[Ed. – And this was a way of attacking the 2016 election? In preparing this headline, I see that Zero Hedge has already picked up on the same point. My question: if it’s a vicious form of interference with the U.S. election for Russians to post American-made videos about mistreatment of Muslims and abuse of eminent domain — what is it when the Americans who made the videos post them? What is it when other Americans repost the videos? Is that also interference with the election? This whole line of thought is just silly. So far, nothing we’ve learned about what the Russians (supposedly) did on Facebook and Twitter constitutes what any sensible person would consider a threat.]
The Russian pages — with names like “Being Patriotic,” “Secured Borders” and “Blacktivist” — cribbed complaints about federal agents from one conservative website, and a gauzy article about a veteran who became an entrepreneur from People magazine. They took descriptions and videos of police beatings from genuine YouTube and Facebook accounts and reposted them, sometimes lightly edited for maximum effect.
Other posts on the Russian pages used stilted language or phrases rarely found in American English. Yet their use of borrowed ideas and arguments from Americans, which were already resonating among conservatives and liberals, demonstrated a deft understanding of the political terrain. The Russians also paid Facebook to promote their posts in the feeds of American Facebook users, helping them test what content would circulate most widely, and among which audiences.
“This is cultural hacking,” said Jonathan Albright, research director at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. “They are using systems that were already set up by these platforms to increase engagement. They’re feeding outrage — and it’s easy to do, because outrage and emotion is how people share.”