Reply to post: Re: Just when you thought...

Facebook ran $100k of deliberately divisive Russian ads ahead of 2016 US election


Re: Just when you thought...

I'd very much like to see examples of these "ads". It's very easy to slant things when you get to describe something and don't have to actually provide examples. Rant warning, I'm afraid. But I have strong issues with attempts to limit foreign groups from having a voice in our countries by denouncing it all as "propaganda" and shutting it down. Sometimes a foreign point of view is good for us. Example: You ask anyone in the USA why they're sanctioning Russia and you'll hear something about Russian interference in elections. Despite this being unproven and even if the case, it's actually only about providing information to the US electorate about what their candidates actually said and thought behind their backs. Ask people in most of the non-English speaking world why the sanctions exist and you'll hear comments about blocking the Nordstream 2 pipeline project with Germany(1) and / or trying to overthrow Assad.

Russia does make efforts to reach people in the West with its own viewpoints. E.g. Russia Today pushes a less Western viewpoint. And I don't begrudge them trying to provide me information. If you want to know what someone else is doing wrong, read your own news. If you want to know what your side are doing wrong - read theirs. Because sure as Hell you wont hear it from your own masters. What I begrudge are attempts by ANY party to limit MY access to information. And there are very active attempts to do that in the West. Examples such as this, examples such as the EU making an agreement to limit and discredit Russian news sources in the West ("East Stratcom" project). The victim of efforts to block foreign viewpoints isn't them, it's we the public who no longer get alternative points of view.

It's blackly hilarious given the amount the USA has spent on political subversion on foreign countries itself (Ukraine, Syria, Georgia...). Also, given that I'd wager a hundred times more has been spent on Facebook campaigns to direct people's thoughts by their own governments. Spending on Social Media accounted for over half of US presidential campaigning budget of $1bn. The Clinton campaign had a million dollar project to respond to any pro-Trump comments online with attacks on Trump.

My point, anyway, is not that Russia doesn't try to push its agenda online. My point is that (a) I don't want our own governments deciding other points of view are "divisive" and trying to block me from them, (b) that it is hypocritical in the extreme given that our own governments and parties not only do this both at home and in their countries but do it with a hundred times the budget and with more extreme tactics; and (c) this particular attack is seriously weak sauce. I mean "divisive"? Isn't that political discussion?

Rant over. As you can see, I am really bothered by this stuff. In the USA they are rapidly reaching the point where it can be factually described as Government by the Media. And in the UK we aren't that far behind.

(1) The USA has a shale gas bonanza and wants to sell their surplus to Europe. The Nordstream 2 pipeline is a joint project with Germany and would allow Russia to sell its traditionally drilled oil more competitively to us. Anyone in the business world sees a clear connection between the sanctions which block the deal with Germany and US interests. Many Germans are pretty pissed about the USA telling them who they can trade with, in fact.

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