrators appears to be to draw in as many people as possible with emotional appeals. In this case, though, the action is public protest rather than affinity marketing, and the goal is to sow dissension rather than to build brand awareness.
“They are almost functioning like social media editors, figuring out what the trending topics are in the US and figuring out where they can insert themselves, “said Jennifer Grygiel, a communications professor at Syracuse University.
The idea, experts say, is to widen the rifts in the US population. hearts and minds and much more about setting. The removed pages share “moralistic language” and appeal to emotions, said Jay Van Bavel, a New York University psychology professor who who group identity. Picking at a scab. “
David Stewart, a marketing and business law professor at Loyola Marymount University, said:” We are versus them ” “mentality, without which Facebook users might not be so polarized. Groups tied to the Russian government have been trying to meddle in US politics since at least the 2016 elections.
In February, the Justice Department charged 13 Russians and three companies with plotting to aid Donald Trump's presidential campaign through fake Facebook posts, ads and groups. More recently, Facebook said it had removed 32 apparently fake accounts and pages on Facebook and calls inauthentic political behavior ahead of the US midterms.
Although Facebook did not specifically say, they were the same as the latest efforts. It is not clear how well the efforts worked or if they have the outcome of elections, either in 2016 or this time around. Sowing discord, however, could be people who wanted to stay home instead of voting.
Discord could also lead to real-world violence and conflict. During the 2016 elections, Russian agents bought a slew of issue-based ads for pushing complaints for and against immigration, gun rights and other issues. Many of them attempted to stoke racial divisions by mentioning police brutality or disparaging the Black Lives Matter movement.
Russian agents took advantage of the same tools available to businesses and groups to target messages with precision. One video parodying Trump was targeted at blacks who also were interested in BlackNews.com, HuffPost Politics or HuffPost Black Voices, for instance.
This time around, the efforts seem more focused on calling people to participate in protests and take action, at least based on the limited information provided by Facebook so far. The removed accounts appeared designed, “wrote the Digital Forensic Research Lab of the Atlantic Council, which has been working with Facebook to study misinformation and foreign its services.
Those behind the accounts are not spending a lot of time creating original posts. Instead, they do what many other people do on social media to get likes and clicks: They steal or reshare other people's posts.From there, legitimate organizations, sometimes spread the messages further.
“Americans thus became the unwitting amplifiers of Russian information operations, “the Atlantic Council researchers wrote. One indication that these efforts are working out that legitimate activist groups seem to have gotten swept up in some of the event.
For instance, several anti-racism groups attached themselves to a Washington protest called “No Unite the Right 2.” Though the April Goggans, an organizer of the Black Lives Matter DC, said the protest was organized by the people in the US, the event was on Facebook.
Facebook cancellation of the account – and the listing – less than two weeks before it was to take place.Overall, the 32 accounts. About half took place, even though the unknown agents behind them had no one on the ground and had to go to coerce people in attending the events purely through Facebook.
Van Bavel what our weak spots are psychologically as Americans. ” – AP